Sometimes extraordinary things happen in life that just need to be shared. This is one of them.
Two weekends ago, my husband showed me a 1969 VW bus listed on TheSamba.com, a website devoted to VW sales. For as long as we’ve been together, 25 years, John has longed for a bus, and this one was perfect. As soon as I saw it, I had a *feeling* that it was meant to be.
John contacted the owner and soon we were all talking on the phone. The more we heard, the more certain we were that this bus was “the one.” A vintage Westfalia camper, almost completely original, it’d only had 3 owners since it came into port in San Francisco in ’69. The first, a professor from Utah, had owned the bus for two and a half decades and traveled extensively in it with his family. He’d raced it on the Bonneville Salt Flat, where he established the speed record for VW campers at 87.533mph on November 10, 1989. The professor sold it to a student, who brought the bus to Colorado for college, but then tragically died. An image of this beloved bus is engraved on the young man’s tombstone. His father kept the bus for a couple of years, unable to part with it quite yet, and once ready finally sold it to its third owners, close family friends, who’d kept it meticulously the past 2 decades.
By the end of the phone conversation, John and I wanted the bus to be ours. It just felt right. This perfect bus with such a poignant, amazing history. Finding it, feeling this connection, and having a small window of opportunity within which to procure it, it all seemed to fit. John had already taken off the following week from work. We had reservations Tuesday to camp 3 nights in Baxter State Park to finish hiking the final 3 peaks of New England’s 67 highest. But the upcoming weekend was open! If we flew to Kansas on Friday and then immediately drove the bus home over the weekend, arriving in Maine on Monday, we could do it.
And so we did. Our older daughter and her boyfriend drove us down to Boston Thursday night. We slept at an airport hotel, waking at the crack of dawn for our 7am flight, first to Chicago, then a second plane to Wichita, Kansas. Because of Ménière’s disease, it was only the 2nd time I’d flown in 23 years!
The couple who’d owned the bus were DEVOTED to it, it was like their baby, but they were retiring and moving on to a new phase of life. The beloved bus was too precious to spend the rest of its life parked in a garage. They didn’t need to sell it, but they wanted it to be driven and loved. They were conflicted. When they arrived to pick us up at the airport I could sense their angst. As we drove back to their house, we started talking and immediately I could sense a kinship between us. These were good people, kindred spirits, who needed reassurance we were the right couple to take over stewardship. As we drove I happened to notice a sign ahead, the name of a car dealership, and in big letters it read: SCHOLFIELD. “WOW!” I said. “That’s my maiden name! And it’s spelled the very same!.” Seeing another Scholfield spelled with an ‘L’ is a pretty uncommon occurrence. The couple immediately said the Scholfield who owns the dealerships is one of their great friends! Talk about KISMET. I joked about getting a “Scholfield” tee shirt and they said they’d make it so.
Soon we arrived at their house and there she was! *insert wolf whistle*
We talked, and got to know each other (humans and VW) and before long the paperwork was signed, and we were hugging goodbye like we’d known each other longer than a couple of hours. Even though they were heartbroken to say goodbye to their beloved green bus, they felt we were the exact *right* fit to be its next owners. We felt the very same. All of it somehow just clicked.
John and I got on the road and began our long journey home across half of the country, a distance of some 1725 miles. We made our way east, first stopping at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, then on to spend the night with my aunt and cousins just outside Kansas City. It was amazing! All of it. Buying the bus, meeting new friends, reuniting with my family, AND MORE. Because as we drove home, we continued exchanging texts with the former owners. Who, feeling a connection to us and their beloved bus, and a burgeoning friendship, got in touch with their Scholfield friend. Who in turn got in touch with his cousin, who checked the genealogy and discovered WE’RE RELATED! Turns out, his great grandfather and my great grandfather were BROTHERS!!
Whether you believe in synchronicity, or not, this makes a pretty compelling case. The former owner summed it up well in the Facebook post below. What’re the chances these seemingly random events would align just so???
Following is a strange sequence of events. Picked up at the airport and started to the house. Coming down Ridge Road the light at Central turned red, so I made a last second decision to turn left on Central. We were driving along talking and Christy sees the Scholfield Honda sign and says, “Hey, wow! That’s my maiden name and it’s spelled the same”. I guess it’s not a common spelling. She commented that she would love to get a shirt from the dealership and I said I can make that happen. I text our friend R. Scholfield and long story short they are, unbeknownst to either of them, related. R’s great grandfather and her great grandfather were brothers! I am writing this because… What are the odds that:1. This couple from Maine would buy our bus in KS and fly in to get it.2. I would take a left on Central rather than the direct route on Ridge.3. She would notice the sign and comment.4. I would know the owner.5. I wouldn’t just ignore the coincidence and not text R.6. He wouldn’t just pass it as coincidence.7. His cousin is a family historian and was able to connect the dots.8. They would be 2nd cousins.
While we were driving the bus home, for instance, we encountered some electrical issues. The bus died twice. We are still troubleshooting to figure out precisely what’s going on (John suspects it’s the regulator) but the battery isn’t charging properly. And when you’re driving in a rainstorm in a 53 year old bus, as we were much of the last two days, and the windshield wipers and headlights are taxing the battery, that tired senior may decide its time for bed. Late Sunday we pulled off the highway and Big Greenie gave up the ghost. But instead of leaving us stranded, a motel happened to be directly across the street. We pushed the bus to the side and waved down a kind stranger who offered us a jump. We safely parked the bus outside our motel room, and while we slept soundly, the car battery jumper we had purchased earlier that day, charged. In the morning we had the juice to once again start the bus, and get her going again later when she died at a rest stop. We got to Schenectady, NY where we bought a brand new battery. And we made it home Monday, just when we’d needed to.
This entire experience has reinforced to me the need to take chances when it feels right, to be open to possibilities, and to prioritize connection. Losing my dad to Alzheimer’s has been one of the hardest experiences of my life. Feeling the loss of him in real time, while he’s physically here but mentally absent, has been shattering. Turning 50 this year I’m also acutely aware of my own mortality. I no longer have any living grandparents. My husband has no living parents or grandparents. Our world is shrinking. But this experience has shown me that even at your lowest, life has so much more in store! More than you could possibly imagine. Buying this bus has brought us adventure, friends, and a whole new previously unknown Scholfield family! A gift beyond imagining. My heart is full of joy, warmth, and hope. I am so grateful.
CLICK HERE to see some of the photos of our trip, including the many rainbows that followed us home. We’ve definitely found our pot of gold.