My Mini Road Trip: Part Two
Well the mini road trip is over and I am now back in Comox to take stock, tweak a few things with the van and get ready for setting off on my big cross Canada trip. It’s an exciting time for me and also a little scary. This also marks the last time I will be in Comox during my time in Canada and I am going to have to say goodbye to a lot of awesome people – though i’m sure not for good. I have been here for nine months now and have had a fantastic time, largely due to the great people I have met and two Canadian roommates in particular: who I owe a lot of this enjoyment to.
Since my last post I travelled back down island at a lesisurely pace, taking in a few sights along the way.
Because the north of the island is so remote people tend to drive like lunatics. I hit cruise control on the highways and stick to the speed limit, so other drivers usually blast past me on the two lane highways. Leaving Sayward I rejoined the highway and soon found a large, old looking lorry right up behind me. I increased my speed a little to give myself some breathing space but so did the lorry. Feeling pretty intimidated by having such a huge vehicle right up behind me I was looking in my mirrors a lot and saw the lorry at one point swerve into oncoming traffic before regaining control and resuming it’s position on my rear end. I decided to pull over and let it pass but before I could do so came a long straight in the road and predictably the lorry decided to overtake. As it did so I saw that the load it was carrying didn’t look too secure and just as I was thinking this and it was pulling back over to my side of the road one of it’s tyres exploded. This sent rubber and sparks flying all over my car, I eased off a little but I had other vehicles behind, and also beside me also overtaking. Still not slowing down and sending sparks flying a second tyre on the lorry blew before it eventually pulled over. As the driver didn’t seem to be in any danger I decided not to stop from fear of loosing my temper with the lunatic, but my heart was racing and I knew things could have gone a lot worse.
The van (which hit 300,000km on this trip) has been great aside from loosing a section of the bumper, which is apparently called the “lower valance”. I decided not to replace the non-vital part yet from fear of loosing it again on logging roads. Other than that the setup has been great with only minor tweaks here and there. Getting organised took some time and still is a work in progress – there is plenty of storage but working out the best place for certain things has taken some experimentation. Originally the food was in the middle of the van but after finding things hard to reach under the bed and talking to JR I decided to try moving everything food related to the back. This worked out great as everything can be accessed from the back and from inside the van when the bench is up. The rear of the bed also makes for a good cooking platform and the back door provides some shelter from the elements. Perfect!
I had heard that the bottom of the foam might get damp after sleeping on it if there isn’t adequate ventilation. This turned out to be the case so I have now drilled holes into the ply board in the hope that this will prevent the moisture build up.
All in all my this ‘mini’ road trip couldn’t have gone better and felt like it was over very quick. As I had hoped, travelling like this gives me a huge amount of freedom to do whatever I like. Whenever I travel I like to make things up as I go along and while backpacking I always have to spend a lot of time working things out as I go along – where to go, what to do, how to get there (which usually involves figuring out public transport), where to stay etc. The logistics of the last two points can take up a lot of time and once I have decided where to go and what to do. It is not unusual to dedicate an entire afternoon to these logistics and often the limitations of public transport make getting off of the beaten track difficult. With the van however a lot of these logistics are already taken care of. Transport is covered, I can carry a lot of gear/food/water, I have a bed which I take around with me so really I just have to decide what I want to do and then go.
Also I can do things at a nice relaxed pace – much less so than backpacking (that said I do find the crazy act of making things happen on the move while backpacking part of the fun). While on this trip most days I had a leisurely breakfast (usually drinking my coffee while admiring a beautiful lake which I had camped at for FREE), did some sort of activity – a walk, saw some sights, went exploring, before relaxing some more and deciding if I want to stay in that area for another night or move on. Or (as I did a few times) not really decide at all! When I couldn’t decide I put off the decision by making a cup of tea and reading a little and each time I got settled and ended up staying. That is another thing about travelling like this – I can be a nomad. I don’t really have much in the way of time constraints – I am giving myself lots of time to do things at a slow pace, so delaying moving on for a day (or two or three) isn’t an issue. I am doing this to have fun so I can indulge and do whatever I feel like at the time – which is how I like to roll! This feels like the exact change I wanted from my usual backpacking approach – where I have a limited amount of time and lots to pack in. So I end up running around like a lunatic and once it’s done I feel like I need another holiday.
So as you can probably gather I am looking forward to my upcoming ‘proper’ across Canada trip! I have spent a little time preparing for the upcoming trip – mainly thinking about where to begin. I never like to plan or have an itinerary – making it up as you go along offers so much flexibility and is just too much fun. I also tell people that if you don’t have anything planned then there is never anything to go ‘wrong’. I know myself and as soon as I have a deadline, like a train to catch at a specific time I worry about missing it and power walk to the station to make sure I get it. If I don’t plan then I don’t have anything to worry about! When it comes to driving across the second largest country in the world however, I decided to do a little groundwork before leaving so I can make informed decisions about where to go and what to do on the road – there are just so many options!
A couple of days ago while working out where to begin my journey I got a little overwhelmed. Until now my trip has always been a thing on the horizon – it has hit me that I will be heading off soon. And that is one BIG blank canvas ahead of me! So after an initial mini freak out I spoke to my friends Sam and Lucy who are currently HelpXing in Squamish, to get the lowdown of their trip so far. They really like the area they are staying in and suggested a meet-up as they will be there for a while longer. I immediately started connecting the dots with other places I want to visit, and Squamish sounded like a good starting point. I think it was just getting this first dot sorted that was a little overwhelming and now I have that sorted I can sit back and leave the rest to unfold – as it always does. Just how I like it!