Having finished a marathon transcription weekend this evening, I find myself with time now to reflect on my four years as a full-time RVer.
I have reached this anniversary a little weary and jaded, but after analysing my feelings, I am relieved to realise that I still very much love RVIng and it is still the right lifestyle for me. It is the context in which I live my life that has grown tiresome. In short, after four years of full-time RVing in Canada, I can say without reserve that I have had enough of full-time RVing in Canada. And let me say that having seen as much of it as I have, having done everything I could to twist myself dream to fit the legislation, and having spent so much time and energy trying to understand my country, I have earned the right to say that I am sick of it!
When I started RVing, there were no resources for young Canadians starting out on the road. And so, I left with an American vision that is not sustainable in Canada. Our legislation unequivocally denounces the transient lifestyle and makes it impossible to legally have health coverage, insurance, a driver’s license, and a duly registered vehicle.
And let’s not get into the vast different of philosophy about the management of public lands, with the Americans offering all the free long-term spots a boondocker could want while Canada charges upwards of $40 or $50 a night to dry camp on a concrete slab in a national park.
The Canadian climate means that unless you are willing to endure six months of grey dampness in the most expensive regions of our country, you will have to take a chance at an international border crossing. You will have to take several days (and spend hundreds of dollars in fuel) to out race snow to a warm locale in the fall and back north in the spring because, at best, you can only have six months south of the border and our winters are longer than that with their shoulder seasons.
If I was an American, I would be living a very different life on the road. Two of my four Canadian winters literally bled me dry financially and I have not been able to recover from them. The biggest mistake I made on the road was the first major one I encountered: where to spend my first winter. I should have gone south right then. But I thought I’d be able to work through the winter. Ha.
That’s another mistake I made, thinking I could support myself American-style through camphosting and other jobs that target RVers. No. There is no such industry in Canada. The only way to make a self-sustaining living on the road in Canada is to be self-employed. That’s the second mistake I made. I should have focused on building a business right from the start instead of slaving away at jobs that paid minimum wage or slightly better.
I know I sound terribly negative about my life, but it’s not so. In my old age, I will look back on my first Klondike Summer, the friendships I have made, the incredible Canadian scenery that made me weep with awe, and the satisfaction that all I have experienced enabled me to write an important ebook. These memories will make the bitter memories fade away like frost under the first spring sun. I will only remember that I made choices that set me free, opened up my horizons, and left me feeling profoundly satisfied.
I like where I am right now on the eve of my fourth anniversary of full-time RVing. My rig is in great shape, my business is finally taking off, I have a couple of successful border crossings under my belt, and I really think this will be the winter where I will sit on a beach by the Gulf of Mexico and drink wonderful rum-based drinks out of coconuts. Really, this is it!
So the negative things I’ve enumerated above only serve to drive me to make changes in how I approach my life on the road and to shape my future in the way I want it to be, not the way the Canadian government says it must be. I am not one of those bloggers who likes to lay out her maybes for commenters to pick apart, but rather one who prefers to present faits accomplis, things that are done. I will just say that the wheels are churning and the last four years have given me the courage to face a new challenge. The only hint I will give is that when you are as sick of your country as I am of mine, maybe it’s time to see how other people live so you can gain a little perspective.
It may be too soon for this radical change in direction or exactly the right time. I won’t know until I get south of the border this fall. But the research and planning and discussions are making me come back to life again the way I did emerging from my first winter as I headed north on the Alaska Highway.
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Sometimes you don’t know when you’re taking the first step through a door until you’re already inside. Ann Voskamp