The last time I drove across Canada was in the 1990s. I was in my 20s (please not do the math. I repeat: do not do the math!). After that trip, I promised myself that I would drive long distances whenever I could. There was however, one small hitch in my noble plan. Confession: I didn’t learn how to drive until my late thirties.
BUT! I did figure out early on that one cliché is right and true: it’s the journey that matters in the end. Flying gets you places faster sure, but I think my favorite Buck 65 lyric says it best: “Highway’s the storyteller, I just write it down.”
These days, carving out the time and finding the money to live out my dream of packing up the car feels a little out of reach. I’m not a musician or truck driver, but I do travel a lot for work and always by air. While I try to make the best of my work trips, most of my time away is spent staring at the four walls of hotel and conference center meeting rooms. Unfortunately, my pace of life feels like it has accelerated even faster than gas and food prices have risen.
What’s a girl to do?
Well, write a novel about a cross-Canada road trip, of course! So, that’s what I did. I made up two people – Ben and Morgan – stuck them together in a car, and I’ve been trying to iron out the details of what happens ever since. I tell people I’m writing a ‘road trip that gets hijacked by romance – with person and place’ when they ask what my book is about.
I think I started writing this story, in part, to appease my sense of wanderlust. The only problem is (much to my boss’ horror) the opposite has happened – writing about driving across the country only served to exacerbate my wanderlust a million fold. (If you’ve read previous posts, you know this to be true.)
What does any of this have to do with Danny Michel, you may ask?
For those of you who don’t know, Canadian musician and songwriter Danny Michel bought a van this winter/spring. Let us be clear – this is no ordinary van. No, this is Dan’s Space Van – a 1978 GMC Vandura custom van that has been Star Trek-ified. The interior is red diamond quilted velvet; there was a red velvet bed inside, but Michel swapped it out for a stage. The exterior of the van has been airbrushed with images of Spock, the Enterprise and a topless space lady; Michel has had a magnetic top made for her. With only 25,000 kilometers on it, the thing is a dream come true!
For more about the van (including pictures!), I found the Craigslist posting for it: http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/van/4873367721.html
Like my characters Morgan and Ben, Danny Michel has set out on a cross-Canada adventure. His plan is so genius even Ben McCabe would be jealous, if he really existed. Michel is driving east from Victoria, on a summer tour to road test new songs on audiences before he goes back to the studio to record them. But that’s not all. Far from it! He’s filming his cross-Canada-Space-Van adventure! So between shows, he will be drafting scripts, editing video footage and bringing Canadian musicians to his space van stage as guests in said film. He’s even arranged a guest appearance by Chris Hadfield in Vulcan Alberta later this summer. As I say – sheer genius!
Okay … so, as we know, Star Wars has always been my space opera of choice, but come on! How can a story like this not capture your imagination?!
- It’s an awesome and never-been-done-before celebration of Canadian music and he’s filming it;
- He’s embarking on an anthropological/archaeological adventure as he explores the van’s 35 year history;
- I’m guessing at least some of the stories he shares will be steeped in Canadiana;
- He’s only just started this adventure and he’s already spreading joy and laughter wherever he goes (see his Facebook post after the show at Hermann’s in Victoria, June 04, 2015); and
- He gets to see this incredible country of ours through the windshield of the Space Van!
Danny Michel has pretty much written my book for me. Well, okay, not really, but I do see similar themes in our two projects. I’m willing to bet there will be a little bit of magic and a touch of serendipity on the road for him too. For more about Dan’s Space Van, his non-profit school in Belize – The Ocean Academy, Danny Michel’s music and tour dates, go to: www.dannymichel.com
And Danny, if you’re reading, I’m looking forward to your show at the Carelton in Halifax. I’ll be the one wearing the Empire Strikes Back baseball tee. Safe travels, and may the Force be with you. Oh! Live long and prosper too! 😉