It's been forever since I've written down my own thoughts for public viewing, and I must admit I feel a little rusty. Work and researching for the next leg of our adventure into the scary and unknown world that is Mexico and Central America have dominated most of my time. The rest I have been trying to fill with fun experiences and meeting new people. It's time to start getting back to writing because, like with everything else, the old adage applies: use it, or lose it. So here I go.
We've been living for the last two months now in West Kelowna, BC - more specifically, in Westbank: a suburb of a suburb of Kelowna, which lies across Okanagan Lake. While wildfires have been ravaging the entire province and covering the Okanagan with a thick grey-brown layer of smoke (the locals have taken to calling it the Smokanagan), we've been toiling to make money and replenish our bank accounts to get us through eight months or so of living on the road. Doing what I know I do well, I've been serving up food and wine at Bonfire Restaurant at The Cove Lakeside Resort on the shores of Okanagan Lake five days a week. Braden has picked up two jobs since we arrived, working as both a parking lot coordinator for the resort and at the boat rental business at The Cove's Marina. He calls himself a dock jockey. The description is appropriate. He just finished a slog of something like 32 days of work in a row.
So, how is it living in a van and working 40+ hours a week? Well, quite frankly, it's the pits. Don't get me wrong, both of us are getting amped for our next adventure, but waking up in the van in a dusty parking lot every morning is less than glamourous. We've said many-a-times that living in our van on the road - sleeping amidst epic scenery with no one around but the coyotes for miles - makes us feel like some of the biggest bad-asses in the world; but living in our van parked in a bumpy old dirt parking lot next to an unfinished condo development just makes us feel homeless.
It's hard to gripe too much, though. We've lucked out big time. We are eternally grateful to Braden's friend Sam who owns the resort we are working at for hooking us up with seasonal gigs, and with these jobs comes free showers in the resort's staff locker rooms (it's possible we're the only people who use these), free coffee in the mornings, scores of goodies (like full cartons of milk, dozens of eggs, yogurt, juice, cheese, vegetables, and the like) left unwanted and unopened by wealthy guests, and more recently passes to the resort's small but mighty gym. On top of that, we are parked next to a beautiful municipal park (the Gellatly Nut Farm) with a rocky beach, access to free wifi, 24 hour bathrooms with hot running water, and ample space for outdoor workouts. It isn't hard to remind ourselves that if we had jobs anywhere else, we'd have to be a LOT more creative (and may have to spend a LOT more money) to get the perks we are currently enjoying.
So, ya, waking up in a dirt lot, baked by the sun, loud from traffic and nearby construction is the pits, but the amenities close-by more than make up for it, even if we do have to make a mad dash to the Nut Farm to relieve ourselves in the morning. Why don't we try to find cool places to stay around here instead of parking in the lot? Well, most days of the week Braden works at 7am and I work in the evenings, getting off at around 11pm. This would mean Braden waiting for me to finish work, driving to a cool spot in the middle of nowhere (which could take anywhere between 20-60 minutes), and then waking up at the crack of dawn to return to the lot early enough for him to grab a shower, coffee and get to work on time. It's just not as simple as we'd like. So, as we did on the road, we spend all of our time outside: swimming, exercising, reading on the lawn of the Nut Farm, and in the evenings we take our laptop, find a picnic table within reach of wifi from the resort, and watch a movie on Netflix under the night sky. If it weren't for all the smoke we'd have a fabulous view of the stars and mountains across the lake. When I reflect on our current situation, sorting out my feelings as letters accumulate on the screen, I realize I'm being too critical, that still far too many people, even here in prosperous Canada, have things WAY worse than we do, and would in fact give anything to have a cozy van with a queen sized bed to live in. Maybe, after all, living a stationary vanlife is only just a bit of the pits.