In our last installment we had some serious leakage issues and had to figure something out fast as we were smack dab in the middle of monsoon season in Vancouver. Luckily, one of Bonita’s cousins came to the rescue! Cousin Dan and Paula’s family have an acreage on Salt Spring Island and generously invited us to stay with them while we fixed our leaky home. So we booked a ferry and hightailed it outta Vancouver to take refuge under a roof.
Salt Spring Island is tucked away from the world about an hour and a half south of Vancouver and is a hippie paradise. It’s like a little kombucha oasis. Everyone is happy and helpful, and thankfully so as we were in grave need of help. We made a beeline for Mouat’s Hardware Store and explained our plight to some very sympathetic employee’s who set out immediately gathering everything we needed to make our vessel watertight. There was even a random customer who operated the water taxi that weighed in on how to fix our problem. We loaded up with rubber washers, butyl tape and Sikaflex: a heavy duty marine flexible sealant. With our supplies in hand we scurried to Dan & Paula’s sanctuary.
We ended up staying with them for a week while we laboured away on our van. Dalaney had to work in the mornings, but there were some loooong days as we wanted to make sure the roof would never leak again. We completely stripped everything from the interior and took the solar panel off once again and this time we even uninstalled the roof vent and back tail light. No foolin’ around this time around. There were sessions that lasted well into the night and we’ll spare you the nitty gritty details (it will show up in our Build Log), but there was some light profanity used and steady crying during this time.
Dan, Paula and their kids Infinity, Haydn, Reason and Keen (great names, eh?) took good care of us while we were there though. If it weren’t for them, I’m not sure we would’ve made it. God bless your renaissance family. We played many board games while Dan fed us a steady diet of local craft brews or signature cocktails. They also fed us homemade prosciutto, sausage and pork rinds! The glorious prosciutto was reason enough to never leave. They also had four very cuddly cats, which eased the pain of leaving our Graycie behind. While on the island, The Perry’s guided us to the best local restaurants and places to see, including a goat cheese farm where we sampled about 50 different cheeses before making our final delicious selection. Bonita also discovered her love of artisanal jams and has declared herself “a jam person” now.
Our week of repairs could have been hell, but thanks to the Perry clan it was a little slice of heaven. Also, the butyl tape and Sikaflex turned out to be a winning combination, as we’ve been leak free every since! The repairs aren’t especially pretty, since the hardware store didn’t have white Sikaflex, but honestly we are just so happy to have a dry van that we don’t care. We could have stayed for longer, but there’s a schedule to keep! So we said our goodbyes and ferried back to the mainland.
The night before we left, Dan and Dalaney really got into the hard stuff, so the next morning we stopped for some fast food to keep the hangover at bay while driving to Victoria.
First stop: Craigdarroch Castle: an imposing structure and one time residence of a kooky oil tycoon.
We had a walking tour planned for the next day, so that evening we decided to take in a movie. As previously mentioned, we met in a film studies class so you’d be right in assuming that we love going to the theatre any chance we get. Plus it’s Oscar season, so there’s lots to see! That night we saw Guillermo Del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” which was pretty good, but the real star that night was the Capitol 6 Theatre. Big, plush seats that reclined all the way back AND cheap tickets? Yes please. We ended up going to see “Three Billboards” at the same theater a few days later. That night we headed to downtown Victoria and immediately fell in love with it. First of all it wasn’t raining and secondly it was just so beautiful! The impressive historic buildings were all lit up and it was bustling with Saturday night activity. We found Finn’s right on the harbour, got some amazing mussels and simultaneously charged our computers. Our solar panel was providing us with power for the refrigerator and the lights, but the overcast weather of the northwest wasn’t giving us much sun for the rest of our electronics.
