10 Years of Trailers

17/07/16 0 COMMENTS

TT_02“Time is the most valuable currency so spend it wisely” – Debasish Mridha

Indeed it is true!  Nathan and I at Overland Trailer started our first trailer 10 years ago this summer as a hobby project.  That trailer was for my own use but unbeknownst to us, started a whirlwind of adventure in the form of a business, helping home-builders, trade shows, and a feature length documentary that brought in heavy hitter sponsors.  It is an understatement to say that we are thankful to the teardrop community for your enduring support since we first hit the big time with our Consumer Reports Blog that momentarily went viral (Read it here).

In our industry of recreating the past, tradition plays a major role.  As children, we remember walking into Ma and Pop shops, like our own and seeing a framed dollar bill on the wall.  Inevitably, it was the first dollar that the business had made.  Modern banking has left us at Overland Trailer without a dollar on the wall but with numbers moved from one computer to another.  This begs the question, how do we celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the genesis of our company?

TT_01For years, I’ve had the first license plate from that first Overland Trailer -dubbed the jPod.  I haven’t known what to do with it as it carries feelings of nostalgia.  Then a year ago, I had the idea for making a guitar.  Yes, a full year ago I started making plans for the instrument that you see in this post.  The final product is a raw banjo sounding instrument until plugged into an amplifier.  Then it is an unwieldy rock guitar.  It will take a lot of practice to learn all of the foibles of this one!

The guitar is made from the first license plate, discarded parts from the original trailer, a photo of the first trip in the jPod (read about it here)(watch the video here), and a trailer shaped head-stock that is an exact CAD dimensional shape to the current 58 Heald trailer from Overland Trailer.  It is our Legacy Guitar!

Thank-you again teardrop campers.  We love our work!

Enjoy the photos and a video of me unleashing this thing for the first time.  It blew my mind!

Until Next Time!  – Mark

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The Unforgettable Panini

30/11/14 0 COMMENTS

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“Too few people understand a really good sandwich.” – James Beard

OK OK, I’ll admit.  This isn’t a very camp friendly recipe without some pre-planning.  However, with proper planning, this little Panini could make you the star of any camping trip.  One sandwich is a meal.

It has taken me quite a long time to perfect this combination to what it is now.  Finally, some friends demanded the recipe after I posted a picture of my sandwich on Instagram.  I knew I had to share it but was leery of the preparation time in a camping situation.  However, this sandwich, when cooked over a grill pan on a fire, is absolute dynamite.  It is fresh, filled with flavor, and actually pretty healthy for a panini.

Let’s jump in with the main meal and then I’ll give you the recipes for the two toppings:

THE GRILLED PANINI*

A happy sight

A happy sight

 

  • 1/2 C. Black or green olives (cut) – Let’s be honest, I do both types.  Yep, 1 C of olives!
  • 1 lb of mushrooms (sliced)
  • 2 Jalapenos (sliced)
  • 1/2 white onion (diced)
  • 1 Red Pepper (diced)
  • 1 artichoke (roughly chopped after being blanched) – I just grab the ones that I froze from our garden that are already blanched.
  • 1/2 C. cilantro (chopped)
  • 1 C. spinach (chopped)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4 Tbs. Avocado Oil
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp smoked salt
  • Sriracha Pepper Sauce
  • Sun-dried Tomato Aioli (recipe below)
  • Cashew Garlic Spread (recipe below)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Panini Process:

