Recently I decided to make the leap into summer and put my extra blanket into storage. As I did this I picked up my Organic Climbing Briefcase pad, which makes a perfect seat in dry weather, and my classic red metal toolbox. I was headed down to the beach to meet Ashley author of the blog Barefoot & Homeless so that the dogs could play while we did some ‘home improvements’. For all the years I have known her, the van she calls home has been on the verge of collapse. Through all the ups and downs of vanlife she bop’s along with a smile on her face taking life as it comes with a unwavering faith in the goodness of karma. Perhaps my decision to ditch my winter warmth was inspired by her arrival. The rock is drying faster these days, and already fellow van dwellers have begun to arrive in Squamish. My nighttime parking habits are changing in response to the lengthening days and warmer mornings. Squamish has not only the regular four season, but also another two, wet and climbing. A feeling in the air tells me climbing season is nigh and that means….. The circus is coming.
As Frank and Freedom, our trusty canine companions ran wild I dismantled the interior body panels on Kiki’s hatchback door. I decided to take Ashley’s lead and rig my door allowing me to open it from the inside. More importantly it would allow me when I wake up too warm open the hatch from bed letting a relatively cool breeze along with the sound of birds to come rushing in. I had after all decided I wanted a blast of nature in bed every morning and I was going to make it happen. What good is a dream if you don’t make it a reality anyways? I am after all currently in the business of making all my dreams come true; that’s how I came to live in a van to begin with. As I worked on worked on the current dream I chatted with some guys parked next to me who teased I would break the whole door. I could tell they didn’t quite ‘get’ the need to undergo such modifications, and for a moment I doubted my ability to get the job done. I analyzed the door latching mechanism then attached a piece of cordalette on a pivot point, thread it through the panel in the right combinations of directions and announced it was testing time. I closed the hatch, crawled into bed and gave the cord a pull. It opened! I jumped out stoked, and reminded again never to doubt myself. I reassembled the door satisfied the coming climbing season was going to be one dream come true more awesome.
That night Megan, Ashley and I gathered at The Chief campground to greet the changing season. Our three vans in a row, we sat on the grassy knoll talking of climbing and adventures, laughing and throwing objects for the pups. Friends and travelling strangers joined us while people played on the slacklines, and organized gear at their vehicles. We met a super inspiring (at least to me) couple of buskers from Quebec who filled the lot with the sound of banjos. We shared with them our desert and learned about the world of train hopping. Another couple came to sit with us while Megan and I cooked. They were full of questions and fresh enthusiasm. They had travelled from Ontario and would soon head south to California to climb at all the destinations such as Yosemite, Bishop, and Joshua Tree. It was refreshing to be meeting climbers from afar again, and to be sharing in this great community.
As I laid down to sleep with Megan parked on one side of me and Ashley on the other I was almost giddy at the season to come. Soon these social nights would become a daily occurrence, except with even more people from even further away. There will be potluck dinners appearing out of thin air with friends made in the boulders earlier that day. Soon the circus will return to its full glory and my face will hurt from the enjoyment of it. I have already begun to prepare for another sleepless summer of climbing, friends, mountains and fun, but I have much more to do especially mentally. As much as I do enjoy making new friends, and the company of others I really, really need my alone time. This winter I spent a record amount of time alone or with a select few individuals and I have experienced a great growth in my happiness levels. So, for now I will savour my alone time, prepare for summer mountain escapes, and transition my diet for the seasons.
One of my favourite meals to eat this time of year and throughout the summer is this filling and protein packed salad. The base ingredients store well for backcountry and van use, and the final dish can be used for many meals. Try as mini lettuce wraps for lunch at the crag, or with rice in a burrito for dinner. I like to make enough to last 3 days, so that I can spent less time cooking and still eat clean while the circus is in town.
Start by soaking your desire amount of beans for approx. 24 hours (this varies for bean type but can be found online easily). I like to use black beans and red kidney beans.
Cook beans being careful to take them off the heat before they become soft, and allow to cool.
Mix in canned tuna or other delicious meat product as desired
Add diced onions and cilantro to taste.
Squeeze and entire lime into the mix and get that pulp also.
Plenty of Olive Oil
Don’t forget the salt.
Mix and enjoy.
Other things I enjoy adding (but not necessarily at the same time) include: Braggs Soy seasoning, Avocado, Cucumber, and Hemp Seeds.
Why soak beans?
Soaking dried beans instead of using canned beans is not only better for you but also for mother earth. Dried beans require less energy to ship and process, require no added ingredients, and store almost indefinitely. The process of soaking and cooking you beans will bring you closer to your food, and help facilitate a simpler, more connected life. They can also be used to make impromptu maracas for fiestas, and who doesn’t love that?
As I finish writing this I am parked deep in the backroads at 1am on a dark and clear night, alone under the stars. My camera is busy capturing a timelapse while I devour a $1 samosa from Bisla Sweets, as it is the cheapest place to get full on a climbers budget. I am looking forward to the circus more than ever, so if you plan to be part of it please say hello, and tell me about yourself. I’ll be the loud, boisterous one yelling ‘FRANK’ with all the advice from where to park, to sweet peaks and tasty treats.
May you be so lucky as to live in Squamish or find your way here one day.