It is the middle of winter, I am in Jasper National Park and I decided this was going to be my first night to venture out, start my trip and start our van travels. I admit I was a little nervous. Would I freeze to death? How much power do I actually use from my solar to boil some water? And, do I actually think I am going to sleep tonight? So many thoughts. I did and planned out absolutely every possible scenario. I had a heater just in case, I had a gas stove just in case and if I couldn’t sleep, well I could have a nap later. Nothing I couldn’t figure out. It wasn’t like I was up in the Himalayas where there isn’t a quick plan B if things went wrong.
As I pulled into the campground that night I went back and forth with whether I should be paying for power, in case I needed to run that heater, or just going for it with no power, I did have my solar power after all. Naturally I just went for it. I hunted down the perfect spot and at this point it was dark so I was ready to hunker in for the night. The weather that evening was meant to drop down to a balmy -7 C so about 20 F. Not outrageous, but at about 5C (40F) degrees I find when you get cold you stay cold. I even bought an electric blanket, so I was maybe even over prepared.
At no point did I expect a glamorous night so when we finally got settled in I made myself some dinner, which consisted of a cup a soup, an orange and the luxury item of toast with jam. I never expected my toaster would actually work. I boiled some water to fill my little water heating pack and got cozy for a night of catching up watching Suits. I could get used to this for sure. However, getting to that point of making dinner and getting cozy you picture taking about 15 minutes, which would be normal, but in the van was about an hour and a half. Everything just takes longer. Simple as that. Especially in my super tiny van of changing it from sitting and working to switching over to bed.
It just happened that this campground we were at had running hot water and washrooms, which I planned my van to literally be able to drive up a road, pull off to a trail head and sleep there. So this idea of a warm place to wash my face and get ready was luxury and something I didn’t expect. Baron and I went off for our evening walk under the stars, I put in all the insulation and converted the van into the bed and we tucked in for the night.
About 2 or 3 hours into sleeping and believe it or not, I’m warm. Me going crazy with insulation actually worked! I could feel the cold coming through the windows, which I had not only the layer of insulation, but my curtains which were like heavy blankets. The draft wasn’t bad though. It was more a reminder that you are sleeping in the trees, under the stars and I loved that. (I made videos in case you're curious about my build. Find them HERE!)
I'm really happy I took the time to build the van to handle winter. Even though I can't report it was the best sleep I ever had, I did get some sleep, had a hot dinner, got my favourite TV show in and we didn't freeze to death! Yes! The biggest bonus of all ... my water didn't freeze! I was pretty convinced it was going to happen and it thankfully didn't.
I admit I would likely never attempt a night much colder and if we did I would need to buy a warmer sleeping bag or pay for power so I could run the mini heater.
We are still on the road, in much warmer places, still loving everything we are seeing and I can’t wait to share more with you through photos and stories.
Let's get serious for a moment folks traveling with their 4 legged friends, especially in north Cali! While Baron was in the Redwoods, through our many days hiking he sadly pick up a tick and it tested positive for Lyme!