I have always wanted to try RV-ing (recreational vehicle). You often see these portable mini homes wizzing down the highway, and can’t help but lust after their freedom. The ability to let travel take hold and stop and stay as you may. Therefore when hearing of an RV trip in the works, I asserted myself as a Quattro to a group of three.
So continue reading for the recap of my first, and probably only RV trip. An 11 hour drive, with two week’s notice to Banff, Alberta.
As I didn’t take part in the direct payment, inspection, pick up, or drop off of the RV, I cannot speak to that portion of the trip. What I can recall is the account of living in a moving box with 3 others. The sights, the sounds, the smells, and the overall impressions. Plus, where the $1000+ I paid towards the trip went.
We would rent our recreational vehicle from CanaDream RV rentals As a later moment decision, there weren’t too many options left, especially for the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend. Just as well, as what we ended up with suited our needs. Our RV that could have slept 6 adults (with actual beds) offered our group of 4 the adequate space we needed to be together, yet have distance as required.
Two grown adults were able to share the actual bed room, with Queen size bed and pull out door for privacy.
The least comfortable sleeping option would be across the dining table. A booth with table top, the latter of which drops down to align with the cushioned seats. Therefore this remained an eating and storage surface the entirety of our trip.
Another two could climb up the mezzanine, located above the driver and passenger seat, to claim one of the two individual futons that were set at either ends. Beware, the climb is high, even with the ladder; and the ceiling is low. Sit up straight at your own risk.
I would inevitably bunk here, and must say the mattress wasn’t bad. Firm, yet soft enough for a decent sleep. The RV comes equipped with its own linens including sheets, blankets, pillows, and towels. We brought our own for additional layers and the fear of the cold. But for the most part the RV does have heating and does warm up quick with the combined body heat of four grown adults, so our additional layers weren’t needed.
So thankfully the RV has plenty of cargo space. A multitude of drawers and cabinets to tuck stuff away, and make you feel more at home. The former most is especially important, as the space is limited and you want as much as you can for yourself and your company; to be able to sprawl out and relax without crowded clutter.
There is also cargo room at the rear of the RV, much like a truck under lock and key. Most of your gear and equipment can be stored here. We bought our own folding chairs, but CanaDream also equipped the RV with two.
As for the washroom, there is but the one to share. A single toilet and a narrow shower stall, including the cleaning equipment necessary to maintain it. We would all do our best to avoid using either, as doing so would deplete our clean water reserve and require us to refill. While simultaneously filling up the grey water (waste from bathroom sick, run off from the kitchen sink, and anything that we flush down the toilet), requiring us to have to drain it. A lesson we would learn the hard way (not having read the manual), when the grey water flooded out of the shower drain, to slosh around and pool, particles an all. We eventually figured out how to drain said fluid, after using bucket to scoop and pour most of it out.
In total, our conservation of water in and out had us refilling twice and dumpling twice, across 5 days. We did also pay CanaDrram the additional fee to dredge and clean, so left what we would have done to them, when we finally returned the RV (at the very end of our trip).
And yes, a closet sized washroom has you sharing notifications of bowel movements and the smells associated. Bring matches, light a candle, pack aerosol air fresheners. Nothing brings individuals closer than smelling what comes out of one another.
Unfortunately before our trip began, I failed to remember that I am prone to car sickness, and that the unsteady movement of any vehicle and me not looking straight out at the road could lead to nausea. Thankful Gravol is an easy, convenient purchase, as the only comfortable seats are as the driver and the passenger up front. The rest of the cabin including dining room booth and lone recliner has you swaying with the motion of a fast moving, less that steady vehicle. You hear all the creaks and groans due to the weight of the RV; and feel all it bumps and grinds, as it tries to corner a turn and/or climb up a steep incline.
As I result, I was not allowed to drive. Although I fought for the ability to do so, but finally relented. For those who have never driven a vehicle larger than a SUV, this is not a walk in the park. You do not need a special licence to drive such a large and lengthy vehicle, but if you haven’t had the experience in doing so with anything similar, you don’t know what you need to know. And they don’t give you a quick demo when you pick up the keys. So you don’t know how fast you can go in an RV, how much clearance you need to break, and how hard you have to break. You also can’t immediately tell your clearance on a narrow road, or know where your blind spots are.
And then there is parking! Not only was this our home across 5 days, but our only mode of transportation. Luckily we decided to camp at RV parks and take taxis and shuttles into town and excursions as needed. A little extra cost for a lot less stress.
I did however, eventually get my moment behind the wheel, by way of joy ride in an empty parking lot. And I can confirm you definitely feel the weight of the RV behind the wheel. Therefore my natural speediness and tendency to take corners narrower was not helpful.
We would spend majority of our time across the dining booth, eating or playing games. Majority of our meals made out of the fully functioning kitchen with stove, oven, fridge, freezer, and running water sink. We planned ahead and stocked our coolers full of water, liquor, and gourmet ingredients to eat as well as we would at home. The following is a recap of our meals.