  • Add 1 tbs of the avocado oil to a cast iron frying pan – you may need more through this process depending on your cast iron pan (Avocado oil has a high smoke temp so it is great for this application).  When the pan is hot, add the onion and peppers.  Let them soften a little but not so soft that you can see through them.  Remove them from the pan into a serving dish.
  •  Immediately, add the mushrooms to the frying pan with the smoked paprika and smoked salt.  Let the mushrooms brown for a few minutes then remove them from the pan an put them into another serving dish.
  • Next, add the artichokes, olives,  and 4 whole garlic cloves to the pan and roast them until they brown up a bit. Remove them from the pan.  Slice the garlic lengthwise into thin but long pieces.  Put the Artichokes and garlic in the same serving dish.
  • Last, roast the jalapenos until toasty brown.  If spicy food ins’t a factor, you can add these to the onions and peppers but I usually keep them separate to keep all campers happy.
  • Heat your grill pan over the fire or camp stove.  Put a little avocado oil in it to keep it happy.
  • Take one piece of bread (home made is our favorite!) and apply some Cashew Garlic Spread.  Since it is sticky, all of your cooked toppings will stick to it.  Apply all toppings you desire to have on your sandwich.  In addition to the partially cooked toppings, the spinach, cilantro, salt, pepper, and Sriracha pepper sauce can be applied without preparation and to your tastes.  Salt and pepper to taste
  • When you are”done” with one side, spread the Sun-dried Tomato Aioli to the other piece of bread and top your sandwich.  Using a brush, brush some avocado oil onto the “top” of your sandwich.  Place the sandwich on the grill pan oil side down.  Then, while in the pan, oil the other side of the sandwich.  If you have a cast iron press to place on the sandwich, do it.  They will turn out much better.  If you don’t, find a plate and a rock (poor man’s method).
  • Grill your sandwich for 2-3 min on each side until brown.  Remove from the grill pan, cut in half and eat!
  • Recipe serves 5.

*could be done in a regular cast iron frying pan if a cast iron grill pan isn’t available.  Just compress the sandwich down and put a weight on it.

THE SPREADS

Sun Dried Tomato Aioli

Sun Dried Tomato Aioli

Cashew Garlic Spread

We use this spread in lieu of cheese.  With the other rich flavors in the sandwich, the cheese seemed to make this little sandwich into a bit of a gut bomb.  Yet, every panini needs something tasty to hold everything together.  This spread is not much to look at but it is sticky, kind of nutty (which is nice with the smoky flavors), and lighter than regular cheese -which throws off the flavors of the sandwich.

  • 1/4 C. raw cashews (soaked in water for several hours and then drained IF you don’t have a high powered blender)
  • 1 C. hot water
  • 2  tbs. + 1 tsp tapioca starch
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 3/4  tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan.  Constantly stir over medium to high heat until it clumps and gains a consistency similar to melted cheese (soft and stringy).  Remove from heat and pan.  Store in a plastic container.  This spread is also good on tacos and in quesodillas in that it adds a creamy texture.

Sun Dried Tomato Aioli

Honestly, this sandwich wouldn’t be nearly as good without this Aioli.  I could eat this everyday until I died.  Like any good Aioli, this can have a lot of fat in it.  However, if you’re looking for a lower fat option that, as far as I can tell, is exactly the same, use Veganaise instead of Mayonnaise.

  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 3 Tbs. Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbs basil (Chopped)
  • 2 Tbs pine nuts or Almonds
  • 1/2 cup dry sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 C Mayonnaise or Veganaise
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Mix all ingredients, except the mayonnaise, in a blender and process until it becomes a thick paste.  Then mix together, by hand with a spoon, with the Mayonnaise/Veganaise.  Properly refrigerated, this topping can last up to 2 weeks.

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So, there you have the epic “squished sandwich” -as my daughter says.  They are a bit of up front work but man there is little that tastes better on a camping trip or a cold winter’s night.

Below, you’ll find a bunch more photos!

Until next time,

Mark

dutch oven

OT Featured Review in Cool Tears Magazine

14/08/13 2 COMMENTS

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“Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise.” – Alice Walker 

I’ve made no qualms about my excitement for Cool Tears and Tiny Trailers magazine.  I love reading every publication because every one shares a new adventure.

To my surprise, the editor contacted me and asked to review the Overland Trailer documentary “Historic Camping & Tiny Trailers”.  Copies were mailed out, an interview conducted, and it is now published.  I am always surprised when something like this happens.

