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– Guest post by Kim Little –
It had been years of what friend’s hash tagged the #worstdivorceever, and it was almost over. Our family home was sold, and the buyer smelling a distress sale, had dictated the terms. That is how I became temporarily homeless mid-July, prior to our new rental becoming available in August.
I needed a place to stay for myself and three adult kids aged 23, 21 and 16 after the sale closed. That’s when we crafted a plan to take my 1975 Trillium Trailer (@liltrill.75) and explore BC. My eldest daughter was working in Nelson, BC for the summer, so it was convenient to meet her there. I booked only two nights of the twelve-night trip, and decided to “wing it” for the balance.
The lead up to departure consisted of packing, moving and ridding myself of items collected over 31 years together. It was the unraveling of a tapestry we had woven, separating and dividing up the tattered threads. Questions such as “Who bought this?” and “Who was given that?” filled our days, with my half going into a storage garage. It was frantic, haphazard, last minute and chaotic. When July 18 arrived, we were exhausted, unprepared and officially living in a trailer. With no meal plan, no real travel plan, and barely clean linens, we jumped in the car with the 1975 Trillium trailer in tow and took off. Dogs included.
My first error occurred within three hours. The odour in the car became noxious. As my scattered mind tried to identify the smell, I recalled emptying the fridge, thinking that freezer burned garlic Mahi-Mahi burgers might be great for the dogs. Driving with the windows open from that point on, just added to the sense of freedom that I was starting to experience.
Our first stop was Penticton, a nice easy 4-hour drive, along the Hope Princeton highway, an “enjoy the journey” route suitable for trailers, rather than the Coquihalla Hwy. We visited close friends there who had downsized to a 5th wheel and bought a home in Thailand. They had space for us in front of their huge camper home right on Skaha lake. Jeanette and Dwight were amazing cooks and wonderful hosts, who made their own wine and cheese. Home-made pizza with truffle and morel paired with their own, now commercially available Amulet Wine, was our first dinner. They raised the bar for dining, and got us thinking about actual meal planning.
We spent a day at the lake, punctuated with a visit to the farmers market to get fresh ingredients for dinner, and another day floating lazy-river style down the canal with coolers in hand enjoying the sunshine.
After two nights we departed for the reserved spot on Upper Arrow Lake in Burton Historical Park. With views at every turn, we headed through the mountains, stopping in Vernon for a picnic lunch on the beach. Who knew how unwelcoming small dogs would be at beaches? But we had no option of leaving them in the car or trailer in 32-degree heat.
The music in the car was a negotiated hodgepodge of Adele, 50 cent, Bruce Springsteen, and Lake Street Dive. Not bad, considering our different ages. Arriving in Burton, just past Nakusp, we had the most beautiful spot in the park, surrounded on three sides by the lake. Getting to it however was not easy, and I quickly realized I should have backed in. After declining the offer of a kind older gentleman to help park the trailer for me, with the kid’s guidance I got it backed in to a perfect spot by the fire pit and table. The whole charade prompted a family discussion over whether assistance would have been offered to a guy, and how it was assumed I didn’t know how to park a trailer. It was one of those empowering moments I was proud to have my kids witness.
That night we had marinated chicken on the BBQ and a bagged salad Asian style ready mixed. We barbequed corn in their husks and ended the evening with s’mores. It was easy, fun and good. Who needed endless planning?
The next day my son Henry sketched and took photos of my Honda parked with the trailer by the lake. Josephine read and swam, and I organized the camper for the week ahead, swam and relaxed. But the following day the reality of traveling with a teenager hit me when I saw my car and name in a sponsored Honda ad post on Instagram! Henry had posted the photo and hash tagged Honda on the @Liltrill.75 instagram account. Honda loved the idea of a Civic pulling a fiberglass trailer, looked back a few posts and saw an article the Globe and Mail had done on us and asked if they could share the photo. Of course Henry had said yes. Our mostly off grid homeless adventure was now featured on Instagram, and it was only day three.
After two lovely nights we packed up. Feeling content and confident as we waved goodbye to our neighbours we noticed they were waving back rather frantically. I then realized the excruciating noise of dragging gravel meant we were driving with our back levelling stands on. Tail between my legs, and a smile on my face for those watching, we removed them, but I realized we needed to create a departure and arrival checklist going forward.
We headed to Nelson to visit my eldest daughter, taking a little car ferry from Balfour to Procter on the other side of lake. We were able to camp on an Organic farm, owned by one of the founders of the Kootenay Co-op, where Emma was working. The owners, who had cashed out to live a simple life in Nelson, BC after the sale of their successful health food business to Whole Foods, had used their passion and expertise to found the coop.
That first night a wild storm hit and I woke to the trailer shaking like crazy. I was thankful I hadn’t detached it from my car as I am pretty sure it was the only thing that held us in place. We woke to find debris everywhere and an apple tree snapped in half behind us, but the air was fresh and fragrant. I made a latte in the trailer with the stove top espresso maker and waited for the kids to wake.
We picked berries, fed goats and hiked up above Nelson to a stunning viewpoint of the town that even the doggies enjoyed. My daughter had just graduated as a chemical engineer and I had never seen her so happy. She made us fresh duck eggs for breakfast and we picked a walla walla onion to fry with fresh cut spinach to add to our BBQ chicken and vegetables.
We had wanted to go to Revelstoke, but as a storm moved in that direction, we made our way to Kelowna where a vineyard owner had booked a photo shoot for one of his Lamborghinis with Henry.
