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In February, we revealed our next big adventure: a year-long road trip from Canada to South America. Within a month, we were in lockdown. At the time, we were sad about our March Break trip to Mexico being cancelled, but didn’t foresee the pandemic affecting our big trip. Wow, how quickly things have changed.
This was to be our last big trip before the kids hit high school. We have been planning it for a couple of years, in its various iterations. Fine tuning the plan was fun as we mapped out various routes, started practicing our Spanish, rented our house out and took leave from our jobs. We were excited to spend quality time together as a family, slow down, live outdoors, spend lots of time biking, hiking and backpacking and see new places.
The pandemic forced upon us lots of time together and forced us to slow down. Whereas in the past, we have planned extended travel to do these things, suddenly we were doing them at home. While many families struggled with working remotely, home schooling, and so much time together, we slid effortlessly into our travel way of life. Sure, there was too much electronic time and sibling fights, but overall the adjustment wasn’t that hard. We had had plenty of time on the road in the past to practice this way of living.
While we have grieved the loss of many things we were excited about doing in 2020, there have been many silver linings too. The time together forced us to dig into our board game collection, try new recipes, and walk together daily. Slowing down gave us the opportunity to work on projects that we never had time for, learning a new language, daily exercise, and reading books we have been wanting to read.
But even beyond that, unintentionally the pandemic has grown my roots deeper into my home. I am a restless person and those who know me well, know that the move home from Australia was bittersweet. My heart was in Australia, but my brain led us home to Canada: our family, our steady jobs, our house that our kids loved.
Gradually over the last 18 months, I have made peace with our decision to move home and felt settled. But, it was the pandemic that allowed me to see my home, my neighborhood and my hometown in a new light. I suddenly felt attached to our home, as a place of safety and comfort, that I hadn’t before. I felt gratitude for the woods behind our house that allowed us to be active and in nature during this period of isolation. I loved watching the birds in the backyard and the daily changes of my gardens.
There have been many other silver linings of the pandemic for us. I understand our privilege, that we have been able to navigate these times without substantial hardship. Travel has always been central to our lives and while the pandemic has affected our travels, we are of course more fortunate than many. Our “hardship” is nothing compared to so many Canadians who have lost loved ones, jobs, businesses, etc.
So What is the Plan?
We made the tough decision to postpone our trip. To some this might have seemed obvious and something we should have done weeks ago, but we had worked out many different contingency plans. We knew our original itinerary and trip was unlikely, but we had backup plans that we knew we could make work.
But, we came to this decision because we realized that even if borders open in the Fall, travelling wouldn’t be very enjoyable. And while we love that long term travel allows us to spend so much time together, the pandemic has given as that time and we are all excited to get back to some normal activities – school, work, socializing with friends.
We have spent the last couple of weeks trying to pull back some of the plans that we had put in place for our big trip. We had fantastic tenants lined up and had to make the difficult call to them. I had to try to get my teaching job back. We went back and forth about the decision for days, but once the decision was made, I knew it was the right one. I felt at peace with it.
You might have noticed, that I used the word “postponed” and not “cancelled”. The pandemic makes making plans almost impossible. We are continually realizing that future events that we are looking forward to, likely won’t happen.
In our original plan, we planned to spend two months in Western Canada, before heading south. We are still going to do that in July and August. Then we will be back in Ontario for school and work in September. Then in February, we will head south and spend 6 months in Mexico, the US National Parks and maybe Guatemala. If things are looking okay in the Fall, Paul and the kids might drive down to Mexico in mid-December. We had rented a great place in Todos Santos, Baja with our extended family for Christmas. I would fly down for Christmas holidays and then back to Canada to work in January, before rejoining the family in Mexico in February. That is the current plan, which is obviously made in mud and can/will change.
Road Trip Vehicle
Our plan had always been to buy our road trip vehicle (an RV or travel trailer) Spring 2020. Luckily, we hadn’t already invested in that vehicle when the pandemic hit and our plans changed. For the summer, my parents have graciously lent us their A-frame travel trailer. As of last week, we are now the proud owners of a truck – a F-150. We will use the A-frame trailer for our summer road trip out West. As we are getting ready to embark on our 6-month trip in 2021, we will buy a larger trailer, likely in the US.
Summer Road Trip
One of the other big plans for our 40th year was completing the epic West Coast Trail with some friends. This 7-day hike on Vancouver Island is legendary and something we were really looking forward to. We are still holding our a shimmer of hope that, that trip may happen in early July as the National Parks haven’t actually cancelled it yet.
Otherwise, we will head west to spend time with my brother and his family. Inter-provincial travel is currently discouraged and my rule-abiding tendencies make this a bit uncomfortable. While I feel that camping poses very minimal risk, I know that many will judge us and our Ontario license plate. The last few weeks have seen this trip get even more complicated as both Alberta and BC Parks are only allowing residents to use them. We have been relegated to using private campgrounds and hopefully National Parks when they open.
We are doing a loop from Calgary, out to Whistler and Vancouver, over to the Island, through the Okanagan and Colombia Valley. We are looking forward to lots of mountain biking, hiking, backpacking trips and of course time with family.
This will be Part 1 of our big road trip, then we will take a break for a few months and hopefully resume the trip in early 2021. That’s the plan. Until tomorrow… I better hit publish before it changes!