Things just got a lot more interesting! We crossed through the prairies and Alberta on Thursday, and hopped on the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek, B.C. We spent Thursday night at a free B.C. recreation site called Inga Lake. British Columbia has numerous free recreation sites scattered throughout the province that provide basic amenities including outhouses, fire pits, and picnic tables. This site was somewhere between Fort St. John and Fort Nelson, down a 2km dirt road.
In celebration of our departure this morning, we thought we’d share more details on a key component of our cross-Canada trip to the Yukon and NWT – the platform! This is Antoine’s first official blog.
The platform idea came into fruition in September 2017 after our first car camping experience at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park. We quickly learned that while the Outback’s truck was flat and comfortable for sleeping, there was not enough storage for our camping gear with a mattress in the back. The design of platform iteration #1 began shortly after this trip!
I knew that the platform needed to meet a few requirements:
Little did I know, there were a few other requirements to be learned such as weight, adjustability, levelling and general woodworking skills.
Thankfully I had more than enough time to build and test multiple iterations of the platform. Since pictures are worth more than a thousand words, here are some pros and cons along with photos of the first and final iterations of the platform:
Iteration #2 – Final Design
Signing off for now! We hope to post a trip progress post once we reach Liz’s camp in Armstrong on Saturday.
Antoine & Liz
PS. Please excuse any spelling or formatting mistakes – this one was written while on the road!
Oh boy, our countdown keeps dropping… We are only 3 weeks out from our departure date of August 3rd!! With the date creeping ever closer, we recently chose to dedicate a few nights towards pilot testing our car camping set up to ensure we’ve fixed and/or optimized everything before we begin living in Sue full-time this August.
For our first test of the platform, we traveled with friends to the high peaks region in the Adirondacks. Our first night was spent on the trail, where we backpacked approximately 4 miles in the dark to a lean-to. On arrival we found the lean-to to be occupied by backpacks, but no campers to be found. Nearby a poorly strung food bag was left dangling less than shoulder height from the group – this was not going to stop a bear! So we set up our tents in the forest underneath a no camping sign, knowing that we could justify our choice should a ranger happen upon us. We woke the next morning to continue our hike to the top of Dix Mountain. The weather was rainy and the hike challenging but super fun! We bid adieu to our friends at the summit, as they continued onwards for 4 more peaks as training for their upcoming adventure to Mount Rainier.
We spent the night at a trailhead near Lake Placid for the first big test of our platform since Antoine completed it. We found the platform to be quiet during the drive, and sturdy through the night, with no cracking or squeaking sounds coming from the wood. We also tested out my first curtain which crosses the front of the car and blocks our sleeping space from the front. I’d consider this curtain a success, but we were less lucky with our screens. I had only managed to make two screens in time for the trip and based on a Youtube recommendation, I’d decided to use small magnets to hold the screens up around the window frame. Let’s just say iteration #1 of the screens was not a success. The magnets were not dependable, and because of the forecast of rain we could not open the windows very much. It was also a humid night, so we decided to open the front windows as well. Rookie move! Without screens, we were inundated with mosquitos who woke us up periodically through the night with their buzzing. In the moment we thought there was only one or two that had made their way into the car, but the next morning we discovered we had underestimated them. Better, more reliable screens became our next big priority!
We decided velcro would be a more dependable, permanent solution to our screen dilemma. I went about ordering three kinds of velcro to use for both screens and windows: velcro tape (around the window), velcro tape for fabric (screens), and sewable velcro (curtains). The velcro arrived just in time for pilot test #2: Pinery Provincial Park. We decided to make a 1 night stopover at the park on our way to visit Antoine’s brother in London. First of all, I can’t believe I’d never visited this park while attending Western University. It’s gorgeous, and less than an hour away!!! Thick Carolinian forests and Savannah Oaks reminded us of our recent trip to South Carolina, and we were impressed by the sand dunes and sunset over Lake Huron.
We also had a chance to finally set up our Napier tent extension for the Subaru! What a luxury this is! It makes the space in the back of the car feel much larger and more open. It also makes getting into and out of the car easier, and provides better airflow throughout. It almost feels like we have our own camper trailer when we have this thing set up, and we suspect it might be a shared reprieve from the mosquitos when we head up to the Yukon.
But it hasn’t been all about prep! We also got to spend the first week of July with Antoine’s family, touring Ottawa and later London. Vegetarian meals were served a plenty throughout the week, and we were so happy to see his parents and brother’s family. If you’re looking for great vegan recipes to try with friends and family, check out Grillable Veggie Burgers, Cauliflower Mushroom Tacos and Greek Power Bowls (sans feta). We really enjoyed these recipes last week and are left wishing that our families were at least 6 hours closer to us so these visits could be more frequent!!
And speaking of family, my Uncle Craig recently visited the Yukon and collected a whole bunch of literature and maps for us along the way. It just arrived in the mail this week and we are SO excited!!! I had been meaning to print off some of the maps, but these are full colour books, maps, travel planning guides, campground and hiking trail guidebooks and more. I can’t thank him enough for thinking of us.
That’s all for now folks! We’re sticking around Ottawa this weekend to continue our preparations. Sue recently had new tires and rims installed; so this weekend we will tackle the mud flaps and storage basket installations! Final work also has to be done on the platform to secure it to the car, and I’m hoping to start the side window curtains and do some dehydrating meal prep for the trip. Last but not least, I’m looking to buy some storage containers for underneath the platform so we can do a test packing session in the near future. Let’s hope these preparations make the last week before we depart a little bit less crazy?
