Traveling Through Covid-19; The Road to Winnipeg

We’re back! Finally, a new post! Life was just too stressful to make posts for a while, but we’ve landed something kind of great and it is time to get moving again! So let’s get back to the stories.

First up, our travels back to Winnipeg in the middle of the first pandemic lockdown. And wow, was that weird.

That song played three times during our trip.

The pandemic and the lockdown changed everything for all of us. Even ironclad rules.

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Past and Future Plans, As of Today

As you have seen if you follow our blog, our plans go wonky very quickly. We bounce back, but at no point do our goals ever stay static simply because life throws us too many curve balls for that to ever be a thing.

Case in point, our trip to Vancouver Island last winter.

We weren’t sure if we were going to try to stay on the Island or not. Going back and forth is expensive, especially with the ferry fee. But we don’t have a setup capable of handling Manitoba’s frigid winters.

We started on the Island volunteering. But the trip had been far more expensive than planned. Right away, though, I was able to land a job with an arborist. Even though I was also supposed to be volunteering, I couldn’t very well turn down a steady paycheque. I managed to handle both for several weeks.

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To Sell a Van: Part 5

Part 4

Part 3

Part 2

Part 1

So after the lights went out in Vegas, we had to get to California with the van and meet the buyer.

The original plan was to meet him in Santa Clarita at the car rental lot, do the trade and take the last of the cash, drive to the ocean, then head back to Vegas. Because the hotels and flights everywhere within a thousand miles were vastly more expensive than staying in Vegas.

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To Sell A Van: Part 3

Part 1

Part 2

In roughly five hour stints we would be going from North Dakota down Highway 15 to Las Vegas.

While going through Idaho we stopped at Hell’s Half Acre. We’d been driving through agricultural land and then suddenly were in the middle of an old lava field. It was a very striking difference in terrain, so we stopped for a walk.

Next was Salt Lake City where we stopped to get Mexican food. Unfortunately it sucked. It was bland to the point of being nearly tasteless.

Nice scenery, though.

Next was St. George.

Mormon church.

St. George was a rather interesting place. Claiming to be a “dry” town, all bars and liquor stores only sold beer.

Yeah, I don’t get it either…

Our friend Dave–along for the ride on another one of our crazy adventures– went to the bar and had interesting discussions with the locals. They liked talking to visitors and were very friendly and welcoming. So welcoming that they told you all about how welcoming they are. Everyone is welcome in St. George, not just Mormons! Whites, blacks, natives, Christians, Jews… “But not Muslims. Have you read the Koran? They want to kill us!” (I’m not making that up, this was what they said.)

The next day, leaving a dry Mormon town in a rape van, we were stopped by the police for having expired plates. We had to explain our temporary registration to the officer who declared while trying to understand the forms, “they do things weird in Canada.” Thankfully he was satisfied with the temporary registration forms and let us continue on our way.

From St. George it was on to Las Vegas. And let me tell you, to this day, that was the most beautiful drive we’ve been on. The highway went up and down hills with cliff walls to each side. It was phenomenal and I’m sorry that we don’t have pictures!

So things weren’t so bad, other than dumping 2 to 5 litres of oil into the van every time we fueled up.

We decided to stay two nights in Vegas due to how cheap the hotels were and it was three days before we could drop off the van. And the cheapest place we found to stay?

The Hooters hotel on the strip.

With a baby.

At a booby buffet.

To Sell A Van: Part 2

Part 1

After doing some work on the engine and changing the oil (and receiving the money), we booked some hotels and headed south!

First things first; getting stopped at the border.

We were not surprised. We were straight up driving what looked like a rape van or drug van… We pulled over, sat for an hour while they searched our stuff and (with somewhat bemused expressions) sent us on our way.

And then literally seconds after taking this photo… Aurora threw up.

After cleaning up baby vomit, we were on the road again! We drove through North Dakota and just past the painted valley and Teddy Roosevelt park (beautiful area; highly recommended), we began to smell smoke.

We pulled over and found that there was no oil in the engine. Oil I’d just changed myself.

We dumped bottle after bottle after bottle of oil into the engine, finally filling it from empty. We drove to the local Ford shop and they agreed to take a look despite being booked up.

The oil pan seal had failed.

And the only way to fix it on an old Econoline was to pull the engine. Over $1000 worth of work. American.

When we explained our situation, they told us our best bet was to get to our destination the shortest way possible and to buy cheap bulk oil from Walmart; refill the oil every time we gas up.

Oh, and the primary engine access was from inside the van, not the hood, so it wasn’t sealed. So as the oil leaked, we would continue to have trouble with smoke seeping into the van interior. Oil smoke. So we would have to drive with the windows down.

In early Spring when it was still below freezing outside.

When we stopped for the night we had to completely replan our route. No more San Francisco with friends. Luckily we had planned a much longer trip with longer stops, so we were able to decrease the amount of time on the road each day while still getting to the buyer on time.

So we decided to take Highway 15 to Vegas, then pop through Death Valley before selling the van in LA.

What else could possibly go wrong?

The Adventure Begins

September 1st, 2019. The great journey was to begin.

June was spent getting used to the trailer, July doing some travelling around Manitoba and volunteering, and August was our time to say goodbye. September was the beginning of the adventure west, with two friends tagging along for the ride.

It was raining that morning. Of course, right? Start a trip hauling a trailer across the country by hooking up in the rain. Not so bad, but definitely a little annoying. Annoyances built into problems.

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