It’s cold!!

How to turn a simple light bulb problem into a serious “all signal lights aren’t working anymore”.

So we had a brake light in the back of the van that wouldn’t always work. We figured the bulb was probably burnt out. We took the cover off, fiddled with the light bulb and realized it wasn’t burn’t out but simply not sitting properly in the socket.

Troubleshooting the signal switch .. thanks Haynes manual!

Troubleshooting the signal switch .. thanks Haynes manual!

The source of all the headaches.. light covers are off!

The source of all the headaches.. light covers are off!

If you like it simple, you put the light cover back on and then you test it out and everything should be good to go. I (Matt) had the good idea to test it out while the light cover wasn’t back on, only to realize that now the break light bulb on the other side is also blinking when I signal on either side. Yes, both sides are now blinking when I signal either left or right. So I take the other cover off to look at the wiring behind it all. Everything looks good, nothing is disconnected. We do another test and now it doesn’t want to signal left or right when the headlights are turned on. The only consistency with the troubleshooting is that everything we do, it just gets worst.

I pulled out the Haynes manual for the van that I hoped I would never have to use. Troubleshoot some more, take the inside wall cover off to follow the wiring in the back, we also cut off the trailer adapter/plug thinking there might be a short it in… and that’s when it hit me. The negative wire (aka the ground) is missing in the back of the light fixtures so therefore the circuit is open (aka not complete) and therefore it’s impossible for the lights to work. Solution: Put the cover back onto the light fixture to reassemble everything and VOILA! The screws that hold the light cover is also the “ground” for the circuit. That is how you turn a 5 min problem into 3 hours of scary troubleshooting. We came really close to bringing the van in to a shop to get it looked at and were quite scared of the cost it would imply!

Calgary was short and sweet. We met with Math’s cousin Denis over a few beers in an irish pub. Always nice to catch up with relatives you haven’t seen in a long time. He also hooked us up with his park pass for a few weeks and that will save us a bunch of money. The next night we met up with Ewen & Jess and his parents who were visiting all the way from England. Good food and good times as usual. Friendship is definitely something we miss by being away from home and switching places all the time.

We then made our way to Canmore on Saturday to meet up with Katie, Joe and Christophe. Shared some stories in the morning and then we spent the week end climbing all together. Robert was around in the evening too and somehow these nice people put together a little belated birthday celebration for Math.

Good old slab :)

Good old slab 🙂

Elaine doing a seated belay

Elaine doing a seated belay

Bridge Building

Bridge Building

Christophe's super strength came in handy!

Christophe’s super strength came in handy!

photo 3

Elaine planning the itinerary for the USA

The weather for the upcoming week is going to be cold, rainy and snowy. We debated whether we can afford going to Skaha ahead of time as nice weather is almost guaranteed there. It would mean adding between 600-1000 km to our itinerary or $100-200 worth or gas. At this point we are staying here but the next step will be planning our itinerary south towards Mexico. We have to choose between the west coast of the USA or the more central path towards Utah.


Comfortable in the van when it’s cold, only if you stay in the sleeping bags!

photo 1

We are going to need a snow broom if it keeps that way! One thing for sure, the solar panels aren’t producing much energy right now.

This week we did something for the first time. We blew all the budget minus $20 on food and supplies right on Thursday (payday). Knowing that we would be in the mountains and expecting everything to be more expensive. We went looking around today and everything is in fact more expensive even here in Canmore. There’s a lot of “no we can’t afford this right now” happening when you pretty much can’t spend any money for the upcoming 6 days.

There are a lot of people living in their vans or RVs in Canmore. We lucked out on the first day we spent here, someone doing just that told us his secret spot to free camp and the last two nights were great. We have free wi-fi and no one has come knocking yet.  It seems like housing is a major problem here and there are even people who are working here in Canmore that live out of their vehicle. There’s also a shortage of workers and we contemplated getting a job for a week with a temp agency as the weather is mediocre at the moment. It would probably be house keeping for a hotel. Ultimately it seems like we would prefer to be poorer than be working right now as we didn’t go for it, yet 🙂

Tonight we are going to a “Community Dinner Night – Food and Friends“. Elaine found the ad in the local newspaper. They offer a free meal every Monday night and all. We are going obviously to save a few bucks but also because the weather is really cold and spending time in the van right now isn’t very pleasant or warm.


E & M


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