Surviving the California Coast on a Budget

33608609526_b3a3c1d1e1_z

The title may sound dramatic for somewhere so pristine and beautiful, but you may feel you are purely surviving this section of your road trip, due to the strict limitations enforced on freedom campers. In most large cities and Southern California towns it is illegal to sleep in your car, California is a travel destination that is favourable all year while unaffordable rent leads to more homeless. The problem is exasperated by lack of budget campsites and crowded sites at weekends, some people may view $30 as inexpensive, but for most travelers with modest funds this will eat away your daily budget.

Towns by the coast along highway 101 have strict overnight parking regulations, when evening comes you will want to drive a little further inland. Use your acquired knowledge to suss out a suitable overnight parking area; perhaps you find a park with few residential homes around it -but parking regulations in the parking lot, if there are no restrictions on the road you are also unlikely to be infringing on someone’s property in this area. Consider that if it is a dead end there will likely be little traffic or people disturbing you overnight. Finding a decent night sleep in Southern California is a bit of guess work and a lot of luck; ‘Walmart’ and ‘CampingWorld’ alike will refuse you overnight parking in this part of the USA, in some cases you may be able to ask a manager permission, but check for signage and restrictions first. If you have a car rather than a huge RV it is far easier to be subtle and not be noticed by cops or annoyed locals.

In cities such as Los Angeles or San Francisco you may have to leave the area for the night, with car camping being illegal and the unsafe feeling in certain areas, it may be best to drive away for the night or pay for a campground. Weigh up the cost difference between paying for a campground or paying for gas and driving out of the city overnight. Another way to save those extra dollars is to try and share campground pitches with other travelers, most campgrounds allow for two cars in one space making it possible to share, it is also a great way to meet fellow travelers and share advice and information.

Hanging at the beach for the day gives you a perfect opportunity to use free benches and barbecues for cooking, as well as the chance to shower off the sand and sun lotion. There will always be fresh drinking water at beaches, so ensure all your water containers are filled before you head off.

Don’t be off put and avoid the California coast line on your Western USA road trip, Highway 101 and the surrounding coastline is too beautiful to miss. You can see why people love California life and never leave, you won’t want to either!

32835507513_12194a0846_z
Joshua Tree NP
Advertisements

FREE Vancouver Activities

With Summer arrives ample opportunities for FREE activities in Vancouver, hopefully the rain has finally subsided and you can get out and enjoy what Vancouver does best, the great outdoors. You don’t need a big budget visiting Vancouver (living there is a different matter), especially when you are car camping and cooking your own meals, here are some free activities to get you excited.

Stanley Park
Surprisingly, bigger than Central Park in NYC; Stanley park has excellent hiking trails as well as the Sea Wall to walk around, giving you stunning views of the surrounding mountains and North Vancouver. Hike around Beaver Lake and through the trees, if you want to splash out to $4.50/hour you could hire a bike to cycle your way along the Sea Wall. Parking is steep at $13 per day in the summer and it fills up rapidly, it is best to leave your car outside of downtown and take transit.

32729288343_fc6292f56f_z

Kitsilano
Spend a sunny day lazing on the beach or walk along the shore and be staggered by the landscape both urban and wild. Swim at the giant (137m long) outdoor swimming pool at the reasonable cost of $6.50, it is cold but nowhere near as much as the Pacific Ocean. There are plenty of benches along the sea front; Vancouverites take barbecuing seriously, making it the perfect place for a beach picnic.

Granville Island
Start with a wander around the market, if you are on a budget it is hard to resist all the vibrant foods on offer (watch out for the gulls if you eat outside). Walk along the front and take in the essence of the city, there are routes leading to Scienceworld in the East and Kitsilano in the West, you can walk as far as you’re inclined. If you have the money to spare, splash out on a beer at Granville Island Brewery; and if not take a beer to so called ‘Beer Island’ aka ‘Habitat Island’.

25819243265_0d84ef8a56_z
Granville Island

Pacific Spirit Park
Here, there is a spiritual feeling incomparable with any other place in Vancouver – Pacific Spirit feels less like a park and more like an enchanted forest. Some would say it is even better on a rainy day as you are ensconced by trees and can enjoy the calm of a hike. When you are this far-out West you might as well take a trip to Wreck Beach, Vancouver’s famous nudist beach, for a walk or sunbathing.

The Grouse Grind
Test the limits of your fitness with the grueling right of passage that is the Grouse Grind. Open from late May until October, join locals and tourists alike to climb the 2.9km ascent to the peak of Grouse Mountain. Once at the top you can see birds of prey and delight in the tongue-in-cheek lumberjack show. You aren’t officially supposed to descend the Grouse Grind, but there are alternate ways down, or it is worth paying the $10 for the cable car after the exhausting incline. Take the free shuttle to Grouse Mountain from Canada Place, don’t forget to check the schedule.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of hikes on the North Shore and many more parks to be visited; this list is a starting point if you only have a few days. Wishing you sunshine in Canada’s rainiest city.

Visit Kootenay National Park

32802352763_1c01dbf789_z

In the cluster of National Parks that border Alberta and British Columbia it is easy to overlook Kootenay, it may not be as big and as bold a Banff or Jasper, but it should be judged on its own virtues.

