After 10 hours of hitchhiking across Vancouver Island, we really just wanted to pitch our tent and get a good night’s sleep. We were fully stocked with our camping gear and didn’t anticipate a problem with finding a patch of grass to sleep on. The last time I had found myself ‘homeless’ on this large island in Canada’s West I had slept on a golf course (minus a tent and sleeping bag), having mistaken it late at night for an ordinary park. Waking to the whacking sound of balls being hit and “fore” being screamed across the fairway gave me a hilarious shock, but at least I was well rested. Surely I would have the same luck again.
This post is part of the series called ‘Sleep less, dream more’ in which we share uncommon sleeping places and circumstances travelers encountered during their trip.
Written by Jazza from NOMADasaurus.
Unfortunately for us the road we had been dropped off at in the town of Campbell River had very few camping options. We had not seen a secluded park or treed lawn anywhere close by and the long stretch of narrow sand that edged onto the Pacific Ocean seemed as though it would fall under the high tide line during the night.
Reluctantly we asked the manager of the caravan park if she would let us throw our tent up in the back corner of her completely vacant grounds. Giving us a judgmental glare, obviously horrified by our well-worn backpacks, cardboard sign and my non-conforming dreadlocks, she snickered a price for her bare patch of dirt. $30.
“30 dollars? For a piece of dirt?! No thank you. Have a nice night.”
Her eyes never left us as we walked back onto the road and began weighing up our options. The daylight hours were dwindling faster than we could walk. We contemplated trying to hitchhike to a better area but the number of cars traversing along this oceanfront road had now diminished. We decided we had been left with two options: Knock on a stranger’s door and try our luck with a (hopefully) welcoming family or take a risk with the potentially rising sea. Aware that our hygiene from the long day was probably far from impeccable, we decided to hit the beach.
We trekked along the shoreline trying to find a highpoint, all the while racing against the setting sun. Suddenly we found our perfect campsite. It seemed out of reach of the rising tide, free from tree roots and stones and relatively flat. It was settled. This will be our quaint home for the night.
The combined effort of pitching the tent had produced our shelter in a matter of short minutes. We were backed up against the street, but by now the traffic was non-existent. Ecstatic at having saved ourselves $30, we quickly made some peanut butter sandwiches for dinner and buried our feet in the sand to watch the day’s end. We were treated to one of the most beautiful sunsets we had encountered during our four years living in the Great White North. Content, we crawled into our sleeping bags and drifted off to sleep with the sound of the lapping sea as the accompanying lullaby.
The morning came around and the sound of the ocean waves had been replaced by incessant honking. I groggily exited our fabric home and was shocked to discover that the empty road we had backed our tent up against was now a main thoroughfare. I looked around and realised that our makeshift accommodation was not in the least-bit concealed. The bright orange nylon was visible from all directions, and was precariously located between the edge of the water and the heavily-used pavement. We sheepishly packed away our possessions.
We still had around 200km to hitchhike to our desired destination of Port McNeill. We had no idea how long this stretch will take us. Dropping our backpacks on the side of the road, only two metres from where we had slept, we raised our cardboard sign and stuck our thumbs out. Hopefully we would find a ride soon.
Lesh and I looked at each other, and then diverted our eyes towards our humble sand patch. Staring out at the ocean once more we smiled. We hadn’t expected to spend the night in Campbell River, on a beach just out of the sea’s grasp with the most epic of sunsets to boost our spirits. There must be a reason we found ourselves sleeping here.
A car pulled up. A middle-aged man in construction clothes wound his window down. “I saw you guys pitching your tent last night! I was hoping you’d still be here this morning. I’ll give you a ride, jump in!” We looked at the ocean again. This time it smiled back at us.
About the author
Lesh and Jazza from NOMADasaurus are backpacking overland from Thailand to South Africa without using any air transport. With a healthy appetite for adventure they promote sustainable, long-term travel in unique and extraordinary ways. Through a mixture of storytelling, photography, tips and advice they aim to inspire all travellers to step outside their comfort zone and follow their dreams. Join them as they backpack around the world, redefining the travel experience. Also follow their trip via Facebook.