Category: where to park

Well now I feel dumb. I woke up at 5am to the sound of the largest snowplow in the world coming to a grinding halt in front of my van. See, where I’m from when there’s a big snowfall the city’s plows are totally overwhelmed, and if the snow doesn’t immediately melt then it takes a week just to get the streets clear… it never even occurred to me that here they would ever get around to plowing my little boat launch!

The driver was actually really nice, he told me I didn’t have to move since his machine was too big to manoeuvre in the little lot anyway. But the law here is really about obstructing snow removal, so if they plow my parking lot then it follows that the parking ban applies there. My waterfront property isn’t so perfect after all…

Update Sep 24: I found another spot that I used on nights when the plows were out, but found I was in their way there too, so in the end I went back to my perfect spot and just stopped worrying about it. (shrug) What can you do?


Beach House

Beautiful big dump of snow today, yayyyyy!!! But this means I have to shovel my driveway. No really, I have a driveway now. With the overnight parking ban there are only a few places I can go at night, but one of those places is so utterly perfect that I’ve decided to make it my permanent winter home. It’s a little boat launch with a few parking spots right on the water, private and quiet, and as far as I can tell it’s totally legal to park there overnight. I share it with a squadron of ducks, and every so often I hear them squawking at each other. They sound exactly like Daffy Duck, it cracks me up. Anyway my one concern about this place is that there’s a bit of a slope to the entrance that could be tough to navigate when it’s icy, so the other day I bought a snow shovel and some de-icer. So I can take care of the driveway leading to my new waterfront property, ba ha!

Halifax parking

Last post notwithstanding, here’s the parking situation:

  • I’ve mentioned the weekly street cleaning at night,
  • I’ve mentioned the 2 hour parking restriction during the day (on all side streets anywhere near downtown, which is where my school is),
  • Now I’ve learned there’s an overnight street parking ban in winter.

I can see why this is necessary; Halifax is an old city, the streets are narrow and in winter the snow plows really can’t be dodging the parked cars. For most Haligonians it’s not a problem, because all houses have some sort of parking on their lots: every house has a driveway at the side, and apartment buildings all have a parking lot out back or underneath. For those who own cars but don’t have enough parking at their homes, the options are either to rent a parking space (going rate seems to be $90/month), or play a continuous game of “dodge the ticket weasels”.

Those are my options too but I also have a third, which is to drive out to Bayer’s Lake, where reportedly just past all the box stores is a fabled wilderness where you can do what you like and no one will notice. I’ll give it a try one night but I doubt I’d do it regularly. It involves a lot of driving, and a lot of morning rush hour, which is total madness every day as a few hundred thousand extra people try to cram themselves into this teeny little peninsula.

I may eventually have to rent some parking. Potentially it could solve all of my problems: the time spent looking for a home every night, time spent commuting, and even the cold of winter, since I may be able to find heated parking indoors. One big problem though: who the hell wants to sleep in a parking garage? Blecch, I think I want to try braving the cold and the ticket weasels first.

Remember that Spirit of the West song? I can’t get it out of my head, partly because I’ve spent much of the last three days using the North Memorial Library, which is on Gottingen… yes, the same one in the song. I’m here for the internet access, but also for the blessed aircon; the cooling system at the downtown branch (which is right across the street from the school of architecture) went kaput. This is very much a community library, located in Halifax’s poorest district, which of course you’ll know from the song, if you’re old enough. I like it here.

But I think the song is staying in my head because I’m also feeling more keenly homeless than I ever have before. Forced by the heat to sleep outside, I did find a perfect spot last night (really lovely in fact), but then I ran afoul of the street cleaners. Certain streets get cleaned on various nights of the week, with signs posted that I didn’t read clearly enough, obviously. Parking’s tight and very complex in this town, making my home feel more precarious than it used to: I’ve never before had so much trouble finding a place to put my home. So now I have a $25 ticket for putting it in the wrong spot, on a night I didn’t even sleep in it!

