A Dream Road Trip Across America in a Restored 1970 VW Bus

How two brothers turned a moss-covered artifact into a rolling home for four friends, then saw America from coast to coast

A Dream Road Trip Across America in a Restored 1970 VW Bus


Guest Contributor


Adam Naples


Mamiya 7


Medium Format Kodak Portra 160 + T-Max 400


Owning a bus/van was never something I actively sought—I’m just a kid that fell into it.

I was 19 at the time, struggling with the concept of staying in school while pursuing a degree I wasn’t passionate about. I eventually dropped out to jump into photography full time, eager to embrace change. Around this same time my brother and I passed a 1970 VW Bus on the side of the road, speckled with moss from a number of dormant years. A few days later, the two of us struck a deal with the owner and immediately started wrenching on her in the driveway. And that’s how Wendy came to be.

My memory of our inaugural cross country road trip a few summers back is a little fuzzy now, but the impression it left will never fade.

"It’s not about the miles, it’s about the smiles"


Old VW heads always told me, “it’s not about the miles, it’s about the smiles.” So that’s exactly how we approached the trip. With a drive from Pennsylvania to California in mind, my brother and I filled the bus with skateboards and two of our closest friends, and hit the road. Going nowhere fast, at 45mph.

A few of the more memorable stops along the way were Badlands National Park, Devils Tower National Monument, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, The Redwoods, and countless other nameless spots anywhere along the West Coast.

Though perhaps the most memorable was pulling into Wyoming’s Teton Mountain Range. Between the beautiful scenery, the company that surrounded me, and the car we built, I was beaming with sentimental and sincere appreciation, gratefulness, and pride. This further pushed the notion that great things take time to come into fruition, and that a DIY mentality together with hard work can make most anything possible.

We broke down in forgotten Dakota towns, scenic rest stops, middle of nowhere Minnesota, all over California, and eventually even shore a fly wheel gland-nut off in southern Oregon. Each time we were faced with an obstacle, we came together as friends to solve a problem. The people we met during those set-backs also deserve all the credit in the world. You just don’t meet shitty people broken down on the side of the road. 

"Going nowhere fast, at 45mph."

Although I consider my bus to be a freedom vessel, for me the vanlife isn’t just about escaping to a far off place, but about applying all it’s taught me to my daily life, and photography work too. Buses require patience, meticulous work, and an incredible amount of dedication. It’s honest; it’s pure; it’s rewarding.

It’s been a great gift to gain the knowledge I now know about these vintage cars, the community that’s helped me along the way, and the introspection that the object itself has encouraged.

I never imagined myself becoming so immersed in a culture of “junk," but then again, I’m not one to ever look back. Cus who knows what comes next?

Related articles
Roadlife Refrigeration Experts Dometic Launch New Camp Furniture Line
Dometic GO: New Camp Furniture & Gear for Car Campers and Vanlifers

The mobile refrigeration brand expands its campsite offerings by adding a line of furniture and goods to increase comfort and convenience

Eddie Bauer x Cabana Rental Vans Make PNW Exploration More Accessible
Rent Outdoor Gear and an Adventure Van With New Eddie Bauer Initiative

Two Seattle brands come together to make outdoor activities and luxe camper van travel more accessible

How This 1995 Mitsubishi Delica Became the Ultimate Adventure Van
Q&A: Andrew Groves On Mitsubishi Adventure Vans and Protecting the Natural World

The founder of UK-based Miscellaneous Adventures shares the details behind the buildout of his little van life rig

Mitsubishi Delica: All You Need to Know About the Japanese 4x4 Van
Delica Guide: Everything You Need to Know About the Iconic Japanese 4x4 Van

Skip the Sprinter and trade in the Tacoma—these weird little import vans are a classic with adventure in its DNA

Airstream Interstate 24X Review: Extreme Luxury & Ruggedness Combined
What It's Like to #Vanlife in a New $234,000 Airstream Sprinter Van

One writer's attempt to find off-grid adventure in the California desert with a luxed-out home-on-wheels

What It's Really Like to Live and Work in a Converted School Bus
How One Couple and Their Two Dogs Live & Work In a Converted School Bus

How Steve Yocom & Jordan Meeks found a retired school bus for $3,000 and turned it into a mobile cabin that crisscrosses the country

More articles
A Dream Road Trip Across America in a Restored 1970 VW Bus

Gallery Mode


Adam Naples


Mamiya 7


Medium Format Kodak Portra 160 + T-Max 400

Back to article