Thanks for following along on our journey!
Liz & Antoine
Summer has arrived, and with it comes sunshine, outdoor activities and a million reasons to put off the to-do list. Our weekends are filling up, and the countdown on our site is making me a little anxious… All kinds of preparations to finish up, and only 43 days left until our trip to the Yukon!!! Here’s a little photographic taste of our to-do list this month:
The past two weekends were spent paddling on lakes near Ottawa. We visited Lac La Pêche in Gatineau Park for our first canoe trip of the season, where we scoped out some of the camping sites on the lake for future use. We were really thankful to be on the water with a breeze, though, as the black flies were horrendous! We have never strapped the canoe to Sue so quickly.
Last weekend we visited White Lake to the west of Ottawa. We decided we didn’t want to spend $15 to put our canoe in at a boat launch, so we scoped out some crown land and launched from a marsh! Antoine and I celebrated our 4 year anniversary on the lake, and followed it up with craft beers and delicious foods at the Cheshire Cat Pub in Carp.
That’s it for now folks – this is officially the shortest blog post I’ve written! Hoping to have more detailed posts on the platform and curtain projects in the near future. It’s all hinging on Mother Nature. When the sun is shining, we just want to be outside 🙂 This weekend we are off to the Adirondacks for some hiking with friends. The weather forecast doesn’t look promising, but we’ll be warm and dry on Saturday in our car when we test the platform for the first time. Wish us luck!!
Liz & Antoine
We recently returned from a quick trip to the East Coast of Canada, and I thought I’d share a recap and some photos from our trip. My goal for this post is more photos, less text! This is going to be my mantra for all posts this summer, so hopefully I keep writing them as things get hectic. Let me know how I did in the comments below! 🙂
Our first stop on the trip was Kamouraska, Quebec. This was a happy accident! We were looking for a free camping spot midway between Ottawa and New Brunswick, and had scoped out a spot on www.freecampsites.net in between Quebec City and Riviere-du-loup. The sun was setting and we arrived to find a “no parking from 11pm – 7am sign,” so we were forced to hit the road again with light fading quickly in search of a stealth spot to camp. I used Google Maps satelite view to locate treed areas off the highway, and we managed to find a gravel road into the forest a short jaunt from the Transcanada Highway. We located a pullover spot on the gravel road and settled in for a chilly night with temperatures hovering around 2 degrees celsius, but we were cozy and safe in the Subaru!
Okay, so it wasn’t all sunshine and roses. We were startled awake in the night to the sound of a motor running, and we quickly jumped to the conclusion that someone was about to locate our stealth camping spot. Antoine scrambled out of the car to investigate the sound, but we soon realized it was coming from our Subaru. Frantic Google searching commenced, where we discovered that Subarus do fuel system tests overnight. Who knew??? Daylight the next morning revealed that we were actually in a familiar area where we’d previously camped with some rock climbing friends – Kamouraska! We exited our dirt road hiding stop, stopping for a pitstop along the St. Lawrence river to test out Antoine’s newest toy – the DGI Mavic Air! Cue the drone photography 😉
Next stop was Fredericton to visit Antoine’s Mom for a quick hem of his new suit. We continued on to Moncton for Charles and Adèle’s wedding on May 19th, 2018. They may have shared their wedding day with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, but their day definitely wins in my books! The weather and wedding venue were perfect for their incredibly intimate affair, and we absolutely loved celebrating this awesome couple and spending time with friends and their family.
After the wedding, we packed up slowly and hit the road to visit the families of two friends in our gang who live near Greenwood and Clare Nova Scotia. It was a southwestern Nova Scotia roadshow! We hit up the Masstown Market for some delicious baked goods, because my parents taught me that house guests should never show up empty handed. Piled high with a chocolate pie, cinnamon buns and wild blueberry scones we hit the road again for our next stop: Just Us Coffee and Fair Trade Museum. Just Us is the oldest free trade coffee roastery in Nova Scotia, and we stocked up on fresh beans to bring back to Ottawa. We travelled through the quaint town of Wolfville, where I hope we will one day return to try the local wines. Next up: a visit to the Thompson residence in Aylesford where Emmanuel’s Mom spoiled us with treats in their quaint family kitchen. I was so in love with their beautiful home and expansive gardens.
Our final stop on the tour was Saulnierville, Nova Scotia at the Dugas family home. Simon’s parents graciously welcomed us into their beautiful home for 2 nights, where we experienced incredible Acadian food and hospitality. Acadian culture, incredible scenery and the kindest people you will ever meet!!! I don’t think my descriptions can even do these two days justice, so here are some photos that capture our adventures. Acadian rapure pie (pronounced “rappie”, or at least that’s how anglophone Liz pronounces it! ;), clam digging, fresh lobster feasts, cliff adventures and shopping at Frenchie’s. We can’t wait to return to Clare to visit again!
Antoine and I parted ways with Garrett and Simon, who travelled the Southeast coast of Nova Scotia with stops in Lunenburg and Peggy’s Cove. These have now been added to our next Nova Scotia visit bucket list.
We opted to take the ferry across the Bay of Fundy back to NB to save ourselves 3+ hours of driving, with a final stop in Fredericton to visit Antoine’s parents and sister. We enjoyed fresh lobster rolls and a local Fredericton craft beer on a sunny, calm cruise across the Bay. How did we get so lucky?
We wish that we were 10 hours closer to the East Coast, so these visits could be more frequent!!
Until next time… 🙂
Liz & Antoine