Most of all though, the song is in my head because of the roadblocks I keep running into with funding for school. Last time I used student loans for university, they calculated what you needed for the year and gave it to you, simple. Foolish me, that’s what I expected again! I won’t get into the details, but I guess I’m being reminded, in a very personal way, of how our system needs… ah, I mean wants poor people to stay right where they are. Not that I truly fit that category; I’m privileged in many, many ways. But right now I’m very money poor and the experience is making me alternately angry and depressed. Again I should rephrase: it’s not the experience of being poor that’s a problem, in fact I’m quite pleased with my improved budgeting skills. It’s the ‘are you crazy’ look people give me when I act like higher education is my right, and everyone’s.

Anyway, I got this far, and I swear I’m going all the way. I’ll show the bastards!

Home #108

Somewhere in Ontario… near Upsala I think?

You know how fond I am of rest stops. In Ontario, they don’t have ’em. Well they do kind of… they call them picnic areas, and they appear quite frequently on the highways. Sometimes they’re really lovely, sometimes they’re kind of drab. They usually have little bathrooms, but not always. But the salient point for me is that they’re closed at night, and signs explicitly say that anyone parked there overnight will be towed. Bastards!

However in this part of the province there are many old unused logging roads that plunge from the highway straight into the woods. I picked the wrong one in the sense that the road became too thick to drive on it while I was still in sight of the highway, but once I was there I didn’t feel like moving.

I need to rig some kind of bug screen on my windows: on a hot night having to choose between fresh air or freedom from bloodsucking motherfucking killer bugs just isn’t fair!

Home #105

Somewhere on Hwy 1, eastern Alberta.

As night fell yesterday I thought I heard that spattery sound of rain starting, but it thickened whenever the road dipped into hollows, and I realized it was just the clouds of bugs dying on my grill and windshield.

As it turns out parking at the side of the road isn’t so great in Alberta, at least not on highway 1. I tried finding a spot in the town of Brooks, but that didn’t feel quite right either, so I kept on going until I reached the next rest stop.

Last summer when I was driving through the US there seemed to be more of an accepted culture of sleeping at rest stops. There always seemed to be one or two people sleeping there at night, and in Washington I was even at one where the local veterans association raised funds on weekend mornings by selling hot chocolate and cookies to the people waking up and stumbling out of their cars. Here in Alberta, ‘rest stop’ means a bare parking lot with a million stalls and one little toilet hut with no running water. But at least it’s out of the way of most of the freeway noise, and I slept beautifully.

I’d love to get off Highway 1 and see some of the backroads, but at this point I’m on a tight budget… like so tight that if I’m not careful I might not have enough money to even get to Halifax. So that means no eating out, no touristy stuff, and being very stingy on gas. It’s actually good practice for the coming year; it’ll make my student budget feel luxurious!

Home #96

Inlet Ave, Sechelt.

I take back what I said yesterday about parking in small towns… the problem was more that when I rolled into town it was dark and I was tired. In the daylight yesterday I found a perfect little spot in the middle of town, right by the ocean.

At home, the best thing about being sick is that you can really wallow. I love grumpily throwing my used kleenex all over the floor, letting dishes pile up, not bathing… you don’t get many opportunities to do that. In the van though it’s the opposite: I need everything to be perfect. No gap between the two halves of the mattress, no loosy goosy sheets, van perfectly level, books and clothes all in their proper places. So I did a major cleaning yesterday, and that helped. Did my usual swim, and that helped (Sechelt has a beautiful pool by the way). I also took cold medication which is something I usually avoid, and I slept beautifully, snug as a bug in a rug. I’m still um, expectorating, but I’m feeling much better.

Home #95

Rockwood Park, Sechelt. Trying to find a place for the night in a small town like this is very different. Maybe I’m fooling myself, but in Vancouver I usually feel pretty anonymous, whereas here I feel very, very conspicuous. Plus everywhere I went it said very clearly no overnight parking. Finally managed to find a weird little mini parking lot that didn’t seem attached to anything and didn’t have any signs, just a few hundred feet from the pool.

The bad news is I don’t have allergies, I have a really nasty cold. Slept poorly, was either sweating or freezing all night, can’t breathe… back when we were all afraid of H1N1 I had a thought that one serious disadvantage of living in a van is that it’s not a very comforting place to be when you’re sick. I guess now’s my chance to find out what it’s really like!

home #57

Napier street, just up from Sweet Cherubim.

Looks like all my fears that parking might be a problem during the Olympics were totally wrong; around Commercial Drive at least there is actually way more parking than usual. Something like a quarter of  a million people left town… I guess they took their cars with them.