We drove towards Christina Lake but camping was full, not surprising given they get booked out the first week that provincial reservations open. We hoped for no shows but weren’t successful. So we continued on to see Jewel creek, but with people staring as we arrived, and the provincial camp sold out at Rock Creek, we back tracked 2 km and found a privately-owned riverfront campground in the area. We had a perfect spot right on the river and enthusiastically watched eagles fishing three feet in front of us. But enthusiasm turned to fear once we realized our 6-pound Pomchi was in danger of becoming eagle bait, so he quickly became a lap dog. That night we ran out of propane for the portable BBQ, but made do with a fire to cook on. That chicken was one of our best dinners of the trip.
By day 7 we had all the camping hacks in high gear. Since the camper had only an icebox, we would freeze 4-liter milk jugs of water and replace as needed. Most camp offices had freezers to use overnight, and this also provided drinkable water too when off grid. My flip flop broke by day five but I had the Australia hack of using a bread tie on the underside to hold it together. We had two Dollar Store soft buckets to wash and rinse our dishes. Soft sided was key, since they would bend when getting water from a bathroom sink. Over the course of our camping trip, the kids went from letting me do most things, to asking what they could help with, to taking initiative for what was needed next. We evolved from a mother, daughter and son to just three travelers on a journey. Each of us getting out of it what we need. The traumatic last three years of my divorce seem to fade each day.
The next day we got a last-minute spot at Willow Creek Campground in Kelowna, right on the lake, but in parking lot side by side proximity with other campers. Everyone gave little Trill the thumbs up, so we decided to glamp her up with twinkle lights and a vintage looking polka dot table cloth. While in Kelowna, my son did his car photo shoot before flying back for a week with his Dad, and I hit a couple winery tours with my daughter and dogs. The wineries, unlike the beaches, welcomed the dogs! I suppose it didn’t hurt we were buying their wine.
We set out the next day to park by Abbott street in Kelowna and picnic at the lake, but after a text from friends renting a lake front house in Vernon arrived asking if we’d like to come for dinner and park in their driveway, we changed plans. Once in Vernon one dinner party turned into staying two nights, and I had the opportunity to treasure an evening on the pier, the lake to ourselves with our hosts out for the evening, with just my daughter, a bottle of Okanagan chardonnay, a sunset and a swim. At some points in the trip I had all three adult children, for most of the trip it was two plus me, and at the end it was down to just one child and myself. Our trip had created a magic mix of dynamics in new environments. For that I will be forever grateful.
We decided to head back through Kelowna to see Kentucky Alleyne Provincial Park, since a new area of unreserved spots had opened up. A miscalculation of distance and remaining gas, plus an unanticipated elevation climb while towing 1200 pounds, left us a little stressed choosing between getting gas to be safe, and possibly missing out on a coveted camping spot. Fortunately we were able to fuel up in Merritt, double back and still get a spot. Lesson learned on watching the fuel gauge while towing a trailer.
We managed to get a beautiful spot overlooking the lake, but once settled, were joined by a 40-foot trailer which tucked its way into a small tenting site directly in front of us. Initially steamed about not fully securing our location, in the end we were tolerant, if not appreciative of the family, once we understood that they were travelling with a blind autistic teenage son. They were conscientious campers, and we knew we could walk to the lake anyway. Another lesson learned: attitude is everything.
As we debated the final days plan, we ran out of propane for the trailer stove and awoke to find the lake windy. It was time to go home. The previous evening, just before losing cell service I had received a contract to work up the Sunshine Coast for the next year that would see me living in a larger 17ft Boler parked in Gibsons for a week on and a week off back in Vancouver. Contemplating a more permanent trailer life that morning left me wanting for a shower!
We took the stunning route 5A Merritt to Princeton on the way home, scouting next year’s spots at Otter Lake and Allison Lake along the way. Eventually we pulled off at Lightening lake in Manning park for a picnic BBQ where we cooked up all our remaining food and had a feast! Garlic scallops, roasted potatoes, kale salad a can of IPA each.
Back in Vancouver, we unloaded and prepared to settle into our new rented home, and quickly got back into a routine. Our 12 days on the road was amazing and I will fondly reflect on it for years. It was a wonderful transition, allowing a clean slate to start a whole new life.
I think a detour in life should be encouraged. The original road is not always the right one, and that is something I took time to reflect on while touring in the Trillium. I had had a multi-million-dollar view house in West Vancouver with a pool and yet I was so much happier on the road with my kids and little else in a 13 ft trailer.
Feel like hitting the open road in a Trillium Trailer? You can check out new product on the Trilliumtrailers.com website. Or if “previously loved/used” is more your style, have a search on Kijiji. If Kim’s post just got you started and you’d like even more inspiration about traveling solo as a female in an RV, check out this article by Robyne Stevenson on Travel Awaits – Traveling in an RV solo If it’s just some good old planning guides and maps you’re after, check out the British Columbia and the Canadian Rockies Guide by Lonely Planet. And if you’d prefer to plan ahead and reserve your camping spots, instead of winging it Kim style, check this BC Parks Reservations Service site.
Everything you Need to Know About Camping and RV’ing is an informative and entertaining read, that teaches you the ways and etiquette of camping – which is sure to lead to a more relaxed vacation for everyone. BC Thompson Okanagan Backroads covers the heart of BC’s interior. Great for hikers, anglers, bikers and campers, includes roads, trails, paddling routes, motorized riding areas and more.
While you’re here, you might want to check out Kim’s recent adventure Sailing in Desolation Sound. Kinda like RVing on the water, it’s a whole other side of British Columbia waiting to be discovered! Read about it in What to See and Do in Desolation Sound: 10 Pro tips to plan your boat trip this summer.
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Kim Little is a real estate agent working in West Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast, BC (@littlerealestate on Instagram, @littleagent on Twitter). When not on a ferry or splitting the time between these two places, she enjoys time with her kids, international travel, or just packing off in Lil Trill with a few good bottles of wine for an adventure. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org