The big question, that I didn’t know until reading the review was: Did it get good marks?

Well….  I’m not going to spoil that one for you.

You’ll just have to read the magazine for yourself.  It is another great issue of Cool Tears (even if OverlandTrailer wasn’t mentioned in it).

Cheers!

Mark

Minirodante Hecha En Casa – Teardropping in Argentina

18/03/13 0 COMMENTS

“That’s the thing with handmade items. They still have the person’s mark on them, and when you hold them, you feel less alone.” – Aimee Bender

In grade school, I remember having a pen pal in a foreign land (Germany? possibly…).  I remember being amazed at the personal touch I received from someone on the other side of the world through a simple hand-written letter.  I recently asked a friend of mine -who is a teacher- how her pen pal assignments were going.  She said “They were going well until the students all became Facebook friends with each other!  Then they started socializing more than helping each other with the homework we were giving them.”  Did Facebook kill the pen pal?

As a geek, I don’t think the pen pal is dead at all.  I think it is simply different and, in many ways, better because of the internet.

The internet surprises me occasionally.  Maybe it is because I come from a computer generation that was not yet an internet generation.  Isn’t the internet amazing?  We can log on and watch live sports from the other side of our celestial body with a few movements of our fingers.

One of the ways I’m continually amazed is when I check my Overland Trailer email account.  I’ve answered teardrop build questions from people on all of earth’s continents except Antarctica (anyone want to build a penguin pod? HA!).  There are clones of the Overland Prototype Teardrop in nine countries now.  These clones were made by people I’ve never met and yet, they were somehow inspired by the very teardrop trailer sitting in my garage.  Our interconnected world is amazing.  What tremendous opportunities we humans have in this part of earth’s history.  It is so easy to become pen pals with anyone now.

Recently, a man named Eduardo contacted my from his camping enterprise & website SoloCampings in Argentina.  The site is host to a plethora of information concerning camping in Argentina.  In 30 min, I hadn’t started to scratch the surface of the content of this site. The content on the site is muy bueno.

In addition to his business, Eduardo conveyed a rich passion for camping.  It is nice to know that the internet isn’t the only thing that still connects human hearts!

Eduardo recently got an interview with an Argentinean couple (Melina and Daniel) and Revista de Camping & Outdoor magazine published it.  The interview tells their story of building their own Minirodante Hecha En Casa (Home Made Minirodante/minitrailer/Teardrop Trailer) and their first camping adventure.

As a history geek, I enjoyed reading that they made their trailer out of left-over materials and that a lot of their parts were hand crafted.  There is mention of a blacksmith!!  The DIY theme for teardrop campers lives on in yet another country.  Their trailer is beautiful.  I find it necessary to particularly complement their choice of tail light.  It is a very similar design to the ones we use on our 58 Heald Teardops here at Overland Trailer.  A great choice indeed.

After reading about Daniel and Melina’s build, I found SoloCampings on Facebook and became a fan (Link Below).  Most of the page concerns tent camping.  However, it is a great way to see the scenery, bathroom practices, and grilled camp food of Argentina.

At the end of the day, I have a new pen pal.  His name is Eduardo.  He and I share a passion for camping & Teardrop Trailers/minirodante.

Thank-you Eduardo for sharing your passion with Overland Trailer and our hemisphere.  If we’re ever in Argentina, we’ll take you up on your offer of an asado (barbecue)!

Until next time campers,

-Mark

“Minirodante Hecha En Casa” on Revista de Camping & Outdoor magazine

 SoloCampings Website (Spanish)

SoloCampings Website (English)

SoloCampings Facebook Page

Online Magazine for Teardrop Campers

08/02/13 2 COMMENTS

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“The first real thought that I had of something that I might do was to write for car magazines, because I always had a car thing.” – Jerry Seinfeld 

If you have a teardrop trailer thing, there’s a new place to find some great information.  It is called “Cool Tears Magazine”.

