The Update #53 – And Another Kilometer

by Jasper and Lonneke
25 April 2022
Comments 2

We have seen kilometer after kilometer of asphalt over the past week. After the many kilometers in Europe, we thought we were better prepared for our trip from Toronto to Calgary and the Rockies, but we underestimated how big Canada is. We had also underestimated something else, but you will notice what that is when you read our new update.

We drove an average of 500 kilometers a day, which meant that the 3000 kilometers we had to travel between Toronto and Calgary would take 6 days. We drove through beautiful landscapes and along the immense Lake Superior, where we continued to drive along for several days. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get to beautiful places to camp because there was at least a meter of snow in most places we passed. As a result, most picnic areas were still closed and inaccessible. We, therefore, slept at truck stops or at the Walmart where you can generally camp for free in the store’s parking lot. But besides the fact that there was snow along the road, the snow also fell from the sky on the third day. Because of this, there were a few centimeters of snow on the road and therefore the doubt started whether we could continue. It was around the freezing point and being in the Netherlands didn’t give us much confidence in driving through snow. Fortunately, at a gas stop we met a couple of police officers who reassured us and gave us the advice, just drive slowly and be alert and it will be all right. So we decided to drive on and the roads and weather soon got a lot better. After days along Lake Superior, we ended up at the Prairies that day too. When you drive from the East of Canada to the West you have to drive a long way through the Prairies, you have to see this as the Netherlands on a large scale. It is super flat, the road goes straight for hundreds of kilometers and you come across nothing but farms. Our first stop on the Prairies was the town of Regina and we spent the coldest night in the van there so far. That night everything froze the olive oil, the bananas, and the water. We do have a diesel heater that we used a lot during our cross-Canada road trip, but we prefer not to leave it on at night, so it got quite cold at night. Instead of removing the ice from the outside of the windows, we had to clean the inside of the windows. Fortunately, our heater ensured that we did not freeze ourselves. When we woke up a heavy snowstorm raged, which lasted for the rest of the day. It was ‘only’ -6 degrees Celsius outside, but it felt like -20 degrees because of the wind.

Well with a snowstorm and such cold temperatures we gave up on a day of driving, we spent the whole day in the warm Starbucks researching all the things we wanted to see in the Canadian Rockies. We had only roughly prepared ourselves for the Rockies and so we went in-depth in search of beautiful places to see and great walks to do. Unfortunately, we soon found out that all the beautiful blue glacial lakes in Banff and Jasper are still frozen and will not thaw until June. Also, all the beautiful mountain walks that we had found in our search are still closed or there is a danger of avalanches. Uhm okay, the blizzard out there proved that it wasn’t Spring in Canada yet but that we needed to wait until the end of May or the beginning of June for good weather… We too greatly underestimated how long it takes in Canada before Spring starts. And to drive around in our van in the cold for so long before we could see the parks as we had in mind was a bit disappointing. We spent the rest of the day thinking about alternatives, such as driving to Vancouver first and then back to the Rockies… What to do…

After another day of driving across the prairies and thus having plenty of time to think about our plans, we decided to look for a new workaway in the Rockies. Here we could bridge the cold days and sleep in a warm house until Spring would start in Canada. So we went into our trusted Starbucks to look for our next workaway via their internet. We soon found a bunch of workaways near the Rockies, and just before Starbucks closed, we were able to message our favorite. And yes, the next morning we already had a response and two days later we could start with our new workaway. There was one more thing we wanted to see along the way before leaving the prairies behind and finally driving back into the mountains. We made a stop in Drumheller where we could watch the Hoodoos and the Badlands. The Hoodoos are a strange rock formation, they arise because a piece of hard rock protects the underlying limestone against the wearing effect of the water. Because of this strange pillars are created that have a hat of hard stone on. A very funny sight. Around the viewpoint we went exploring a bit, only it was very slippery because of all the melting snow. So we carefully walked on and soon our shoes were covered in clay. But it didn’t stop there for Lon, when we were on the way back she slipped and slid on her buttocks, and side off the mountain. Unfortunately, I missed most of her fall and only saw her slide down a bit, but it must have looked comical. Now everything was covered in clay, Lon’s shoes, pants, and jacket, nasty. We drove to another beautiful viewpoint, which should be a place to sleep as well according to iOverlander (the app we use in Canada to find camping spots). Unfortunately, the parking lot was closed, luckily we could still go to the viewpoint on foot and we were greeted by sweet little ground squirrels who were very cheeky and nibbled on Lon’s shoe.

