Greetings from Banff!


Not too many weeks ago I wrote about how few fellow travelers we’d met in our years of moving around who’d really clicked with us. That’s all changed as of tonight.

We were invited to a gathering of young Airstreamers by Tiffani of Weasel Mouth to join up with them and their friends in Banff National Park. The following is how that panned out…

Ten tin cans parked relatively parallel in three rows sit like a twelve pack with two missing. Tunnel Mountain and a smorgasbord of peaks towering over it all from nearly every angle set a general tone of grandeur to even the most mundane tasks.

Most of the Airstreams are sleek, newer models. Some play house to couples who’ve made the trek from Oregon and Washington, they’ll be off this evening exploring swanky hotspots down the mountain in the busy tourist town while those of us with children find ways to keep them amused and a few moments of adult conversation at the same time.

The only solo traveler, Kyle, discusses where to get WiFi, all of us Americans afraid to dip too heavily into roaming data up here in Alberta. Tiffani and her husband Deke discover our plans to stay in an RV park north of Seattle, and reveal that they in fact are workamping there during the time we planned to arrive. They all sip mixed drinks as full-timers Leigh and Brian join the group and recant their days of owning a vintage 60’s Airstream before upgrading to something more modern (and realistic for full-timing). We all exchange tales from the road and laughs and try to keep a big Canadian sun out of our eyes.

Earlier in the day we hiked a mountain, the families each taking turns photographing the same endless views and keeping children amped for gaining elevation. The Works family play catch up with their son Jack as he runs after our son Tristan and Ava, the oldest daughter from the Mali Mish clan. We all refer to one another by our web presences and it makes for a feeling of migratory tribes meeting to climb mountains and build fires and find a sense of community in a life too often spent in solitude traversing the highways of North America.

Back at camp, John and Laura follow behind their dog, they are the Democratic Travelers, allowing their fans to vote on places they should go next. As evening begins to shade the land we all meet around their picnic table exchanging ideas on working as web designers and developers. Theirs is the only other vintage in the flock, a 1987 Excella with a slick black stripe and American flag hanging in the door. I have not been so happy to make friends out of strangers in years.

We’ll all break away to furbish our own meals for the evening before cracking beers and filling a pavilion with our 25 or so deep gang of wanderers. “Ruby on rails” and “hashtag” and “boondocking” are the words of the evening. We talk with David and Anne about meeting in California, Laura and Kevin about days of Portland and the Oregon Coast, Dan and Marlene about some future sailing around the Mediterranean.

There’s talk of being able to see the Northern Lights around 1am on this amazingly clear night where Canada boasts layers of stars that haven’t been seen in the US since the Depression I think. Everyone gears up for a late night, but one group at a time disappears until its just the Lady and I talking with Dan of Mali Mish over life on the road with small children. We laugh at all of the other travelers we’ve met independently on the road. It’s a small world this full-time traveling life, and good to know we now have a significantly enlarged network of likeminded adventurers to come across in future.

The three of us retire only an hour short of the fabled arrival of Aurora Borealis, but though I’ve no doubt it’s a sight we should have fought sleep to see, I’ve gained enough from this experience and an early morning start on our way to Vancouver makes calling it a night seem prudent.

I fall asleep smiling, the Lady chatting me up the great time she’s enjoyed this Labor Day, end of summer weekend.

We’ll wake to final goodbyes and watching the pack split up to explore their individual paths once again. But the memories are there now, this one time at Banff camp…