We were on our way to the BusFusion festival when we stopped at a Walmart for the night. The next morning we started driving the last 200 kilometres to the festival. Circling around Montreal we drove to Ottawa when we crossed the state border into Ontario for the first time. Before getting to BusFusion we stopped at a supermarket to get groceries and beers, but laws per state are different and we had to go to a different store to get beer. Driving around the little town of Almonte we saw VW busses everywhere, a clear sign that we were close to the festival. After getting beers we made our way to the festival. We did not know what we would get in to.
We drove by a field by the river with some old barns on it, a colourful sign and several busses parked on the field did not leave us any doubt, we were at BusFusion. A bit hesitant we drove up to the barn where we had to sign in for the event, social situations like this always take us some time to get used to. As soon as we got out of the van we were recognised as the Dutch people that decided to come to the festival on real short notice. After some chats we got out of the barn with T-shirts, stickers, a goodie bag, and a lottery ticket.
We were told to find a spot anywhere on the field, we were glad to park right at a little beach next to the river. A green white bay window van was already parked there but besides that this amazing spot was empty, this surprised us. We made camp and got familiar with our neighbour for the weekend (Casey, also a first timer on the festival his son and wife would come visit later). Slowly the field started to fill up with vans in every state you can imagine, a van that seem to have come straight out of a 60’s showroom up to vans that have been rusting for a couple of decades, but they were all VW’s and we loved them.
The spot we picked was empty for a reason, during the day the beach would fill up with kids being all loud and happy. We loved this spot including the happiness of the kids, it did make us miss our family sometimes though. Paco was a big hit on the beach, playing with the ball and being all cute. We talked to a lot of people that shared the love of VW vans and that were interested in our adventure. The days flew by, and the nights were filled with campfires and people playing guitar while dozens of people sang along. The feeling on the festival was deeply friendly and happy, everybody was so easy to talk to and welcoming to come and drink their beers. We felt right at home.
The second day there I started working on the rear brakes because I knew the left break shoes were worn out. Not knowing a detail on the dismantling this was the perfect place to get some advice or help if needed. The hardest part of the job turned out the be how to operate the jack to lift the van, it did not want to come down after the job was done, and I felt like an ass asking people to help me out. In the end the breaks were done, and we had made about ten more friends in the process.
We swam in the river, did some daytime drinking, and made new friends, the weekend was over before we knew it. We were going to get back to Montreal because we skipped it in our rush to the festival.
On our way to Montreal we stopped first at a Walmart and the night after we stopped at a resting parking right on the river. It was a beautiful parking overlooking the river the a field behind filled with horses and cows. After the nights on BusFusion and night at Walmart this place was perfectly calm and gave us some time to relax before getting into yet another city.
At the riverside of Montreal there is an industrial area where some harbour activity is going on. On top of one of the big old building a huge neon sign was blinking in red letters saying “Farine Five Roses” this for me is the biggest landmark in the city. We drove up onto the industrial island and find a parking place where we could sleep overnight and from where we could walk into the city.
That same night we walked into the city that was lively, and fun to walk through. A digital interactive tour leads you through the city from site to site, on each of these side a video was played by huge beamers projecting on to buildings and streets. To start the video we had to download a app, the audio for the video was played by our phone while several videos would play around us teaching us the history of the city in well produced amazing videos. We loved visiting the city like this while people around us were going out or going their way around the city. The next morning we would go into the city again to see more of the centre. Montreal is a big city, from the side we walked in we saw it does have an alternative side to it and an interesting old industrial side where we happened to sleep.
We set course to Ottawa a bit late so we parked only 1 hour away from Montreal. Driving by the river we passed an enormous hydro dam, not big in height but in length. Right next to this dam there must have been locks for the big tankers and boats to go through because we saw these big ships cut into the land. Next to the spot where the ships would go into the locks there was a good parking right on the water. It was a half rainy day, but there was enough wood around to make a fire. We made camp and got into the van while we were surprised by the most amazing sunset, with the big ships peeking through the mist and the background being a pink orange glow it seemed that the end of the world would lay right behind the horizon.
We drove into Ottawa the next day and totally got stuck in traffic right at the centre. It was like we were driving ourselves on a tour by all the parliament buildings and through the centre. We drove straight through because (as usual) we arrived late, we wanted to stay at a place we found on the internet, but when we a arrived at the spot we decided it was not for us. A couple campers were already parked in the grey grid parking in a weird neighbourhood it didn’t feel good. We drove to another parking that was right on lake Leamy, about 5 kilometres away from the city. We parked at the far end of the parking lot right next to the water, this spot was much better than the one we arrived at before and we were happy we decided to drive a bit extra to follow our guts to a better place.
We walked in the wrong direction for about 30 minutes the next day before taking a bus into town. Strolling around in Ottawa felt almost like a town instead a capital city. Of course we don’t see all of it but the city felt compact and cosy. Towering above the centre, situated on the river is parliament hill, where all the government buildings are.
The best view was from the other side of the river and from the bridge crossing it. We walked all the way back to the van in the right direction this time, the day after we would enjoy the lake and the park around it some more before travelling west to meet some friends we made at BusFusion.