This brave car has a story to tell...her name is Mary, we bought her in Vancouver one chilly December morning, and drove her home to Whistler later that afternoon along icy highways and a snow bleached sky. Since then Mary has been more than just a car, she's been a cosy shelter on the coldest of nights, she's been a reliable companion during changeable times and she's enabled us to travel many many miles throughout beautiful British Columbia and Alberta, CA.
I met Phil in Whistler, at the time we were both working as resort for photographers for Coast Mountain Photography. We exchanged a few glances and then as time passed, a few ideas ideas about travelling North once the season ended - Phil wanted to drive straight up to Alaska, I on the other hand was interested in Haida Gwaii, a remote island off the Northern Coast of British Columbia. Either way we needed a vehicle, preferably one we could live in. I'm no mechanic, nor am I a carpenter. Phil chose the car and put into motion his designs for our new home. The winter in Whistler wore on, slowly but surly Spring approached and Mary was almost ready to go.
New specs included:
We left Whistler in mid-April and it was still very cold, especially for sleeping in a poorly insulated 1989 Volvo Wagon, but we managed. We drove North along highway 99, before heading West to detour through Lake Louise, Banff and Jasper. We camped and hiked at various sites along the way, taking in as much as we could. We awoke in Banff one night at 2am to find fierce police officers banging on the car windows. Cold and confused, we were told that we were camping in a forbidden area, although surprisingly not asked to move on. The officers failed to realise that every other camp site in Banff was closed in the shoulder season. Usually we found free places to stay. Our preferred spots were secluded recreation sites, when those weren't available we'd find a quiet non-residential road, and when those weren't available - Walmart carparks.
After 2 weeks on the road we arrived at Haida Gwaii. Mary rested up for a short while as we bunkered down and volunteered at a local B&B. We drove Mary, tough as she was, along treacherous and waterlogged logging roads which wound their way between Haida Gwaii’s impressive forests. Apart from a couple of punctures, she survived.
As Summer approached, so did one of Mary’s final long-distance road-trips. We drove South from the Northern tip of Vancouver Island after arriving on the Ferry from Haida Gwaii. We spent a couple of weeks on the road, exploring Telegraph Cove, recreation sites on Campbell Lake, Ucluelet, Tofino and the San Juan Coast before arriving in Victoria, finding jobs and settling down for the remainder of the summer.
Mary's strengths as a camper: