In 1997 I was 25 and living in Vancouver for the first time. Unsure with the direction of my life, I decided to spend a few weeks on the road to clear my head and plan. This was the first big road trip I had ever taken on my own.
I owned a 68 VW Beetle, and drove it from Vancouver to Kelowna; to Banff, Alberta to Jasper to somewhere near Edmonton (don’t remember where) to Drumheller; to Battleford, Saskatchewan to Winnipeg (and then back again).
In Kelowna, Westbank to be more specific, I visited my grandparents’ old home that they had sold almost a decade earlier. It wasn’t yellow anymore and the woods behind it had been cleared, but it brought back many memories of my grandfather taking my sister and I fishing on the Okanagan Lake.
That trip I visited the Westbank museum, where I met a friend whose name I no longer remember. She introduced me to iced coffee, and we were friends for a few years. Wonder what ever happened to her.
After that, I headed over to Lake Louise and then Banff. This was me somewhere in that area. That jean jacket was way too baggy on me.
The journey from Lake Louise to Jasper is a gorgeous one with bodies of water that are icy blue or very green. This was one of the many moose I saw along the way.
My most memorable time in Jasper was in the campground after it had rained pretty heavily. I arrived and set up my tent — absolutely famished. Unfortunately, my stove had stopped working, I had lost my can opener (and only had canned food), plus the firewood was soaking wet. It was going to be a long night with no food and no camp fire.
Suddenly, a guy from the campsite next to me walked over and threw down several cut pieces of dry wood. He then placed a can opener on my picnic table, and muttered, “We have a generator if you want to plug in.” Then he walked away back to his wife and kids.
Because of that act of kindness, I had warmth and food that night. Plus, I always remember that moment as one of the fondest of my trip.
I spent a couple days in Drumheller, exploring the museum and the valley. Two days was not enough and I have always wanted to go back. If you love dinosaurs, this is the best place to visit.
I’m pretty sure this photo was taken in Drumheller. I lived in this tent for almost four weeks and loved every moment.
That trip was the first I ever took on my own, and it was amazing. People would drive off the highway and follow me when I pulled over for gas or to rest at road stops. They’d tell me stories of when they were my age (and it was actually 1968) and they drove their Beetles on road trips. I wish I had known how amazing those stories were and had taken the time to write them down. But I thought I would just remember them forever and ever.
To help spark memories, I leave you with the theme song of one of my favourite TV series from 1990-2000.