We spent 3 days in Canada.
And for the first time on this road trip, it felt like we were on vacation. We took each morning as it came, without plan or structure. After discovering a lot we could park over night along the Spanish Banks, we parked between two lines and agreed not to drive the next couple days to save money.
We strapped Olin in her pack, through her up on our shoulders, and set out to hike sand that was normally covered by Pacific Ocean. It was seriously amazing and like nothing I had ever experienced. We walked about a half mile out into ankle-high sea water to where the land stopped and the ocean resumed. It felt as if we were close enough to reach out and touch the giant barges that were anchored in the deeper part of the water. We trekked through seaweed, as the dogs took the best Canadian freedom runs of their four legged lives.
After reading for a few chapters and practicing Olin's walking, we took in the big bright sun and embraced having nowhere else to be, save for that moment in time.
The following day,
We did nearly the same thing, attracted to the low tide once more. We were captivated out to a larger sandbank and took a family swim. After the temperatures dropped and the dogs spent hours frolicking through the water and sand, Collin set up the Burley and we decided to explore Vancouver by bike.
We rode roughly 8 miles of hilly paths throughout town. And the nice thing about Vancouver is bikes are valued equally, if not more, to cars. There were special paths throughout the whole city where we could ride safely to get block to block. Collin and I were silently falling in love with this place! It had a very San Diego-esque feel to it. Everyone was outside at all hours of the day, all ages, all types. It felt like a place that does not suck the life out of you but rather embodies it and multiplies the energy in all directions. We imagined it was also a very expensive cost of living due to the high class sports cars that passed by casually every minute or so. We navigated around fairly easily and even bought groceries for a more than fair price.
The night before last, we discovered a hidden local spot called Teddy Bear Cove (I won't delve too much into it, because you have to find it for yourself). After crossing some warm railroad tracks, we set up the hammock to wait for the sun to go down. And you won't believe what I am going to tell you we were waiting on- Bio-luminescent Plankton. When we first heard of this magical spot, my inner nerd surfaced at full force. It was like nothing you've ever seen. Just after midnight, a high school bonfire was taking place at this local spot. We were not able to fully embrace the mysterious glow from these marine creatures, but it was still a magical feeling. I walked into the chilled water, about knee-height. After waving my hand back and forth beneath the surface, it was like fairy dust began to follow my every movement. As if Peter Pan himself had come to life and shared Tinkerbell's magic dust. Another part of this encounter that I want to share- As fresh parents, we are at a confusing stage in life. And we talk about this a lot. We are in that awkward mid-20s phase where hanging around high schoolers makes us feel especially old. And hanging with seasoned parents makes us feel more comforted, yet still not quite in our comfort zone. So there we stood at Teddy Bear Cove, surrounded by high schoolers in their prime "Make-Out" years. To our left was the fire that brightened out the magical plankton's glow along with two kids making out, rolled up in a sleeping bag. Collin said, "We'll remember this place when Olin says she's heading off to Teddy Bear Cove one day." I giggled inside. And to our right was another nerdy family, like ourselves, with the dad in full force pacing back and forth in the water searching for glowing sea life and cursing the kid's fire under his breath. We will be back for you, bio- luminescence.
So the trip up from Leavenworth was spectacular.
We found some wall art by Jamie Lynn right after crossing over Steven's Pass. The mountains out here are unreal, for giants. So I took control of the wheel heading up the big mountain pass. "You can't eat peanuts and drive!" Collin demands while I steer around curvy turns at a roaring 40 mph. At this point in the day, my hanger has set in full speed, "I can eat damn peanuts and drive if I want to, I am an adult!" I fuss back. As I drive the van upward of what I think is the pass, Collin tells me to speed it up. My blood begins to boil (woman rage stirring). I cram more peanuts in my mouth and Collin points out the line of about 8 cars behind the van. "The speed limit is 60, Allie," he says. Aggravated, I gas it up to 60 and go into silent mode. It turns out that I was just driving up a big hill that wasn't even the mountain pass and stubbornly realize that Collin was right- I should have sped up. I switch from peanuts to Olin's to-go applesauce and take in the views along the way, cruising at a solid 50- 55 mph. Hey, feed me snacks and let me drive like a grandma and I'm a happy camper.
This Place Smells Like Home.
Walking down the boardwalk by the bay, I smell and feel the same thing. A brew of freshly harvested apples and clean linens stirs my senses, and I am reminded of both summers spent on my grandparent's dock in Florida and fresh pickin's from my grandparent's garden in Tennessee. Bellingham is really showing her good side to us.
