Preparing For a Time Machine Journey

“Some people say that there are no more frontiers left for us to conquer. But then again, some people still go out into the wilderness in search of their dream.”

I think that anyone who’s read this blog since the beginning knows I have a serious fixation on the late 19th century. There are two things I’ve always wanted to do that tie in to that era.

One was accomplished on 17th July, 2010, when I summitted the Chilkoot Pass.

The other will unfold in the next week. Tomorrow, I am traveling deep into the Saskatchewan grasslands, into the very heart of the prairies, and am joining a wagon train!

We will be setting up a base camp, traveling during the day, and returning to camp in the evening. This wagon train happens every year in different areas and sometimes they move camp each day, but this year the style is more that of multiple scouting expeditions. I don’t care how we do it. I am going to get to ride a horse and travel alongside wagons through the prairies!

When Charles and Caroline invited me to join them for their yearly gathering, it was planned that I would travel in their wagon or walk beside it. But a friend of theirs got wind that I know how to ride and has arranged for a part-time horse for me. So I will get to try all three modes of transportation.

This will be my first true vacation since the Chilkoot where I will have to disconnect completely. I’m not even bringing my iPad. The only concession to technology will be my digital camera. So check back Monday the 15th for news about my adventure!

Why Would a Full-Time RVer Want or Need to Go Camping in the Toad?

The title of this post comes from a very good comment/question by Kathe in reply to my post about converting the truck for camping.

Before I try to articulate an answer, I think that the best house-bound analogy I could make is, if you own a home, why would you want a cottage? Or an RV, for that matter?

For me, using my RV as a homebase and exploring in the toad means cheaper excursions because of needing less gas, access to rougher roads, and not having to break camp when I’m coming back to the same location. A toad I can sleep in also means saving money on accommodation and that I don’t have to rely on others for a bed. Finally, I will be reducing wear and tear on my aging RV.

Some examples:

-When I hiked the Chilkoot Trail, I stayed with a cousin who has a tiny house with little privacy. There wasn’t really any good place to pitch a tent in the yard, but I could have slept more comfortably in my parking spot while having access to the bathroom. Moreover, why do the round trip in the rig ($500 in fuel) when I had free hookups in Dawson and cat sitters?

-If I had had a toad I could sleep in, I would have probably taken off for a few days and left the RV in Hinton instead of driving the Ice Fields Parkway

-There was no way I was taking Miranda on the Dempster Highway to Inuvik or the Pacific Rim Highway to Tofino.

I am also thinking ahead to the next few winters, when I plan to spend several months in the American Southwest. Having a toad I can sleep in means that I will be able to plot a fairly U-shaped journey in the RV that will be as fuel efficient as possible, leave the RV in a few set locations, and then take off exploring for three or four days at a time. I am also thinking of leaving the RV on my lot next summer and taking off for Yellowknife in the toad.

In summary, having a toad I can camp in will reduce the limited mobility that comes from having a big RV while still allowing me to have a nice mobile home. In short, I’m going to get a taste of the best of both worlds.

How Being Organized Can Help the Scatterbrained

In February, when I moved to Blaine and had the coffee shop nearby, I thought it would be good to bring my travel mug with me instead of using a disposable cup. But I couldn’t find the travel mug; it wasn’t anywhere in the kitchen and I wondered if I’d left it somewhere.

For the next few months, getting a new travel mug was at the back of my mind. Just a niggle. And I couldn’t help but wonder about the fate of my travel mug, that good Thermos-brand one I bought for the Chilkoot trip. But I never thought about it at a moment when I had time to think about the last time I remembered seeing it.

Last night, being unable to sleep, I decided to raid the cupboards one last time even though I’d just recently gone through them. All I could find was the stainless steel non-travel mug with tea strainer that I had bought in Inuvik.

Waitaminute.

Inuvik.

Where I purchased the stainless steel mug with strainer because I’d bought a bunch of strong teas and didn’t like how they transferred their taste to my travel mug.

The light bulb that went on was as bright as the bat signal! I suddenly knew exactly where my travel mug was!

I grabbed a shawl and raced outside, never mind the rain and darkness. I opened up the driver’s side rear pass-through door, pulled out the water hose and  miscellaneous hook-up gear plastic drawer, grabbed the tote with the camping supplies, and voilà!

See, if I’d been disorganized, I would have had no idea where the heck I put my camping stuff after I came back from Inuvik. But because that stuff has a home, I was able to put the tote away immediately in the rush of getting back to the madness of my second Klondike summer.

I really do need to get going on my ’empty out the entire basement and inventory it’ project. 😀

Driving the Dempster: Epilogue

There is something bittersweet about fulfilling a lifelong dream. There is the elation at having done it, but also a certain emptiness as you wait for another dream to take its place. There are a lot of things I’d like to do in the next ten years or so—tour Egypt, climb Mount Kilimanjaro, paddle down the Amazon, hike the Great Wall of China, visit friends in Australia—but nothing pressing. I may just be ready to settle for a little less excitement for a while, long enough to build a solid foundation to my traveling life.

My trip to the Arctic and NWT was only a superficial experience, I know that. I didn’t get to have any great wilderness adventures or actually try living in a remote community, but what I did was enough. I saw what I wanted to see and got the answers I came for. I had given up on this dream, watching it fade away as opportunities marched away from me, so standing there, knee deep in the Beaufort Sea was profoundly satisfying. It reaffirmed to me what I learned last year on the Chilkoot, that all you need to fulfill a dream is the courage and conviction to see it through.

My second year of full-timing, that of my Arctic adventure, is ending most satisfactorily and I am curious to see what year three will bring…