Van Life Journal Week 2: An Adventurous Birthday Surprise

by | Last updated Jan 12, 2021 | Van Life | 0 comments

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Time is flying and I almost couldn’t keep up this week on the daily journaling. Here’s a short but sweet look at what our second week of van life entailed (including my birthday!)

Day 8 – Van Rouge Goes to the Bathroom

It’s the 1st clear day we’ve had since arriving in Canada. We head into town for wifi at a coffee shop and struggle to find a working parking meter. The money it stole from us turned to work in our favor – we got free parking for the morning since the meter needed repairs.

We head to Second Cup Coffee Co., the apparent large-chain “Starbucks” of Canada. I get a jalapeno cheese bagel and it hit just the spot. After a morning churning out work and writing, we visit the market square in town; a no-frills, little indoor market selling local produce and other handicrafts.

The goal for today was to find a dump or sanitation station where we can empty our dirty greywater from the van.

Van Life Journal Week 2 // Bucketlist Bri

WE DID IT! Well, Paul did it (lol)

Turns out the visitor’s center in Saint John offers this service for free.

It’s our first time doing this and Paul had to crawl underneath the van to hook up the hose. He wasn’t happy about it, being a claustrophobe.

The end of the day turned out to be a beautiful evening. We go for a hike in the Irving Nature Park, and finish off the night parked across the paper mill at Reversing Falls Rapids, where you can watch the tides change direction as the Bay of Fundy empties out into the Atlantic Ocean.

Day 9 – A Quiet Day of Work

We wake up to the rapids still going from right to left and the paper mill churning out a cloud of white smoke. We quietly make tea and scrambled eggs and get to work on our computers. It’s a low-key day, now our van’s both empty and replenished with a full tank of drinking water.

People come and go, hardly taking notice of the two digital nomads working at the back of their van. We cook lunch, clean, nap, and turn the van around to see the tides change from left to right now.

We drive back to sleep at Irving Nature Park. It’s much quieter there and we were hoping to wake up to a clear morning on the beach.

Van Life Journal Week 2 // Bucketlist Bri

The beautiful yet freezing beach @ Irving Nature Park

Day 10 – My 26th Birthday! (Oh, and now I don’t eat pork or beef)

It’s my birthday! We wake up to the droplet-covered windows and another foggy white sky. Half-awake, I get a whispered, “Happy Birthday” from my love.

My first birthday surprise? I got to wash my hair! It had already been 4 days since washing. So Paul kindly and gently washes my hair in the sink.

In order to do this, we had to set up a little hair salon-style “seat” for me to lay my head back into the sink. It was just a carton box full of Fluffy Kitty tank tops and a pillow on top for extra comfort.

We warmed up water on the stove and with one cup at a time, wet and washed my 2-foot long hair in a tiny square sink. My neck was breaking, but my head was getting cleaner and cleaner and I couldn’t be more excited.

We do a little routine tidying, as one must when living in such a small space. Then we took off to Starbucks to treat ourselves for breakfast with a blueberry muffin. It also meant we could work with wifi and charge all of our electronics which quickly becomes an issue in the van.

For lunch, I whip us up some coconut curry in the van. Meanwhile, Paul runs out to get guitar strings. When he gets back I turn around and there sits a little blue birthday bag. I love surprises! In it was a beautiful diatonic harmonica.

After a full afternoon of work, we decide to enjoy a nice dinner out in Uptown Saint John. We waltz in and get a high-stool table and order overpriced drinks.

Van Life Journal Week 2 // Bucketlist Bri

Birthday dinner!

If you know me, I don’t eat much meat. And even though I fully understand and support the movement, I’ve never been able to commit to vegetarianism entirely.

So on a whim, I choose the special of that night: the brisket. It sounded innocent enough and I wanted something “unique” since it was my birthday.

Little did I know, that brisket would later have me pledging, out loud, that I would stop eating beef and pork! (Notice how I still can’t commit 100%).

I literally looked at that brisket steak, probably perfectly-cooked for a meat-lover, and felt a rush of decisiveness (which doesn’t happen to me often). I don’t like meat, why do I keep ordering it?

That night I decided I would stop eating pork and beef, the two biggest contributors to climate change in the agricultural industry. The decision came at an important time; when the Amazon was ablaze due to intentional burns designed to make room for cattle farming.

We leave the restaurant late and I take a slow and careful drive through the fog to St. Martins, New Brunswick. We arrive and park snuggly between two other campervans. The rotating light from the lighthouse cuts through the fog just enough to illuminate it. The foghorn blares faintly every ten seconds.

We sneak out to pee before brushing our teeth and jumping into bed.

Day 11 – I Landed a Partnership!

Sea Kayaking with Red Rock Adventure in the Bay of Fundy, St. Martins, New Brunswick #Canada #outdoors #adventure #travel // BUCKETLIST BRI www.bucketlistbri.com

Sea kayaking with Red Rock Adventure

We wake up early at the West Quaco Lighthouse at sunrise and I rush out the van to take pictures of the salmon-pink sky.

I curiously chat up Kristin, a mid-age single woman traveling alone in her decked-out Sprinter Van. She told us a funny story about how one morning while camping in Newfoundland she hiked for 5 hours in her nightgown without seeing a soul.

We drive to the visitor’s center to use the bathroom and meet Joe, the talented “jack of all trades” type who works there.

Van Life Journal Week 2 // Bucketlist Bri

At the top of the lighthouse / Tourist Information Center. Paul found the Canadian French “descendre de reculons” funny.