In the past few months, I became aware of a new magazine project just for teardrop campers through Facebook.  I like the idea of a magazine for the teardrop lifestyle but wasn’t sure what to expect.

The premiere issue is now released and I am very impressed.  I am happy to see such a quality publication to add to this fun teardrop community.  If you’re not a subscriber yet, check it out below.

I’ve embedded the first issue below or You can subscribe here.

Overland Trailer has had nothing to do with this publication we’re just excited about it.  I hope you are just as excited as we are!

Cheers,

Mark

NEW! Customer Photos of their Overland Trailer

12/01/13 0 COMMENTS

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“Photography is like an open book to the world.” – Lisa Jones

After a few seasons of business, I’ve enjoyed seeing photos of the Overland Trailer 58 Heald trailer arrive in my email.  There are some great stories being made in this little trailer and that is precisely what camping in a teardrop trailer should be.

Since, I’ve enjoyed these photos so much and I know others in the teardrop/vintage camping world would as well, I’ve created a new page on the OT website to host customer photos.  These are photos that customers send in with permission to put on the OT website.  The updating of this page is entirely dependent on customer submissions and permissions.

So far the gallery is small but there are promises from customers to send in more photos. You may want to check back from time to time.

Click here to see the entire gallery

Adventure Canada: How to Go Insane

06/01/13 4 COMMENTS

This is the 3rd post on the Adventure Canada Series. If you haven’t read parts 1-2 of the blog series yet, you can read them here:
Adventure Canada: Failure to Launch
Adventure Canada: The Gravel Strip & Beauty
Adventure Canada: How to Go Insane

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“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt. ” – Charles M. Schulz

As we drove from one beautiful part of Canada to another, I couldn’t help pondering the rugged terrain that was flying past the windows.  Such steep mountains and narrow valleys are perfect for flash floods, ambushes, and avalanches.  It is no wonder that the European explorers had so much trouble crossing the Rocky Mountains.  These vagabonds traveled by boat, horse, mule, and foot for months to accomplish what our family drive at 100 kph while listening to an audio book.  They spend so much energy to make it to our mutual destination.  If only they’d had the source of the most potent energy on the planet.

We found this source of energy in Invermere, BC.  It is concocted by Kicking Horse Coffee Co. and is delicious and can complicate an afternoon.  However, I am getting ahead of myself.  Let’s start at the beginning.

IMG_9419On our way out of Banff National Park we decided to stop at a few points of interest.  Some were to scope out future campgrounds (so we didn’t have to camp on that gravel strip again -should we return) and a few others were to see some other natural features of the park.  My favorite was a 2.4 km hike up Johnson Canyon to the Johnson Canyon Lower Falls.

For the average person this distance is not a hike.  However, when climbing up a canyon with an extra 22 lbs of one-year-old wiggly person on one’s shoulders, 2.4 km is the perfect distance.  OH, and my 7-month pregnant wife thought the same.  Yep, we’re pretty hardcore.

The best part of this “hike” is that the entire journey up the canyon is beautiful. Parts of the hike are on a catwalk that hangs off of the canyon wall!.  At the end of this little jaunt is a powerful waterfall.  An added bonus is a naturally carved stone tunnel that hikers can pass through to get a closer look & feel of the falls.

As for our little family, it was a great way to get the wiggles out, see some great water features, and help our daughter address the challenges of a hiking trail (she tripped on a root and skinned the inside of her upper lip).

Then it was lunch and more driving.

As we arrived at Radium Hot Springs in Radium, BC there was excitement in our little teardrop towing vehicle.  Not only were we at the end of another leg of our journey but speculation concerning our future camp site was rampant.  After the disappointing gravel patch in Banff National Park, we weren’t sure what to expect in Kootenay National Park.  We visit the Radium, BC area about one time per year for family-get-togethers but we’ve never camped there so the ideas bounced around the vehicle for a time.

