Until recently, I really had no idea how much One Canadian’s Journey has inspired & encouraged so many people.
I’m always thankful and appreciative when I meet people and they let me know that I’ve inspired them. But when I’ve been receiving emails of personal stories and how my blog & photos have inspired & encouraged them, and what they are doing now, Wow! I’m truly touched and moved. I’m also very stumped because I don’t know what to say, …thank-you! Keep on living life to the fullest!
Be sure to read the About Page Thank-you Everyone!
There are so many beautiful places and people out there,
let’s find them together!
Let me introduce you to by buddy, Mike Ranta & his faithful companion Spitzii. These two characters are today’s modern day voyageurs. Along for the adventure is the expedition’s photojournalist, David Jackson, who in his own right is definitely an adventurer.
So here’s what’s happened, Mike has not only canoed Canada from coast to coast, he’s done it twice! As a result of these great paddles, he’s the world record holder of having done it solo and having completing the trip in a single season.
So what’s he doing in Lake Winnipeg near Gimli? He’s in the middle of canoeing Canada for a Third time! Along for the adventure is David, who has joined Mike & Spitzii from the beginning of this adventure.
Back on April 1st 2017, they began their journey in Bella Bella BC and headed east through the rockies. I can’t give away any of their stories, because let’s face it, its theirs to tell at the end of the adventure. I will say, they had to endure solitude, relentless elements, nature, wildlife, food & water shortage, and other adventures within their adventure.
Live location updates – Mike is carrying a beacon which tracks his every movement. Go to his website and locate this whereabouts on his map and if you get an opportunity….go meet the the three companions while they paddle Canada! I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t pass up on a good cold beer either.
You can read about Mike’s & Spitzii’s previous journey through his website and be sure to check out his book. Oh, and check out the baby moose he saved in during his last adventure – video here: Baby Moose Rescue
Located in Coombs BC, Vancouver Island and around the corner from Goats on Roof, you’ll come across an entrance way, marked by 2 huge marble statues, which will take you to the Emporium, an Asian influenced market place filled with amazing marble carved statues in the court yard. It was amazing to see all these sculptures, which was totally unexpected, in the middle of the island.
What you don’t see is what is inside the building, tons of beautiful wood carved works of art. You’ll have to go check it out!
There were also a couple statues that are meant to be fun!
I had to pass this information onto you because I thought it was a brilliant idea…
There’s a guy in the USA who has been living out of the van for the past few years. He’s gone and purchased a Gym Membership from 2 of the biggest national fitness chains who have gyms in almost all major cities.
He’s found that he needed two memberships from the 2 separate gyms because each establishment doesn’t always have their gym in the city he is visiting. But he always able to find one or the other, not only allowing him to have a hot shower whenever he wants, but he gets full use the gym, track, swimming pools, sauna and other benefits…. while traveling!
He’s worked out his “costs of living” and according to him, both memberships have more than paid for themselves in benefits in just a little over 3 months.
I’m always dreaming and looking for ways to be creative, live & travel cheap.
For now, let’s figure out the How to Build a Camper Van Conversion, Cheap!
Here’s what I discovered along the journey…
I was doing research into camper van conversions, particularly by those who actually use theirs on a regular basis. I will say, there are tons of people doing it, not just in Canada, but throughout the entire world. Lot’s of information, ideas and experiences out there to be discovered! You can always start by looking at what others have done throughPinterest
If you do plan on looking further into it, you’ll be bombarded with TONS of options: Campers, Pull-behinds, Vans, Cube Vans, Panel Vans, Mini to Full size School Bus Conversions, RV’s, Tear-drop trailers, Gypsy Style Wagons, etc… (too many to list) There are many beautifully well done conversions out there.
People are not only using their van conversions for camping & holidays. In reality, I’ve discovered people living full-time out of their vehicles throughout Canada, USA, and Worldwide. Some live out their vehicle by choice, financial reasons, or just to be able to travel long term. There are some very creative and ingenious ways of doing so. Also, if you live in BC or any other major city that is financially suppressing its people… Believe it or not, you have probably drove passed a “Stealth Camper” without realizing it, but that’s a topic for another day.
