and so do the troubles
Our friends all started returning to work, so we began packing up the van to move on and officially begin our winter road trip. We of course tried to get everyone to come with us, but had no takers and will simply hope that a few choose to meet us somewhere along the route for a weekend of fun on the mountain.
One more night near whistler, a day snow hike and then we set out east towards Revelstoke.
The drive along the north “highway” is slow going and fairly sketchy at points, but we knew we had a few days of blue skies and decided to take that route knowing it would be far more beautiful than returning the vancouver and then taking the freeway back up and over (and had a sneaky feeling we’d get “stuck” in vancouver for at least a few more days).
Our first night we only made it a few hours north to Pemberton before stopping because we realized our batteries weren’t charging as we drove. Nothing like airing out the van problems early on!!
We knew going in that our batteries don’t like to get cold (actually, they are fine in the cold…just not at taking a charge when it’s below freezing), which is why we installed an auto-cutoff switch that doesn’t allow the batteries to charge below 34degrees and why we also decided that the batteries should live inside the van with us rather than saving space and tucking them underneath.
The problem is, that our last few nights have been far colder than anything we expected or planned for. In fact, we woke up in pemberton to -5degrees thanks to an “arctic blast” of cold air from alaska and the yukon settling in on BC. OUCH!
While the batteries live inside the van, they are in their own compartment near the wheel well and simply can’t stay above freezing at those temps.
We rather expected that would happen at some point… but even once on the road with the cabin really warm and the battery temp well above freezing we still weren’t getting a charge. Electrical gremlin number one.
Rather than nesting inside the van during the coldest temps I can ever remember being in… I got to spend a few hours climbing around inside the narrow and claustrophobic snowboard/surfboard storage space in the rear. I couldn’t fit with the door shut, so the entire van froze while I lay in a sheet of ice that had collected/frozen in the back of the van over the last few days. Suddenly this winter trip was beginning to seem a bit less of a good idea.
We finally stumbled over the electrical gremlin and got the system back up and charging. HUGE win. Then, only minutes later as we got to work trying to solve the cold battery issue by wrapping them in insulation I accidentally broke off two of the data cable connections that are required to keep our system running while trying to twist my way out of the “cave”. Huge win negated by even more epic fail! =/
We gave up for the night, grabbed dinner and slept in the parking lot of our favorite bar in town, constantly counting our blessings that the one thing working was our heater, which was literally saving our lives in the bitter cold.
I was able to rearrange the batteries and use some good ole duct tape to get the system running short term (apparently our years of keeping the VW on the road are paying off after all), so we bought a few extra sheets of rigid insulation and hit the road again.
Sadly, the weather forecasts as we head east are for even colder temps than what we have right now and we’re questioning whether its even possible to snowboard in this cold.
We made it as far as kamloops, where we hit a bar for happy hour and then found a quiet street to stealth camp for the night. We also took advantage of the chance to finally start figuring out where everything should live in the van. On the way to vancouver we hurriedly moved everything out of boxes/bins and into whatever cabinet would fit them, but now we could begin a much more methodical decision making process based upon our first week of sleeping in the van.
We also hung our first piece of art/decoration. It’s a small wall planter we bought from a ceramic artist in portland before leaving. A piece we had seen months earlier and just stumbled upon again days before leaving. It’s a beautiful piece that also allows us to have an air plant on board.
When you live in a van…there’s almost no space for decoration, so the pieces you do hang/add suddenly have to meet a very high bar for being a prized possession. This one easily meets that standard…and we look forward to seeing what gets added to the list.