We settled in for the night right downtown at a parking meter (free on Sundays, score). Actually, we circled around for a good half hour before finding the perfect sleeping spot, which seems to be the most difficult part of the trip thus far. In the morning we had a light breakfast and then set out on foot for a walking tour plotted out the night before by Dalaney. Some of the highlights included:
Fan Tan Alley: the narrowest street in all of Canada! Previous home of opium dens, illegal gambling rings and various other illicit things!
Fairmont Empress Hotel: Fancy bathrooms for us to use!
Market Square: Previous home of more illicit activity, current home to some great vintage stores, cafes and curiosity shops!
Parliament buildings: Kind of like Edmonton’s, only bigger!
Bastion Square! We don’t remember the difference between this square and Market Square, but suffice to say it probably involved some illicit activity in it’s past!
Fisherman’s Wharf: a floating island of shops! Apparently closed in the winter! Wish we had known before walking there in the rain!
We spent the next few days exploring the rest of the island, and found some truly magnificent vistas at Ogden Breakwater point where we strolled along the ramparts and watched the sunset. Inexplicably, Dalaney was tempted to propose again.
We ate at Breakwater Café and Bistro and charged our computers again before setting out to find a place to sleep for the night, and boy did we ever. We didn’t just find A spot, we found THE spot. It was perfect: great view of the water, secluded and best of all: free open wifi! Yes, Willow Beach was a van dwellers dream. However, like many dreams it was too good to be true. Our mistake was to return the next night and expect no consequences. Alas, at about 11:30 at night we were startled awake by the sound of knocking on our windows. Dalaney scrambled up to the front to be confronted by a police officer wielding a flashlight. He was friendly though, and patiently explained that the residents of this particular affluent neighbourhood did not appreciate us camping out here. He then directed us to a place not too far where no one would object to our kind. Though there were large signs emblazoned with dire warnings about parking overnight, but we trusted our policeman friend, and slept like babies. God bless you, friendly Victoria policeman.
We spent the next few days around the Oak Bay/Jubilee area, working at cafes all along, and Dalaney even met up with his fellow Granify employee Mike Buss for a day of work! Together, they witnessed the loudest cell phone conversation ever had in a café. Mike also graciously offered us access to his home for washing, but we never got to take him up on it. Shoutout to Mike for his generous offers
During our time in Victoria, we had been trying to solve some minor issues which had cropped up. First there was our cupboard doors coming open around sharp left turns. We had tried magnets and clasps, but to no avail. One of my co-workers, Lydia Middleton suggested that we try childproofing them with little catches. So we made a quick stop in at Babies ‘R’ Us and bada-bing-bada boom: problem solved! Shoutout to Lydz and her big brain. The second problem we had was a drip from our water pump. We tried taking it all apart and putting it back together, tighter, but it wasn’t working. Lydia wasn’t around to problem solve this time, so we went to a Griffin M Ltd., a plumbing company. A very large plumber took a look and informed us that we had the wrong fittings, but offered to put a bunch of teflon tape on there and really tighten it. He looked very strong so we trusted him. And wouldn’t you know it: problem solved! It only took him a few minutes and he refused any payment; we are eternally grateful to you, great big plumber man.
With those issues resolved, and Victoria thoroughly explored, we decided the time had come to make a dash for the border. First, we had to make ourselves presentable though. We stopped in at a SNAP fitness, where we have memberships exclusively for access to their 24/7 shower facilities. We found a nice graveyard to park outside of (very quiet) rested up and made our way to the border crossing. We gave the van a good scrubbing, put on our fanciest van clothes and even brushed our hair in an attempt to show that we are indeed good upstanding citizens, despite our current accommodations. Turns out we had nothing to worry about. We were stopped for a secondary inspection and interview, but when the friendly Americans realized we had nothing to hide let us into their country! Thanks CBP officer Cook!
So now here we are, in the promised land of America! On a bit of a time-budget though: we have six months to see 48 continental states, (unless we can get an extension…?) so we’d better get movin’! First stop: Washington! Or is it? Find out in the next installment of The Advantourer blog!