We relaxed all day long. We made a pact not to drive or even start up the van and to just slow this trip down and enjoy our surroundings. A couple days ago, we entered Washington State- a new state for all of us!
We are spending the morning checking out Leavenworth, before it gets too hot. Then, we will likely retreat back to the RV only camping spot we found off of HWY 2. We met some new friends who just got back from a trip to Alaska, and we are grateful as they have been giving us lots of tips and advice for #Vanlife.
Our home the last couple nights.
It's Laundry Time Again.
I can't believe we have spent a week in Montana already. On the road, it seems your time is just as valuable as your bank account. And while we are on the subject, our budget is running down. We are continuing to apply for jobs and research housing opportunities in each place we travel. Along the way, we continue to notice a steady trend across the United States. Housing costs, in all forms from trailers to single family homes, are increasing. Meanwhile, job wages are staying the same. If we want to call one of these mountain towns our home for winter, we may each be working two jobs and sending Olin to daycare. I feel safe knowing that we have the van as a back-up in case we can't make a ski town happen for winter. I really, really hope that we can, but I am not opposed to heading south for a season if need be.
Sometimes she just screams at the top of her lungs for no reason, and we finally see that it's because she is teething or just being a 1 year old. Teething snacks keep her sane during those moments.
The Wal-Mart OA.
Bless his heart, seriously. From the start of our climbing issues back at the Togwotee Pass, gaining up to 9,659' of elevation, he had a hunch that our fuel pump was faulty and giving us backtalk. Ignoring that intuition from several other suggestions of what it could be in various media feeds and my "pretend-to-know-what-I'm-talking-about-womanly nagging," he opted to try a few other fixes with the filter and vapor lock. As we were being towed up the pass before Island Park, he stated once more that he just knew it was the fuel pump. We were unable to make it up to Bridger Bowl Ski Resort our first try due to more sputtering and choking, which falsely seemed like the infamous vapor lock again. The day before yesterday, in the Wal-Mart parking lot of Bozeman at 7AM, Collin replaced the fuel pump.
Ever seen a Fuel Pump Hangover?
Yellowstone & Bozeman Adventures
It's Not All Shits & Gigs
Granted, there are a lot of poopy diapers, VanLife is not all play. It's actually a lot of work. It's Personal Growth meets GMC for Dummies. Every single day, we learn something new. Each argument teaches us how to listen better or react differently the next one. Each mechanical delay shows us that the van needs a bit more tlc before next the destination. There are hot summer days (like today) where all we want to do is play outside- go biking and hiking. Right now, we are putting in lots of hours to applying for jobs, researching housing, and writing so we can share the journey. We are learning to work with each other and trust that we are a family. Relationships take work- who would'a thunk it? Now, we just have to build up our relationship with this van (Which still doesn't have a name for some reason, suggestions?).
We didn't say much to each other, but I know that we were silently dreading going up another pass, fearful that we'd end up stuck a couple hours on the side of the road again. Pedal nearly to the floor, our roaring beast pushed up and over the pass, as we felt silent relief float from our shoulders "Welcome to Bozeman."
The view from our camp spot outside of Livingston, MT
Montana is beautiful! We are definitely putting it on our list of places we may call home by the end of summer.
Mammoth Hot Springs from a couple days ago
We took showers today.
So, one more thing I wanted to share. Before we started living in a van, I had a few concerns as a lady. After driving through Bozeman this morning, we pulled over at the gas station to refill and put the doghouse back on to celebrate this small victory. Always celebrate the small victories. We pull next to the gas pump and Collin says, "I smell poop." Surely enough, Olin had pooped everywhere. You know that scene from Dumb & Dumber 2 towards the end of the movie- "There's sh*t everywhere!" Yeah, it was just like that scene- on her face, in her hair, all over her car seat. I looked at her and back to Collin then back to her. Taco was eyeing her down, thinking he was going to get a warm snack. I immediately think that we need to get a hotel and soak her in the bathtub all night long. This is where the fun, trials of van life come to their true test. Collin, being the practical minded, says "There's a swimming club right up the road from here." Thinking of the public showers, this seems a much better idea than using $80 out of our dwindling budget on a hotel for just the showers. I walk in to the gas station to wash up and am surprised by that lovely time of the month known as PMS (In our family, we call it "Shark Week"). Ladies thinking of doing van life and wondering about this part of it, it absolutely sucks and is everything you imagine about it. Shark Week in a van, where river baths just don't cut it.
.And we love river baths. Yellowstone River Bath outside of
Dogs & Diapers