We Are Ready for VANLIFE!

We Are Ready for VANLIFE!

We are SOOO ready for vanlife. We started talking about it when we retired in February 2019. We watched YouTube videos, saw a LOT of Instagram and Pinterest photos and it really looked like a lot of fun. But was it for us? We had never done anything like this before.

Some of the research we came across showed people converting their SUV’s into little campers. We look at each other, “WE have an SUV”, we thought. Before investing in a van, we thought trying out the lifestyle on a small scale would give us a taste for what it was like.

And so we built a platform for our bed, bought a single burner propane stove and in July 2019, set off for Atlantic Canada. Our plan was to sleep in the car for a day or two, then find an Airbnb or motel to “rest”, and repeat. It turns out, “rest” was not required! It was pretty wonderful sleeping by the water, watching sunsets and sunrises every day, and cooking simple meals all along the coasts of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. In January 2020, we took another trip down to the Florida Keys.

Camping in New Brunswick, Canada

Camping in Florida, USA

We are often asked, “Where did you shower and do your business?” Finding bathrooms was very easy: gas stations, coffee shops, McDonalds, rest areas, local parks, and when we were in solitude, out in nature!  Showering needed a little more planning. In Canada we purchased a Discovery Pass which allows entry to all the National Parks. Most of these parks had shower facilities in their campgrounds or by the beaches. In the United States, we got Planet Fitness premium membership. This allows a member to always bring a guest for free. The gyms have hundreds of locations in the US, and most are open for 24 hours, so we showered whenever we wanted to. The bonus was taking a little time to work out, and also free wifi!  Both of our trips were pre-Covid, so the current concerns did not even exist back then. Because of the reliance on public facilities, it is not possible anymore to travel the way we did.

We Are Ready for VANLIFE!

Which brings us to our decision to buy the van. We determined that vanlife was for us, and so our next step was to decide on the van. We narrowed it down to the RAM Promaster and the Ford Transit. We drove both, we researched both, and decided on the Ford for the following reasons:
– we can choose an all-wheel drive for rougher roads
– higher clearance under the van, again for rougher roads
– easy to find parts and affordable for maintenance
– easier and more comfortable to drive

We are ready to order, but it seems Ford is not ready to take our order. The 2020 can not be ordered anymore, and the 2021 pricing guide is not yet on the Ford.ca website. Soon though! We’ll order, get the van in a few months, and travel as soon as we are able to again.

I have had time to plan 2 big trips. Our first will be to Western Canada, hopefully in 2021. Our second will be to California, hopefully in 2022. And there is a lot of talk about going back to Eastern Canada, back to Florida, and lots of places in between. So much to look forward to!

 

If you have any favourite places to visit and would like to share, we’d love to hear from you!  Thanks for visitng our site.

Yours Truly …. Yula

 

Test Driving the Dodge Ram Promaster 2500

Test Driving the Dodge Ram Promaster 2500

The last few trips we have taken have been with our Honda CRV camper conversion.  We converted the car we already had mainly to take a few trips and see if we enjoyed travelling this way.  It turns out we love it.  BUT… we do need a little more space.  We believe that the best solution for us is to buy a cargo van, and convert it just the way we like it.  We’ll take a look at a few different models, but on this day, we had fun Test Driving the Dodge Ram Promaster 2500.

The dealership we visited didn’t actually have the 2500, so we drove a 1500 which is just a little bit shorter.  Height and width are the same in both models.  It’s actually quite a cute van!

We really only have 2 key requirements for our build:

1: We want the bed to be across the width of the van.  The Promaster’s width is 6 feet which makes it perfect for the two of us.

2: We want to have a shower and toilet, so we need the height tall enough to stand in.  The Promaster’s ‘tall’ version is 6″4″ – again, perfect for the two of us!

