“You’re going to do what you want to do”
I went to college because I thought it was expected of me. I moved to Bramalea because I was told it was an opportunity. I got married because by 23 I thought I was supposed to be, after all my sibling was. I think asking for a divorce, November 8, 2002, was the first real decision I made by myself or at least for me regardless of the consequences. And yeah, since then I’ve made a lot of “me” choices, but I was already 32 years old. Yes, I admit completely, sometimes I wonder if I had stayed in college, or what if I had gone back, or not at all, what my life would be like today.
What if things had worked out differently between Louise and I, or Laura and I, or if back in 1994 I had told Mary that I loved her. I still remember the day we said goodbye at her condo. How could she not know or see that I loved her. It didn’t make any difference though did it as our lives continued down different paths. You can not repeat the past… but of course you can! Not… old sport. What if, after all this, I end up back in Owen Sound, or Kincardine or Hanover working as a stock clerk in some chain store… would it be worth it? Was any of it worth it?
I must let go of this “oh crap how am I going to do this?” feeling. When I was in Bramalea in 1990 I got a full-time job as a stock clerk and with almost no money I got my first apartment on Elizabeth Street. I moved to Main Street next and had two more addresses before I went to Ohio. I went clubbing ever other weekend and I was on a bulletin board service with that crowd. I will do it again.
Oh wait, I did. I moved from my parents in 2003 on to a third shift temporary job, got a room and had my car. From there I went to Kincardine full time, because I wanted to, and got the apartment downtown. Then I went to Hanover after that to pursue my dream of owning a store. Next, I was at a friend’s house until I got back on my feet again and took a job up north. That job afforded me a decent savings plan to be where I am right now.
I wrote all of that on May 18, 2013 the day before I got my first job out here in Alberta at a summer resort of course the names were changed to protect the identities of people involved back then.
And now, here I am out in Alberta. I am, at present, unemployed but not worried about it. I am constantly applying for jobs and I hope to find something out here soon. In the meantime, it has allowed me space to slip back into that voyageur mentality I have forgotten these past couple years.
In 2013 I was comfortable with my limited resources and, at least, somewhat controlled materialism. I traveled from Kincardine, Ontario to Pacific Rim National Park Vancouver Island with only a brief layover in the Cline River Alberta region (four months).
I’ve been thinking a lot about that time and all the places I got to see on my journey out west to the Pacific Ocean. I think that, while continuing to look for regular work of course, I should get out more and explore. I love British Columbia and all there is to see there. If I could find a job, there I would take it. Alberta is a beautiful place but I am a wanderer, a free spirit, and I don’t see the point in being tied down to any place when I don’t have a spouse or kids or any real debts to worry about.
I really don’t have any set plan in mind except to find a job so I can put a roof over my head beyond that I need to re-align my focus to me more. I have a lot of hobbies that I could change into something that could earn me money. I am a writer, albeit what I call a paragraph writer, and an amateur photographer. I like to write blogs and short stories and really should do it a lot more than I have been. And the beauty of that is I can do it anywhere in Canada.
My biggest challenge is finding stability from October thru April when the weather sucks the most and I can’t just live out of my vehicle as much as I would like to. I could spend my winters in a warmer American climate but what most people don’t realize is that to even visit the U.S. you must have a job and a home to come back to. You can lie and go off the radar but eventually it catches up to you and there’s nothing worse than being forcibly removed from somewhere. I would love to have a place down in Slab City California where I could spend my winters writing and exploring philosophy and other interests but it doesn’t work that way. You can’t just pick up and go there on a whim, unless you live in the U.S. already then, it’s a different story.
So, I need to pursue what my options are here in Canada. In the winter, there is only one “somewhat desirable” climate and that’s on Vancouver Island. Like going to the U.S., you can’t just drive over there and do whatever you want and even if you find a way it is still “somewhat” not “entirely” desirable. They still get winter out there so you must be prepared for sub-zero temperatures, certainly not like eastern B.C. and to the east that can see minus forty or worse but cold just the same.
I watch these videos on people who have converted vans and campers to live in year-round but what they don’t share with you is the fact that they had the money to begin with. I watched one great conversion of a van into a camper, complete with all the amenities, what a great plan – oh did I mention it was a $43,000 vehicle and they did about $5,000 in upgrades. I mean it’s a neat story and I would love to do it but I don’t have that kind of seed money to make it possible. Too many of these videos fail to reveal the fact that “oh we sold our quarter million-dollar home” or “oh we are both attorneys and had crap loads of money in savings” or “our parents died and we used that money from their summer villa”.
And then you have people like the two women in the U.S. who make videos about living in their cars. First, both have regular jobs so a steady income and second both live in warmer climates – Texas, Florida and California. If they do pay their bills they are less subjected to things like expensive auto insurance and vehicle maintenance (since these vehicles seem to magically run all the time with little or no issues – my guess would be because they are not subjected to temperatures that range in one place from minus 20 to plus 20 Celsius in the same month).
The option of living in your car is great until you realize that in Canada you can tolerate about minus ten with the proper camping gear but below that you or your vehicle will most likely freeze to death. The one video the girl has a zero degree Fahrenheit (-20 Celsius, which is the bag I own) sleeping bag and she layered. I’ll bet she wasn’t subjected to those freezing temperatures for more than a night or maybe a few unlike here where it can be a few weeks before you see temperatures break the low twenties (25F is -4C). I think, at most, I tolerated about three nights in a row when it was -10 Celsius and my greater fear was whether my vehicle would start (and for that I have auto club which is another expense). You simply must be in a warmer climate for this to be possible, or, as mentioned before, have lots of money to buy a vehicle you can convert – in which case you aren’t really “roughing” it.
I didn’t tell anyone about it but the very first day I was on my road trip west I stopped in Parry Sound where I promptly left my headlights on and drained the battery. Fortunately, I had auto club and it cost me nothing extra for them to come out and give me a boost. I didn’t discover that I had left my lights on, and no one of the dozens of people walking by bothered to share that with me, until about 11:00 pm and I was ready to find a better place to park for the night. I had Gold coverage with auto club, for about $125 a year, and called them for a boost. I was lucky, a boost could cost up to $250 which would have taken a chunk out of the money I needed to pay for food and gas. It’s another factor, what I like to call the “human disadvantage” that isn’t covered by the people who live in their vehicles – leaving headlights on, flat tires, burnt out headlights, et cetera.
That’s bringing up many of the bad things that could happen, so now, as part of talking about all sides of the story maybe I should tell you about some of my experiences with traveling out west and living in my van during the journey.
I think for that, though, I will need to start a new blog since it will involve me going through my travel diary and going into detail about a lot of the things I did during my quest to the west.
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