Across Canada – Hope, BC to Nelson, BC
Leaving Hope I had the choice of two highways – the 5: an express route towards Kamloops or the 3: a slower, scenic drive into the Okanagon. Not really much of a choice! On highway 3 I passed the “Big Slide” – the biggest landslide in Western Canada before driving through Manning Provincial Park.
So far I managed to camp for free in the van – either at the excellent recreation sites (government run free campsites) or by finding a spot out of the way, usually on forestry roads. A little research tells me that in Canada this is permitted as long as you are parked out of the way and don’t leave any trace that you were there. Although not always the case, doing this I have camped at some very scenic spots and have not had any problems. Leaving Manning Park I selected a forestry road which looked promising, gaining some elevation I found a nice quiet spot up in the hills with a pretty good view.
By the next morning I had not seen anyone so after a lazy start to the day I decided to stay for the day. It was sunny and really peaceful and I realised that as far as I could remember this was the first time I had gone without seeing or hearing another human being for an entire 24 hours. This is a very calm, but also strange feeling – I mean what if there had been a zombie apocalypse?!
Continuing on East I started to enter the Okanagan, which is wine country and the hottest part of Canada. The area did not disappoint – while I was there there were highs of 30 degrees each day, which felt a little odd as I had been deicing my windscreen only a couple of mornings previous! To get myself used to the head I spent a day hanging out in Osoyoos, which has the warmest lake in Canada.
The next day I travelled to Penticton and I couldn’t work out what else to do other than head straight to the beach! While I was in Penticton I had arranged for a private climbing lesson with Skaha climbing school which turned out to be better than I had hoped. When I phoned to enquire, Russ, the owner of the company arranged for someone to cover a group lesson he had organised so he could take me out for a one on one. Russ was a great guy who, having claimed (the first to climb and then name a route) many of the routes in the Skaha Bluffs park (which he also help form) he knew the area better than anyone.
It was a full day and the lesson went on for 9 hours. Focusing on top roping we covered lots of topics from creating anchor points, tying knots, abseiling and climbing techniques so I learnt a lot and had great fun. I have wanted to try climbing again ever since I did a little when I was younger and I really enjoyed myself. Russ also had some good stories and he also enlightened me to how much work there is in getting a route ready to be climbed by the public (around 50 hours of back breaking work for just one climbing route!)
Continuing East I stopped at Greenwood, an old mining town which had some interesting old buildings along the main street. I decided to pull up a chair outside a cafe and do a little work on my laptop with a coffee and a rather nice cinnamon bun. I have been doing a tiny bit of freelance work as I go along and I also enjoy tinkering with a few projects of my own. I really enjoy mixing travel and my technical skills to make money as I go along. I like the idea of being a ‘digital nomad’ and I follow a few blogs of people who have been living like this for years. At the moment I feel very lucky that I can have all of these amazing experiences whilst using the skills I have, and most importanly enjoying using these skills – something I was struggling with back home. I have a feeling that I will talk more about this topic at a later date.
I have tentatively been for a few short, easy runs over the last week. On my way to Nelson I found a quiet little park next to a lake and went for a (bare chested because of the heat – my first ever) run and a quick dip afterwards.
Nelson turned out to be a interesting, alternative town with plenty of young people (quiet the difference from living in Comox). Unlike a lot of North American towns I have visited much of Nelson is built on a hill which I always find makes a place instantly more interesting. I enjoyed wandering the town in the sunshine and exploring random little hilly streets and paths. I also took a short hike up Pulpit Rock for some great views over the town.
Life in the van is going very well and I feel like I have got used to the setup. I’m going to talk more about this in another post. Now there is a teaser for you…