We raced along the stunning Sunshine Coast to catch two connecting ferries to Horseshoe Bay. The plan was to meet two road trippin' friends, who I was hoping would fit snuggly in the back. One, lounging on my bed, the other propped up on the makeshift seat of the cooler and a camping mat. At Diversity Festival on Texada Island, I met a German girl who was heading to Artswells Festival too, and needed a ride. The two of us chatted about her trip so far in Canada, how she ended up travelling for a few weeks with a First Nations group and their caravan of horses, and how now she's helping out a smoothy food truck at festivals.
We arrived late that evening, and met the two friends joining me for the ride up. One is helping me vend and another is performing in a puppet show. I wanted to make it at least to Whistler that night, to crash at another friend’s place and drive the whole next day. It was to take 8 hours in total, so we broke it up into a few days. I happily said goodbye to BC Ferries at least for another few weeks. Rushing to the ferries added a huge level of stress and cost to the trip. Now The German, The Helper, and The Puppeteer and I had a cushy four days to get to Wells.
Highway 99 winds around stunning glacier lakes, mossy forests, and ends up in a micro climate of desert. Ferns are replaced by Sagebrush, lush green hills with red clay. It felt like we had landed on Mars. Blasting music with the window down, we indulged on road trip food like Salt and Pepper Chips and trail mix with chocolate chips. I was adjusting to asking the passenger side for sips of water, to dip my chip in hummus, to change the song. I had never been one to ask for help easily. As the driver, I was in charge, and as a business owner I also had to ask for things when needed.
Delica's are a right hand drive (picture taken by passenger)
We camped just outside of Lillooet, at the grounds of The German’s friend who she met on the caravan voyage. With horses sniffing at their tents, I slept soundly in my van, crammed between the bags and our food (to prevent bears). The four of us were a good team, setting up our site, preparing food, washing dishes, telling stories, as if we had been travelling together for months.
The next day we were stopped by a long line of vehicles right before the 97 turn off. People leaned against their cars, chatted with the new neighbours in front and behind them. We got out and stretched. All cramped by The Helper's accordian, the two 5 gallon jugs of water, four backpacks and my vending wares (bins, tables, tents and chairs).
After the car in front didn’t have any answers for us other than they had been there for two hours already, we walked the line to the scene of the accident. A wide load truck had taken out a low hanging power line. The whole post flew out of the ground, the power lines tangled like a loose ball of yarn. The truck slammed on its' breaks, the car behind them, a couple visiting from Switzerland, smashed into the back. No one was hurt, except the rental car. It was to be another few hours before they could remove the live wires.
Our options were to backtrack an hour to a side road, which I would need to use my four wheel drive with, or wait. We were just a few kilometres away from the 97, so after debating what to do, we took out a chair, my cook stove, and cooler. Since I was living out of my van it wasn’t such an inconvenience. The Puppeteer and I gathered sage while the other two cooked some quesadillas. Luckily in Lillooet The German asked the grocery store manager if there were any vegetables about to be thrown out. They gave us a large box, wishing us luck with our ‘pigs’ that we were going to feed with it. Since I was on a tight budget, the slightly bruised fruit and veggies were welcomed.
After lunch The Helper pulled out her accordian, we danced and sung and I thanked my van crew for making a potentially rotten experience so entertaining.
The Helper after lunch, Gwendolyn the Delica, the line up of vehicles
Another reason why we wanted to stay on the 99 to meet the 97, was that The Helper's boyfriend, who was hitchhiking to Wells for ArtsWells, had said there was a note for her on the side of the road, right where the two highways met. We all speculated what it could be, and the curiosity heightened while we waited three hours for the line to move. Finally as we were waved through, whooping and pumping our fists to the line waiting on the other side (who weren’t as enthusiastic as us), we saw a little scrawl on a ‘stop sign approaching’ sign.
SC+VG in which the van in unison sang out, “Awww.”
On the 97 we came to a huge incline up the mountain, away from the mini desert that British Columbia hides nestled in its belly. I felt my van huff and puff- up, and up, and up. We passed several RVs on the side of the road, having to let their engine cool. Sarah asked me about cooling fluid, to my blank expression and reply of, “I’m assuming it’s okay.” We pulled over at a stop along the road, went for a walk and found an icy blue glacier lake.
Me, The Helper, and The German
Gwendolyn The Delica is my first van, and when I lived in Europe I had only been riding a bicycle. The year before this trip I had a fear of driving again, and now I was the sole driver on a summer long road trip. I’ve noticed I tend to jump into situations, assuming I’ll float. I got Gwendolyn’s oil checked before I left, but couldn’t afford to have an entire once over of the van. Though it did have some work done the previous March before I bought it. As much as the views were breathtaking, the company enjoyable, the trip exhilarating, I had a constant pang of worry that my van would break down and I wouldn’t have money to repair it. I had a bit of funds from Diversity festival, but it all went towards my business line of credit, over exhausted visa, and covered my monthly van instalment. I had money for enough Diesel to get to Wells, BC and some snacks along the way.
I had planned a ferry ride over to Haida Gwaii after ArtsWells, that costed $211 each way, plus a 10 hour drive worth of Deisel. Luckily, ArtsWells was four days worth of potential sales, and I hoped to make enough to cover some more bills and let me continue the trip. I breathed through my concerns as Gwendolyn zipped across highways, up mountains, around lakes, and cooled the engine down before letting her rest for the night. I watched the stars through the sunroof and imagined what the next stop on the journey would bring.