IMG_9491As one drives through the little town of Radium, it is easy to miss the enormous hill that rises above the town and glacially carved valley.  Upon that hill is Redstreak Campground.  It is a nice place that is out in nature.  It seems that the campground officials realized our predicament at Banff National Park and made up for it in Redstreak Campground.  We were in one of the most remote border campsites.  It was great.  It was just dirt, deer, bears, trees, a large population of friendly big horned sheep, and us.  Our little girl has no fear of dirt and, as we set up camp, she parked herself in a particularly attractive dirt patch and began playing with the grass and throwing small rocks.

For lunch, we were low on food so we went into town.

Radium is small and doesn’t have too many eatery options compared with a larger city but they do have one of the best places we’ve ever eaten.  Safta’s Kitchen is 100% delightful.  This is Isrealie food at its best.  Try the pickled florescent-pink turnip. It will blow your mind. Seriously!

For the next few days, we went hiking, did some reading, and generally enjoyed a low-key camping experience.  It was during one of those days that we decided a treat was needed.

IMG_9555As I mentioned in the first installment of this series on our Canadian trip, Senior Management and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary during this trip.  Our anniversary gift to each other was to get coffee at our favorite roaster in the world; Kicking Horse Coffee Co. in Invermere, BC.  So we packed up the one-year-old and made the 10 km drive to the coffee house of our dreams.  We didn’t know it, but our dreams were soon to turn into nightmares.

Kicking Horse Coffee Co. roasts their own beans, sells unique blends locally, and general blends around the world.  For years, we have frequented this establishment for their fine coffee.  This, however, was our first trip with a small child.  Every parent knows that a child, no matter how sweet and well-tempered, is quick to observe discrepancies within the family unit.  For instance, said child’s inner monologue may go something like this:

“I have ice-water.  Mommy and Daddy both have a brew of coffee so good they think they hear Bob Marley personally serenading them. That is not fair. I am displeased.”

To avoid the foreseeable cacophony of high pitched comments, escalating into shouts, and eventual crying, we ordered her a small hot chocolate.

After 20 minutes of coffee crowned bliss we, as the parents, noted a change in the behavior of our sweet daughter (buzz buzz buzz).  She ran around more than usual.  She was greeting everyone who entered the coffee shop with a loud “HI”.   She left little visual streaks behind her in her haste (buzz buzz buzz).  It reminded me of the Warner Brother’s Road Runner Cartoons.  She was almost literally bouncing off of the walls.  On a hunch, my wife sampled the hot chocolate (buzz buzz buzz).  It, like the coffee, is delicious.

 

In some circles, it is known as drinking chocolate.  Drinking chocolate is a lot thicker and, therefore, loaded with more sugar than planet earth can supply in a single year (hyperbole but that is the way it tasted).  Our little one was tripping on chocolate!  She was so hyper, she could make a humming bird look dead (buzz buzz buzz).

After wearing out our welcome a bit, we decided to depart for camp.  This buzzing little package was buckled back into her car seat and taken back to camp at full volume (buzz buzz buzz).  A good run in nature is what she needed!  So we trapesed out through the wilderness for a few miles (buzz buzz buzz).  Then we trapesed back (buzz buzz buzz).  Bed time came and we got her all tucked in and sang a few songs together (buzz buzz buzz).  Bed time flew by so fast we didn’t even sense the shock wave.

 

One Hour (“I feel so warm inside!  Look at all the Chocolate Pixies!”)…

Two Hours (“Bet you wish you got me water huh?  This stuff is like jet fuel to my neurons!”)…

Three Hours (“Rational thought is a myth they talk about in college. Pandemonium rules!”)…

Two Frazzled & Exhausted Parents (“It’s your turn…NO…It’s YOUR turn.”)…

One Hyper Child (“There are a thousand bouncy balls in my head!!!”)…

Four Hours (Warning: You are now approaching the threshold of hell.).

At long last, almost seven hours after ingesting what we now know to be the world’s most potent energy source, the one year old collapsed and fell asleep.

