Off The Grid with Nicki Antogini
Breaking ribs and eating steak in Canada
Our adventure started at the Calgary branch of Fraserway RV where we collected the huge pickup that was to be our home for the next two weeks. Our cosy cabin on wheels opened up to reveal a bed, a table, a tiny kitchen and a bathroom which we improvised as winter gear storage (the RV couldn’t carry any fluids in the pipes because of sub-zero temperatures, which meant that the toilets and shower were unusable).
Before long, we were cruising along the Canadian highway towards British Columbia. At that point, I was already anxious about my toilet situation and started visualizing solutions to my night pee excursions. The public conveniences were anything but convenient. Around 2am, I would wake up, wrap up in jackets, beanies, warm socks and go out on our mission in temperatures of -15 degrees.
Our first stop was Fernie where the alpine mountains got Sebi (my travel buddy) hyped since the first turns. Me? Not so much… The steep and rocky faces added to my fear for heights left me more vertiginous and in tears than excited!
Our campsite in Fernie was situated directly by the slopes, enabling us to ride straight from the mountains into our ‘backyard’.
Fernie was followed by Whitewater, near the town of Nelson. The bowl-shaped resort affords fabulous views up the mountains from every face. Now fully fledged adventurers, we decided to stay overnight in the resort parking lot reserved for RVs. By this point, we were happy to accept the “facilities”: two chemical toilets and snow for toothpaste.
That night, when nature called, Sebi was inspired to get outside and make the most of the moonlight for a midnight expedition. After some sleepy protests on my part, we were soon both outside, hiking through deep snow.
Our next stop was Red Mountain by the town of Rossland where the annual carnival was in full swing. This charming city was in a celebratory mood, and so were we. Bring on the daily Casers! This drink was invented by an Italian barman working in Canada. He wanted to create a cocktail that tasted of home: flavours of spaghetti topped with tomato salsa and clams. So he mixed clamato juice and vodka and served it with salty delicacies (bacon, pickles, olives…). Seriously, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. This blood-like liquid is now my absolute favourite. And I’m a die-hard Negroni lover.
Revelstoke is home to many famous free-riders and has nurtured some of the best ski and snowboarding athletes of our generation. You can tell that the whole town has embraced the freeriding essence, from outdoor shops to local restaurants.
While the town is filled with talented people, I was certainly the clumsiest of all. A morning, after a good night of sleep, I stepped out of the RV with the intention of cleaning our dishes in the public bathroom and ended up laying on the snowy floor after slipping on the icy first step. That day I broke two ribs. As my motivation was at its highest (which is rare, I'm more of a lazy person usually) I decided to give my body one day of rest and to irresponsibly trick my body with painkillers and vodka shot that I could continue riding for the rest of the trip.
After a few days in Revelstoke, we set off for Golden. Our journey took us past the national park of Rogers Pass. We visited the park information centre for a useful update on the snow situation and touring areas. With conditions even better than we’d hoped for, we decided to stay overnight in the area after a quick visit to the city of Golden.
My highlight the next morning was the chance to try out my new split board for the first time (well, second actually, but the first time doesn’t count as I hadn’t realized the bindings had a “walking mode” and the mission ended shortly after it started). Our expedition was a success: I kept up a decent pace despite my laziness and we got to ride deep powder in this wild and protected region.