Well, it’s been quite a ride, literally. It all began as a crazy idea back in the summer of 2015 that led to, in order: buying a brand new RV, quitting jobs, selling our beautiful East Vancouver house and beloved 1993 Volkswagen Eurovan, putting everything into storage and saying goodbye to family and a lot of good friends. A few probably thought we were idiots, but most – even our wacky relatives – were unbelievably supportive and encouraging. A big heartfelt thanks once again to everyone, particularly the big surprise send off at Tish and Tim’s that really set the tone for the year ahead.
We truly had the trip of a lifetime and we’re so thankful to have met so many old and new friends along the way. All our friends and family showed us incredible hospitality both in Canada and the US, often with just a few days notice (we always tried to sound tired, hungry and pathetic when making contact). Others we met on the road were a lot of fun and we hope to stay in touch with. You all know who you are, but just for the record, here’s a chronological list:
Andy*-Liz-Bonnie*-Dewi*-Angela-Jim*-Catrona-Harry-Sherrill-Nick-Steve-Tammy*-Julie-Anne-Neil-Sandy-Glenn-Kim-Rob-Mary-John*-Shauna-Ema-Opa-The Tetleys-The Herringtons-Jackie-The Colleys-Norah-Carrie-Donna-Sandra-Julie-Eric-Helen-Paul-Janis-Christine-David-Dave-Lori-Sasha*-Colleen-Scott-Shannon-Bob-Judi-Dave*-Nancy*-Zeph**-Judy*-Nick-Joanna-Charlie-Linda-Kim-Sasha-Danielle-Witmar-Don-Rob-Sheila-Marissa-Tom-Monica-Tiger-Kim-Glenn-Janice-Scott-Tammy*-Julie-Bob-Linda-Renee-Colleen-Tim-Andy*-Liz-Bonnie*-Dewi*
* denotes drunkard category
There were lots of other brief encounters with wonderful people along our journey – way too many to mention – so cheers to all of you as well. We consider ourselves extremely lucky. We also really appreciated all the people who read our blog. For a relatively rinky-dink publication, we were surprised by the number of followers around the world and humbled by all the supportive commentary (Harry and Sandy, you tied for top honours for number of comments). Interestingly, we really didn’t get any negative feedback, not even from Papa Bear’s ornery old mother-in-law. So here’s a tip, if you start a blog, always highlight the best feature (in our case, a sheepdog) if you want people to take an interest…
And last but not least, a huge thank you and eternal gratitude to Mama Bear for agreeing, without ever wavering, to this major life change (some might say mid-life crisis, but this kind of upheaval has been a recurring pattern for Papa Bear all his life). As we said in our intro, ‘The biggest difference between a groove and a rut is that a groove takes us some place.’ We’ve also adopted another mantra, ‘Not all those who wander are lost’ which was a line from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings poem. For us, it really wasn’t a typical vacation, it was a journey. A journey with a thousand good memories.
Our vehicle, ‘MaBel,’ a 2016 Unity Leisure Van, turned out to be fantastic. She averaged 13L per 100 kms (19 miles/gal) and had almost no mechanical problems. All her many systems worked well and we always felt like we had a comfortable home (especially with 22 assorted pillows). From the moment we picked MaBel up, we knew we purchased a reliable and quality product. The factory tour we went on in Winkler, Manitoba only reinforced to us that Leisure Van makes one of the best RVs on the market.
Now for anyone out there considering doing something similarly nutty, here’s a breakdown of the numbers:
Days on the Road to date: 320
Distance Travelled: over 33,000 Kms (20,000 miles)
Provinces / States Visited: 9 / 22
Passes / Memberships: Canada National Parks Annual Pass ($120 – total savings of $20), US National Parks Annual Pass ($80 – total savings of $237), Texas State Park Annual Pass ($70 – total savings of $249), 1 year membership Passport America ($44 – total savings of $327 at associated RV parks)
Beers consumed: 8,473 (give or take)
Wine consumed: 437 cases (give or take)
Weight gained: no comment!
Total Cost: about $40,000 (CAD)
So our projected budget was pretty close, even with Mama Bear going rogue at the shoe stores in California. We didn’t do everything we intended to do and missed entire regions that we’d planned to visit. But we did tons of things and went to places we hadn’t anticipated visiting. That’s the beauty of travelling for a year without a fixed schedule – lots of flexibility. And despite a really weird weather year, we didn’t get swept up in any tornadoes, caught in any floods, stuck in snow or pelted with baseball-sized hailstones. Our route decision-making certainly wasn’t perfect but we avoided all the big hazards and it always seemed to work out.
And finally, a word about the star of the show – The Bear. She was an amazing companion throughout this entire adventure, quickly adapting to her new home, making friends everywhere we went, always entertaining us, and happily going along for the ride. We’re obviously biased but she’s the best dog, ever.
So while this post sounds a bit like a finale, it ain’t over yet. We’re back to look for a new home, somewhere, which could take awhile. So to all those generous friends mentioned above, we may be swinging into your driveway again soon. Stay tuned – we’ll keep you up to date on our progress and the next chapter of our escapades. And as always, stay in the groove…