CANADA WEEK 8 - ALBERTA
Hi there little birds,
It’s Hanna reporting. As you’ve noticed in the previous video, I’m BACK! I can’t even verbalise how happy I am to be part of this second adventure. But let’s get to the point.
On our first night in Canada we found the perfect night spot: a little hidden from the world, right next to a lake and steep mountains in the back, and we even got to see a coyote! Unfortunately, the ranger waking us up in the morning had fewer sparkles in her eyes when she gave us a warning for camping in undesignated area - which led to a very animated debate on the exact definition of the word “camping”. We related more to parked vehicles than fellow humans in nature. No fire, no tent, no trash. But our bright smiles and clever brains did not get us out of that one. Warning in the pocket, we had to figure out a new plan of action for all the nights to come.
A few kilometres and intense brainstorming later, we had found the solution. We were going to sneak in National Parks campgrounds - because nobody has a 30$/night budget when living in a van! Our strategy was to tell at the camping gates that we were meeting some friends. And then actually make some friends. But once inside the perimeter, we were the creepiest looking van. Driving at 5 mps, observing people, on the hunt for some friendly faces.
But hey, it worked*! On the first we met a lovely couple (as guest starts in this video) who were on to a 6 month road trip to Alaska. Shortly after, venturing through the campground at night - by foot this time - we also met a group of Swiss girls and hung out around their bonfire for quite some time.
Considering the colossal success of that first camping hunt and that our warning was still in effect for the whole state, we repeated the process the following evening. This time we met 5 friendly Belgian folks. Strange coincidence with the nationalities, but that might have helped our odds. Plus, it added a little bit of magic to the moment to know we had all come this far out to be off the grid all together.
On the few nights when didn’t feel like social butterflies and actually just wanted to rest without having breakfast with the rangers in the morning, we stayed on some hotel parking lots. Still very sneaky, but actually pretty entertaining to see how poorly we blended with the customers, with our greasy hair and hippie pyjamas. Speaking of hippie spirit, we saw a little deer jumping around for such a long time one morning, I started to think Elo had turned into Snowwhite!
Besides all these friendly encounters (+ the ranger), we also had a tremendously awkward one. When visiting Banff we stopped at a beautiful overlook to have some lunch. Prior to cooking, we put up our hammock and made ourselves a cozy little space between the trees to dine in front of that majestic view. But during the short cooking time at the van, an entire family celebrating a wedding gathered around the hammock to hang out and take some pictures.
We’ll leave you to imagine the awkwardness and tension when we got back with our two bowls of ravioli, and just settled in the middle of them all, dressed formally and having a blast. The timing made it so that they didn’t know the hammock was ours and thus probably just thought we were 2 careless weirdos, and we didn’t feel like aborting our original plan either…
On the next day, we woke up to unusual and massive clouds rolling in the valley. At first we thought it was another storm and therefore decided to stay at home - yes Chevy is more than a car - and get some work done. We didn’t realise these clouds developed because of wildfires. At that time, there were more than 150 of them burning in Southern Canada and Northern USA, which was exactly our route for about 3 weeks. After this memorable entry - check out Elo’s pictures - they unfortunately dissolved into a thick fog and hung out with us for the rest of the week, covering most of the views.
We wrapped up the week leaving the National Park valley and pointed our compass towards Penticton, British Columbia. A strange phenomenon happened as we exited those steep mountains. It felt deliberating to see the horizon again, as if the mountains had kept us hostage all this time…
In Penticton, we stayed with a lovely retired french couple - Elo’s mom’s connections - the second guests stars of video 8. They were eager to meet and show us around their small but enchanting city. Michel, proud owner of a Deux Chevaux (a legendary french car), seized the occasion to swing by the beautiful wineries. However - dramatic plot twist ahead - the sunny wine tasting afternoon quickly turned into physical training, when the Deuch’ started feeling tipsy as well and slowly gave up on us, making us push and run to bring it back to life. In other words, what was supposed to be a day to reload our batteries ended up being a day of reloading a car’s battery!
But despite our enthusiastic workout and relentless efforts, we had to call our buddies at AAA. What is the fun of a road trip if you can’t even share it with some roadside assistance operator at some point?
Till later little birds,
Hanna & Elo
*disclosure: might be less efficient if you’re a 40 years old male with a cowboy hat and an ear of wheat hanging down your mouth