And then it was time to go to our new Workaway address, we drove into the mountains and we both loved seeing mountains again. It was a special day, April 16, the day we started dating 9 years ago. And what beautiful things we have seen and experienced in those 9 years. And we are going to experience so much more. We are still not tired of each other after 9 years and we prefer to be together 24/7. To celebrate this, we ate something delicious together in a bakery in Banff. We also gathered some information about walks that we might be able to do in a few weeks. It was another 2-hour drive through the beautiful mountains before we reached Mark, Flore, Augustine, and Pierre. But hallelujah, these people live in a beautiful place in a beautiful house. On all sides, you have a view of the beautiful snowy peaks of the Rockies and then there is also a beautiful river running through their backyard. Wow. After the first introduction, Mark gave us a tour of the house and their grounds, after which we were able to join the campfire. It was busy in the house because apart from Mark, Flore, and the children, Nicola lives here too who works for them, and 2 friends are staying over. It was a perfect first encounter and we will enjoy ourselves here for the next few weeks. The next day they immediately took us to a special event at the Ski Resort nearby. It was the last day of the ski season and they always do something special. They made a swimming pool at the bottom of the slopes with a ramp in front of it and then you have to try to reach the other side of the pool with your skis or snowboard. It was super busy and people were queuing to try and get to the other side of the pool. There was a very good vibe and we spent a long time on the slopes watching all the people trying. The one in an even crazier outfit than the other. Some made it across but most sank quickly into the pool. It was a great start to our time at the new Workaway and we are very happy with our decision to wait for Spring here. And what we are all going to do you will hear in the next one.

Lots of love,

Jap and Lon

Spendings of the Week

Budget per day €54 and per week €378 and per month €1700

What/WhereCost [CAD (€)*]
Eating out47,66 (€ 34,66)
Groceries64,58 (€ 46,97)
Diesel472,24 (€ 343,46)
Other292,21 (€ 212,52)
Total942,03 (€ 685,14)
* 1 CAD = € 0,7273


Driven kilometers: 3876

  1. Hi guy’s, nice story so far. Two questions. At the end of the story you share your weekly spendings. You also show your weekly budget and they do not seem to match. Not even close. Am I missing something here or have you underestimated the costs in Canada and are your weekly budgets estimated to low?
    Other question. Why don’t you leave your diesel heater on at night. Low but high enough to prevent frost.
    Thanks and enjoy your trip. Cheerio.

    1. Hi Ron, Thanks for your interest and your questions. Sometimes our budget and our spending just don’t aline. In this case, we have driven 3600 km in a week and driving is expensive. Most of our spending this week was therefore on diesel. We know that these kind of weeks happen from time to time, but most of the time when you are traveling at a slower pace we will be able to keep within budget. Hopefully, this is helpful for you.
      The reason why we do not leave our diesel heater on at night is that it feels a bit scary. Although it only blows hot air into the van, we just do not want to risk a malfunction in the middle of the night which causes a problem for us. We always sleep with a window open even when it is cold for ventilation so it probably would be fine to just have it running all night. The other thing is that it would use electricity and we are not sure if the heater will drain our batteries during the night. Our battery is 100 ah and is AGM, so we don’t have much capacity. We are always better safe than sorry.
      Thanks again for your interest,

      Jasper and Lonneke

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