Each week, 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 20th to July 28th
Miles on the road so far: 6,132
States/Province traveled through: British Columbia & Washington
It has been already over a month that we are traveling with Freefall, our RV. We have all started to call Freefall our home and even our little one, Caleb, is taking good care of Freefall and makes sure it’s well parked and visible at night. I don’t know what should I learn from this, but I don’t feel like I’m away yet. I don’t miss anything of my previous life. I’m very happy to feel alive each day, to experience amazing moments almost everyday and to spend all this time with my family. It’s obviously not always easy and joyous, but it is far better the regular life we used to live. This is an extraordinary life.
Another example of this is when we boondocked for the last 2 days: at Dean’s place. Dean has his heart in the right place. I found his place through boondockerswelcome, an amazing website where you can ask people if they want to have you for a few days in their parking lot. Dean has provided a lot more than a parking lot to sleep, tomorrow morning, he is going to Lowe’s to get all we need to cut a hole in my RV and fit another water entry for Central America water. I’ll let you know how it goes… But for now, let’s go back to our trip as we were about to visit Vancouver.
Day #41 A Quick Trip to Vancouver, A Very Long Day
We then woke up early to leave Abbotsford to visit Vancouver. I’ve been there a few times and decided to show my children the two things they would most likely enjoy: Stanley Park and Granville Island. I know Vancouver has plenty other things to offer, but what I really enjoy about this city it is how it is situated between mountains and the ocean.
I must also admit that driving in the middle of any city is quite a challenge with the RV… especially when there is construction! I decided to park Freefall on Granville Island (I know, not the place with most space in Vancouver). We found a great parking space towards the end of the market. It was perfect for us as we pulled-out the bikes and went for our cycling trip across Vancouver. We had the chance of riding all of Stanley Park and enjoy our lunch on the third bay. The kids went into the water for a few minutes before getting real cold hehehe! We finished this great day by walking around Grandville Island. There were kayaking courses where kids were doing races, live music near the public market and too much good food for our eyes to see and noses too smell. I’m a foodie and love public markets!
While we were already pretty full on food from the Okanagan Valley, we couldn’t resist buying more fruit, veggies, smoked salmon for our pizza night and fresh pasta for a future rainy day when we will need comfort food ;-). After our delightful pizzas, it was time to hit the road for our ferry trip. We took a 9:30pm ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo. It was a perfect way to enjoy a full day in Vancouver while not wasting time to get to the island.
The ferry trip by itself was an adventure. Just the look of our kids while we parked Freefall in this huge boat was worth it.
Caleb was worried that the crew would forget Freefall on the dock and he was relieved to see me park our RV ;-). We had a chance to see the sunset on the ocean while we were leaving Vancouver, a city full of light and the full moon rising on top of it while we were slowly drifting out to sea. We arrived at Nanaimo after 11pm. It was time to find a place to sleep. I had made a quick research telling me that Walmart does not welcome RVers and that I could probably find a quiet spot in a remote provincial park near Nanaimo. I found the spot; it was not too far (maybe 1km) from a big road, but really in the middle of nowhere. It was almost midnight, I was dead tired and while I was a bit nervous to sleep in a place “that-you-are-not-supposed-to-be-sleeping”, I decided to call it a day and sleep. Everything was perfect until a pick-up came by around 1:30 am. Why in the world would you come into a closed park in the middle of the night on a Wednesday!?! The pick-up halted maybe 1 or 2 minutes before doing a U turn and left. This was my night of sleep. I was stuck between the security I must provide my family and the fact that I had no other places to go and it was the middle of the night. The irrational part of my brain took over and I was thinking of all kind of weird scenarios. After all, only weirdos are wondering around that late at night in a place where there is nothing to do, right? So here I am, staring at my RV ceiling waiting for the night to pass because I can’t get anymore sleep now that I know I’m in the middle of nowhere and somebody else knows I’m here. Somebody that was hitting a closed park at 1:30 am in the middle of week… seriously, he wasn’t there to setup his organic lemonade stand for the next morning.
