So our first Vansperiment occurred! We finally had two days off work at the circus and couldn’t wait to get out of grimy Gastown and jump into our trusty Dodge – Dorothy. It was a getaway that we very much needed to work out all the quirks of our beloved van and get a sneak peak of van life.
The day started off with Panic, not due to any serious reasons, just the fact that I managed to push that bright red button on our car key that spells ‘PANIC’ in large capital letters – indeed, that’s exactly what we did, panic. We were parked on the main street in North Vancouver with no idea how to stop the car from busting the ear drums of every poor soul within 100ft. It took a few ninja maneuvers climbing through the back door to fix that problem. With that hiccup over, we made a beeline north toward the mountains – those intimidating snow-covered peaks that overrun your vision as you hit the Trans Canadian Highway. Our beloved Dorothy was off to a good start, those fresh winter tires and new break pads gave us confidence for the winter road conditions ahead.
Our destination for the night was Hope; a small town settled in a valley amongst the mountains North East of Vancouver. The plan was to test out our van, discover how everything works and see if we can actually hack sleeping in a van below 0° Celsius. The drive out to Hope took us along flat lands covered in berry farms and up into the Fraser Valley. As the highway merged into the side of the Mountains, the build up of ice along the shoulder thickened and pulling into town just after sunset, we saw that the cars lining the streets had already frozen over – perfect. After heading into a local store to purchase a fry pan and some onesies, we headed to a rest stop a few miles out of town, here we tested out our camp stove and boiled some water for our hot water bottles. We had planned to camp there for the night until a rough looking man appeared in his truck and watched us for 20 minutes. Definitely not the brightest idea to stay – so we drove back into town and parked up in a residential street, outside a house which we realized in the morning, to look more like a meth lab then a family home.
The ice covered streets of Hope made the area quite eerie at night; we took a walk around and appreciated the silence of such a small town. The sky was lit with stars, a sight that we hadn’t seen while living in a big city. After heading back to the van, we covered the windows with insulation, cranked the heater for ten minutes and curled up inside. The outside temperature was in the negatives by now, and there we were in our van, cozy and warm. That’s not to say it will be that comfortable every night, we are in for much colder temperatures throughout the journey to Montreal. But this experience gave us a lot of confidence in the functionality of the van itself and our -20° C sleeping bags.
We are now looking into a different route that will take us through the states and up into Montreal, as an alternative to the fierce cold of the Canadian flat lands and snowy mountain roads. We are just waiting to see if Holly’s passport makes it here in time. Either way will be a crazy adventure that I can’t wait for!