Today I’m remembering my sweet BUgirls and fun times on the road. Four girls doing life together and living primarily out of a 15 passenger van – that’s hard. You have to learn pretty quickly to diffuse the intensity with humour, and I’d say we did a good job of that! Here are some of my favourite echo-inducing laughter memories:
Don’t Wear the Chain!
During our “Walk in Freedom” events our team would do a drime (drama to music) that depicted a person weighed down and imprisoned by chains because of the lies she believes about herself (ex. – unloved, rejected, ugly, etc). Jenn and I got to be the “evil” prancing around in the background and playing tug-of-war with Elliott, the poor, tormented soul.
Get the idea? Anyway, every time we experienced a “bad driver” moment, “Don’t wear the chain!” became a common phrase repeated over and over. I believe the phrase originated during a late night drive back to Winnipeg after our van broke down in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. We were returning from a conference in Edmonton, and instead of our usual group of 4 we were a group of 8.
It was about 3 am and we just made it into the Winnipeg city limits when we were awoken from our slumber by some cops that pulled us over for careless driving. “You’re all over the road!” he boomed.
“Uhh…I am? Well, it’s really windy!” replied our fearless early morning driver, Jenn.
“Have you been drinking?”
So the cops take our licenses – all 8 – and finally return with their explanation of Jenn’s driving.
“I get it. You’re all girls. You’re on a road trip. It’s late and you’re giggly and chatty and hyper. And tired!”
“Uhh, yeah!” Jenn agrees as she takes back her license. Save for the fact that everyone in the van was sleeping, except for her and the spotter.
“I’m a bad driver!” Jenn whimpers. And we all assure her that she’s not, and I believe it’s Elliott who pipes us and tells her “Don’t wear the chain! It’s a lie!”
When Ya Gotta Go Ya Gotta Go!
I love our country. I really do. I love all things Canadian. But I have to wonder about Saskatchewan. I feel like it’s made up of Regina and Saskatoon and a smattering of ghost towns with no rest stops! This is the province that gave me the greatest grief when I needed a bathroom. Believe me, our team became quite accustomed to going in a ditch, on the side of the road, behind some trees…but Saskatchewan is so flat and open and doesn’t allow for a lot of prime pee locations. Elliott is my hero, because she didn’t even try to cover herself and just went between the van and the trailer on the side of the highway. Jenn though, she’s also my hero. And she might hate me for writing this, but she went in a bucket – twice – in the back of the van. And once it was during a snowstorm and the bucket she used was Elliott’s barf bucket. My goal last year was to pee in a bucket in the back of the van but unfortunately (or fortunately) for me a rest stop appeared on the horizon just in time.
There is, however, a pretty interesting place where Jenn and I peed, and it’s a story I’ll never forget. We were on our way back to Winnipeg after an event in northern Ontario. We had just passed Kenora when we learned there had been an accident and traffic was stopped for over two hours. There’s only one highway that goes back to Winnipeg so we had to wait. And of course, Jenn and I had to pee. We got out of the van and started to go for a walk. We walked about 10 minutes up the road when we came to a cluster of trees on the other side of the highway – a perfect spot to pee. We found a tractor nestled in the woods and Jenn decided that going behind the tractor was as good a place as any, but I wasn’t so sure. “I don’t feel good about this. I can still see people…I think we need to go deeper into the woods.”
“Nah! We’re fine! This tractor’s huge! Live a little!”
“Ok…” I say
We finish and we start walking back across the road when we see a man in a construction uniform looking at us with amusement as he chats with a guy standing outside his vehicle. I get a sinking feeling in my stomach. Then he opens his mouth:
“Saw you girls peeing behind my tractor!”
Too aghast to speak, our jaws drop open and we begin to scream in unison and run back to our van – still screaming – and we don’t stop running until we get there.
“Wow!” says Jenn, “We are two grown women who just screamed and ran like 12 years olds…”
“We are two grown women who were just caught peeing behind a grown man’s tractor!” I reply.
Crossing the Border
So we accidentally ended up in Washington state during our 6 week tour of British Columbia, even though we had no events planned south of the border…
Our team had just spent a beautiful morning exploring White Rock – collecting shells along the beach, eating gelato before lunch, and posing for pictures on the docks. It was nearing 1pm and we had to make it to the church for our event by 1:30. We clambered into the van and decided that a caffeine fix was necessary. Elliott was driving, and I was navigating, so technically what happened next was my fault.
Elliott keeps going on the route that she thinks leads toward the church, as I busy myself punching “Tim Hortons” into the GPS. Before we know it there’s a lot of traffic and a gigantic sign looming over us: “Peach Arch Border Crossing.”
“Oh, shoot! We have to turn around. This is going to take us to Washington!”
Elliott tries her best to maneuver us out of this debacle, but we’re already in line. We decide to go in the duty-free parking lot and see if we can turn around there, but it’s hopeless. The exit just takes us back into the line. So suddenly we’re in a long line with commercial trucks and vehicles and have to wait about 20 minutes before we get to the crossing.
And we also realize that none of us have our passports.
We start devising a plan of what we can say and who’s going to do the talking, when Elliott wonders if she might in fact have her passport. Linnea grabs her bag from the back of the van and Elliott begins rifling through. Somewhere at the bottom she finds her passport! Yes! So now one out of four of us has necessary ID – maybe they won’t bring us in for questioning which will force us to be late for our event. Of course, we’re hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.
As we pull up to the border guard, Elliott calmly explains our situation. The guard says that he’ll hold on to her passport until we turn around and enter Canada again, whereupon she can leave the vehicle, run back to the US, and retrieve her passport.
So in the end, we might have missed out on our caffeine fix but we did come away with a funny story, and for Jenn and Elliott, the chance to say that they’ve been to Washington!
More to Come
I just realized that there are way too many funny “Road Life” stories to fit into one post, so you’ll have to hang on tight for Ditched, Stuck, and perhaps the worst “bad driver” story of all, Crisis Situation (compliments of moi).