Day 42-43-44-45-46 Calming Tofino
The night passed slowly and I eventually faded into a light sleep. Around 5am, another car comes by. This wakes me up again, I’m nervous. Is this the cops? Or rangers telling us to move out? None of the above… the guy stays in his car with very loud radio for a good 15 minutes. Then he leaves. Wow… I really want to spend more time here now! Since I’m the only one awake, I simply wait and try to get some sleep. At 6am, another car parks, then another at 7am. I’m done! I wake up our kids (my wife is not sleeping either) and we decide to move on. We go back to Nanaimo and we hit a free parking lot for 3 hours by the ocean. We slept for the first 2 hours and then decide to solve all our problems with pitas and Nutella. This was the best decision of the day! I then called a campsite nearby Ucluelet (40 minutes away from Tofino) and they had a cancellation the same day! We then booked it for 4 days in the middle of nowhere. To get there, we had to close down our GPS and drive for 8km on gravel roads full of potholes. Once we got there, half of our cabinets were thrown on the floor (we have to redesign this part before we hit Mexico!). But the place was neat and very calm. It is obviously calm when you are in the middle of the forest with wolves and bears, right? Hahaha!
Instead of driving around like crazy, we decided to take the ocean beat. We stayed two full days at the campground (the second day, we were lucky enough to have a spot right on the ocean:
The children loved to do their homework by the sea while I could comfortably blog on my beach chair. We spent the other two days around Tofino exploring beaches. I love going to the beach in the morning as only a few surfers were around. You face the immensity of the ocean and kilometers of natural beach; I was speechless:
We were lucky enough to walk around at low tide and explore a few sea caves. During our little excursion, we had left our sandals on a rock nearby. Within 15 minutes, the water came up and almost stole them away from us! It was time to head back before we couldn’t make it! The sea moves very fast around this area.
We then moved to Long beach to have a quick nap by the ocean. We also played mini-soccer for a while. It’s hard to run in the sand!
These four days by the beach were amazing. We spent our last evening with a fire on the beach while we were eating sausages bought at a public market not too long ago. Once the children felt asleep in the RV, we had a couple hours to admire a sky full of stars. There isn’t any city light to cover the sky, I then see millions of stars that I couldn’t see back home. It was definitely a nice to spend a few days on Vancouver Island!
We spent a few more hours on the beach before hitting the road on our last day to do the RV routine (tanks, laundry & Walmart overnight parking). Next morning, we are taking the ferry to the U.S. via Port Angeles.
Day #47-48-49 Seattle, Chaotic Beauty
The good thing about Walmart overnight sleeps is that you always wake up early! You rarely get the best sleep, but you can start your day earlier than usual and do more things. We then had a few hours to spend in Victoria before taking our Ferry to Port Angeles:
This was a long day of traveling as we had almost 3 hours drive after the Ferry to get to Port Orchard for another night at Walmart. I’m happy to have switched our traveling setup where we do 1 long day of road and then stay a few days in one place. These days are tough, but it gives us more time to appreciate where we stay next.
We experienced another form of camping for our 2 days in Seattle. We contacted Dean through boondockerswelcome.org, a website linking boondockers and generous people offering their parking space for a couple of nights. Then again I felt a bit nervous to meet with strangers and share their driveway. But Dean was more then welcoming! He offered us water, power and even blocks to level our RV. Then, he walked us to the bus station and provided us with quarters and a bus schedule to go to Seattle! I felt as if one of my best friends was taking care of me!
We then took the bus and then the light train and arrived a few blocks away from the famous Pike Place Public Market:
I appreciated the chaotic ambience of the market where you hear merchants screaming and offering freebies to customers. We took a minute to eat a sandwich by the pier and we head back to the famous gum wall. We had the children ready for it!
After a few hours walking around the market, we were quite exhausted by the end of our day. We decided to head back to Dean’s place and enjoy our catch of the day; great salmon with asparagus! This is when Dean came by to discuss my trip to Mexico and found a solution to pump bottled water into my RV.
