I missed driving. That's what it comes down to. I grew up in a small town in the East Kootenays, and like a lot of people, spent a lot of time driving on the highways. At one point, I had a job that involved driving rental cars back and forth -- 20 minutes there, 20 minutes back. Mostly after dark.
I loved it. It was a nothing job, and I would have hated myself for staying there, but there's just something about driving. The road isn't quite the same from day to day. The rental cars were all makes and models and handled differently. Some days you'd have rain. Some you'd see fog. Some you'd have a deer jump onto the road and take off its invisibility cloak and you'd have to reef on the e-brake and cut the wheel and hope you don't drive the car over a cliff. You could never get too comfortable.
It was calm. Soothing. Toss your favorite rainy night CD in the car, get a feel for that particular wheel, and find your center.
When I started planning this trip I mostly just wanted to finally get in a car and drive cross-country. A lot of people ask me “Why not a motorbike?” and honestly, it’s just not my thing. Give me something with a V8 made before 1980 and I’ll just cruise on my bench seat with my 4x100 air conditioning.
But life gets in the way. And money. Gas is expensive. It didn’t take long for that plan to change.
At one point the trip was going to be some combination of bus, bicycle, kayak, on foot, and hitching. That would have involved a really stripped-down amount of gear, and I’m not sure if I could have pulled it off. I decided that I was going to finance the trip by selling drawings and paintings and photos along the way, along with some digital freelance art. That equipment runs about 15lbs and is really hard to cut down further.
As luck would have it, I found a traveling partner, and she already has a car. It’s not at all the ideal road-trip car, and packing everything into it is a bit of a challenge, but it drives well and is good on gas. I don’t have my homemade kayak and I’m not bringing a bike along, and some of my early trip-related purchases have been shown to be spectacularly useless to us, but it could have been much worse. I planned to do this as inexpensively as possible, and it still is, but the gear ended up costing more than I was expecting.
Barring major complications, we leave tomorrow. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m scrambling to find Crown Land maps and hoping that I can find WiFi reliably enough to back up the video I’m going to shoot. Where will the video go? I have no idea. Will I have a cell signal on most roads? Will I actually use my monocular, or will I just use my camera instead? I don’t know what I’m doing so I’m going to try doing everything and maybe, at some point, I figure out what the story is.
It’s human nature, right? It’s always about finding the story. Creating the story. In a photo or in text. In video or audio. In the smell of grass in a meadow just after a light rain or the atmosphere of a Mom & Pop diner. There’s always a story.
And this story starts with two shaven heads and a car packed with gear.