Archive for March, 2011


in the shop

Can I just say how much I love my van? It’s diesel, and four wheel drive, with the steering wheel on the wrong side. It eats through snow and has a super tight turning radius; I like to make sudden U-turns anywhere, just cause I can. Also it looks a bit like a hamster, with kind of a silly smile. It’s old enough to drink in the states, but has less than 150k on it. I love it. (sigh)

One problem though, being a used import, it takes some unusual parts. The place I bought it in Vancouver keeps some of the more obvious ones on hand, but that’s 7000km away, and certain parts might have to come all the way from Japan. So on sunday morning, when I was driving down the road and the van just slowed, and slowed, and slowed until it was just moving at a sad little roll slower than walking speed… I was shitting my pants.

I was only a block from Canadian Tire, but rolling it there took an agonizing 15 minutes. Their service dept is closed on Sunday, so I slept in their parking lot that night. The next day I learned that CT doesn’t work on diesels. Called around, found a mechanic who worked on diesels, and who sounded curious about working on a weird import. Called a tow truck, and holy smokes, they sent the biggest mother#@%er I’ve ever seen! Got a piggy back ride to Fred at Master Auto. He was awesome, I told him it was my home and he put a rush on the job, and had it ready for me by the end of the day… except when I took it for a spin it still didn’t run right, so that night I slept my second night at a repair shop. The next day they did some tweaking, and now… it seems to be fine. I’ve got my baby back!

Easy winter

Yeah, school’s been keeping me away from the blog, but there’s another reason I haven’t written anything about sleeping in the cold yet… I was waiting for a night that felt like a real accomplishment, a real Canadian winter night spent in a van. But global warming seems to be working in my favour: -16 is about the coldest it got for me. There were two nights that it got down to -19, but one was the night I was locked out (see last entry), and the other I was up all night at school finishing a project.

All in all I was pretty comfortable this winter, and the key to it all was my beautiful, sweet, dear hot water bottle. Instead of trying to heat up the bed with my body, I’d boil water at school before I left, and toss it in bed about foot level. By the time I got home it’d be nice and toasty (in one spot at least). Many, many thanks to Shirley for that idea.

I only had one vandwelling adventure, when my usual spot at Horseshoe Island got buried in snow and I had to find a new one that wasn’t in the way of the snow plows. I backed the car onto a quiet little corner off the road near the yacht club, and got stuck halfway with two feet of compacted snow under the van. After about 45 minutes of digging it all out and tramping down the snow behind, I was able to back all the way in. I used that spot for the next two or three weeks, it was lovely. Sometimes it even had internet!

This photo was last week… I always leave the front windows open a crack for fresh air, and on that night there was a fine dusty snow getting blown all around… by morning it was winter wonderland in the front seat!

It can still be pretty chilly (yesterday morning when I woke up it was -7 inside the van), but most nights are fine, and last night marked the lifting of the ban on overnight street parking, so in my world, winter is officially over. Wahoo!!