I am writing this in an RV park somewhere in the middle of the Canadian Rockies.
How this has come to pass is quite beyond me. One minute we were off on our usual Canadian holiday, complete with speedboats, posh cottages et al, the next minute my wife announces that we are going to RV round the Rockies as it's "something I've always wanted to do".
RV, hilariously, stands for "recreational vehicle". We call them "caravans" or "a bloody nuisance". The kids love it, of course. And I should be happy knowing that they prefer to live like cider-swilling travelling folk than hang out in the Hamptons. It's a bit like when you buy them really lovely Christmas presents – they get more excited by the wrapping paper. (Granted, this only happens for the first two Christmases, but this is just evolution of the theory.)
RV-ing doesn't seem to have quite the same social stigma as it does in the UK. When I think of it I think of Margaret Beckett and paedophiles (not together), but out here, everyone seems to do it.
We left Calgary and joined a huge column of mobile snails making their very slow way towards the distant mountains. It was as though we were all fleeing some terrible urban disaster ... but very slowly. I've had to learn about disposing of "grey" water and "black" water. "Grey" water is from the sink and "black" water ... well trust me, you don't want to know about "black" water.
Much as I loathe the whole experience, I've started to develop RV envy. Ever so often, some bastard overtakes us in what looks like Ozzy Osbourne's tour bus and, if that wasn't enough, he's trailing an SUV, a boat and a Harley-Davidson. I feel like some poor relation in my pathetic snail shell. I try to park up for the night next to even smaller vehicles so that we can lord it over them by having a window that opens ... just.
I keep checking our itinerary to see when we next hit a hotel. It's a whole nine days away in Whistler. I can't wait. I feel like Terry Waite making my dream list of things that I'm going to do – run a bath, order room service, have electricity, speak to someone with teeth ... I'm going to be like a hillbilly who has won the lottery.
As if things weren't bad enough, the company that kindly provided us with our RV has put in four "camping chairs" that we use to sit outside our snail in the evenings. These are rather delightfully decorated in the Canadian flag. As I sit outside, nursing a beer and trying to ignore the squadrons of mosquitoes, Canadians drive past and laughing at my naff choice of garden furniture. Five beers in, I stop caring and start talking to the mosquitoes.
Also, Stacey will not tolerate my snoring and purchased a small tent online from Canadian Tire. If I so much as breathe, I'm booted out of our palace and made to sleep outside.
When we entered the park, a Ranger warned us that there was a bear about and that we were to be extra careful in disposing of our food and garbage. Normally, this would make me feel slightly uneasy, but things have got to such a stage that I lie here hoping Grizzly will come and finish me off.
Tomorrow, we have the highlight of a boat trip on the wonderfully named Miniwanka Lake (I kid you not), followed by a visit to the theatre troupe that perform in the RV park every night.
When we picked our vehicle up, the German lady who dealt with us asked me if it was my first time camping. When I nodded, she said that it was weird – people either "love it or hate it". Two days in, and guess which side I'm on?