I cried (hyperbole?).

It was good to see her asleep.

The next day was the last of our vacation.  As our bleary, blood shot, and battered eyes opened upon another glorious Canadian wilderness morning. I wondered if the early European explorers would have had an easier time crossing the mountains had the Kicking Horse Coffee Co. already existed.  I believe they would have if they’d ordered the hot chocolate.  However, the following day they would have a strong desire to be held by Mommy and they’d have been kind of weepy.

Maybe the weeping was our daughter’s chocolate withdrawals or stark terror as the local big horned sheep slammed their heads together in a thunderclap of skulls, horns, and fur.  I’m pretty sure it was the chocolate though that caused her to cling to her mother.  After the previous day of chocolate induced hallucinations, she was probably comforted by gripping her real mommy.

I believe that REAL adventures start when things go wrong.

That night in a teardrop trailer with a crazed little girl is one of my most treasured adventures.

I can laugh about it now…but just barely.

Merry Christmas From OT

25/12/12 2 COMMENTS

About the Photo: This is our first customer ordered 58 Heald Trailer in the Vibrant Yellow color.  During this build, we dubbed this trailer “The Honey Bee” for two reasons.  Obviously a black and yellow trailer looks like a honey bee.  The second reason is that the customers are involved in the honey and bee keeping industry.  A perfect camping vehicle for some bee keepers!  We just finished this trailer & that makes a very merry Christmas for some newly inducted teardrop campers.  This also concludes our 2012 production.  Time to take a few weeks off and we’ll get started on the 2013 models.

My personal thanks goes to our local fire department for helping us get this great photo of our trailer next to their largest truck.  The colors are perfect and I laugh at the idea of this truck pulling our little trailer.  It might be a good place to stay during some long brush/forest fires!  Thanks again!

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Merry Christmas from Overland Trailer!  We’ve had a good year and look forward to the camping adventures of 2013.

As I think of this past year, I am nothing but thankful.  Honestly, that is the best way I have ever ended a year.  It isn’t about presents or parties.  Simple gratitude for the experiences (good and bad) for this past year.  The camping, the friends, the work of designing and building these little trailers, those of you who read my occasional blog posts.  I’m thankful for all of it.

I want to offer my many thanks to those who are fans of Overland Trailer.  This started as a blog of my trailer build (the jPod), grew into a successful feature-length documentary film (“Historic Camping and Teardrop Trailers”, and now a retro-styled teardrop trailer small-business.  I never thought that would happen.  I just wanted to go camping.  Actually, I STILL just want to go camping!  Life takes us by surprise sometimes.

I have more camping adventures queued to blog and document for your reading or viewing.  There has been a publishing gap recently because we welcomed another member to our family, a son.  This is perhaps, my biggest point of thanks for this year.  A son, a daughter, mom & dad?  Yep, that’s a full bunk & bed in the teardrop.  That must mean we’re done having children.  We’ll see what the future holds but if the trailer is any indicator, that’s it for this family!

I wish you all a very merry Christmas & a great new year.  May your plans for this next year be successful and full of camping!

Cheers,

 

Mark

 

 

New Film Edit Pre-Release with a Lower Price!

21/11/12 0 COMMENTS

Film Festival Cover Image

“Someday I hope to write a book where the royalties will pay for the copies I give away. “
– Clarence Darrow

A year ago saw the original release of the documentary “Historic Camping & Teardrop Trailers”.  With the passage of time comes change (and the expiration of legal contracts!).  I no longer have to pay royalties to certain parties involved in the making of this film.  This means the price is less and we can edit the film as we please.

We are now offering a “tighter and cleaner” edit of the film.  It is the version that has screened at film festivals and was awarded 4 out of 5 stars at the 2012 Spokane International Film Festival.

You can pre-order a copy of the Film Festival edit of “Historic Camping & Teardrop Trailers”!  Orders will begin shipping in early December.

