The beginning of our trip was fraught with adversity, but fear not dear readers: we persevere with all the hope, determination and optimism of deluded dreamers.
We hit the road at dawn on New Year’s Eve 2017 with our eyes on Vancouver. You see, as mentioned in our previous post, we needed to get out of the mind-numbingly cold temperatures of Alberta as soon as possible as a matter of survival. We figured if we could hit Kamloops by that evening we’d be doing pretty good. The drive through Alberta was splendid. Between the sunrise coming up over our beloved prairies and the sublimity of the rockies in the bright sun we almost just stayed in our beautiful Province. Alas, far too cold for van living, so we continued onwards throughout the evening through some very questionable mountain passes. For long stretches on the Coquihalla highway, it was just us and the odd semi truck on the road. Everyone else probably had New Year’s parties to attend.
We reached Kamloops around 7:00 in the evening and the smart thing would’ve been to bunker down for the night, maybe grab a pint at a local pub and ring in the New Year. However, you’ll probably learn that we often don’t choose the smart option. We took a quick nap (first sleep in the van!!!), grabbed a couple groceries and kept going despite becoming increasingly tired. Eventually, just after midnight (about 18 hours of driving) we threw in the towel. We had reached Hope, BC, which Dalaney recognized it as the place the original Rambo movie was shot (his brother fed him a constant diet of 80’s action flicks as a child. Shoutout to Tyson) so it seemed like as good a place as any for our first night. However, a small town on New Year’s Eve is a tough place to find a public washroom and the fatigue was setting in...Luckily there was an obscene amount of snow in Hope, which provided ample cover for us to pee outside. Optimism at its finest.
When we woke up, it was 2018 and we were officially vandwellers. We took a quick look around for the Rambo bridge, but quickly discovered it was demolished back in 2011. So we set out again, but didn’t make it too far as we were struck by the beauty of an ice storm that had taken over Chilliwack. It was like being in a frozen fairytale...and apparently a rare occurrence we just happened to catch. We spent the day there, marvelling at the ice world and plotting the rest of the journey to Vancouver.
Within the span of an hour, we left all the snow and the ice behind, and instead traded it in for fog and rain.
It was getting a little late in the day, so we decided to hit up a pub. We found Wicklow Pub by the water for some celebratory libations. We sat there musing about our future, writing down resolutions, and planning routes and then took a fateful stroll around the foggy Vancouver harbour. We were all alone. There was a super moon. We sat on a bench. It was very romantic. Add in the fact that we’ve been together for seven years and Dalaney had been carrying a ring in his pocket for months and well, you can probably guess what happened next. He proposed! Thankfully, despite not knowing which finger the ring went on, Bonita said yes.
Excited to be embarking on this journey together as fiancée’s, we moseyed over to our previously planned engagement to meet up with local cousins.
In true Perry fashion, a bunch of cousins (decent amout of them live out West now) had congregated at Cousin Jeremy and Ian’s place, so we drove to New Westminster to meet them. We found out New West has some crazy steep hills when all of our stuff that wasn’t bolted down went sliding to the back of the van. We also got to test the capacity of the van as Dan, Tim, Jeremy, Jesse and Tia all crammed in to check it out.
After hanging out and catching up, Cousin Tim showed us back to his neighbourhood in East Van and the best pizza place to hit up at 2:00 AM on a weeknight. We found a cozy spot to park and became temporary neighbours with Cousin Tim and Kelsey for a few days as we explored the cafes (Prado being the best) around Tim’s place on Commercial Ave. He and his partner Kelsey were gracious hosts as they had us for dinner and provided a safe space to watch our beloved Oilers lose a hockey game. W
Cousin Jesse and his partner, Tia, also were gracious hosts, even though they weren’t home. They had embarked on their own 3 week trip to Cuba, but generously offered their apartment while gone. So we moved in with their roomate John for a couple days and it was glorious to have a hot shower at will, despite not really being deprived for too long. Shout out to John for sharing his home with dirty van hippies.
Alas, it was here in Richmond that we discovered a major problem. The van roof was leaking!!! I don’t know if you know much about Vancouver weather, but if there is one thing you should know let it be this: it rains....A LOT.
Once we identified where the leaks were we had to do some quick thinking. Luckily, we know some wonderful people in Vancouver who helped us through these trying times.
We had planned on seeing Bonita’s old friend Sean and when we told him about our problem, he invited us to stay in his ample garage. God bless you and your garage, Sean. We spent the next few days taking the solar panel off, and attempting to fix the leaks without having to take down any of the inner roof, as that would be a royal pain in the butt. Cousin Tim also came over to help, and spent his whole Saturday working on it. God bless you and your glorious head of hair Tim. It also should be noted that Sean and his friendly roommates cooked us dinner and treated us to a viewing of “A Few Good Men” which holds up really well, if you were wondering.
While the new caulking was curing on the newly reinstalled solar panel, Cousin Tim and Kelsey took us to a nearby bird sanctuary where we witnessed many a bird in a humid setting.
As good as the show was, we were dismayed to find our van still leaking when we returned. Sad face. We parked overnight in a parkade, and quickly realised that it was directly under the very loud transit system. Not a great sleep, and Dalaney had to work the next morning with a tight deadline. This was a very stressful point in our still young trip, but after work we parked at a Home Depot parkade and set out to make the van absolutely leak proof. We used all the best stuff, got really messy, and figured that was the end of it.
Triumphantly, we headed to New West to see Ian, Jeremy and Jason for dinner. Ian cooked us a fantastic meal and we got to have hot showers again.
The next day, with no signs of any leaks we headed back into the city to see our good friend Brent and partake in Vancouver's world famous bowling.
No trip to Vancouver is complete without a visit to Stanley park, so we rented a tandem bike and set off to explore with Cousin Tim as our faithful guide. The tandem bike and Tim as a guide are both highly recommended, even if he did lead us around the one-way park the wrong way. We got lucky, as no rain fell on us during our day of exploration.
That evening we took in a comedy show where the aforementioned Brent was performing his patented stand up comedy routine. Great show. Yes all in all, it was a great day. Almost perfect. Only one thing could have dampened our spirits…
In the middle of the night, Dalaney awoke to the unpleasant sensation of dripping water on his forehead. The leak had returned to haunt us once again.
Where will they go to fix the roof? Will Bonita and Dalaney ever fix these leaks? Will it ever stop raining? Will they even make it to America? Find out in the next instalment of the ADVANTOUR blog!