How we ended up in Banff..

The most recent part of our travels has been an interesting one…

After lazing around in Puerto Escondido for 6 weeks, we decided it was time to head back to Canada. We arrived in Vancouver at 7pm and rented a newly modelled corolla so we could check out a few vans we were interested in buying.

Unfortunately we are extremely poor and we couldn’t afford to pay the ridiculous accommodation prices in Vancouver, so we had to sleep in the small, cramped car for the night. Not to mention that we left all our winter gear at a friends house 6 hours away and the current temperature in Vancouver is 10 degrees.

First thing the next morning, we grabbed a coffee from Starbucks and set out to look at a few vans. The first one was a GMC Safari van that had a very basic bed set up in the back. It was small and would have been cramped with all our gear but we could have managed. The next one was another GMC Safari that we found at a car dealership. It was an empty van, but ran well. If the dealer wasn’t so god damn pushy we may have ended up with this one. And last but not least was the van I had been eyeing off for weeks, Sunny. A big yellow 1986 Ford Econoline e150 that was fully camperized. I fell instantly in love and without even hesitating we bought it. Just like that. Bye $4300.


This is when all our problems started. The van was previously registered in Alberta so to get it registered in British Columbia we had to get an Out-Of-Province Inspection done on it. Since the van wasn’t even registered, we had to pay $40 to get an A to B permit just to get it to the mechanic (5 minutes away). It was Friday morning and there was only one mechanic in the whole town that could fit us in to get the inspection done. At 6pm we went to pick up our van, ready to take it straight to the registry office and hit the road. Unfortunately the mechanic didn’t have the news we were hoping for. He gave us a list of things wrong with the van that we would need to get fixed before we could pass the inspection. To make things even better, nothing was going to be opened till Monday.

As we stood out the front of the mechanics guttered, the owner came over to us and said “Hey, why don’t you drive it to Alberta? You will then be able to skip the inspection and probably even insure and register it cheaper.”
Thinking this was our only option; we went to the closest Auto Plan and tried for an A to B permit to drive to Alberta. After hours of trying to convince them to give us the permit we were finally authorised to drive the van!


We set off straight away trying to get a start on the long 12-hour drive we had ahead of us. As it started to get dark, Jared turned on the headlights that quickly turned into a nightmare. The whole dashboard started flickering; indicators, brake lights and seatbelt light all saying they were on. We decided to just pullover for the night near a town called Hope. Just off the highway, down the quiet road. We parked the van along side a flowing river in amongst lush green trees and mountains. It was pretty beautiful.


The next morning, we left early and started to make our way to Banff. It was the closest and only place in Alberta we could think to go. Plus we always wanted to visit so we thought we could make a little holiday out of this bad situation. It look us all day to get there but we made it. Good old Sunny made it there in one piece without losing any oil or water! We were stoked. After a long day driving, we were ready for a good nights sleep so we could wake up early the next morning to get our van registered and legally on the road.

And then we were hit with another bomb to the face…
To get the van registered in Alberta we needed a proof of residence AND an insurance inspection done on the car. We were told the insurance inspection was a piece of cake just checking tires, windscreen and brakes so I booked us in to get it looked at on Wednesday and changed our address at the bank with our friend’s address. “It’s nearly all over”, we kept telling ourselves and we spent the next few days just enjoying Banff.

We went out to Two Jack Lake for a day, had BBQs at the river, enjoyed the sun and drank way too many beers. It was great and we really started to fall in love with the town. Friends kept asking how long we were going to be in town and what we had planned next and to be honest we couldn’t give them an answer. All we could think about was getting this van issue out of the way.


Wednesday came, and shit went downhill. The “piece of cake inspection” was worse than the Out-Of-Province in BC! The mechanic found even more things wrong with the van. He made a rough quote of $4000 to get it all fixed. :|I’m not going to lie, after this point I was hysterical. Now not only did we have an unregistered van, we had a shitty unregistered van that wasn’t even in our name so we couldn’t even sell it if we wanted to. We had no money and I was ready to pack my bag, ditch the car and get a flight back to Australia. (It was a little dramatic, but I was pretty emotional at this time.)

We drowned our sorrows that night in one too many beers and found out that we might actually be able to pay a higher amount of insurance and be given one month to pass the inspection. With every last hope we had left, we anxiously paced over to the insurance agency and an hour later the van was insured. Still holding our breath we walked to the registry office and $60 later the fucking van was in our name. I had never been so happy to hold a car number plate in my life!

******** 2 WEEKS LATER *********

We are still in Banff, both working and enjoying the lifestyle. Luckily, we also some how scored a room here in this overpopulated town and move in tomorrow! Up until now we have been living out of the van out the front of our friends place eating pasta, rice and shit load of peanut butter sandwiches. I have never been so keen to have my own shower and toilet in my life. Ahh… The little things we take for granted.

And the van? We still haven’t dealt with it and don’t really know what we are going to do. We’re thinking of maybe taking it to Calgary and getting another look at it. Until then, we are just taking a positive out of a bad situation. Something brought us to Banff and we just have to embrace it.



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