Remember when you had that dream of buying a beat up old van, spray-painting it gaudy colours, and heading off on a cross-country road trip greeting each sun rise with fresh coffee and even fresher air? Or perhaps your desire was to stow your surf board on top of your VW bus and meander down the coastline, hitting the breaks by day and settling in to the sound of waves at night?
These dreams of wanderlust, a semi-nomadic, seemingly carefree existence, with few of the everyday constraints, resonate with many of us, but for most, seem out of reach.
We find ourselves committed to family, careers, community, the building of our day to day lives and the dreams bundled with them. It isn’t always possible or even desirable to give it all up, uproot loved ones, set caution to the wind & count miles by the entries on a mix tape (er…playlist).
Yet…the yearning is still there…for travel, adventure, freedom and discovery.
So, we are setting out to find a way to bring a little of that wanderlust into our lives, in a way that is feasible for most people out there. And where better to wander, to enjoy that iconic road trip than close to home, our own beautiful and vast, Canada, which just happens to be celebrating it’s 150th birthday in 2017!
What does it all look like?
Well, we’re not surfers, but we are Stand Up Paddleboarders. So, we will take on this transcontinental challenge using two kinds of vehicles, inflatable paddle boards and a vision of paddling on Canada’s historic, iconic & little-known gems of waterways. Therefore, on top of our vehicle two inflatable SUPs will go, lashed on, ready to withstand wind, rain, cold, heat and bugs as we head across the country on our coast to coast trek. We will sample a mix of accommodations, from camping in spectacular National Parks to resting our heads on the pillows of luxury hotels, breath in mountain air, the salt of the oceans, the expanse of the prairies, sample Canada’s diverse cultures and meet fellow adventurers. We will be writing about and photographing our adventures, as well as sharing the stories of the characters we meet along the way.
We’ve chosen to break our journey into two legs: East Coast and West Coast, with a few days respite between, catching up with children, grandchildren, and close friends.
The East Coast leg, Newfoundland to Toronto will find us packing it all into John’s Honda Pilot SUV, with the back seats down & air mattresses pumped up with auxiliary power, for an oh so comfortable night’s sleep.
The West Coast leg, Toronto to Vancouver Island will be our version of the ever so popular bohemian van life, played out in a wildly tattooed, tricked-out rental van, on offer from Wicked Campers, an Australian company, that just might be on to something.
How did this all start?
It started simply enough, how to get two standup paddleboards from Victoria, British Columbia to Hamilton, Ontario. Pam had two surplus boards, John could use them on Ontario’s waterways. Several months later, we have leapt to a cross-country road trip with inflatable SUPs to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.
This was born of shared passions, a deep desire to see the parts of the country we have spent our lifetimes flying over and the urge to see much of it from water. Inspired by people who take on extraordinary adventures, circumnavigating the continents by kayak, sailing solo across the Atlantic, or cycling across Africa, we want to bring some of that adventure to our lives without the need for superhuman abilities, years of training or months away from family and business. We see it as a way for the average person to experience a memorable adventure of expedition scale without selling it all and leaving life, as they know it, behind. Both of us are drawn to sharing our experiences, John through print and Pam imagery.
The planning can be a bit daunting for this kind of adventure, but that’s part of the challenge. We want to drop our boards into at least two bodies of water in the ten provinces from Newfoundland to British Columbia (sorry Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut), we hope to give you special treatment on another occasion. The sheer girth of this country makes a complete circumnavigation (excuse the literary license here) impossible in a three- to four-week timeframe.
What can you expect?
We will connect with paddling communities across the nation asking them to share their special paddling routes, a mix of iconic waterways and historic locales, as well as lakes and rivers many Canadians may have never heard of. The backdrops will be city skylines, farm fields, towering forests or vistas framed by mountains and rugged coastlines.
Watch for spectacular 360-degree video of the most compelling settings, blog and social media posts during our journey and a podcast to follow telling the stories of the intriguing characters we meet along the way. In addition, after we conclude the journey, Canadian Press will offer our story to Canadian newspapers and websites.
As we prepare for our journey, we will also share some spots where over the past few months, Pam has been diligently training John in the fine arts of Stand Up Paddling, a skill set much different than paddling a kayak or canoe.
The adventure has started well before our first kilometre on the road.
Please come onboard with us and share your favourite paddling destinations across the country.
Now… buckle your seat belts, tighten your tie downs, press play … come along for the ride! “Here We Go!!!”