Fresh raw oysters with squeezed lemon and hot sauce to christen our journey. This made for an easy snack as we attempted to drive 11 hours straight to Banff, only to stop at Walmart parking lot for the night.
We kept it simple for our first meal in the RV. Testing out the stove top with some spicy sausages slices and thick cuts of bacon for breakfast.
Pre-made pizza by the slice from a gas station was an easy lunch. A large vehicle like this needs plenty of fuel to move and run all the utilities and appliances. So we found ourselves stopping at several gas stations to and from. Each full fill up would cost us $200+ And we spent about $700+ on gas alone.
Continuing to keep it easy, our pre-dinner snack, on our first day consisted of more raw seafood. Patterned party plates helped to dress up any serving. Seared tuna tataki in a light ponzu sauce finished off with jalapeño. And a tuna ceviche with avocado, tomatoes, red onion, lemon juice and plenty of salt and pepper.
For our first night at our cold, reserved camp site, we brought out the pressure cooker for bone marrow soup to help warm us to the bone. Bone marrow, beef bones, corn, potato, fish sauce, chillies, salt and pepper to taste. If done right, this would be the best way you have ever had corn. It is so luscious with the fatty bone marrow.
Breakfast the next morning was a warmer affair with a bit of sun shining our way. French pressed coffee paired with the classic breakfast of bacon, eggs, garlic toast, avocado, and Tocino (Tocino is bacon in Spanish, typically made from the pork belly).
This was another meal set on the picnic table, adjacent to our rented RV lot. We were too late to reserve one with the ability to start a campfire. But ours did include electricity for us to plug in and keep the RV running and warm. And it was quick walking distance to the camp site’s heated washrooms. This included one 1 flushable toilet, 5 hot water shower stalls, and 5 sinks with hot water. It wasn’t glamours by any means, but a nice convenience to have amidst the cold and gentle snow fall we saw. Noticeably cleaner and better tended to during weekdays. It ran out of toilet paper and was left with much debris and human hair during the long weekend.
We would spend our first full day exploring the more popular Banff landmarks. For a recap of our visit to Lake Louise, our hike to a tea house atop of a mountain, followed by a booze fuelled night out in downtown Banff; click on the link below for my Banff vacation post.
The morning after it was back to RV life with the repurposing of our bone marrow soup into bulalo ramen. Rich bone marrow broth, soft boiled egg, roasted corn, mushroom, green onion, and crispy shallots and garlic.
With our trip winding down to an end and the snow coming down in Alberta, we decided to head back towards British Columbia and a new campsite in Golden.
This one too included the use of hot water showers and toilets that flush. But seeing as we had just the one night to go, we all decided to avoid the hassle and trouble, and simply go the distance and not shower.
We specifically choose this spot for our ability to start a campfire. This would be the first of our trip, due to restrictions elsewhere. We would christen our first fire by roasting sausages on branches and twigs over it.
Here, we would undertake the arduous task of making a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. A feat already complicated in a normal kitchen, made more challenging in our mobile home. But we would utilize not only the stove top, but our pressure cooker and our open camp fire as well.
Instead of turkey we decided to do chicken due to size and the amount of food we need for 4. Said chicken, loaded with vegetables and stuffing made its way to the pressure cooker, only to be further cooked on the grill for that campfire smokey char.
The end result, a traditional chicken dinner with roasted vegetable stuffing, mashed yams, herbed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and scratch made gravy. All of which we paired with a Mission Hill reserve white, served in red solo cups.
And naturally a traditional thanksgiving meal must end in pumpkin pie. So we had the only one, the last pumpkin pie we were able to find in all of Banff at IGA. Warmed up and topped with vanilla ice cream.
The next morning I made my hangover helper. A decadent greasy sandwich with leftover shredded Thanksgiving chicken, avocado, fresh red onion, tomato, and a sunny side up egg; all between two toasted pieces of garlic bread. Enjoyed with pickles for tang and crunch.
Then it was back home to Vancouver. Enjoying the last of our cramped quarters living, taking in the mountainous sights, and eating leftover stuffing by the paper plates full.
In closing I appreciated the experience and can now check RV-ing off the bucket list. But close quarters living is not for me. I need space and would like the ability to wonder and do my own thing, for a break and some alone time. But without sealed rooms and a car in tow you are bound to the group’s rule. Carrying out a trip that might not otherwise turn out the same if you had lead the charge. Not to mention you need to ensure you get along with those you are now bound to, and are okay with compromising on what is basically a pricy way to camp and experience nature with a lot more conveniences. Truth be told, I prefer tent camping or sleeping in the trunk of cars, to be able to go with the flow, and allow the day and mood to take you on an adventure. To not be bound to a camp site and the restrictions of large vehicle transport. Nonetheless this was definitely an experience worth cataloging and a one I am wiser for.