It was a crisp March morning, three years ago.

We had spent the night before packing everything we had decided not to sell, into a medium sized U-haul trailer. The snow in the front yard still reached half-way up the young maple tree that sat in the middle. I stood for a moment outside the door, watching the white clouds of breath in the cold air. We had managed to free ourselves of assets and liabilities that held onto unwanted ties. This was the last morning that we would call this house “home”.

What were we headed for? We would probably be lacking some truth if we said it wasn’t partially an escape; a fresh start and a re-branding of our lives. A simple but significant move. We were putting over 4,000KM between our old lives and our new world.

Day 1

8:00 AM

99,300 KM on the Jeep

Full tank of gas

The adventure is just beginning…. Three hours later than expected. Trouble with the hitch caused the unwelcomed delay. The trailer packed to the brim; the dog and cat nestled in the backseat. We were prepared nomads about to survive the journey across the concrete wilderness. A tribe sacrificing comforts of flying to face the open road; face the country’s snow-covered forests and wide open fields. The lakes and Rocky Mountains. Here is where the adventure begins.

11AM

99,540 KM on the Jeep

Full tank of gas – $67.00

Leaving North Bay, Ontario

A quick visit with relatives and refueling of both the automotive and biological vehicles. The road stretches out before us. The last home-cooked meal for several days will serve us well in the hours ahead. Back up supplies to ensure huger does not defeat us. Siri directs: ‘Straight ahead for the next 370KM’.

2:20PM

99,835 KM on the Jeep

Full tank of gas – $82.00

Leaving Matheson, Ontario

Rolling into the fuel station just in time before the indicator drops too far below the empty line. The animals are getting anxious. Energy is still high only a few hours into the journey. Full service gas in a station wired with advertised 24 hour surveillance. It is suspicious that a barely mapped village feels the need for such security measures. The bathers located around the outside of the building are grime-infested. On the road again.

6:34PM

100,139 KM on the Jeep

Full tank of gas – $79.00

Leaving Hearst, Ontario

The sun is setting on us as we continue to roll up into the Northern parts of Ontario. This may be the coldest temperatures we have experienced. The icy ground crunches beneath our feet. The air turns thick white with our soft breath. It’s time for another feeding, and then the sounds of alternative rock radio fill the background. Onward past landscapes littered with the country’s scrap vehicles. Is this where the come to die? Sleep is still far off… We hope.

9:48PM

100,410 KM on the Jeep

Full tank of gas

2.5 hours away from Thunder Bay

Dark is upon us and the time and routine so far is muddled. The dog is getting more anxious from an endless day of driving. The watch for over-sized beasts known as “moose” is on. “Night Danger” lurks ahead. The temperature has done its biggest drop yet. The stars fill the sky like blotches of glitter. The lights of civilization are few and far between and the road is empty as far as I can see.

Day 2

12:57AM

100,652KM on the Jeep

Full tank of gas – $67.00

Leaving Thunder Bay, Ontario

The great driving switch has come. A cappuccino is required. The Golden Arches can always be counted on for all twenty-four hours of the day and night. And on continues the journey…

At some ungodly hour of the morning

Full tank of gas – $ amount lost in faded sleepy memory

An undocumented stop in Ignace, Ontario for a gas fill up, and the drive continues through the night.

Approximately 8:15AM

KM out of mind

Full tank of gas

Just crossed the Manitoba border

The first of five provinces to conquer. The menu photos did more to deter than entice but hunger can defeat a visual every time. It is powerful, and it will win. Eggs, toast, bacon, and shredded hash browns. Enough to satisfy and carry the journey forward. Manitoba brings vast open spaces with fragments of industrial evidence under the sun’s light.

1:00PM

KM out of mind

Full tank of gas

Stopped in Brandon, Manitoba

Reliance on modern technology is not always ideal. The infamous conglomerate Wal-Mart will always be there to save the day. This is one of the reasons it will never cease to exist. Convenience is such a priority; forcing apathy toward any ill-effects toward the community…and civilization.

5:00PM

KM out of mind

Full tank of gas

Leaving Regina, Saskatchewan

After the essential dinner meal, we step out onto a different climate. The layer of instant ice that has formed on the pavement makes the process of moving from one point to another a slow and arduous one.

Approximately 8:00PM

Hardly any KM away from our last point…

Full tank of gas

Still stopped in Regina, Saskatchewan

The original thought of turning the vehicle into sleeping grounds quickly proved its underlying (mild) insanity. A failed attempt to capture the last spot in a nearby sleeping quarters leaves us feeling more defeated than we did when the weather betrayed us. A few kilometers away, we reach a temporary sanctuary landing spot. The relief that had been held in suspense, released and we settled.

Day 3

All day

No more KM than the day before

Full tank of gas

Regina, Saskatchewan

Stranded. Trapped by the ice roads of the Prairies. We are not alone. The hotel is filling with others; trapped on a secure island with danger surrounding. Room service, television, love… we pass the time.

Day 4

Morning

KM forgotten

Full tank of gas

Leaving Regina, Saskatchewan

Two nights held captive by mother nature. Our departure started out in slow motion, as part of a parade of those wanting to escape. This spot on the map is marked. It is tumultuous, and forever burned in our memories. Anxious tears fall as we trudge along on our journey of risk.

Time unknown

KM unknown

Gas unknown

Between Calgary and Canmore, Alberta

The darkness has been upon us for a few hours now; the city lights that kept the night bright have passed and wet snow has started to gently fall across the windows. Just as the mountains rose in front of us, the roads begin to wind as though we were suddenly part of an imagined puzzle-world. We have to find refuge for the night.

Day 5

Morning

KM forgotten

Half tank of gas

Leaving Canmore, Alberta

We fuel up on breakfast buffet before venturing back out through the mountains – ever so majestic in the light of day. The frightening dream world has ceased to exist and we were now experiencing natural wonders in the Rockies.

Dinner time

KM unknown

Full tank of gas

Salmon Arm, British Columbia

Here we are. Landed on new provincial grounds. So far, offering little to the eye – a detail that is almost unnoticed. No comments required. The journey continues…

Approximately 9:00PM

KM at the back of our minds

Gas tank in the same state

Lower Mainland, British Columbia

The rain pelts the metal of our moving enclosure hard. The roads are dark despite a plethora of lights. Street lights, car lights, transport truck lights, bridge lights, overhead sign lights. They surround us and enclose us in a bubble that hugs the vehicle. We are officially in unknown territory.

Approximately 9:30PM

KM – not a concern

Gas tank – not a concern

Queensborough, New Westminster, British Columbia

We reach our destination guided by Siri and her infinite wisdom. The scrap yard in front of us is helping to form a pit in my stomach. Our expectations are being slowly crushed in the span of a few minutes. Dear Siri… this cannot be home. The observation that our reliance on technology is too severe surfaces again.

Approximately 9:45PM

KM do not matter

Gas tank is full enough

Queensborough, New Westminster, British Columbia

We find our way and arrive at our final destination for this country-wide journey. The entrance is draw-bridge-like. The smell of cedar hangs in the wet air. Here we are, at home.

So….Classic.. West Coast.

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