Hitting the Road in Luxury - Our Last Days in Canada!
A bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, dining area, library and a garage. Sounds like a nice sized and sufficient home, right? Well what if I told you it also had…
a driver’s cabin?!
Yeah I’m talking about a van here guys.
(I hear you saying, “um …a GARAGE?!”. Yeah - I’m still getting my head around that too)
Now, Ricky and I definitely know how to live small. We built our own home inside a bus and lived through a bitter Canadian winter after all (don’t call us crazy - we already know that). But once we had done that for a while, we realised we could probably go even smaller and an opportunity came by to let us test that thought out.
As you know, we didn’t get our bus engine fixed before we left Canada (if you don’t know, see blog post: “A Bus Engine and a Creative Block”). But we REALLY wanted to spend some quality time in the mountains again before we left. You could say we are addicted to them.
Enter Yama Nomad: a brand new business in Calgary that rents out newly converted Mercedes Benz sprinter vans to adventurous travellers. We had the absolutely pleasure of taking “Christopher Wallace” (isn’t that the coolest name for a van?!) for its maiden guest trip into the mountains.
We started out on a Sunday evening from Calgary and heading directly to the Rockies in the big rig. Preparing to move countries is a lot of work so we couldn’t leave any earlier and we may have got along with Yama Nomad’s creators, Pat and Alex, like a house on fire. So there were some decent(ly long) conversations before we left. But it did unveil just how convenient this van really is, very early on in our trip. The drive out was incredibly comfortable and spacious in the handmade leather driving and passenger seats.
It was almost as though the mountains knew we were leaving and, boy, did they put on a show! The highways were lined with elk and deer the majority of the drive. It was the highest density of elk we had seen since arriving in Canada in 2017. We chased the sunset into the mountains and around Canmore before driving into Banff for dinner. We managed to grab some takeaway from Nourish with 10 minutes to spare before they closed the kitchen. It was dark at this point and the magic of the Banff streets at night was laid out before us while we waited for our food.
We then took our food and drove to Tunnel Mountain campground where we had pre-booked a campsite for the night. After finding our spot and pulling up, we turned the leather chairs around, converting the space, and enjoyed our meals on the swivel table. We also enjoyed Wild Rose Brewery’s Velvet Fog beers that Pat and Alex had left for us in the fridge underneath the couch. They also provided some other of our personal favourite consumables including freshly ground CHRC coffee, red wine and snacks. Yeah - spoilt!
We were able to watch the stars of a clear Southern Alberta night sky through the sky light as we drifted off to sleep on an incredibly comfortable mattress. We felt very rested the next morning when we woke, made breakfast and drove straight to our favourite lakes. We headed down Icefields Parkway first, to Peyto Lake, and made the short hike to see it one last time.
Our next stop was Bow Lake where we parked for a little longer, opening the back doors of the van and side door while we sat and drank our first coffee of the day (with no obstruction to our view, even though tourists around us came and went). When we first arrived in Canada a friend had told us that Bow Lake was the “best view for the least work” and he was right! We have stopped here many times while adventuring out in the mountains before. We soaked in the serene views of the blue glacier water and snow covered mountains around us while reading, playing the ukulele, drinking Truebuch kombucha and reclining - all from the comfort of the van.
From here, we decided to head to Emerald Lake. We spotted several black bears on this drive and we somehow managed to pull into the Spiral Tunnels just as the train was going through. This spot is named for the tunnels built in the mountain that allow a single train to be seen going in three directions at the same time - very cool experience! Emerald Lake was as beautiful as ever and we spent some time here taking photos. It was incredible to see the scenery so different here as a lot of the snow was melted off the mountains and more greenery was showing through. This same phenomenon reappeared in several locations along our trip, even when locations were within minutes of each other!
The next stop was Lake Louise. By this time it was late afternoon, so we spent some time by the lake and then back in the carpark to make dinner on the cooktop, enjoy a glass of wine and listen to our favourite tunes through the van’s sound system. A friend met with us and we talked into the night before she had to leave us and we parked up in the Lake Louise overflow carpark to sleep.
The next morning brought with it the drive back to Calgary to drop off the van and our chance to see the workshop where Christopher Wallace was born (the van, not the man). I can say with confidence that the service from Pat and Alex was unreal! They are truly humble, transparent and intelligent people with an awesome vision that they have and are seeing to fruition. If you are looking for a more comfortable and luxurious road trip experience that will enable you flexibility to get the most out of your adventure in Canada, we couldn’t recommend Yama Nomad more!
Here’s some of our favourite features of the van:
It had a freaking library!
Swivel chairs and table
Hidden storage nooks everywhere
Fridge and freezer
Fully functioning and modern styled kitchen and bathroom (I loved the farmhouse sink in particular!)
So much attention to detail in the interior design
Personalised drinks and snacks
These guys have definitely put a lot of heart, soul and thought into their builds. It made for a really seamless and relaxing experience. We couldn’t be more grateful for the memories they enabled us to create in our last days in Canada. There’s no words that can cover it!
I’m not quite done here guys (sorry, not sorry!). Yama Nomad have something quite special on offer at the moment. If van life in Canada is something you’ve dreamt about and are serious about getting into perhaps full-time, listen up! They have a sprinter van ready for a custom build and want to do it for you! Head over to their website for more details, to enquire or even if you are just looking to hire too.
Here it is! ⬇️⬇️⬇️
I hope this retelling of our last big adventure in Canada has you mountain and van life dreaming for the rest of the day, or even the week! I’ll certainly be thinking about it forever.
Check out some photos we took on the trip below…