Every 2 weeks, I’ll update you on my one year trip. I’ve decided to leave everything behind and spend real time with the people that matter the most in my life: my wife and three children. This is my story, I hope it will inspire you to create yours.
Date: from July 12th to July 19th
Miles on the road so far: 5,214
States/Province traveled through: Alberta & British Columbia
Last time I wrote about my trip, I was going to get a new fuel cap in Jasper. To be honest, I was quite relieved to find one within minutes (Napa Auto Parts is an amazing brand owned by an amazing company: Genuine Parts (GPC)!). As I write this article, I’m comfortably set in a farm parking lot for another great night for free (thx Harvest Hosts!). The Harvest Hosts system is amazing: you pay a small yearly membership (about $40/year) and you get to stay for free in Vineyards and Farms that are part of this network. In exchange, you are expected to buy something from your host. Today, I bought a bottle of wine and fresh vegetables to go with my salmon. Cost of my stay: $28. Not bad for a safe place to sleep and half of my dinner cost! But for now, let’s continue with our trip through the Rockies.
Day #33-34-35 Banff and its turquoise lakes
We were supposed to spend 5 days in Banff, but things didn’t exactly turn out the way we planned. First, the weather was crap; it rained almost everyday. However, we didn’t let Mother Nature discourage us and we braved the elements each day!
Our first stop after leaving Banff was at my favorite lake; Peyto Lake. You can judge the amazing color by yourself:
It’s a shame we couldn’t hike all the way down! However, instead of getting stuck like sheep on the little deck to get a view, decided to go off the path and walk a little down the cliff by ourselves. We rapidly enjoyed a calm and complete view of the lake, about 200 feet away from the tourists. It was a special feeling to be alone with all this beauty in front of us. It’s like we were entering in contact with nature itself. We spent a good 45 minutes to stare at the lake and enjoy the moment. Then, on our way back to the trail, I saw this tree:
The first picture is showing a little kid on his dad’s shoulder. Then, you have 2 metal plates with a note written by his parents and grand-parents. Finally, you have a third metal plate with a drawing of Peyto Lake. My eyes are, again, full of tears when writing this line: this was a memorial done by the parent of a small child who passed away from cancer when he was about 5 years old. His parents decided to build this memorial so he can look at the lake forever. Of all the people in the world, the family was from Quebec, the province I come from. A flow of emotions possessed my whole body like a powerful wave. I was holding my 4 year old son so tight, Caleb couldn’t understand why I felt so lucky to feel his heart beating on my chest. Once again, I’ve been reminded how lucky we are to be alive, healthy and doing this trip. Whatever you do today, take a moment to tell someone you love him/her. As the parents wrote on one of the plates: life sometimes goes by like a shooting star.
Enough with our emotions, I still had to find a place to stay for the night. This is something that is sometimes easy, sometimes difficult during our trip. I don’t want to spend too much money on campgrounds, but I still want to sleep tight without worrying about my safety. This time, we totally hit the jackpot: an empty campground:
We were about 5 RVs in a campground (with no service obviously) with a capacity of at least 50 spots. Then, we spent the rest of the day playing in the river in front of us building bridges among other things:
Okay… this picture was taken in Jasper, not near the river, but I really like it and I had to share it ;-).
