This was mine and my adventurous friend Saewan’s second road trip with his 19ft, 30 year old camper van named Vanny. So original! Ha! Who else out there has a van named Vanny? This time we decided to go all the way up to the Northern edge of Canada to Tuktoyaktuk by driving on the new Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway which extends the Dempster Highway allowing visitors to drive to the Arctic Ocean year-round (well, when weather permits it…). It’s the only public highway that crosses the Arctic Circle! From there, we drove back south towards BC, Washington, Oregon and to our final destination, Nevada.
Making our Way from Toronto to Alberta
To get to this northerly location, we started from our home base, Toronto. We started driving and ended up in Michigan the first night. Like most van dwellers, we stay at Walmart parking lots and frequently use www.freecampsites.net to find overnight camping. The second day as we were driving in Illinois, we noticed a big sign on the interstate for Swap-O-Rama. We decided to exit the interstate and check it out! There were plenty of booths and interesting new and old items that were on sale. $1 clothing racks and such. I found a fun rainbow bikini top for just a buck! Such a steal!
The next day we kept driving and drove through lovely Wisconsin, Minnesota and headed towards North Dakota.
The first few days we drove about 1,100km/683 miles per day. When you’re driving for these long periods of time you can’t help but decipher the meaning to songs you’ve listened to a million times. What do they mean by x, y, z? Why didn’t I notice this lyric before?! Also, listening to podcasts helps pass the time when you’re driving for lengthy amount of times.
On the fourth day of our drive from Toronto, we drove through Manitoba/Saskatchewan. The two flattest provinces I’ve been in. I’ve never seen so much sky! There is an old saying there in the prairies “my next-door neighbour’s dog got loose, and he watched it run away for 3 days.”
Canola fields and sky – that’s Manitoba & Saskatchewan. Oh and one thing to note, make sure you have plenty of windshield fluid because at one point while we were driving through Saskatchewan, there was a huge swarm of bugs for a long stretch of time on the highway. It was so bad we pulled over and the windshield looked like a Jackson Pollock painting of dead bugs. Gross!
Side note, pro tip– If you are driving through Canada, sign up for free for the Husky Rewards Program. For just signing up you get bonus points which amount to 5 free showers at their Husky Travel Centres and you get points every time you fill up. 1 litre=1-point, 50pts for a shower & 100pts for a shower with a towel. It’s such a great deal especially if you are road tripping!
We made it to Edmonton, Alberta on day 5 were we encountered AC issues with the van. We sent Vanny to the mechanic and we made our way via motorcycle to Banff National Park for some riding, hiking and down time. Check out our motorcycle adventures here