The next morning, we celebrated William’s birthday a day in advance. This is because he wanted to have lasagna and it’s quite difficult to cook one in the RV! We headed back to Seattle to have breakfast at the Pike Market and then visit Dale Chihuly Garden of Glass. This artist specialises in glass blowing… and it was literally blowing our mind:
We then headed back to the restaurant The Pink Door to have one of the best lasagna I ever had in my life.
I really enjoyed my 2 days in Seattle. I found the people were very welcoming and they tried to help us as much as they could. I felt a lot of patience and understanding. It is definitely a great city!
We will now leave this busy city for the calm of highway 101 and the sea…
Dividends Down Under
Wow, that night you had sounds a bit scary – all those unknown people. That’s one thing that hotels really have on camping, at least you’re a bit more secure, haha.
I’d really like to visit Vancouver one day, I want to visit Canada in general. I’m glad you enjoyed being by the beach, Aussies have situated themselves nearly all by the sea, makes us feel very relaxed and happy. Can’t wait for you to visit Australia sometime 🙂
yes it was! but we have to learn to go through such experience if we want to be ready for Mexico ;-).
You have warm beaches on top of that :-0). Looking forward to go to Australia one day! cheers,
I love Seattle and Vancouver, especially this time of year! Take care and happy venturing!
I didn’t expect much about Seattle and I was quite pleased! kids also loved the city!
What an awesome trip. We did something similar with our kids. Twice. Not an entire year at a time, but 5.5 months for the first long trip and then 5 months for the next.
Give it time. We found that it takes us a good several weeks to get into “travel tempo”. You get there eventually, and that’s the best place to be. Just give it time.
thank you for stopping by! In fact, we are getting a lot more used to it now :-). It’s fun to see how everybody adapts to this new life.
I lived in Vancouver for 8 years, great city, really beautiful. Used to love the farmer’s market over on Granville island too. Hope you had a chance to try some sushi while you were there!
We didn’t get the sushi… we bought some fish and smoked tuna along with fresh pasta 🙂
Everything tasted amazing!
Thanks for the updates!
FYI, the link should be https://www.boondockerswelcome.com (not .org).
thx for noticing, I’ll make the change in the post too!
Mike, I really enjoy your weekly updates! I foresee a book in your future after your adventure is over.
Safe travels and God Bless.
I know I’ll make a book for ourselves, I might package a ebook at the same time 🙂
I look forward to your reports. It’s like we are traveling with you. Enjoy each day as much as you can
A year might seem like a long time now, but it goes by super quick.
My wife and I did a drive around the US and Canada in 2006 and said we would do it again, alas it’s already been 10 years.
I know, time flies! it’s important to set a date to your project! We would have never left if we hadn’t pick a date in the first place.
I missed your first installments and would love to read them! How can I find them on your website
There you go!
On the road #1: http://www.thedividendguyblog.com/2016/06/21/on-the-road-1/
On the road #2: http://www.thedividendguyblog.com/2016/06/27/on-the-road-2/
On the road #3: http://www.thedividendguyblog.com/2016/07/11/on-the-road-3/
On the road #4: http://www.thedividendguyblog.com/2016/07/21/on-the-road-4/
On the road #5: http://www.thedividendguyblog.com/2016/08/10/on-the-road-5/
Mike, love reading of your travels. In 1990 I did a trip with my family. The kids were roughly 3 and 4 when we left. We went sailing for 5 years and home schooled the kids. It was a great adventure which I’m sure influenced my kids lives to the good even to this day. Everything went off with only minor glitches.
If you had a sleepless night at a park in North America you may not be comfortable at times day or night in Central America. I owned a home in Belize which I sold about 18 months ago and I’ve traveled some in Central America. I’m not sure I would do what you are planning in an RV. Have a good time but be careful and alert at all times. I’ve found that ATM cards are a good and inexpensive way to get cash on the road in Central America. Most cities have ATM machines at bus depots or in tourist areas. I’ve met some great locals and been helped by the authorities a few times but be suspicious. My wife’s pocket book stolen which had credit cards, passports and a few hundred dollars. The credit cards were taken care of with a few phone calls, no problem. We called within an hour and there was already an $800 charge on it but the CC company took care of it and it didn’t cost us anything. Also, I had Lifelock Membership which I notified right away and I also signed my wife up at the same time.