Let’s get back to the Cheap camper van conversion build…
Start off with this in mind – “Experiences over Possessions”, “Wants vs. Needs” and “Spend Less to Do More!”. This camper van conversion build definitely demonstrates those mantras. Obviously my needs and wants are different than yours, however, maybe this will get you thinking in a direction that is right for you.
I had been watching Craig’s List and other similar websites for a good used van that I could convert into a makeshift camper van. It took a few months of patients but I found one….
Port Hardy – A Playground of Wilderness Activities Northern East Side of Vancouver Island BC
Although there are only 2 ways you can get to the island, Airplane or Boat, there are several routes to choose from.
After traveling by ferry to Nanaimo, you can take Highway 19 north to Port Hardy, which is the fastest way by vehicle, approx. 4 1/2 hour drive.
However, the more scenic route is following Highway 19a north as far as it will go, which is to Campbell River. From there, you’ll end up on Hwy 19 and continue on your way to Port Hardy. I prefer this route for its scenic drive and the small communities to explore along the way. It’s a much slower paced drive, but worth it. Have your camera handy!
Located on the most Northern East side of Vancouver Island BC, the community of Port Hardy sits along the ocean’s edge. It’s a population of approx. 4000 people which more than doubles during the summer months with tourists who want to experience the island’s many outdoor activities, i.e. Hiking, Whale Watching, Kayaking, Diving, Camping, Wild Life and much more.
One of the first things you should do is head to the Visitor Information Centre, located on the main road. You’ll discover a vast array of information that will guide you during your stay. The staff is very friendly and knowledgable as well, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and get their opinions, its well worth it.
Port Hardy is also represented by the nearby community of Fort Rupert & Kwakiutl First Nation. The Kwakiutl are known for their carvings, especially their magnificent totem poles. I’ll be writing more on the Kwakiutl shortly, however check out the photos I capturedso far – Kwakiutl: A Visual Experience
There are hiking trails in the immediate and surrounding area, but one of the most rugged and challenging hiking trails that attracts people from All Over the World to Port Hardy is the Cape Scott Trail / North Coast Trail – it will ultimately test your skill, endurance and exploration for days on end. In order to get to the start of the trail, a boat will shuttle you to Cape Scott and from there…. you’re on your own.
During the early spring when the ice and snow is melting, there are sections of the trail that are very hazardous and it should not be attempted due to the flooding and impassible sections. For example…
I met Gabriel, a solo hiker from Paris France, who survived 2 days on the trail and had to turn back for safety reasons. He had been hiking in a section that is not recommended during the spring thaw because of the waist deep freezing water that floods part the trail on the most northern east section. He was completely drenched from the waist down, cold, and would have been stuck for several days in this environment. Lucky for him he was able to get out and return safely.
Vivian, a solo hiker of the Netherlands, decided not to try the trail, due to the flooding.
As you can tell, If you’re going to test yourself on this amazingly beautiful trail that is world renown, plan accordingly. Also note that you are in bear country, don’t take the warning lightly. Be aware and be safe.
Where to Stay – There are a couple hotels in Port Hardy, but the more popular places to stay is either the local hostel – North Coast Trail Hostel, or the many camping sites. Book ahead of time!
Although I happen to know the owners of the North Coast Trail Hostel , I promise to give you my unbiased opinion. The owners are super friendly! The hostel is very clean, comfortable and very well maintained. Its also much bigger than any pictures I’ve seen of it. You won’t be disappointed. There is a coffee / tea shop to get to know other travellers of all ages, share your stories, ideas, and a few laughs.
A couple interesting facts …..
According to www.tourismvi.ca & www.visitporthardy.com – The “First currently known site of human habitation on Vancouver Island as discovered in an archeological dig in Port Hardy, dates back to circa 5850 BC”
The Carrot Campaign – Historical Site
Located right beside the Visitor Information Centre, a huge wooden carrot with a sign describing how the Government made a promise is 1897, but didn’t follow through until the late 1970’s. The community felt that the government was dangling a carrot in front of them for all those years.