I don't know where to start with this blog... because I'm so excited I'm jittery. This is such a big part of my life and im so stoked to be able to share the videos and stories... EEP! Breathe in, Breathe out, Just write.
I left my first radio job in Peace River, Alberta to be a hippy, live in a van down by the river. Okay that isn't 100% accurate but since I was living with my comedian boyfriend at the time, we heard that Chris Farley joke a lot. A LOT.
I met Matt Billion when I got the chance to interview Mike MacDonald for the radio station, they were coming to peace river for a comedy show. I hit it off with Mike in that interview right away, making many back and forth jokes and looked forward to seeing the show... At that time I didn't know who Matt was. (Also a comedian, who did a lot of booking and touring with Mike)
When the time came, I went to the comedy show... and after Matt's set he walked off stage and to the back of the room, which was where I was standing. A conversation started and we were instantly infatuated with each other.
Matt and Mike didn't stay in Peace River, as they say "the show goes on" and It wasn't a one night stand situation at all, we hung out, chatted and were sad that we couldn't spend more time laughing with one another. We never stopped texting and calling after he left and Matt made plans to get back to my small remote town as fast as he could - so we could see one another again.
We really got along well, Matt got tired of the grind driving and flying to shows all over Canada from PEACE RIVER, AB... Its really a small northern town and makes no sense to be there for someone who needs to be constantly traveling for work, but It was a great opportunity for ME to have gone there for my first radio gig.
In relationships you sometimes need to make compromises and sacrifices and you ALWAYS need to make sure they are things you are comfortable with. Matt took some time off from comedy to leave in Peace River with me but after a while, I felt like I was holding the team back... I really wanted Matt to do his comedy thing, but he didn't want to have to be away from me for long, so I just decided to say FUCK IT and live on the road with him.
We talked A LOT about this beforehand and did A LOT of planning. I was in charge of helping with everything he needed me for, basically... I sometimes did cold calls for bookings and stage set up. The first tour we did was with Frank Moffatt - Yeah the 90's band The Moffatt's dad... LOL! He did his own comedy routine as Canadian Country comic "Lefty Nelson" - We had an RV sponsorship at that stage so we still hadn't found our van sweet van (home sweet home?)
It wasn't until the Country Friend and City Baked comedy tour ended did we travel down to Nelson, BC to find our home on wheels. We didn't find it right away and did some test drives in some really dumpy things... But it was love at first sight when I spotted The Vanguard. We bought it from a thrift store/pawn shop with all the money we could spare at the time (They sold it to us for less than they were asking because they really wanted the thing out of their parking lot)
We took that van across Canada and the US. We did two BlackJack comedy Tours with the van and Matt and Mike... And when we weren't touring Canada with Mike we went down to the states and tried to get Matt time on stage at the Comedy Store and other rooms around LA.
After almost a year of doing this it became very stressful and difficult. We had SO MUCH FUN and I have so many amazing memories from this time but it couldn't go on forever. Mike had his liver stuff going on, he wasn't in the best health and I felt it was time for me to get off the road and back into Radio
No epic love story here, Matt and I parted ways. He sold the Van to a nice old couple. I wonder if it's still runnin' today or on a junk yard somewhere....
It's safe to say THIS experience is what started my obsession with campers and living in something you could also drive. You're kinda living like a turtle, with your entire home on your back.
I had all this footage on a hard drive I couldn't get access to and just recently had a friend of a friend restore all the data for me (THANKS RICHARD) On the hard drive was all my travel footage from driving down to LA in the van with Matt for the first time. I didn't edit the clips, I just put them all in one after another in chronological order. I am forever grateful for the experience and the people I got to share it with.
Let me start by saying... this was not my first time doing the whole "living in a house on wheels" type thing
In 2011 I spent a year traveling with people around Canada and the US in a Dodge Tradesman camper van.
I had very basic knowledge of how it all works, which is why I decided to try it again this year. This time by myself! It was a learning experience to say the least
I guess you could say I upgraded from the van (above)
To more of an "RV"....
My first experience in the Van we never stayed in one spot for too long, often boondocking overnight at Walmart parking lots.
This time I really wanted to be CAMPING. I found a beautiful spot along the river at Chippawa Creek Conservation Area - The RV stayed put.
It's a 1987 Chevy, So yes it's older than I am!!!! I bought it from my boss and it needed quite a bit of work. My boss drove it from BC and it sat all winter in his backyard. As you can imagine it was dirty. Dirty isn't even a good enough word... FILTHY or GROSS
I cleaned. Like fucking Cinderella, I cleaned. HARD.
I took on some larger projects inside.... a mini-overhaul in the places I could. Recovering seat cushions, putting in new curtains, new wallpaper, window tint, a cork wall. Fancy, right!!
There were some more serious DIY fixes...
I put in a new secondary battery, I replaced two ceiling vents. That turned out to be way more work than I expected. I needed power tools!
Hopefully the roof doesn't leak anymore...
That was the stuff I could manage fixing on my own.
There were a few visits to the mechanic before it passed safety. A new tail pipe, new breaks, new lights, a strap for the battery... I lucked out with the engine, it's practically brand new. As I type this I can still think of things that need to be done... my toilet is a little leaky, and I don't trust my propane!!!!
Unlike the Van, I could not get my propane to work properly in the RV. Which ended up being okay.
I know, Hank Hill is screaming at me for typing that....
Since I had a 15-amp plug in at the campsite, I didn't need the propane AT ALL... I bought a hot plate and a toaster oven that can cook a roast... and Yes, of course I cooked a fucking roast in it. I even got a small electric heater for the colder nights. I ran the fridge on electric and had no problems.
What can you really expect from an older camper? You make it work, right?
All in - road ready - to own and fix the RV cost me roughly $4,000
The campsite lasted from May to October. I splurged a little bit too and picked a spot along the river. Everything you could ever need there... a toilet, a hot shower, 50/50 draws, canoe rentals, every now and then a free corn roast and nice people. It was worth every penny. I spent my days Kayaking, catching frogs and bugs, laying in my hammock, climbing trees and picking flowers. I couldn't have chose a more relaxing place to spend my summer.
The campsite cost me roughly $2,500
There were a few things I had never done before... such as dealing with dumping the sewage (poop tank) and grey water tanks in the RV.
The rule was ONLY #1's in the RV toilet... Surprisingly I only took ONE drunk shit and puke in there...
Spending my summer this way inspired me to take up new hobbies. I started Bug Taxidermy, Pressing and Preserving Flowers, Kayaking (which I had never tried before and ended up BUYING my own Kayak before the summer ended)
Now she's all packed up... "Winterized" and awaits next summer.
I will miss the lingering scent of campfire and bug spray on everything I own and listening to hundreds of cicada's sing the song of their people as I fall asleep.