Day 4 of Vanlife
I was drawn out of the van early in the morning on day 4 of our adventure. It was dead calm. Overcast with an expectation in the air. We have been lucky so far with the weather. A few raindrops overnight but no snow…yet. The air felt different today. I was restless and wanted to get out of the forestry area. Many of the signs along the mountain road had warned of conditions changing if wet. I didn’t want to test my ability to stay on a muddy, slimy steep mountain road. At least not on this trip. Reesor lake is small and very remote.
We broke camp and decided it was time to head towards home. We were chasing sunshine and knew our days to enjoy the last dregs of warmth were coming to an end. You can feel winter coming. If you watch the animals, the plants and the energy around you, it all is shifting down. Mother nature is taking her foot off the gas pedal and tucking in her offspring in a bed of leaves and debris. Those of us less likely to feel comfortable on the ground choose to go inward to find our shelter from the cold. The border between the US and Canada will be opening soon and I am contemplating going South for the coldest months.
My battery power still hasn’t charged up since the “electric kettle” incident on day 2. I couldn’t find a stove top kettle, even though I have at least 3 in the house somewhere, so I brought the electric one thinking we could test some of that inverter power conversion. Let’s just say that electric kettles(non 12 volt kind) and lithium battery packs are not compatible. The battery drained in seconds. I did get hot water but at a cost. Good to know for future appliances in the van.
The secondary roads back through Cypress Hills are mostly gravel. I am not the best driver in the world. I get a heightened level of anxiety on uneven, rocky routes. It’s based on many experiences of being stuck, stranded, tipped sideways, flooded and broke down. I found myself singing some mantras to keep calm and telling myself that it was OK to drive at my own speed. That speed was about 70km/hr. It was slow going but I was gaining confidence with my ability to handle the van on this kind of terrain. It was a bit ironic when we hit the pavement. The wind picked up and started to blow the van back and forth. I had to laugh. I was bare knuckle driving on loose gravel. Now, I was bare knuckle driving on pavement. There is a lesson here right?
The lesson was far from over for me. We decided to make our way towards Writing On Stone park. It’s a favorite spot of mine and I thought it would be a great place to camp for our last night.
I was gaining a feel for how the van handled. How the engine revved and the shifts up and down the hills. It was doing way better than I had expected. I was driving ahead of my brother and made the turn at the top of the park entrance. The van was idling high. Acting like I had my foot pressed down firmly on the throttle. As I approached the parking lot I found myself having to ride the brake to get the van to slow down. It kept revving. The only thing keeping me from flying off into the canyon was my foot on the brake. My brother tells me my back tires were spitting gravel. He pulled up beside me and was looking at me like I was crazy.
I did what I thought was the only thing I could. I put the van in park with the engine still wanting to surge ahead and turned off the key. Once I was sure that the van had actually turned off and I could gain enough control over my shaking body, I jumped out.
My brother got out of his van and looked at me. I didn’t know what to say. He jumped in the van and turned it on. It started to accelerate again. He got out and opened the hood. He reached down inside and pulled out the casement for the battery charger. We had thought it had been lost a couple of days ago when he had placed it on the top of the battery. It had rode on top of the battery since yesterday and then made its way down to land perfectly on the throttle. What are the odds? At any time it could have just fallen off and landed on the road somewhere between there and the Saskatchewan backcountry. The timing of it was a curious thing too. On the highway or flat road it would have been less dramatic. Overlooking the cliffs at the top of the hoodoos of Writing On Stone had a certain feeling of that movie “Thelma and Louise”.
I was trying to process what had happened. I laid down on a rock and hugged it for a few minutes. I knew it could have been the end of me right then and there. My brother was shaken and praised me for not panicking. I laughed and said that the incident was quite normal in my life. These things happen to me often. I am always grateful to the universe for helping me to survive. My life lessons come in dramatic ways. Most often, my experiences aren’t that subtle but more in my face kind of scenarios.
In a previous blog I wrote about one of my dreams that described my experience with a snake charmer and a cobra. Facing my fears head on. The trip has tested my abilities to do just that.
I am quick to put my foot on the gas. I believe you can’t go through life waiting for everything to be perfect before you venture out there into the unknown. It is smart though to have enough sense to power down or put yourself in park sometimes. It can be the difference between whether you survive and thrive or end it all. To stop, learn from the experience and incorporate the change into the next journey.
We have already accumulated tons of information about the van and how van life would feel. We still have one more day though on the open prairies so our adventure continues…just not with such a heavy foot on the pedal.