california (as seen from a 1979 VW camper van)

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some vacations are last-minute, some are restorative, some involve a fair amount of bananagram-playing, some are zany, some are epic and some ~ like our trip to california ~ are all of the above.

david, elliot, sophie and i spent 2 weeks exploring california in "Hanu Li'u," a rented 1979 vw camper van (thanks to Bill at Vintage Surfari Wagons in costa mesa). Ok, I'll be honest:  it wasn't ALL beach and hip san fran food and seal watching and highway 101 twists & turns and neck-craning sequoias and fresh avocados. we had our share of the los angeles freeway, will-we-ever-find-an-available-campsite anxiety, and frayed nerves from repeatedly asking our 8- and 11- year olds yet again: "can ya just pick up your stuff 'cause there are 4 of us living in a 6x10 foot space?!" but truth be told, it was pretty darn near perfect.

Something about "Hanu Li'u" ("tardy turtle") felt like home, like we'd known her all our lives. And was she ever the celebrity! Fellow VW drivers raised their coffee mugs in salute on their way past; folks from germany, spain, argentina, sweden and all over the u.s. flocked to us to share their childhood vw stories; she was as much a part of california landscapes and longing as the coastal redwoods. I made nearly as many pictures of Hanu Li'u as I did of my children, but really, how could I resist her green plaid seats, her front fender grin, her lime green exterior?  . . . we even found ourselves mysteriously compelled to eat luscious lime color-coordinated pastries!

ok, the trip wasn't all about the van, but i'm inspired now. I'm so hoping to photograph an engagement session OR bridal portraits OR bachelorette party OR . . . ideas? . . .  featuring Hanu Li'u or any of her westphalia relatives. any takers?

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