Across the street sits a cutely-decorated building with the signs “Red Rock Adventure.” I immediately recognize them as the outdoor kayaking company I had read from a National Geographic article.

So what do I do? I walk inside and propose to work together. Bucketlist Bri X Red Rock Adventure. And they joyfully accepted! I then excitedly spent the morning talking to Jordan and Nick, the manager and co-owner, about the partnership.

We nibble on some hot-smoked salmon and chat about the business deal.

Paul and I step out to cook in the van for lunch and explored the St. Martins sea caves – which you can explore on foot during low tide.

That evening we joined the kayaking tour with Red Rock Adventure on the Bay of Fundy.

To celebrate my partnership with RRA, Paul and I ordered a hefty portion of poutine – a Canadian classic – from a colorful roadside restaurant.

Van Life Journal Week 2 // Bucketlist Bri

Roadside poutine.. nom nom nom

Day 12 – Exploring the Fundy Trail Parkway

We wake up to another beautiful morning at the lighthouse and Yoda is eager to get out and explore so we take him on a small hike around the lighthouse. He does so well and even walks up to greet a stranger!

It’s Saturday, so we have a late morning. We finished watching The Good Place Season 3, so now we’ll have more time on our hands. Or at least get more sleep.

We get ready and go to The Fundy Trail Parkway after lunch around 3 pm to explore the many hikes, waterfalls, and lookout points.

25 Things To Do in St Martins, New Brunswick #Canada #outdoors #adventure #travel // Bucketlist Bri www.bucketlistbri.com

Flowerpot Rock

We go to Fuller Falls, check out the Sea Captain’s Graveyard, walk out during low-tide on Long Beach, read about the history of the shipbuilding industry at the Interpretation Center, and walk across the Suspension Bridge/Big Salmon River.

We had to be out of the Parkway by 7 pm, leaving us just enough time to go to Hutteges old-timey convenience store to buy groceries and dinner supplies.

Day 13 – Seals & Secret Hammock Hooks

Our third and last morning waking up at the lighthouse and in St. Martins.

We drive to the tourist center to use the restroom (cause it’s not fun to poop in the woods) and run into Joe again. We have a last chat, then head up past sea caves to walk the trails and visit the graveyard there.

Van Life Journal Week 2 // Bucketlist Bri

Looking out at low-tide on the Bay of Fundy / St Martins sea caves where water drops 25-30 feet, allowing tourists to explore the seabed on foot.

Since it seemed quiet and excluded, we brought Yoda out on-leash for at least 30 minutes. He walked almost the whole way until he got tired and I had to carry him back to the van for the last stretch.

Along the trail overlooking the sea caves and Bay of Fundy, we found secret hooks to hang a hammock. Someone had set up camp here, and we were the lucky ones to spot the hooks hidden in the trees.

Van Life Journal Week 2 // Bucketlist Bri

Swinging away in the trees!

The afternoon air and sun was warm enough to test out our solar camp shower. We awkwardly wash our hair before attempting to refill our water tank from a natural spring on the side of the road.

Van Life Journal Week 2 // Bucketlist Bri

Our first “outdoor” vanlife shower!

We head back into town, work a little, and then go with Joe from Red Rock Adventure on our Zodiac boat tour up the Fundy coastline.

We have a blast seeing the coastline and spotting some grey seals with long snouts. After a magical sunset, we leave St. Martins and drive to Moncton.  We arrive around 10:30 pm and park to sleep in between two baseball fields.

Zodiac boat tour of the Bay of Fundy / Fundy Trail Parkway coastline ft. Red Rock Adventure #canada #adventure #newbrunswick #bayoffundy // BUCKETLIST BRI // bucketlistbri.com

Curious grey seals!

Day 14 – Bye New Brunswick, Hello Nova Scotia!

I slowly wake up at the baseball field and the first thought I had was, “It’s freezing!!” Turns out it was only 46 degrees outside; oddly much colder than where we were before.

We started to think we had skipped fall and entered into winter already. It made us worried to think what lied ahead as we head north to Nova Scotia and beyond that, Newfoundland in a couple of weeks.

We tidy up and hit the road to the laundry mat – do our laundry while working and then make a stop at Sobeys for bathroom needs and a quick sushi lunch.

We scope out Tim Horton’s / Wendy’s and work inside for a few hours to charge our electronics.

We have a beyond burger (a vegetarian burger) at Tim Horton’s and hit the road, dumping our grey tank along the way.

Van Life Journal Week 2 // Bucketlist Bri

Our last night in St Martins, New Brunswick before heading to Moncton and then Nova Scotia.

Not soon after, we drive past the “Thanks for visiting!” sign for New Brunswick and cross the provincial lines into Nova Scotia.

We turn off at Exit 3 to Amherst cause the town looked cute. Cause why not? We scouted out a small, old, Scottish-like town and slept the night behind an old market building where there was free parking…

And so it begins, week 3 of van life! Where will we go this week? Stay tuned! ❤️

Read van life journal week 3 here.

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Hi, I’m Bri! I’ve been slow traveling around the world in search of new adventures since 2013. I have lived in 8 countries on 4 continents including Nepal, Mexico, Colombia, and parts of Europe! I created this blog to inspire others to live a life of adventure, seek out meaningful experiences, and to travel slowly and mindfully. Join me on this journey and let’s tick off our bucket lists! Read my story here.