End of our 2019 Van Adventure /// Colorado to Canada

This is the last blog post for our 2019 road trip from Canada to Guatemala and back.  To avoid any confusion, we arrived home in early June.  I know, so slow! – our blog is about 2 months behind real time.  I’ve really enjoyed blogging about our trip but now that we’ve reached the final post, I’m getting excited to share some other vanlife topics with you guys.  In the months to come, there’s lots to blog about!  But first, I must take you with us on the last leg of our 2019 road trip.


A Long Drive Through the Mid West

In our last blog post, we fell in love with Colorado despite living in temperatures that consistently dipped below freezing and getting snowed on several times over the span of only a few days… in MAY!

Leaving Colorado Springs, we made a beeline to Thunder Bay, Ontario where we had plans to meet up with my Dad, Claire and Step Sis Anna + family.  We don’t like long driving days so we did our best to spread the 20 hours and 2,000 kilometres (~1,250 miles) over a few days and enjoy each overnight stop.

Colorado Springs, CO – Thunder Bay, ON

Although we passed through some nice towns and camping areas along our way, the real highlight was a workout and hot shower at the Planet Fitness in Omaha, Nebraska.  I realize that sounds sad, but let me tell you, things were getting desperate.  Although we had dipped a few lakes and washed up with baby wipes along the way, we hadn’t had a real shower since Mexico, which by this time was weeks ago.  And if you’re wondering – the answer is yes – showers can be sparse when you’re travelling in a van!

The most interesting overnight stop for Marc was camping at the Winnebago Plant in Iowa.  They let you park overnight for free and offer plant tours every morning.  I was happy to stay in the van with Walter and take advantage of the excellent parking lot WiFi but Marc was keen to go on the tour to check out the new camper vans.  The tour guide asked Marc when he expected to buy a Winnebago: in 1 month, 3 months or more than 6 months.  Marc said, “Uh… more than 6 months”.  He didn’t want to disappoint them with his real answer – NEVER!  Although the new Winnebago vans are beautiful, they’re crazy expensive.  The cheapest model presented during the tour was about $130,000 USD.  By comparison, Sally is probably worth about $10,000 USD.  She may be a little “vintage” but she has a lot of character and does everything we ask of her (if maybe just a little slowly).

In Nebraska we found a sweet boat ramp to spend the night.  Boat ramps are perfect boondocking spots.
We don’t generally choose traditional campsites but we stayed at this one in Iowa because it had hot showers and as an added bonus, a tornado safe room!
Walter’s favourite part of camping in Iowa was lots of grass to roll in and a tub of peanut butter to clean out.
Sally was feeling a little old parked at Winnebago beside all the new rigs but we assured her she has way more character than these shiny newbies.

Hiking & a Little Luxury – Thunder Bay, ON

In Thunder Bay, we slept in a REAL bed for the first time since Antigua, Guatemala when we visited our friends Pamela and Marc in March.  Fast WiFi, hot showers and a real double bed felt like luxury.  Top that with homemade meals (made by someone other than me – the best), many hikes, lots of family time and a custom car wash by Dad; it was definitely a much needed taste of home.

View of Thunder Bay from Mount McKay
Mount McKay is a short but STEEP hike… we felt we’d earned the view.
Dad’s a master car washer and waxer… Sally always looks better after a visit in Thunder Bay.


Always hard to say goodbye to family after so much time apart

A Knock on the Van – Collingwood, ON

The final stop of our 4.5-month trip was Owen Sound, ON to visit my Grandma, Aunt and cousins.  We decided to spend the night before our visit camping in the Blue Mountain Resort parking lot in Collingwood, ON – just an hour away from my Grandma’s place.  We’d spent two nights boondocking in this spot last year and had loved being so close to all the resort amenities.

Walter loves the Blue Mountain Resort… lots of ducks in the pond and the stores are all dog-friendly.

We spent a lovely evening wandering around the resort and had a peaceful night sleeping in the parking lot until… we awoke to a knock on the van.  Marc jumped up, put on a shirt and answered the “door”.  It was Blue Mountain security letting us know that we weren’t allowed to camp in the parking lot.  We apologized and let him know that we hadn’t realized overnight parking was prohibited because there were no “No Overnight Parking” signs and the location was posted on the iOverlander App.  In a very Canadian way, the security guard somehow ended up apologizing to us.  After our chat, he thought that it might be ok for us to stay another night – but we decided it’d be best to move on.

Best Grandma ever.

We told my Grandma and Aunt about our Blue Mountain resort camping experience and being the coolest relatives ever, they both volunteered spots in Owen Sound where we could park our van for the night.  As we were spending our time at my Grandma’s apartment, we decided to take her up on her offer to boondock in the visitor’s parking for the night – she didn’t figure anyone would mind.  It was a perfect place to spend the night and it meant that we were able to pop up first thing in the morning to cook breakfast together.

Arriving “Home” – Val des Monts, QC

After 4.5 months on the road, we arrived home to our mosquito infested property late at night after one last long drive.  We were glad to be back at the house but it was dark and everything in the house was turned off (heat, water, hot water, etc.), so… we spent our first night at home sleeping in the van in our driveway.  It has to be said that Sally feels as much like “home” as our house.

We Want Your Ideas for Future Blog Posts!

As I mentioned earlier, we’re really looking forward to sharing more vanlife content with you guys, including our upcoming Slow Sally renovations, a September Vanlife Meet-Up and our 2020 Road Trip Planning.  On the topic of future posts, we’d LOVE to know what type of content you guys are interested in.  Do you have questions about vanlife, travel, our lifestyle, etc?  If you have ideas, let us know in the comment section below!  We want to hear your questions and ideas!

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