After the road trip, when we left Vancouver at the end of September, we didn’t really know where to go. The goal was to find a place to live for the winter at least. We had imagined before the trip, that on the way, we would find a place where we would like to live and therefore that we would return there naturally after the road trip. Unfortunately or not, that was not the case. We really did not know where to settle down after the road trip.
Nelson, our first town in British Columbia
In Vancouver, when we had dinner with my friends from Taiwan, they told us about a small town in eastern British Columbia called Nelson. What they told us about this city really made us want to go there and see if we like it.
So we left for Nelson on October 1st. On the way, we stopped at Hope and Osoyoos in the southern Okanagan Valley. We also spent a night in Canada’s smallest city.
When we arrived in Nelson, we really liked the landscapes. A good point. 🙂 We first went to the tourist office to find a campground with an internet connection. We were very fortunate to find a place that was still opened at this time of the year. Unfortunately, it was closing 1 week later, so we were limited in time to decide if we were staying here. It was getting a little bit too cold to camp for free and we absolutely needed an internet connection because I was going back to work.
We liked the town with its small shops along the main street, and the young and active population. But after a week in Nelson, where we mostly did some job and accommodation research, we realized that it would not be our host city. The accommodations were really expensive and there were few job offers.
What to do when you have the choice?
During this week, we explored all the possibilities for the rest of our adventure. We compared many cities that we had visited or not, to find out if it would be easy to find accommodation or a year-round campground, as we were considering living in the truck all year long. Also, we looked at job offers in all of these cities and compared living costs according to figures found on the internet. We used the https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/ website a lot to benchmark the cities we were interested in.
I never imagined that it would be so difficult to choose a place to settle down after the road trip. We never really had a say about that. We lived in different places either by “obligation”, because we followed our parents, or by “choice” through studies, work, etc. Who has the luxury of being able to say “I’m leaving everything and I’m going to settle somewhere else” without really knowing where?
However, this period was very difficult. We were lost, aimless, with no goal, without obligation. :/
The Wwoofing idea after the road trip
When we were in Nelson looking for where to live and what to do after the road trip, we thought that Wwoofing would be a possibility. We don’t really need to make money. We just needed a place to live for the winter. So Wwoofing seemed like a good option to be able to live thanks to our labor.
For those who do not know Wwoofing, it is an organisation that allows you to work on a farm, often in organic farming or permaculture, in exchange for being housed and fed, for a defined period.
Therefore, we contacted several farms that indicated welcoming Wwoofers in the winter. We received an answer from a man who said he might need help, but didn’t know for how long and so couldn’t guarantee work all winter.
We went to meet him to discuss and see what it was possible to do. Taken aback and being very busy, our Wwoofing experience did not happen. We were still able to visit his farm where he grows vegetables, takes care of goats to make cheese and lives off-grid thanks to his solar panels.
Loss of power after the road trip
On our way to Hills near Nakusp to meet the man from Wwoofing, on a steep hill, Couik-Couik began to lose power. We continued to drive, but very slowly in the Slocan Valley. When we got to our destination, we took the time to figure out what the problem might be, but we couldn’t find anything.
There was no garage in the hamlet where the farm was located. There was no cellular network either, so it was quite stressful. The nearest town was Castlegar, 120 km away.
After deciding not to stay for the Wwoofing, we drove back to Castlegar to find a garage that could help us. We were pretty upset. Between the stress of the cost of repairs, the stress of having an internet connection and the stress of not knowing what we were going to do afterwards, it’s not just the truck that suffered a loss of power… We were very demoralized too!
The garage adventure in Castlegar
We first showed up at a truck garage. We had already been faced with garages that could not take us in because of the height of our motorhome.
This garage told us they could not help us because our engine does not match those of the trucks. They gave us several addresses where we could go for our problem. Luckily, we were able to have an appointment for the next afternoon. In the meantime, we went to the only campground still open in the city.
The next day, two technicians looked into our case all afternoon without finding any real causes for our loss of power. We even helped them by suggesting ideas as we do know our engine quite well. Finally, it was at the end of the day, when the garage was closing that the manager found one of the causes of our problem.
We spent the night in front of the garage. They let us plug the RV to the shop so we could have electricity. We even had a great internet connection. Then, we spent a good part of the next day at the garage before the problem was fixed. We ended up paying a very reasonable price and were able to leave, this time towards Cranbrook.
Cranbrook, a small town in British Columbia
We targeted Cranbrook as a city where you could settle after the road trip because there were interesting job opportunities. Rents were quite high because of the housing crisis, but there were two campsites open year-round.
So we moved to the campground closest to the city centre for a week and sent job applications. In the meantime, we cycled around the city. We also searched for apartments and even got in touch with other young couples who had recently arrived in this city.
After a week, we had no response for work, and I didn’t really like this city so much. It had been two weeks since we were desperately looking for what to do this winter and I was really starting to get depressed. We had to do some big questioning. This is when we decided that maybe we shouldn’t target a city for its job offers and rental prices, but rather for its attractiveness to us.
Of all the cities we had considered, there was Canmore. This town is located in Alberta, just before Banff National Park. We loved this city during our road trip in the summer. We had spent more than a week there so we were sure that we would be attracted by the setting.
So we set out on our way to Canmore. We didn’t stop on the way, because we were really looking forward to being in a place we liked.
Living in Canmore after the road trip
We were determined to make this city the right one. This time, we gave ourselves two weeks for Pierre-Adrien to find a job. After what he would have applied to work at McDonald’s or another fast-food restaurant.
We had settled into a campground in the meantime so that I could work with a stable internet connection, and to be able to have electricity for the heater. Winter temperatures had arrived and so had snow. We could no longer use the water in the RV because the pipes could freeze. Luckily there were showers in the campground. We even did our dishes in the shower, just before washing ourselves.
Most of the job offers for which Pierre-Adrien was applying required a vehicle so we purchased a pick-up truck pretty quickly.
After a week of research, P-A had two interviews for positions in Banff. Once his contract was signed to work as a construction labourer, we went to visit rooms in shared houses.
Pierre-Adrien started his job on October 28, and we moved to Banff on November 1.
Winterizing the camper
As we were moving into a house, we had to figure out what to do with Couik-Couik. In Banff, it is not possible to leave your vehicle parked on the street for more than 72 hours without moving it. We didn’t want to bother having to move the RV regularly, especially since it takes up a lot of space.
After moving all our belongings from the motorhome to the house, we took the RV to a storage yard near Calgary. There, we winterized it. It means following a procedure to prevent it from getting too damaged during the winter. The wheels were covered, the tanks were emptied and we added antifreeze into all the pipes. We closed the propane, the batteries were removed, the cousins were lifted, and we did a major clean-up.
We pay $70 a month to store it. On site we have access to water and a dump station. We visit it about once a month to make sure there are no leaks and that the engine starts.
Our post-road trip adventure lasted a month between the time we left Vancouver and the time we moved into our home in Banff with a job and a vehicle.