Read part 1 HERE, part 2 HERE, part 3 HERE.
In the immortal words of Sophia Petrillo, ‘picture this’ … Kamloops, the summer of 2022, the middle of summer 2022. We’re sleeping with blankets and hot water bottles. It was bloody freezing!
A bit of authorial musing ..,
… what started out as a simple recounting of the path of our Wunder-Lusters Adventure has ended up including so much of what has gone on throughout the entire world over the last handful of years. Political, climactic, environmental, metrological, virological, social, etc.
But these are the times we live in, the times we have to live through, probably for the rest of our lives. The butterfly effect of our appetites has turned into a cyclone, sweeping all up in its path, will-we-or-nil-we, and to not acknowledge that, even within the confines of the story I’m telling, feels inauthentic, perhaps even dishonest.
Our world is a beautiful place, full of terrible wonders and beautiful dangers…
And so, to continue my weather report of the past handful of years.
It wasn’t until the very afternoon before we were due to leave Kamloops we found our next camping spot. Turns out campgrounds throughout the length and breadth of British Columbia fill up very quickly when a long weekend is nigh. Who knew? (I think Mrs Widds and I were too knackered at that point to pay attention to such minutiae)
The very last campground on our list of ones within a reasonable (4 hours max) drive had a spot available.
We hitched up ol’ Bessie and off we pootled.
For the next two weeks we called iRVins RV Park and Campground in Valemount, our home.
Two cold, glorious weeks.
Glorious, because I could see snow-capped mountains everywhere I looked, and cold, how cold? One morning we discovered that our ‘city water’ hose had frozen overnight.
We figured two weeks, (where at the very least it wasn’t raining all the time) was long enough for us to rest and gain an appreciation for what we’d actually accomplished, rather than just be so fucking exhausted that we could barely put one foot in front of the other at the end of the day. After we’d done that, we estimated a few days at the most, (hah!) we’d take a look around Valemount and see what we might see.
It wasn’t until about day 3 that I noticed how long I was sleeping each night and realised how far into total exhaustion I’d pushed myself. I was ready for bed by 7pm, sometimes earlier, and I wouldn’t wake until well after 9am. I averaged thirteen hours sleep for almost the entire time we were at iRVins (that’s how they spell it) Even when I was up and moving around, I had so little energy that walking across the campground each day to have a shower took all the strength I could muster. (if you’ve ever tried to have a decent shower in a very tiny ‘shower’ in a very small RV then you know why I made that trek)
Throughout our last days there, we reevaluated our priorities.
Our dreams of those early years, to travel the country, perhaps the whole of North America, and beyond, had crumbled beneath the harsh realities of the Covid pandemic, an on-rushing climate crisis, and a culture, a society, of increasing scarcity, that inexorably polarised (to the point of violence in some instances) on just about any issue, real or imagined, and more and more, we felt held no place for a couple of old woman nomads. (although, the nomad community is far more accepting of ‘oddballs’, like us than than the ‘traditional’, one) We had to find our own place, make our own place.
So, what to do, what to do?
We certainly weren’t going back. We’d come too far and struggled too hard to leave, to even contemplate that option.
We couldn’t stay where we were. (for longer than our allotted two weeks) Valemount in the summer of 2022, was defined by snowcapped mountains, (which I absolutely adored) and a complete and utter lack of housing options or long-term camping due to a natural gas pipeline construction running the entire length of the Southern Yellowhead Highway and soaking up every site it could for its workers.
There was only one thing for it then. North, Miss Teschmacher. (gold star if you get the reference. I’m looking at you, Admiral Hutson)
Prince George was our first stop, a mere three hour pootle up the road, (Hwy 16) where we restocked our supplies. They had a Costco – our favourite store! … and a Nissan dealership, which we desperately needed because of ongoing brake issues with our trusty steed. (the truck) That fix took longer than we anticipated, and along with other time-devouring delays that sucked up the very last of our contingency funds, we decided to stay in place for a wee bit longer than we’d initially planned.
Enter the BeeLazee RV Park and Campground, run by an octogenarian couple who’d owned the place for the last fifty years. Once upon a time it would’ve been a showcase, but time and wear-and-tear catch up with the best of us eventually, and the old gal was showing her age. There’s a charm in run-down rustic, and in contrast to the almost sterile campground in Valemount (not counting my beloved snow-capped mountains, of course) it was a welcome change to the senses.
Mrs Widds fell in love with it immediately. Me, not so much, I was still grieving my snow-capped mountains … and it finally had warmed up enough for the mosquitoes to come out of hiding and do what they do best – try every way possible to drain me of blood, to which they were more than moderately successful.
The strain of living in the RV, getting in and out of it, and generally moving around it, had taken a grievous toll on my knees as well. That coupled with the strain I placed on them during the move meant that I could manage a hobble, leaning heavily on my cane, on a good day. I came to appreciate the tiny shower in our RV. At least there was always a wall close at hand for me to lean on.
Summer, such as it was, (cold-and-rainy with a few sunny-and-warm days here and there) was slipping through our fingers like fine-grained sand.
The thought of not having a home base to over-winter in, in a region where the snow depth can often be measured in meters, and winter temps well below freezing was not something either of us found at all attractive. Even if we did find a campground that stayed open all winter, our little RV would turn into an RV-cicle at the first hint of snow.
We would have to find a place with four walls instead of four wheels.
Mrs Widds found our home on Widder Island via a Craigslist ad so we were cautiously hopeful that the odds were in our favour this time too. (they were – but that’s another story) Which was just as well because La Nina, that pesky Pacific weather phenomenon, (she who had kept summer at bay until well into July) was forecast to smack us with a Winter colder and longer than usual, once she’d finished chilling the ass-pidistra out of Spring and Summer.
And so, our great Wunder-Lusters Adventure has come to a close for the season.
We have no idea what the future holds, but here’s what I do know …
I estimate that I’ve probably taken five to ten years off the lifespan of my knees. Time to find an orthopedic surgeon.
Mrs Widds and I are far stronger and more resilient than we ever thought we could be. (we had inklings but now it’s confirmed)
Always carry duct-tape and a roll of wire, and a water bottle, at all times.
People are far more willing to be of help when one is ‘travelling’. It’s the nature of our species I suppose when we encounter those outside our ‘tribe’, to offer assistance, and help them on their way.
For all the stress and tears, laughter and awe, for every kilometer we travelled, and didn’t travel, for all that the world is irrevocably different now than when it was when we first conceived this madcap idea, I wouldn’t’ve missed a moment of it.