For the rest of November, you can get free shipping on the pre-release and any other item in the Overland Trailer store by entering the following code: “Give Thanks”.

Proceeds from the sale of this film go to send free copies & teaching materials to schools.  Over 300 schools have used this film in their classrooms, so far.  Thank-you for being a part of making this happen!

Visit my store on Storenvy

 Thank-you to all of the Overland Trailer Readers!  Enjoy Thanksgiving & forget about Christmas for now.

 

 

Adventure Canada: The Gravel Strip & Beauty

22/09/12 5 COMMENTS

This is the 2nd post on the Adventure Canada Series. If you haven’t read the other parts of the blog series yet, you can read them here:
Adventure Canada: Failure to Launch
Adventure Canada: The Gravel Strip & Beauty
Adventure Canada: How to Go Insane

Mother & Daughter Soak in the View

Mother & Daughter Soak in the View

“I grew up on the edge of a national park in Canada – timberwolves, creeks, snow drifts.” – Dan Aykroyd

As we drove off of the plains of Alberta and into the rocky mountains, we joined a caravan of large white RVs.  The odd feature of this unplanned caravan is that most of the RVs appeared to be rentals.  We debated many possibilities for this phenomena.  Eventually, we settled on the obvious answer. At the time we visited Canada, it was innondated with tourists from other continents who had no choice but to rent (this seemed to be the case).

Since my summer was consumed with building teardrop trailers, my wife (Senior Management), planned our camping trip.  She did a great job!  The locations were great and the travel schedule was relaxed.

To our mutual disappointment, our first camp site was one of those pull through places.  You know the ones.  It is a gravel strip with a picnic table.  Just enough room to park your large RV.  Each lot has a token 10 blades of grass and a bark-less immature tree.  The assumption, of course, is that you’ll sit in your large RV and do what you’d do at home (ie watch Television or something…).  However, for the tear droppers like us, it is a bummer because we love to be outside when we camp.  To make it worse, the gravel strip we were assigned was to be shared with another RV.  They parked about 8 feet away on the same pad of rock.

With no privacy & little immediate nature, we were not impressed.  It simply wasn’t a good fit for us.  However, we made the best of it by doing what we normally do; mock our situation.  We never thought that we’d genuinely grow to enjoy our barren site.

Our enjoyment started when the neighbors drove into their side of our gravel strip.  The driver was visibly uncomfortable driving such a large rental RV.  It took them several passes to get it lined up properly.  When they were parked, about 10 people came out for fresh air.  Our daughter (Assistant to the Senior Manager) possesses a personality type that is contrary to that of her parents…she’s outgoing.  She stood up, waved, and yelled “hi” to each member of the neighbor group.  They were kind and responded with waves and soft spoken “Hello”s of their own.  From their dress, accent, and demeanor, it was obvious that they, like us, are not Canadian.  Eventually, the matriarch popped over for a visit.  Upon meeting her, we found that our neighbors were a Dutch family on holiday.

This family had heard of the beauty of Canada’s Rocky Mountain ranges.  They’d even seen photos in guidebooks but that still didn’t prepare them for the raw beauty of the Canandian Rocky Mountains.  They were dumfounded by the size of those blades of stone jutting out of the ground.  The contrasts of color in vegetation, rock, glaciers, water, and wild life stirred up quite a lot of chatter within the family.

Since their English skills were rudementary and our Dutch language skills are non-existant, we did a lot of reinterpretations of what we thought the other party was communicating.  We used bits of 3-4 common languages & gestures for emphasis.  Eventually, the grand daughter in their family came to sit with our little daughter.  They shared some food together.

Call me old fashioned but eating together is a tremendous bonding experience.  There is something about camp food shared by a group of strangers that instantly bonds them as fast friends.  The smell of freshly brewed tea & baked goods traveled on the wind as we crawled into bed that night.  Our girl had made a friend. Her parents were proud of her.