Campgrounds are far quieter and often as well kept as the larger National Parks, you will usually be able to use a fire pit and pit toilets as well as a bench. Similarly to other Canadian parks, not all sites have drinking water, so ensure you are fully stocked, have some kind of filtration or purifying tablets. Expect fewer crowds, 2017 may be the time to visit due to the free ‘Discovery Pass’ which will undoubtedly send swarms to the bigger parks.

The landscape is unlike any of the surrounding parks, ravaged by wildfires there are acres of burnt out trees that make for interesting viewing, giving the park a Jurassic era feel. Lightning could strike at any time during the summer months, setting the park ablaze once more, encouraging a refreshment of new growth.

You can hike to glaciers, see azure rivers carving through rock canyons and visit the Paint Pots. The Paint Pots are iron rich and staining the surrounding earth in ochre hues, the pigment is of significance to many First Nations in the area.

Keep a lookout for Bighorn Sheep, you may need a set of binoculars to view them up high on the mountainside, their horns are a wonderful sight.

Wildflowers are in abundance between the burnt-out trees, the Indian Paintbrushes are stunning and add a splash of colour in the summer months. Fireweed is bountiful and beautiful; the landscape post forest fire is a sight of pure contrasts and nature of the best kind.

33575351466_1e5e1c84b7_z

Reasons to visit The Yukon this Summer

The Yukon is possibly one of the most underrated provinces to travel to during the summer, here’s why you should make it a top priority on your Canadian adventure.

33233449450_c7e4f28dfb_z

The wildlife
Bison roaming along the highway, herds of them, so many you will have to stop the car to let them past and capture a photograph. Black bears and moose can be seen along the calm roads, no need to leave the car if you don’t want to. There are fishing spots to take respite from driving and spot beavers swimming in the water, maybe even plunge in yourself to cool off in the summer humidity.

Learn about First Nations
In most provinces First Nations feel like an after thought in post-colonial Canada, the Yukon does not follow suit. Natives account for a quarter of the Yukon population, and compared that to the national population percentage of 4.3% that is a significant increase. The Yukon gives much more control and consideration to the Aboriginal population and runs a Self-Government system. Learning about the rich history of tribes and being amazed at the intricate art work can be done in one of the many museums, galleries and learning centres.  It is a chance to buy real native art and clothing, knowing that your purchase will make a difference in their community, rather than funding large corporations.

The Scenery
The Yukon’s official flower is Fireweed, as it grows in such abundance after the forest fires which occur throughout the hot summer months. Lakes are vast, surrounded by mountains and so undisturbed by people you can pull up by a river at the roadside and sleep peacefully all night.

33575670656_cc373efd5b_z
Dawson City
Gold rush history
Ghost towns and ruins of the gold rush era of the past are left intact in the wooden shacks that were once people’s homes; you will find tins of unopened food left on the shelves, as well as cars which have been left to rust over decades. Visit Dawson City and be met with full gold rush period costumes and buildings preserved in the style of the time.

With a population of just over 33,000 it is easy to escape the busy tourist traps and take your trip at a slow pace; while still soaking up culture, history and nature. Make sure to add the Yukon to your Canadian road trip bucket list.

Canada’s Hot Springs

32774102004_ec70026bdf_z

Why visit a hot spring when you are on the road? Well firstly, it’s hard to resist a dip in a hot pool and secondly the temptation of a shower!

With all sorts of Geothermal activity going on underground, Canada has an abundance of hot pools you can visit at reasonable prices; albeit some are a lot better than others, but you should visit and test them to find your favourite. It’s a hard life…

Banff Upper Hot Springs –Banff AB

Delightful to visit after a whole week of hiking and not being able to take a proper shower, let the warm water soothe your muscles and take a shower (they’re communal but better than nothing). You can stay as long as you like for the reasonable price of $6.30, be sure to take your own towel and swimming gear.
Don’t be fooled however, by the serene looking pictures on their website, it is one of the busiest springs you will encounter. Expect it to be rammed to the gills with tourists and small children, unless you choose your timing with care.

Miette Hot Springs- Jasper AB

Take the upward stroll to incredible views following the Sulphur Skyline trail and come back down to see goats profusely licking the salt from the wheels of the tour buses. After that, you can indulge in a relaxing hour in the hot spring. Miette is considerably quieter than Banff Hot Springs, you will have a lot more space to yourself and can flit between the cold and warm pools. It is a snug retreat nestled between the mountains it is a bargain at $6.05. Take a soak, a shower and treat yourself to some campfire cooking in one of the fire pits.

Liard Hot Springs- Liard YK

This is the truest hot spring it feels untouched and organic, like you just happened upon a wonderful heated stream. Soldiers from the US army took respite from constructing the Alaska Highway in the hot pools, it was a pleasing escape from the harsh weather that ensued. Break up your journey through the Yukon along the Alaska Highway and relax for the day at Liard River. To use for the day there is a fee of $5 and the one downside is there are no showers available, but local campsites are friendly and can offer you advice. Sift through the stones and you may be lucky enough to find amethyst amid the rocks.

33233455250_6399bdf6f8_z