Per capita, the city of Alameda, California seems to have more Volkswagen buses than anywhere else I've ever been. Why? Perhaps they're refugees from the former hippie enclave of Berkeley, seven miles north. Or maybe it's because things move a little bit slower in Alameda, and people there still have time to enjoy the simpler pleasures in life. Hobbies and stuff. Like fixing up quirkily aesthetic German vehicles.
We have some friends in Alameda, and their neighbors own a whole fleet of VW buses. Every morning at 6am, they trundle on out to the street and start them, running the engines for ten or fifteen minutes before letting them rest until the next day. It's a lot like roosters crowing at sunrise, our friends say. These buses don't move much. And they're unusually low to the asphalt - so low, in fact, that from a distance, they appear to be some sort of strangely comical metallic warts, stuck to the road. You just have to chuckle every time you drive past.