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VW buses visit White Pines State Park

Astute visitors to the White Pines State Park on Sunday were treated to a bit of a flashback in time as different types of very colorful “buses” wound their way past the stands of white pine trees and through Pine Creek.

Members of the Der Busbesitzer Gruppe (German for Bus Drivers’ Club) drove their vintage Volkswagen vans and campers to the White Pines Resort for breakfast after taking part in the Gardenstock festival on Lowell Park Road, north of Dixon on Saturday.

“We have about 90 members and 75 buses in our group that is based in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin,” said John Flowers, a member of the group who lives in Dixon. “We had 57 people and 20 buses at Gardenstock on Saturday and decided to drive out to the Pines this morning for breakfast.”

Flowers’ green VW bus was one of about 10 vehicles that made the drive 12 miles to the north, with some headed further south to see the solar eclipse.

“We are a loose-knit group, but we sometimes drive in a caravan,” Flowers said. “We drive in the summer months. We usually start taking trips the first weekend in May and our last trip is the last weekend in November. We’ve driven all the way north to Wallace, Michigan in the Upper Peninsula and to the south to Hannibal, Missouri.

“Some of the DBG members are driving south today to see the solar eclipse,” Flowers said.

DBG members at the Pines drove VW buses from the early 1960s through the 1980s. The vehicles were first introduced in the 1950s in Europe, making their way to the US market in the 1960s.

“They still make new ones, primarily in Europe,” said Flowers.

Much like their counterpart the VW beetle or bug, the buds garnered several nicknames through the years including microbus, minibus, and of course, hippie van because of its popularity during the counterculture movement of the 1960s.

Dave and Lisa Grandica’s 1972 bright yellow “Sunny” was one of the vans making the trek to the Pines. “It’s been painted, but this was the original color,” said Dave, a resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Dan and Jamie Scott, of Rockford, also drove their 1982 VW Westfalia Vanagan down from Rockford and took a quick spin through the first ford at the park before heading out.

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