With the first road trip portion of the the adventure complete, I think this a good time to reflect on the past week and share my insights and experiences so far!
To offer a little background, Cam and I met in Denver; we shacked up in a great little duplex in Baker, Denver for a little over a year, and in that time we planned this Canada Sabbatical. We finished our lease, gave notice to our jobs, and packed his Jeep for a two month adventure. This is an opportunity we have been fortunate enough to create for ourselves, allowing us to explore new places and parts of ourselves, and gain some experience in agricultural life. The plan in short – road trip from Colorado to Vancouver Island, camping along the way, volunteer on a farm through WWOOF for three weeks on the island, drive to Eastern BC to volunteer on another farm for three weeks, then drive back down to Colorado, camping some more.
Here’s where we’ve been so far:Colorado Springs, Colorado > Flaming Gorge, Utah > Big Springs Campground, Idaho > Pine, Idaho > Mount Hood, Oregon > Portland, Oregon > Seattle, Washington > West Vancouver, BC > Fanny Bay, Vancouver Island, BC
So, Team Clam – as we call ourselves, as do some others – hit the road at about 8am Sunday morning. The Jeep was clean, packed and ready to roll. Colorado was as sunny as ever and my mind was a total fog. When I wanted to be clear headed, seizing each wonderful moment of the journey ahead of me, my mind was actually quite gray and hard to navigate. One wouldn’t think a mind needs navigating but there you have it, I’m a sailor in my foggy sea of thoughts. Often, I’m a sailor without a compass.
As outlined above, we navigated (with about 90% total guidance from Google Maps, and about 10% brain power using paper maps) our way across 2000 miles of land we had never set eyes on before. All the while I was paddling around aimlessly in my mind, bumping against waves of confusion, fear, doubt, and worry. It was a mental whirlwind indeed – all this navigating internally and externally, but I did it and it wasn’t all rough waves and existential downpours; much of it was a real delight and I’m content with the way it all panned out.
Here are some of the high lights and low lights:
Nearby the Flaming Gorge – which now brings to mind a metaphor for a fiery feminine crevice, but is actually just a big lake with reddish hues on the rocks – we found a camp site in the National Forest. There we set up our mobile home, aka our tent, and found a couple of well distanced trees to hang our slack line. I’m determined to master the slack line and am actually quite pleased with my progress so far. To people with balance I likely look a fool, but that’s neither here nor there. We practiced for a while, took some artsy photos, recorded some artsy videos, and captured Cam displaying a marvelous fall. The line was not even a foot high and somehow he managed to trip and spill to the ground with real drama. That night we cooked up one of those ready-made camping meals where you just add water. Ours was a curry; it was delicious, but apparently gave Cam some very aromatic gas.
The next morning we were real go-getters and took our mountain bikes for a ride. I was able to build some real confidence tackling the kind of dirt road most mountain bikes would scoff at. Just because the road is wide and flat enough for RVs to peruse, doesn’t mean it isn’t a challenge for someone whose majority bicycle experience is getting drunk and biking through a city in costume at a slow and wobbly pace with a few hundred other cruisers. The event is called Cruisers and takes place in Denver during the summer if you’re interested – most people who ride bikes on a regular and more serious basis hate the event, but such is life.
Later that day we drove through Kremmerer (why the extra “er” is needed I do not know), Wyoming. Here we scored a tea and coffee in the Town Hall, and happened upon the very first JC Penny – an exciting surprise indeed. As if that weren’t enough excitement for the day, we then visited Fossil Butte National Monument where a timeline shows when things appeared on Earth (basically), like ducks. I love ducks. At our second camp we were greeted by a camp host who drove up on her little golf buggy. This is was nice because it made me think of my parents who want to be camp hosts and I pictured my mum on the golf buggy with the cleaning supplies being asked questions about the area and how she might respond with her English accent and quirky demeanor. Anyway, the camp host said there was a bear at camp the night before, so that made me feel uncomfortable. Regardless, we did some yoga and meditation so as to be totally vulnerable to large predators. We then took a walk to the spring the campsite is named after (Big Spring Campground) and had fun talking about pencil diving into the spring and being transported to the other side of the world.
