The Beginning of Our Overland Trip and Our First Post!
Our trip to the Canadian Rockies and Glacier National Park in Montana was filled with many “firsts” and the newness of it all made it that much more memorable.
It was our first time visiting Mt. Robson Provincial Park, Jasper, Banff and Glacier National Parks. It was our first real overland trip (covering 2,500 miles in 13 days), which also meant it was our first time really testing our gear and our road trip dynamics. Everything worked well, including coffee and wine!
We left in July of 2013, at the peak of a perfect pacific northwest summer. Ernesto’s younger brother, David, was visiting from Italy at the time, so we invited (forced) him to come along on our adventure. It was the first time he had visited the States and Canada. It was also the first time David had ever camped before. What a trooper. We also learned that he was a very impressive napper. And, like good siblings, we made sure to capture that in as many pictures as we could.
A week before our trip, we decided to participate in our first NW Overland Rally in Plain, Washington. Being newbies to the overland community we thought it would be great to learn a thing or two about off-roading, gear and wilderness first aid. And why not do that while camping in a big field with lots of people you don't know? We didn’t really know what to expect. Well, not only did we learn a TON, but we also had so much fun making new and lasting friendships (Sarah and Jason, this goes out to you!). We loved it and we recommend it to anyone interested in exploring the great outdoors in your vehicle or bike.
After the rally, we were even more excited for our trip. We managed to fill up our 4Runner, Sooty, almost entirely, leaving a small opening in the backseat for David. We were a little nervous he would be uncomfortable back there. But, alas, within 10 minutes of leaving our house, he found a comfy position and was fast asleep. This was the beginning of Day 1. Once we got to the Canadian border, we took some touristy photos at the Peace Arch and got in some duty-free shopping.
Next stop - Vancouver for a couple of nights where we planned on Couchsurfing. If you aren’t familiar with the organization Couchsurfing, you should check it out! It’s a great way to meet new people and experience a place through a local’s perspective.
We made it to our host’s home, before he did, so we hung out at the park across the street. We saw someone zip by on their bike and enter the house from the backyard, so we waved with excitement. He seemed a bit confused and startled, but we thought nothing of it and walked into the backyard introducing ourselves. Turns out that our host had a roommate, who didn’t know we were coming! Oops. We tried to ease the slightly awkward situation with a six-pack gift. That worked. Our host arrived, we all continued to get to know each other, we dove right into conversation about international travel and then we got some pizza in their neighborhood. Then we crashed on the living room. A great night!
The next day we explored Vancouver and in the evening met up with fellow overlanders, Ashley and Richard from Desk to Glory. They were a few months away from their road trip to South America. We had met online a few months back, but this was our first date in person. We hit it off right away! We stayed in touch, followed their travels and when they came back we hung out more and became close friends. They drove from Vancouver to Costa Rica in 8 months and started the second leg of their trip to Argentina this May. Check out their funny, awesome and informative adventures at desktoglory.com.
We got back to our host’s house, organized our things for the next day’s travels to Kamloops and fell right asleep. Ernesto and Taisa were used to being serenaded by David’s snoring, but our host’s roommate was not and let us know that in the middle of the night. Needless to say, we made sure to be extra quiet, quick and tidy in the morning!
Even though we really like Vancouver and had a great visit, it felt refreshing to drive out of the city. We were ready for the more remote and wild part of our adventure. So, on Day 3, our drive to Kamloops was glorious. The wilderness seemed never ending.
We decided to stay in Kamloops because we were invited by a Venezuelan friend, Mauricio. We had only met him briefly near the Space Needle about a year before as we were showing our families the sights. Ernesto and Mauricio recognized each other’s accents and decided to exchange Facebook info. What a small world. He said if we pass through Kamloops that he would love to host us. Well, he really meant it! He saw our Facebook post about our Rockies trip and confirmed the invitation! We thought that was just awesome.
What happens next, we still have trouble describing into words. Mauricio, his lovely wife, Yuri and their two children opened their home to us like we were family. Their warm hospitality included decadent Venezuelan and Colombian dishes and drinks, great conversations, a stroll through the downtown for some coffee and hot chocolate, a night out at the local brewery, and then late night karaoke, fine Venezuelan rum, ping pong and hot dogs in the comfort of their beautiful home. Umm, and all of that happened in one night! We had a blast. It was honestly hard to leave.
On Day 4, we woke up to the yummy smell of cachapas and Venezuelan coffee! Could life get any better? We joked that Kamloops was clearly located in Venezuela. They sent us on our way happy and full.
We made it to Mt. Robson Provincial Park in the afternoon. The weather was perfect, and we had a clear view of Mt. Robson, the highest peak (12,972 ft) in the Canadian Rockies. We had entered hiker heaven!The campsite was conveniently located across the street from the visitor center and from tons of trailheads. The next morning on Day 5 we packed up camp and we took off on a quick hike up to Kinney Lake since we wanted to make it to Jasper later that day. That was our first glimpse of the stunning aqua rivers and lakes. One could easily spend a week there camping and hiking, but we had a tight schedule to stick to. On our next blog post we'll write about our adventures through beautiful Jasper National Park!