Living in a Van Down By the River

…the Bow River, that is.

by Alexander Roe

License to freeze.

License to freeze.

I wake up to the distinctive sound of a bobcat pushing snow, metres from my head. It takes me a second to figure why I feel urgency in my waking moment. The power cord!

I quickly pile on a couple of layers for warmth and then lay fresh tracks through the snow, shovel in hand on my way to what I guess is the location of the extension lead across the back alley. I carve a trench for the cord’s length making it visible to the bobcat driver. For added safety I shake the snow off of two “borrowed” traffic cones and place them on both ends of the lead. Job well done, first snow day of our life in the RV.

One of the few snow days of the Winter of 2014-15.

One of the few snow days of the Winter of 2014-15.

My partner and I love this mountain town of Canmore, but do not enjoy its expensive rental market. We brainstormed ideas to make our desired lifestyle possible without going broke. We identified the things we really wanted and required for day to day living and downsizing all that other stuff that seemed to be forced into our world by culture, society or our own misguided habits.

Surprisingly the idea that took hold of our imagination was living in a RV. It was intellectually seductive; a chance to figure it all out, a project wrapped up inside a lifestyle change.

“Wayne” our RV was purchased in the summer and cheaply modified over a couple of months time. We found a parking spot in town with a power hook up to rent, and we were set.

Custom decked-out sleeping quarters.

Custom decked-out sleeping quarters.

The first November night spent in Wayne, it was -25C. We had been away for a month leading up to this night, and our new home had been sitting empty with no heat on. Everything inside was in a solid state including the heater blowers; doubt was in the air as I tried to start them up. Winter won that night and we retreated to the comfort of Thermarests on a friend’s kitchen floor for the night.

Much to our delight the going got easier the next day and for the rest of the winter, as a matter of fact. I would love to write about an epic battle with the elements as we fought to make it through the deep freeze, with only one-inch-thick walls lined with old hotel duvets between us and the elements. But honestly, nothing major went wrong.

Home, sweet home.

Home, sweet home.

Maybe it’s because a project like this must be continued for longer than a season to increase the odds of a catastrophe, or possibly we were just totally nailing it (the former is much more likely). Whatever the case, this experiment gave us a new appreciation for flowing water, reliable power and showers; however, these luxuries are no longer met with an urgent sense of need. We are now content with less, gifted with a new type of freedom that can only be gained by sacrificing the superficial.

Life lesson learned: Your lifestyle is not an unchanging constant. It CAN be drastically shifted without the universe imploding. Try it and you will discover passions you never knew existed and reveal new dreams to lead you closer to your bliss.

Youtube: series on RV winter life
Instagram – @wanderlustvanlife
Website – wanderlustvanlife.com

Guest Contributor

Highline Magazine is stoked to feature the stories of contributors from throughout the Canadian Rockies and the surrounding regions, even if only on a one-time or occasional basis. Keen to contribute? Drop us a line.

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