The following morning we ate muesli for breakfast, this is worth mentioning because it was made for us by a friend who grew up in Germany, so she knows a thing or two about muesli. It was very tasty. Also worth mentioning – we did not have an encounter with the bear. It would have made for a great story, had I lived to tell it, but I’m perfectly content telling stories without bear interactions. From Big Spring we drove to Craters of the Moon; this is a place in Idaho that looks like the moon – not the kind of moon featured in Wallace and Gromit that resembles cheese (unfortunately), but the kind of moon that is black and rocky, apparently. From black rocks we drove to fishy waters – Cam’s favorite waters. At Anderson Ranch Reservoir we were greeted with blazing heat and parades of insects. Despite all the fly attacks to the earlobes we had a nice time at the reservoir because Cam was able to demonstrate his angler abilities. He used some kind of technique that looked to me like too much effort in the set-up department, but worked a treat in the catching department. Long story short, I caught my first bass! We had lots of action with the fishing which was a relief after splurging $18 each on a two day license in Idaho.
Idaho treated us well the two days we were there but we ditched it for Oregon. I’m not sure why because all Oregon did was chuck rain down at us the whole time we were there. I suppose something can be said for living up to expectations though; quite like the people working at the market in Portland with their dreads and small beanies, but I’m getting ahead of my self. Oregon was actually amazing. We camped in Mount Hood National Forest. Before the clouds started leaking all over us we actually had a lovely yoga session in the sun. Then everything was drenched. In the middle of the night I woke to Cam scrambling around the tent with a towel trying his darndest to wipe up all the wet spots. I just tried my darndest to fall back asleep, while appreciating him greatly of course. The plan was to camp two nights at Mount Hood but that plan was abandoned quickly and without hesitation once we had cooked two meals inside the tent. We did take advantage of being in such a beautiful area before we left though. Spring seeking became our morning mission: we used a Nat Geo map of the area to navigate the small forest roads and track down springs. With our trusty wellies on our feet we trudged through the forest up the streams to the top of a few different springs. At one, we filled our water bottle and it tasted like dirt, which I loved.
After that we left the rainy forest and headed for the city – Portland city that is. Portland was dry, thankfully, and we pitched our tent in a city park to let it dry while we played tether ball and ate left over pizza. That night we stayed at a Hyatt hotel, utilizing my associate discount (whoop whoop). There we used a real shower, as opposed to the stream we showered in in Idaho (which was good fun and always nice to let the boobs out in nature), and slept in a real bed – which was divine.
Next day, Seattle. This is where the brother lives so this was a good day. He greeted us with homemade burritos; yes, we participated in making them; no, there wasn’t any salsa or cheese, but they were delicious nevertheless. It seemed only right to play tourist for a bit, so we hopped on the bikes and made our way downtown to check out the fish market and the gum wall. This is where Cam left us both shocked and slightly disturbed, by chewing a piece of gum from the wall.
Just kidding, that didn’t happen.
We did chew some more pizza though. Having fulfilled our tourist obligations, we met up with some friends at a distillery that serves deep dish pizza. This wasn’t just any deep dish pizza mind you, it’s pizza that has a cheese crust all the way around the edge, about an inch tall.
It’s better than you can imagine.
With happy bellies we took a drive to a neighborhood just east of Seattle to meet Cam’s cousin. Reminiscing commenced between us all and it was a gay time indeed. To complete the night we played a pleasant little game of chandelier back at the brother’s apartment; this is a game that combines beer pong and flip cup. We got drunk, did some stretches, sat on the floor talking about the brother’s wonky toe, watched some Youtube, then all passed out.
To repair the damage done on the previous night we filled up with lox benedicts and biscuits and gravy at the restaurant the brother works at. There we exchanged hugs and toodle-pips before preparing for the drive into Canada. Car loaded once again and GPS set we went through our mental check list: passports – check. That’s all we really checked for, which is why we think Cam’s shoes might still be at the apartment. A short three hours later we were at the border and totally ill prepared for the questions we were about to be asked.
To be continued…