The next morning, we had a hard time waking up as it was raining big time. We sleep very well in the RV when there is steady rain and cold weather outside! It’s a bit of a bummer when you have to leave and visit two other lakes! We headed towards Lake Louise, but this is not the lake I appreciated the most. I preferred Lake Moraine and its little trail around it. You can see how the lake changes color from green to blue depending where you are around the lake. The view, even through the mist of rain, is incredible:
We spent the day around these two lakes, enjoying their singular color before heading towards Banff. I expected to spend the night in the overflow camping. These are basically parking lots offered to RVers on a budget and cost about $10 to spend the night. It’s cheap and safe, good enough for me! The problem is that the Banff overflow camping has been closed for a few years now and the only option is 50 km back to Lake Louise!!! There was no way I would go back to Lake Louise on the same day since I was going on a hike in Banff the next morning! This is how we ended-up sleeping on a street in Banff. There is a 12 hour parking limit (not really overnight, but RVs are tolerated as long as you leave early). Instead of paying $10 for the night, I got it for free! The only catch is that it was right in front of the train station and we had the joy of hearing (I should write feeling as the RV was shaking like I was stuck in a tornado!) 4 trains during the night. We woke up the next morning at 6am, completely burnt with heavy rain over our heads. Wow… what can you do in an outdoor paradise when it’s pouring rain? Well, we go for our hike! I guess we must living a good life as it stopped raining the minute we got out of the RV to hit the trail. Still, we were completely dead and not very happy campers:
It was a 12km round trip hike up to a mountain 700 meters of elevation. For those who have been to Banff, this is the mountain you pay to take a gondola in order to go on top. We did it without the gondola
We even had a moment of sun and appreciated the light in the valley as we were eating our snack on top of the mountain. We then spent the rest of the day walking around the great village of Banff with a little surprise in hand:
Banff village is a nice place to walk around and shop. I’m not really into shopping anymore, but I still enjoy walking around in such ambience. However, I’d had enough of the rain and decided to leave now instead of sleeping at the train station again to wake up in the middle of another rainy day! This is why we hit the Lake Louise overflow campground to leave for Kelowna the next morning.
Day #36-37-38-39 It feels great to be with family!
I’m lucky enough to have an aunt living in the beautiful Okanagan Valley. We arrived in the Okanagan towards the end of the day and supper was waiting for us. For once, we didn’t have to sleep in our RV, we would have warm showers and we were treated like royal guests:
The next morning, my uncle got a surprise for us. He’s a big Stand-up Paddling addict and offered us free classes at a day camp on the lake during the summer. It happens that there is also a guy with a boat offering rides and water-skiing activities. We went out for an afternoon on the lake, practicing this sport for the very first time in our lives. Interesting enough, my daughter (who was the youngest to try it) was the best:
At least, I was able to stand up and get out of the water! But I must admit that my two older children were definitely better than me! It was a fun day and we were all pretty tired after this activity!
I woke up the next morning a bit sore, but I quickly put my shoes on for a run. We rarely have the chance to run since we left as we spent most of our time in bear country. For once, I was able to pursue my morning run without worrying of being chased! We then hit the beach for another day of water sports! This time, it was Stand-up Paddling:
Then again, it was the first time we all tried this sport. Since I was doing well, my uncle brought me in the middle of the lake to show me how to take waves made by boats and how to turn my board 360 degrees by standing at the end of it. Let’s just say that I didn’t ride the wave and I swam in the middle of the lake more that I wanted! Hahaha! I really enjoyed learning a new sport and was getting very good at it toward the end.
The next day, we spend the morning planning our next week ahead as we were going to Vancouver and Vancouver Island. It is sometimes hard to take a pause of a few hours to set up our next destinations as there are too many things to do and we get caught up in this demanding rhythm. It is up to us to stop and make sure the rest of our trip continues to be that fun! The afternoon was spent cycling around the lake and then some beach time with our children.
Day #40 A Quick Stop Before Vancouver
These four days spent with family were special as it was really like a vacation within our trip. At the same time, leaving my aunt’s house and her hospitality was hard as we were once again plunged into insecurity & uncertainty. While we were getting used to it, I’m not sure it was the best thing to stop sleeping in our RV for a few days. We left the Okanagan valley with our heart crisped and several fruits and vegetables on the table!
We decided to stop at a farm in Abbotsford (where I wrote this post) to make sure we spend a full day in Vancouver. The plan was to spend 2 days in the city, but there aren’t any ferries left in 2 days and we will have to take one the same day. Tomorrow, we leave for Vancouver for a full day of adventure that will end-up with a night ferry trip to Vancouver Island!!!