Before this trip, Sam and I were city people. We have lived in LA, San Francisco (Sam also in Austin and Dallas), and while we spent a lot of time during the weekends hiking and outdoors, when we traveled we would spend days exploring cities, trying new food and soaking up the city energy.
One thing we have learned so far on this trip is that city travel is just not fun with a truck camper. First, there are very few places you can “camp” overnight if there are no Walmarts (and camping at Walmarts is just depressing…), and when the XP is popped up there is definitely no stealth camping on a residential side street. We are a beacon for attention.
Also, driving in busy cities with a 5 ton truck with manual shifting and blind spots just feels like an accident waiting to happen. We start in second gear and slowly gain momentum, torque is not something you get with a Dodge 3500 that weighs 10,000 pounds. The stress of driving and parking in cities is one of the only things that causes Sam and I to lose our patience with each other. It has changed the way we travel, making most trips into large cities a few hour event for a good meal or some sight seeing.
So this is why we spent only one day and one miserable night in Vancouver, a city we fell in love with when we visited for the Winter Olympics, and a half day in Victoria on Vancouver Island.
In Vancouver, we drove into the city to meet Richard and Ashley from Desk to Glory, a great couple who were leaving for their own PanAm adventure a few weeks after we met them. We met them at Kitsilano Beach (which is a great place with easy and cheap parking for a big rig) and went to dinner. I am sure we will meet up with them again soon in California or Mexico.
We spent a miserable night in the only campground in Vancouver, Capilano River RV Park, the most depressing way to spend $42 EVER. We barely slept thanks to loud families inches from us, and the thunder of the freeway. It reminded me how much I love camping in nature away from all this noise and stress. We decided to get out of the city and take the ferry over to Vancouver Island, a place I have always wanted to visit.
On Vancouver Island there is really only one “large” city, Victoria, the capitol of British Columbia, one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest. We found parking by the parliament building a spent half a day exploring the charming city full of historic buildings, great old British style pubs and cute restaurants.
The good news is after the two cities of BC, we headed to a blissful week along the beaches and lake of the stunning Vancouver Island.