Test Driving the Dodge Ram Promaster 2500

It was great fun to go home with our measurements and imagine how we’d build it.  I found the Ram Promaster Forum online with SO much information from others who have used this van for their campers.   I also found the layouts that others have used to put ideas on paper.  Click here for the link to those plans.  It looks something like this as a starting point:

 

We loved the van.  We will still likely test drive Ford Transit, and the Mercedes Sprinter, and make our decision after that.  We’re both looking forward to buying, building and travelling!

Yours Truly …. Yula

 

Jones Falls in Owen Sound Ontario

Jones Falls in Owen Sound Ontario

If you’re looking for a day trip in Southern Ontario, a visit to a waterfall is a perfect getaway. Just head to Jones Falls in Owen Sound Ontario for some nature therapy.  From the parking lot, it’s just about a 15 minute easy walk to the waterfall. You’ll walk over a bridge and through a very well maintained wooded trail.

The waterfall is absolutely gorgeous. If you take your time you could carefully make it to the base of the falls. We didn’t go but saw others down at the bottom waving back to us. The sound of the water is so therapeutic – it’s a beautiful place to relax.

There are lots of trees and rocks to step through and explore. It is located in the Pottawatomi Conservation Area and there are many longer trails to explore if you’re up for the hikes.

Jones Falls in Owen Sound Ontario

Click HERE for the Google location. It’s just a 2.5 hour drive from Toronto.

 

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Yours Truly …. Yula

 

Inside the Kingston Penitentiary

Inside the Kingston Penitentiary

Date Visited:  July 29, 2019

Thousand Islands National Park

Well, it’s our 29th day on the road and we are back in Ontario, far from the ocean, and we both decided it’s about time to head home.  We just have a couple of places more to visit.  First we head to Ottawa to visit a friend that I’ve been missing.  Second, we have often talked about seeing Inside the Kingston Penitentiary.  On our way to Kingston, we take our time passing through Thousand Islands National Park.  We see many little islands scattered here and there.  This is a park we would definitely want to return to, and spend more time here.

Inside the Kingston Penitentiary

We booked a 1.5 hour tour to see Canada’s oldest and most notorious maximum-security prison, which was home to many of Canada’s most dangerous and notorious criminals. The tour guides were very knowledgable and told us about the history of the jail, and stories of riots and escapes.  All along the tour there were additional guides, most of who worked there as guards in the past.  They had more stories, and quite interesting to meet.  It did feel somewhat uneasy, especially being in the jail cells.  All in all, a very interesting tour.

On the final night of our trip, we settled in a little park in Kingston, Ontario where overnight parking was allowed.  It was quite a busy park with many people around late into the evening.  There were not many other options in the area, so we stayed here for the night.  We found this spot on the iOverlander app.

 

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Yours Truly …. Yula

A Few Hours in Quebec City

A Few Hours in Quebec City

Date Visited:  July 28, 2019

Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site

Today our plan is to head south and spend A Few Hours in Quebec City.  On the way, we stopped for a visit at Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site.  The lighthouse stands over 100 feet tall, the second tallest in Canada.  This historic site is also home to the Onondaga submarine.  And, as everywhere else in the Gaspe Peninsula, the views are absolutely stunning.

A Few Hours in Quebec City

We arrived in Quebec City a few hours later.  This is one of Canada’s oldest cities – it really feels like being in a European city.  It was fun walking through the narrow cobblestone streets, and admiring the beautiful architechture.  The views of the St. Lawrence Seaway are spectacular!

After Quebec City, we found a little spot in Saint-Pierre-les-Becquets that was perfect for an overnight stay.  It was busy with fishermen in the late afternoon, and busy with people coming to watch the amazing sunset in the evening.  After that, it was nice and quiet for the few of us left for the overnight stay.  

 

Thanks for visiting our site!  Subscribe to our newsletter if you’d like to follow more of our adventures. We’ll tell you about the places we find to sleep, the places we find to picnic and rest, the beaches we relax at, and the cities we visit.

Yours Truly …. Yula