Since May 2021, our home has been our Quest. During this time, it has already taken us across Europe: from Germany to Sweden, Sweden to Croatia, on to the Canary Islands, and finally to Greece. Traveling without heating, we have always allowed the temperatures to guide us, mostly avoiding the gray, cold winter. Now, we find ourselves in Canada, and for the past two weeks, we’ve been feeling the approaching winter.
So far, we’ve been fortunate with the weather. Temperatures remained positive until October, even at night, and on sunny days, we reached up to 20°C. The first frosty night was less severe than expected. We’ve since adapted to it and can handle frost and sub-zero temperatures for a limited time, as long as the daytime temperatures return to the positive range. Hot water bottles, layered clothing (yes, even under the bed covers!), and thick socks have proven surprisingly effective.
Our Plans for the Canadian Winter
However, our Quest is not equipped for the harsh Canadian winter weather. Therefore, we had already pondered the question of where we would want to spend the winter.
Our Route and the Weather Our original idea was to drive from Halifax to Vancouver as long as the weather remained pleasant. We based our plan on weather statistics and found out that, due to the El Niño year, we would likely have a longer warm summer.
An El Niño year is a meteorological phenomenon in the eastern Pacific with global impacts on the climate. It is part of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) system, consisting of two main components: El Niño and La Niña. El Niño is the warm phase of ENSO and occurs every few years, typically every 2 to 7 years. During an El Niño year, the surface waters of the Pacific near the equator warm up, causing extensive effects on global climate, including in Canada.
Hence, we planned to travel without issues until October. If it got too cold, we would head south and spend the winter in the USA or even Mexico. However, we quickly discarded this idea during the summer.
Why Spend the Winter in Canada?
After two years without experiencing winter, we miss it. We realized the importance of feeling the seasons at least to some extent after our first winter spent in the Canary Islands. We missed the forests, as in regions with a warm and dry climate year-round, there is little or only vegetation adapted to those conditions. When we arrived in northern Spain after that winter, we were delighted to see green grass, the first spring flowers, and trees.
You often miss things only when they are no longer there.
After the first two months in Canada, we realized that this country is truly special, and we began to dream. “What if we were to live here?” Of course, we weren’t making that decision just yet. We needed more time to get to know Canada, especially during the dark winter. From our daydreams, the idea of spending the winter in Canada emerged, a country we’ve grown to appreciate in recent months. Canada is not only known for its wildness and vastness, which we love, but also for the exceptional kindness of its people. We’ve met someone new every day who was happy to chat with us, provide tips for Canada, and often even gave us their phone number in case we needed help. We’ve not experienced such hospitality in any other country.
We’ve extended our ETA (entry permit) for one year and rented a house for the winter. We will stay there until April. The house is located in Manitoba, in the middle of Canada. Since we had already traveled to Saskatchewan during the summer, we had to backtrack a bit. However, this allowed us to leisurely explore the wonderful Duck Mountain Provincial Park, Riding Mountain National Park, and Spruce Woods Provincial Park.
Next year, our plan is to explore the Rocky Mountains, Vancouver, and Vancouver Island. At least, that’s our current plan, but we know that plans are meant to be changed.
Who knows how we’ll see things next year or what might happen until then. So, don’t hold us to it if everything turns out differently.