amw (amw) wrote,

banking, camping and driving

Now that i have more or less recovered from the jet lag, i am feeling a lot less fragile than those first few days back. I am still going stir crazy from the quarantine. The only human being i have laid eyes on is a delivery guy who had to check my ID because i ordered some beers. I feel like every day is a dream and other people are just shadows on the wall.

My primary goal of this quarantine is to figure out my next steps.

One major thing on my to do list is visit a bank and figure out my financial situation. I originally needed to do this because the first round payment from my mom's inheritance has come through. Overnight i jumped from a broke-ass motherfucker (from the bank's perspective) to somebody who they have targeted for an in-person conversation with a financial advisor.

The most pressing thing i need to get done is reactivate my card which got canceled last week for mysterious reasons that they will not tell me over the phone. (I was probably flagged because i started using it again after ~7 years away and clearly anyone who orders a bag of groceries and a vege burger must be a criminal.) I also want to open an account with a different bank that offers an interest rate higher than 0.05%. To the likely disappointment of the financial advisor who keeps trying to set up an appointment with me, i will be transferring most of the inheritance over there.

The next step after banking requires a decision on if i will focus on work or sabbatical.

My original thought about coming to Canada was to see it as a utilitarian work stopover. Come here, find a job - any shitty job - and work for 12 months, then quit and go back to a cheaper country when the borders have reopened. The longer i don't work here, the more i am eating into my savings, and it doesn't feel like money well spent when the lifestyle is so expensive and inconvenient compared to other countries.

But lying here in quarantine looking at jobs and wanting to shoot myself in the head at the thought of going back to all that tech industry bullshit has made me change my mind. I am going to take a sabbatical.

So the new plan is figure out how to sabbatical in BC. I'm finding it difficult to get useful information online, because so many people who come to BC "for the lifestyle" have a very different idea of what a good lifestyle is. Skiing, climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, camping, that's not stuff i consider good living. That's not what i want to spend my sabbatical doing.

Fucking camping, eh.

I can safely say i will not be sad if i never go camping another day in my life. We went camping a lot as children because it was a thing my parents liked to do, so it's not like i don't know what it's all about. I've been once or twice as an adult, and i really don't get the appeal. Festivals are just as dirty and uncomfortable, but at least the music can be loud and there are light shows and art installations. But if i had the choice i wouldn't camp at festivals either. Overnight raves are a much better way to spend a night in the countryside.

I do like the outdoors. I love hiking. I love being in the middle of the nowhere. But i hate cooking on a fire. I hate not having internet. If i spend the day walking through the outdoors, at night i want to be sitting at a bar drinking a cold beer, not wiping my butt with bunches of leaves or sharing my bed with forest critters.

I think that's my European heritage showing. In Europe you walk over the mountain, you arrive at the next village. In North America you walk all day, there's still nobody fucking there.

In short, fuck camping.

People also RV in BC. One dream of mine has been to retire in an RV, so this could be a good opportunity to rent one and see how it feels. But searching for local info, it seems like RVing in BC is just another excuse to go camping. I don't care if you're sleeping in a vehicle or a tent - camping is still fucking camping and it sucks.

My romantic idea of RVing is riding through the empty desert, just pulling over at casino parking lots or truck stops to sleep. I had the idea from watching TV shows that RVs were places where you could sleep for free while still being walking distance from everything you need. But the RVing websites are all like, oh you can't sleep in most parking lots because it's illegal, drive to this place in the middle of butt-fuck nowhere to camp next to a lake for free, or spend a bunch of money to stay at a park with a full hookup.

Parks seem like the worst of both worlds - you're right next door to 20 other RVs, but also miles away from civilization. One of my friends had to move into a trailer park during these corona times and she needs a whole separate fucking car just to go shopping. That's nuts!

Still, i feel like i should at least give RVing a shot, just to put the question in my mind to rest. I might be surprised and love it. They're very expensive to rent, though.

Bus and train travel both look pretty rough out here. It reminds me of when i was traveling from Detroit to San Fran and got west of Minneapolis. There's nothing there. One bus a day or even less, and so many towns that don't have a link at all. I think on that journey i missed out on seeing a lot of famous sights, but i also feel like i met more interesting people than i would've if i'd driven. Billings bus station at the crack of dawn, lordy what a bunch of ragtag motherfuckers. Walking along the road with a pack for several kilometers from Greyhound stops to motels and back, that really drives home the pedestrian-hostile nature of the countryside.

I suppose i could rent a car. There are enough charging stations in BC that it's viable to travel the whole province in an EV. But EVs are pricey and you can only rent out of Vancouver, not the smaller towns, so it's not an option to bus up to the interior, get a cheap motel for a few weeks, then rent an EV for day trips. I could do it with an internal combustion vehicle, but that feels uncomfortable to me. Obviously an RV would be far more polluting than a car, but with RVs there is currently no other choice. With cars it seems like a dick move to not choose the electric option in 2020.

A more environmentally friendly thing that would work in other countries is bike tourism, either buying a cheap bike or renting one, sending your pack ahead on the bus, then riding from town to town like an outlaw. That is also a fail in BC, which has very poor reviews for road cycling due to soft shoulders, rumble strips, ignorant drivers and flat-out bicycle bans. I guess most people here put their bikes in an SUV to drive up to a trail head and then loop around a glorified BMX track that goes nowhere. Kinda defeats the point, you know?

Fucking cars, man.

As you can see, i am still stuck in the rut that i was when i first arrived, just minus the panic.

I'm trying to remember the last times i drove a car and appreciated it. I rented a car for a couple days when i visited Texas, and went for a nice road trip around Hill Country. When i lived in Toronto i subscribed to Zipcar, which i occasionally used to run errands. Once i went to a rave in the country and carpooled a couple of flamenco performers who are still Facebook friends of mine. On a work trip a few years back i threw in with some colleagues who had rented a car and we drove through Death Valley, which was awesome. Also renting a car in Vegas to take a day trip to LA, then using it drive around the Mojave for Christmas, that was worth it too - one of my all-time greatest travel memories and what made me want to retire in an RV in the first place.

But then, all of those times i also struggled with how much i could drink and still drive safely. How can you enjoy visiting a dive bar in the middle of nowhere if you need to count your beers? And there were other times i wanted to leave the car behind and switch modes, but you can't do that because cars are a ball and chain.

Argh! Fucking North America and its fucking car culture. High fructose corn syrup and gasoline. Yuck.

I need to get out of this quarantine. When you're stuck in a condo in suburban hell, when the only thing that passes by outside is cars, when your only friend is the internet, it paints a bleak picture. I've been to Vancouver proper before, i know the place is full of people who walk and bike and use public transit. I think i need to drink a little bit of that in before heading out to the country, just to remind myself that North America isn't a total disaster when it comes to building sustainable communities.
Tags: canada fuck yeah, my boring life

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