The following morning, we set out to explore Banff National Park.  The first stop simply had to be Lake Louise.  Lake Louise is THE spot that every tourist visits when in Banff.  It is a lot more commercial than when I was a child BUT, thankfully, the Canadians have exercised some restraint concerning the tourist trade.  I don’t think Americans would be able to exercise such control.  We’d probably put in a Starbucks, McDonalds, and a roller coaster with plans for an Apple store to be built in the near future.

Among my earliest memories of Lake Louise are images of an old german woman, with the obligatory old-lady-white-afro-hair, shaking her arthritic finger in my face as she told me to go see Lake Louise for her.  This was my great Grandmother. Incidentally, her name was Louise -but they didn’t name the lake after her.  Since the formation of that memory, I’ve always thought of my great grandmother when visiting Lake Louise.

It is ironic that I would do so since Lake Louise is such a peaceful place with cold glacier water and tremendous hiking.  My great grandmother would be more easily compared with one of those volcanoes that local people would toss virgins into to keep an angry deity from burning their villages to the ground.  Still the memory persists -as does the Lake’s beauty.

We soaked in the beauty for a few hours.  However, because of the number of tourists at Lake Louise, we chose to move on after spending a bit of time there.  Without a structured plan, we simply drove to neighboring lakes, hiked a few trails (my wife is amazing to have done that while 7 months pregnant), sat at lookouts on rocks and just watched the beauty playing out before us.  Honestly, it was the closest think to peace on earth I can imagine -aside from all of the posted signs warning of potential death and dismemberment by grizzly bear.  At least they post signs that warn you that you’re about to die.  Ah…Peace, tranquility, and the sound of hikers running for their lives.  That’s the joy of being outdoors!

Our little girl loves being outside and she was a great sport for all of her parent’s explorations.  The only time she demanded to be held was when she saw a ground squirrel.  Her unrefined instincts told her that the ground squirrel is the most vicious of all the animals in the land.  Maybe the park should invest in posting some more warning signs!

Our few days in Banff were wonderful.  On our last morning at camp in Banff, we greeted our Dutch neighbors for the last time.  It was at that time that the driver of the family managed to corner me and ask for a tour of the teardrop trailer.  This is a common request for teardrop campers and I was happy to oblige.  He had very few English words to share with me but he did say “fantastic” over and over again.  Honestly, I’m just shallow enough that his one word was plenty to make me happy.

After touring the jPod teardrop, some other family ventured over to our side of the gravel lot.  They began asking a ton of questions about the mountains that they found so overwhelming.  If you’ve never been to the Netherlands, it may be helpful to know that the Netherlands is a very flat region.  For someone accustomed to such little elevation variation, mountains on the scale of the Rockies would be mind blowing.  We discussed this and other topics for a while.

Their last question concerned grizzly bears.  The questions of how big they were, when they would attack, why they would attack, what to do when they attack, were all asked.  I could tell they were nervous and tried to reassure them that if they traveled in groups and made lots of noise that the bears would leave them alone.  One man repeatedly asked if grizzly bears would eat people.  I told him that he shouldn’t worry about being eaten but rather worry about being mauled.  Chances are that one would be unconscious or dead by the time the bear began eating (if it were that hungry).

I’m not sure if they believed that the bears are pretty harmless as long as one respects their territory.  They seemed a bit traumatized by the whole situation.  I suppose living in the Rockies imparts a certain indifference to bears with paws as large as a human torso.  Seeing that they are not from the Rockies, I suspect they saw Banff from inside a large rental RV.

As we drove out of camp towards Kootenai National Forest, we waved good bye to each other and exchanged good wishes.  Our little girls waved out the windows.  Friends for life but probably never to see each other again in this life.  I really hope that family got to go hiking and make some tremendous memories.  I also hope they got to see a grizzly bear while respecting its space.

In retrospect, I’m glad we camped on that nature deprived strip of land.

Read the next blog in this series here: Adventure Canada: How to Go Insane

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