RV Canada with Boo the Menopausal Van
Review of RV Canada with Boo the Menopausal Van: Have a Fun Working Vacation
by Barbara Rees
As Dr. Seuss says, “Oh, the places you will go.” That quote about sums up Barbara Rees’ book, RV Canada with Boo the Menopausal Van. The Rees’ “dime and a dream” mode of travel takes them from Powell River, British Columbia, to Newfoundland and back. This is the “Geriartic Gypsies’,” as Barb and Dave refer to themselves, third cross-Canada trip.
Their RV is a 27-foot trailer, pulled by Boo, the menopausal 1992 Ford van, so called because she is unpredictable and frequently overheats! Though they have a pension, they will be selling items—Barb’s first book, brandied blackberry sauce and Dave’s driftwood plus other items to cover expenses. This means stopping at farmers markets along the way; some they’ve sold at before, others they’ve heard of or are told about in their travels. Often they get down to their last pennies before finding a market. Focused on their dream and their goals, they always do get enough to continue in spite of unexpected repairs for the temperamental Boo.
This book is a travelogue for the backroads across Canada. Each town has a unique feature. What Barb’s trip reminded me was a trip on Route 66 in the U.S.: lots of kitschy icons along the way. In Parkside, for example, you’ll find the world’s largest lily. Sara, the giant camel, can be found along the highway near Glenboro. A giant 30-foot nickle is a prominent tourist draw in Sudbury. Outside Kenora on Highway 17, your eyes will be drawn first a giant yellow spider made from a VW bug and then, a few miles later in Kenora, to a giant muskie. In Shediac, the world’s largest lobster stands 16-foot high and weighs 90 tons. What fun to see and photograph these oddball roadside attractions!
We get a peek into small town Canada life, like Miramichi where the bartender at O’Donaghues Pub actually leaves the bar to go down the street to the liquor store to fill a request for Irish Beamers cider! (The liquor store didn’t have it so he made them a Blue Dublin instead.) In Newfoundland, we learn that a tickle is a narrow passage of water, not something that makes you giggle. Along a river in Newfoundland, car after car pulled up along the banks, people set up chairs and got out their coolers to watch five fly fishermen dancing their lines across the water. That was the local entertainment for the day!
Barb’s book is a lesson in frugal RVing. A list of markets in the Resources section will help you plan a similar trip, as will the other tips for how to have a fun working vacation. She lists the visitor centers, a treasure trove of information, and which often have a sani-dump.
Interesting statistics, facts and tidbits are scattered throughout the book. For example, they calculate that by making a thermos of coffee everyday for Dave and tea for Barb rather than buying it, they saved over $1000. They also mention facts like hours of sunshine in various areas or key features of a location. Did you know that Manitou, the Lake of Healing Waters, is five times saltier than the Dead Sea? That means you can’t sink!
I found RV Canada with Boo the Menopausal Van inspiring. Always upbeat in spite of moments when Boo breaks down or money is getting tight, Barb reminds us to appreciate all the wonderful things and people around us. It is also a model for RV travel. By taking backroads and taking time to meet local people you add so much more to your travels. Rather than simply passing through, you make a connection and get a flavor of the local character. You can get that flavor by reading Barb’s book, or use it as a guide to making your own travels more fun and meaningful.
Barb is also the author of RV Canada on a Dime and a Dream. Both books can be purchased at Barb's Web site, Write2Dream.com.
Jaimie Hall Bruzenak
Note: I received a review copy from Barb to use for this review.