By way of explanation, we opted for the vagabond package. Given the length of time we were going to be gone, and the "off the beaten track" nature of much of our chosen itinerary, driving and tenting our way through the Canadian west seemed to make the most sense. The increasing cost (and decreasing comfort) of flying was a bit of a factor; but more prohibitive was the anticipated cost of hotels and restaurant meals for 30 + nights.
Besides, we would only have to have rented a car upon landing, and would have seen much less of the country in the bargain. Furthermore, we're just not RV people -- that's not real camping. If you can't leave home without your satellite dish and TV, then don't leave home. We've done this trip before by car, so we also seized the opportunity to vary the route, take smaller provincial highways, and visit places neither of us had been before.
Initially we were encouraged by our misplaced confidence in Dave Phillips' prediction for a hot and dry summer. It didn't take us long to realize that we'd been duped. However, the energy sector forecasters were "dead-on-balls" accurate in their prediction of record high prices for gasoline and gasoline accessories.
So, without going into any great detail right now, here are a few of the lessons gleaned from our mini-Odyssey.
- Life happens during the brief periods between frequent bands of severe thunderstorms.
- It is easier to break the ice with fellow tenters than with "campers" driving RVs or land yachts. I don't know why that is.
- Community pride flourishes across much of Western Canada, and rightly so.
- Towns across northwestern Ontario and the prairie west just love their roadside attractions.
- When least expected, the kindness, generosity, and hospitality of total strangers can be both deeply touching and disarming.
- Unexpected encounters with jerks can also be disarming. Thankfully, such encounters are less frequent.
- Also disarming -- there are insects that I have never seen nor heard of before, and some of them bite.
- Trying to write at a campsite at dusk just plain sucks. Mosquitoes (and there is a bumper crop this year) just love the flicker of the laptop screen, and could care less about insect repellent containing DEET.
- Campgrounds that say have Wi-fi sometimes don't.
- Beef jerky is best when it is bought fresh directly from the producer.
So, now it's time to catch up on my reading. The RSS reader is bursting at the seams. Clearly much has happened in the past month. And I'm not exaggerating when I say that I read a newspaper only twice during that time. Yikes.