The sun cast a warm glow over the rugged landscape of British Columbia as I continued my summer road trip that had started in mid-June. Approaching Nanaimo, a sign for "Jingle Pot Campground" caught my eye. Curiosity piqued, I decided to check it out, hoping for a serene spot for the final days of my adventure.
I had started back in mid-June and now it was the last days of August. I especially enjoyed the diversity of my explorations which covered mountains, valleys, small towns, and warm lakes. I learned about indigenous and settler history; the contributions, successes and trials faced as the two cultures met. I had enjoyed peaceful walks through forests, days lazing in hot springs, and visiting museums and forts. I met some interesting and fun fellow travellers along the way and once again discovered how much I love long slow road trips.
When I moved on to Northern Vancouver Island, I was in a completely different environment. The rugged coasts with hidden coves, cooler weather, and remote wildness speak to the primitive part of my soul that connects me to the earth and her power. It feels right to share this place with eagles, bears, otters, deer, orcas, and dolphins.
somewhere between Port Hardy and Port Alice, BC
There had been challenges along the way such as the mouse who tried to claim squatter's rights, a broken phone screen, and wildfire smoke. My personal rule to only solo camp where there is a cell signal limited my choice of campgrounds. However, none of these dimmed my joy in my adventures for long. It had been an excellent adventure but it was time to take care of some essential tasks before closing down the van life season.
BC Van Life Road Trip: Roads Well-Travelled
Jingle Pot Campground in Nanaimo turned out to be an excellent choice for this stage of my trip, close to the city yet surrounded by nature. I wanted a reasonably priced but powered site, close to the ferry terminal. I would be travelling home on a busy Friday and since no ferry reservations out of Nanaimo were available, I would have to aim for the 05:30 ferry to reduce the chances of spending my day in a ferry line-up. I wanted that morning drive to be as short as possible.
The beauty of the drive into the campground was unexpected. The landscape was well-maintained with tall trees providing shade and colorful flowers lining the pathways. The hundreds of rhododendrons and azaleas must make a stunning Spring display. This was a delight since I would be sticking around the campground. My goal, this time, was not to explore the surrounding community. This time, I was planning on being stationary for the last few days of my epic 2023 Summer Van Life Road Trip.
I parked my van in a quiet corner of the campground. John, the owner, greeted me warmly, led me to a lovely site near the laundry area and even provided coins for the shower when I needed change and refused my bill in exchange.
Van Life End-of-Season Chores and Decor
With my campsite secured and daylight on my side, I embarked on some much-needed van maintenance. I knew I was unlikely to be heading out on another trip before next spring, and my home-on-wheels needed to be winterized. I started with a thorough cleaning, giving the grey tank special attention. The fresh water tank was flushed and sanitized but I would empty it once back home. Dust, pine needles, and accumulated grime must be scrubbed from every nook and cranny.
I tackled a list of projects, some boring but necessary; others intended to continue the personalization of my space. Since everything inside a van shimmies and shakes during driving, vibrations loosen screws, so everything needs to be inspected carefully at the beginning and end of the season. Tightening hardware keeps doors, drawers, and devices secure. To ensure the diesel heater doesn't build up carbon, it needs to be run periodically. Wiring, fuses, and connections were checked and adjusted if needed.
Storage areas were reorganized to find more efficient packing strategies that incorporated the new equipment I had accumulated over the summer, such as the screen room. The things that needed to be removed from the van once home were separated and packed at the front of the garage for easy access. The decor tasks I did were small but intended to correct errors or details that became more noticeable to me this summer. I find it a positive sign that I'm now looking at the smaller details. This indicates to me that I'm happy with the overall aesthetic and organization of the living space.
I had added stick-on subway plastic tile as a backsplash last season but had done a poor job joining it in a couple of places and getting the outside edge straight. Those poor joins and slightly wobbly edge bothered me more and more as the summer continued, so it was time to rip them down and put up something else. These "tiles" are not heat-resistant but I don't cook on that counter so it isn't an issue of concern. It is even less of a concern as I plan to remove the induction cooktop over the winter to regain use of that space. I am very pleased with the way the new ones turned out.
Wanda was a plumber's cargo van before being converted and there are signs of her rough treatment. I have always hated the scratched paint where there is exposed metal on the sliding and rear doors. The sliding doors are reinforced with some wood panels but the whole thing is scratched and unattractive. A great deal of heat or cold penetrates through the metal. Painting the door is not a possibility as the interior cabinet design prevents me from getting the rear half of the door. I can't add any thickness or the door will not operate efficiently. My solution was to use "bunk carpet" to surround the door frame and to add a patch to the upper door. I trimmed it better than this photo shows and I'm very happy with the results. The only downside to this is now the only magnets that work on this surface are the super strong rare-earth magnets.
The top part of the rear doors that can be seen from the inside are beautifully decorated (if I do say so myself) but the lower half is ugly from Wanda's cargo van days. My first step in rehabilitating the back doors was to add some faux wood to the wood panels. I will need to order more bunk carpet to cover the inside frame but I'm happy with the small upgrade and I have a better idea on how to proceed.
Jingle Pot Campground, Nanaimo
Life at Jingle Pot Campground was serene and productive but I won't be rating it using the criteria I've used on previous posts because I did not do any explorations outside the campground. When I wasn't doing work on the van, I spent time organizing my notes and photographs, knowing that life would get busy once I was home. I appreciated the privacy of my campsite.
The streets of the campground were named after flowers, adding a nice touch to the atmosphere. Strong WIFI was available from several different routers, ensuring a good connection throughout the campground. Campground residents were friendly, making me feel welcome. The campground is impeccably maintained and suits my needs perfectly.
My site was surrounded by pretty plantings and included a little "sitting area" on a rock elevated above the campsite. It was very private and I enjoyed the garden setting. The campground was impeccably maintained, a testament to John's dedication.
The nearby road attracts street racers and roaring engines are heard sporadically throughout the day and night. In between the bursts of engine noise, most traffic noise is filtered by tall trees and rock gardens.
A splendid surprise is the lovely hidden garden near the washhouse, a peaceful spot with water features and shaded seating. This entire campground must be stunning in the Spring when all the plants are in full bloom. I have made a note to return for the experience.
As August came to a close, I said goodbye to this oasis and headed back home until the next van life season. My explorations have given me greater insight into road trip travel around British Columbia and I look forward to sharing suggested road trip routes with readers over the coming months as well as some upcoming international adventures. Let me know what you'd like featured and reach out with any questions. I'd love to help you plan your perfect BC Road Trip. Make sure not to miss anything by subscribing/becoming a member. You can also connect with me on my Facebook page, Facebook Group, Twitter, and Instagram.
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