Road trip. Two months. Five European friends across Canada from Toronto to Vancouver and through the States from San Francisco back to Toronto via as many cool places in between as we can find. We’ve used cities as way-markers but our interest is in the land we’ll travel through between them. Along the way we’ll pass through more National Parks than you can shake a stick at. Camp stoves, beaches, forests, mountains, waterfalls, adventures and waking up in a tent somewhere new every morning.
Introductions. We are Ciaran, Dian, Lara, Robbie and Sam – we’ve spent the year on exchange at Trent University but now exams are finished, school’s out and summer’s nearly here; time for a change of scene. You’ll get to know us along the way but for now:
Ciaran, 20, from England studies history – his most recent big adventure was climbing Africa’s highest peak, Mt Kilimanjaro.
Dian, 21 from the Netherlands studies psychology and is our most seasoned road-tripper – having driven all over Europe in what’s possibly the world’s tiniest two door hatchback.
Lara, 20, from Germany studies environmental sciences, we’re all convinced that if she’d been growing up in the 60’s she would have made a great hippie.
Robbie, 21, from Scotland studies archaeology and spent his childhood scrambling up the Munros of northwest Scotland.
Sam, 21, from Scotland studies astrophysics and spent last summer hitchhiking and walking around Iceland. Very rarely spotted not carrying at least one camera.
Four of us met at the end of last August at an orientation camp organised by the university just south of Algonquin Provincial Park. We were driven there directly from the airport late at night, in darkness. We can still remember waking up early the next morning just after sunrise and walking outside to find that we’d been delivered to a log cabin built on the shore of a huge lake, steaming in the sun and surrounded on all sides by thick spruce forest. We’ve haven’t stopped smiling since! Dian joined us in January for the winter semester. I think it was only about three minutes before it felt like she was another old friend.
It took until the end of February or so for us to realise that time was actually passing very quickly. We had all spoken of summer travels, and ‘going out west’ but never in any more specific terms than those. We had to get a move on! For Lara and Sam, the next month or so was spent navigating the used-car market. Steep learning curve and lots of obstacles. In the end though, after exchanging their British and German drivers licenses for Ontario, hours of insurance policy hunting, blocked bankcards and actual fraud on one account, we were successful. Parked just outside is the 2002 Chrysler Town & Country minivan that is going to carry us across a continent and back again. We haven’t named her yet – we’re waiting for something to happen on the road to tell us what she’s called.
Our European sense of distances and idea of what a ‘long drive’ is often amuses our Canadian friends. We find it hard to believe that we can drive for two straight days and still not have left Ontario! Despite that, our idea is to drive straight out west to Alberta. Sorry Manitobans and Saskatchewanians but we heard your prairies just aren’t as interesting as what lies beyond! Once in Banff, we’ll travel north to Jasper and then southwest via Kamloops, Whistler and Squamish to Tofino on Vancouver Island.
The next leg of the journey will take us south into the States, the plan at the moment being to head towards Yosemite. From Yosemite onwards our itinerary gets more and more vague but we expect to spend some more time on the Pacific coast, visit the giant trees of the redwood and sequoia forests in eastern California, the deserts of Death Valley, and well, beyond that, things really do become vague. In planning this trip it was important to us to stay as flexible as we could. Over the eight weeks we have only four dates where we are tied to being somewhere. For the rest of the time, if we wake up to beautiful sunshine and decide we really don’t want to leave where we are, we’ll stay! No schedules, no appointments; just our tents, backpacks, us, and the road.
Keep up with us throughout our journey via the weekly blogs posted here that we’ll be writing for Osprey Packs or follow us on Instagram:
Photos by Sam.