Road Trippin’

After traversing, loving, and surviving the Rockies; exploring Vancouver and Victoria; finding the cheapest restaurants; meeting up with Moose friends; seeing who could spit cherry stones furthest from a fixed point into the sea; cycling; sunbathing; and buying books, I was ready for my next adventure.
I was reunited with two friends I hadn’t seen since we’d parted ways in Broome last September. The lucky devils had only left Broome a month before, whereas for me it’s been almost a year. Not that I’m jealous or anything…

With the three of us reunited, we could start our super fun amazing road trip of awesomeness. I genuinely referred to it as such in a message once.
We did many standard road trip things, namely spending extended periods of time traversing on roads. The Merriam-Webster dictionary also specifies the use of a motor vehicle in the definition, which was a detail I’d never really considered before, but I guess disqualifies the people who spend a long time on roads without a vehicle… sorry, guys. Also, tumbling further down the rabbit hole of road trip trivia, Wikipedia informed me that the world’s first recorded long distance road trip was in Germany in August 1888. Bertha Benz, the wife of Karl Benz (inventor of the first patented motor car), took one of her husband’s cars, without his knowledge, and drove from Mannheim to Pforzheim (about 106km in all). She managed this in a car which only travelled 16km/h and which had only ever been tested on short drives. Over the course of the road trip she also worked out how to use a hatpin to clean a fuel pipe and a garter to insulate a wire. Then she drove the 90km back, via a different route, three days later. Amazing.
And because Wikipedia is the gift that just keeps on giving, if you’re also ever looking for a road trip playlist, Wikipedia also has a handy list of relevant songs.

But I digress…

We visited some gorgeous places on Vancouver Island in Nanaimo, Ucluelet, and Courtenay. One of my favourites was definitely Lake Helen Mackenzie and the walk up to it. And to top it all off, I saw my first wild bear!

And while we fulfilled the official definition of a road trip (I really don’t know why the semantics were important, but hey, learning is fun), there were also many things that happened that were slightly more unusual. Things that don’t seem strange until you’re reminiscing about the fun you had and realise what a bunch of oddballs you really are. For anyone who has ever been on a road trip, or, really, anyone who has ever spent a prolonged period of time in a confined space with a couple of friends, you’ll understand exactly what I’m getting at. It’s perfectly normal to be a bit abnormal.

The sort of things we got up to:

  • Waiting half an hour in a museum for a lungfish to take a breath.
  • Spending considerable time googling the origins of the Fahrenheit and mileage systems with genuine interest.
  • Arriving at your destination but sitting in the car for an extra three minutes to finish head banging to Nickelback.
  • Getting all of the inappropriate jokes out of your system on a 6km hike where there’s no one else around.
  • Lying on inflatable mattresses in a river for a decent amount of time yelling ‘FISH!’ with increasing excitement every time a salmon zooms by.
  • Trying every single Canadian/North American snack food possible because you can. We’re talking ketchup chips, All Dressed chips, Twizzlers, Coffee Crisp, poutine, Nanaimo bars (and Caesars of course, but it’s not normally acceptable to include alcohol in the snack category…).
  • Periodically sniffing eucalyptus oil for a nostalgic hit of Australia.
  • Painting for a whole afternoon and resenting when you have to rejoin the real world.
  • Creating distress words and hashtags for those awkward situations you just can’t escape. #hashbrowns
  • Joking endlessly about growlers. Some Anglo-Canadian banter going on there.
  • Having a photo shoot in a graffiti-covered abandoned mill (wearing black tie and heels, and drinking wine in the forest).
  • Giggling hysterically about amusing greetings’ cards. And then not buying any because they’re $6.50 each.
    One of my personal favourites:
    ‘People are like snowflakes. They are all unique. Here are some other ways in which people are like snowflakes:
    – They are fragile
    – When there are a lot of them, they make trying to get anything done dangerous and difficult.
    – They will disappear eventually, unless you keep them in a freezer.’
  • Finding the most outrageously inappropriate wooden sculpture in the souvenir shops in Coombs.
  • Spending far too long in the adult section of a secondhand bookshop in Coombs and then subsequently being unable to take any other regular book title seriously.
  • This photo:
  • Going on a moose hunt. In the supermarket, not the forest. For the chocolate stuff, not the animal. And failing…
  • Dancing to the beat of a car alarm in a parcade (a fancy word for carpark that I also learnt in Canada).
  • Denying real life and the future exist until the last possible moment.

I was in denial about going home until the end. I’m generally very good at that. It’s not that I wasn’t excited about going to Berlin, which is where I am now, I was just really sad to be leaving Canada. I sometimes feel like my time for long periods of travelling is running out. I try not to think about that because it makes me a bit panicky and twitchy; I feel like I’ve just started exploring the world and there’s so much left that I want to see. Unfortunately though, real life always comes knocking and there’s that pesky issue of money (or lack thereof) to consider as well. I’m based in Germany for a year now, which I kind of see as a work/travel compromise as I readjust to normality. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop travelling (no way!), but I definitely need some time to lay the foundations of my long term plan. That makes it sound a lot grander than it actually is. Canada will still be there when I eventually have time to go back. I don’t think Trump or Kim Jong-un have any plans to bomb it in the near future, and it’s got a lot of high ground so global warming shouldn’t affect it too much. Cross fingers.

Berlin is my next adventure and I’m excited about what the year ahead of me will bring.
Watch this space.

Lake Helen Mackenzie
Ancient Douglas fir trees

Published by Amber | Rambling London Tours

Hello, my name is Amber. A few things about me. I am a born and bred Londoner so I absolutely adore my home city, but I love travel too, which means I'm always excited about exploring new places as well as taking other travellers (like you) around the places I love. I have been working in tourism on and off since 2014, both in the UK and briefly in Australia, and in 2020 I qualified as a professional Blue Badge Tour Guide for London and the South East of England. I love history, I have a History degree, and I think tourism is the perfect way to make sure I always keep learning, meeting new people, while also giving me a career where the world is my office! Hopefully I will have the pleasure of meeting you too.

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