New Beginnings

Hello friends and family!

The last time Eric and I went on an adventure, I sent out the occasional update email and people seemed to enjoy them. This adventure is several magnitudes larger, as it has involved completely packing up our lives in Toronto and taking to the road for, well, a year? Until the money runs out? It’s unclear! Nonetheless, this seems like the best way to keep in touch.

Obviously, Covid has affected our plans. We started this project with the intention of becoming campground hosts in the mountains of Wyoming for the summer, but that was before the Canada-US border closed down, along with campgrounds and public spaces across the continent. We’re re-evaluating our plans now, which may include travelling in Ontario or throughout Canada, adhering to self-isolation requirements as needed. At the moment, we are in a 14-day quarantine up at the cottage because Eric was in Michigan visiting his family last week. We are on the fifth day and still like each other, despite the fact that we are living out of a ~100 square foot bunkie and cooking most of our meals in a toaster oven. Fortunately, quarantining does not preclude us from enjoying the outdoors and soaking up the sun.

Cottage quarantine is pretty lovely

Our plans will (hopefully) firm up in the next few weeks. The broad strokes are still this: we gave up the apartment, put our prized possessions into a storage locker, sold and donated most of our other goods, and moved into a van. The van is a Promaster we bought from a friend’s brother. For the past couple of weeks (or months, I don’t know, time doesn’t really exist during a pandemic) we have been turning this dirty van into a tiny little home with floors and ceilings and windows and walls and a bed and a kitchen and a solar-powered electrical system. I’ve attached a pdf document to this email that I had to prepare for our insurance company to prove that we really have converted it, if you care to see a brief summary and some horrible pictures of various nooks and crannies. In easier times, we would have loved to have a mobile housewarming party, but in covid times this blog post will have to suffice.

On the topic of the van: Eric and I have seen the #vanlife hashtag. We’ve watched the dreamy videos of vanlifers on Youtube and scrolled past the #vanderlust posts on Instagram. Most #vanlifers are a couple of 20-something hotties that consist of a blonde babe who wears crocheted underwear and does yoga on the roof of her perfectly preserved 1969 VW bus, and a crunchy ponytailed boyfriend who acts as her slavish videographer. One of them has a vague job like ‘website design’ and the other does sponcon for organic skin creams on their Instagram account. The thumbnail of their Youtube videos is usually a shot of her bikini-bum posed in front of their van, which is parked on a beach in Bali overlooking a turquoise ocean. Their vans have indoor showers, WiFi, and electrical systems that power blenders to make green juice smoothies. They have roof-racks for surfboards and shiplap on the walls and twinkle lights above the bed. 

A super low-key van

This is…not that. Eric and I have done pretty much everything ourselves, with the dedicated assistance of my handyman father and his well-stocked tool library (thanks dad! This is serving as free advertising for your business!). The final result is something we are really proud of, and I think it’s going to be a really nice home! It may not be all blonde wood and stainless steel fixtures, but it’s the product of our own work, a shoestring budget, and a lot of trial and error. So although we are embarking on a #vanlife adventure, it is going to be a little less glamorous than the hashtags would suggest…think gas station bathrooms, sailor showers and a LOT of lentils.
On that note, please send any recommendations for sights to see, people to meet, trails to hike, and campgrounds to visit in eastern and northern Ontario, as it is looking like that will be the first leg of our adventure. I have visions of driving along the Trans Canada highway, swimming in Lake Superior, hiking the Canadian shield and eating whitefish – any other ideas?

Much love to all of you!

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