The Elephant's Stuff
Trip Start Unknown
5Trip End Ongoing
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It was while alternatively dodging forest fires and rain along Route 20 that we started to notice a feature of American small towns that had, up until then, passed us by. Many towns, both wealthy and poor, had a self storage facility on their outskirts. Once we started to look for them, they were everywhere
They were also, it seemed, sad places. After all, they were full of stuff. Stuff that the owners didn't need or didn't want or couldn't store or couldn't bear to part with. And the stuff, the good stuff and the useless stuff and the broken stuff and stuff with parts missing, would just sit there, piled unceremoniously in grubby musty cardboard boxes waiting to be forgotten. And when it is forgotten, and the storage rental no longer paid, it is auctioned off as a job-lot to that tribe of people who pick over the bones of forgotten lives.
Of course, we have as much stuff as most people and if workshop equipment is considered, more than most. There was, therefore, no moral high ground to make us feel good about this. The one bright spot for Team Elephant was the months we spend away from our stuff, with everything we need within arms' reach. This discipline has, at the least, confirmed the obvious. You don't need stuff to be happy.
The WA-20 had many delights other than the opportunity for social commentary. It is, in part, a fine, swaying, mountain road through a stunning landscape so deserted it seems incongruous in a country with such a large population. We didn't see our first bear, but deer were common enough for us to moderate our speed and we dropped down into the valley of the Skagit River and the muggy wet of a lowlands summer in the North West.
We eventually ambled up to the Canadian border feeling more relaxed about a border crossing than usual. Somehow, Canada didn't seem quite as foreign as the US, Mexico or the UK. The border officer asked only if we were carrying any weapons.
“No,” I answered, “we are hoping to get away from them.”
“Do you have much trouble with weapons?” I asked.
“Lots! They conceal them, so we search a lot of vehicles.” She pointed to a dozen search bays just ahead.
“Welcome to Canada.” She handed back our documents.
We stowed them without ceremony, fired the engine and were off. By the end of the week we had found a safe haven in the town of Revelstoke and settled for a weekend off; our first days off for more than a month. Revelstoke turned out to be an easy choice for a rest. Within 100 metres of our motel were a craft brewery, a patisserie and a gelato shop. No brainer, yah.