The passports became a nightmare of inconvenience that lasted long after the trip ended. The only good thing about it was that we were in a city which had a consulate and we had a temp. passport in 2 days. However we lost the forms that were filled out at entry because they were in the passports and a corrupt border guard wanted $200 USD for us to leave the country. I argued with him for 15 minutes and showed him a police report which was suppose to smooth the exit. In the end I had to give him $100 to let me exit. I wanted a receipt but he laughed at me. He threw the temp. passports across the counter and told me to go back he didn’t care but he wasn’t letting me leave. I had no choice. The cash in the pocketbook was the least of our problems.
Because of the visa stamps and my permanent resident status in Belize which was stamped in the passports it cost a lot to get back to original status. My advice, be very careful with your documents. Keep some cash and credit cards stashed away separate from your person. Good luck and I wish you and your family the best. It is very good to be with your young children full time having an adventure. It will be the topic of conversation at the dinner table for a very long time.
Thank you for your comment and tips! As I see it, each step of our trip is preparing us for our next. Since then, we have spent several nights boondocking here and there and we feel a lot better now doing it. We will be very careful during our trip in Central America!
Enjoy your travel journal. So far you’re showing me areas I haven’t been -yet.
We have RV’d down the Pacific Coast Hwy with the whole family; plus a side trip to Yosemite -which you HAVE to do.
If you intend to see Belize after Mexico, let me know. Got some tips on what to see there, and who are some really great folks.
I agree with you about Yosemite, great place! We will go to Belize on our way back. We plan to stay there about 10 days (park the RV in Belize City and take a boat to live on islands for a week). Looking forward to it!
“This is an extraordinary life.” Well said indeed. Sounds like an amazing amazing trip. Glad you enjoyed Vancouver!
All the best to you and your family.
honestly, the more we travel, the more amazing this trip becomes. I can see it is shaping us in a different way already!
Over on your Freefall5.com website, is there a way to read it in English? I’m in the planning stages of a similar trip and am getting all the info I can. Thanks so much.
have you tried to translate it with Google Chrome? it might work. You can also send me an email at email@example.com if you have specific questions. I’ll be happy to help!
Thanks so much for sharing your highlights and experiences on your journey. I look forward to each blog so much, as so many of us are caught up in the day to day machine of life.
You having given me pause for thought of future possibilities.
Take care everyone and be safe!
thank you so much for your kind words. I hope I will inspire a few people by writing about my journey :-).
You described it well. The problem with an RV and staying at an unknown, lonely place. You sleep with one eye open all night. There is ALWAYS some strange vehicle that drives through at 3 a.m. . I have done it for many years and found several answers on Internet, joining the Elks, Walmart courtesy, and even hospital parking lots. It always seemed to me that RV parks could have some accommodation for rigs that want to stay one night, sleep and move on. $5 ?? Park and sleep didn’t seem to be a $35 value to me. I even contemplated buying a gun for the RV for those occasions. Wrong answer of course, but you described the reasons. I never did find the middle ground.
Beyond all that, I envy your trip. Happy Trails
yeah… we live plenty of amazing moments, but sleeping well without any concerns is a luxury we don’t always enjoy. On the other side, I start to get some tricks, I’m more alert and become “braver”. We just can’t afford sleeping in campgrounds at $40/night. Passport America does a good job, but most campgrounds don’t accept it during July and August (I understand why!).
Walmart are not that bad overall, but some research is required prior to get in any parking lot!
The middle ground I found is through sites like BoondockersWelcome and HarvestHosts. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible!
Weirdo nights…they make a great story a few weeks later. Thanks for the share of your adventure…! I feel a lot of respects for the trip you take and a little bit jealous as well. Then again, it is my call not to do such a trip…
Hey Amber Tree,
yeah, the more we travel, the more we get those nights and the less we get stressed. 2 days ago, we slept in the middle of a forest a 8,500 ft elevation without even opening our eyes once ;-).
What matters is to do things you really want. Don’t wait, life is short (and too short sometimes!).