So last week I had a few friends come up to my family’s cottage, three hours north or Toronto. I asked one of my freinds Vylan, who rode up with her two girlfriends and me in the hippie van, to write a short post about the experience. Without further ado, here it is.
Co-Piloting The Hippie Van
When I heard that I’d have the chance to ride up to the Neilson-Belman cottage in Aaron’s funkified love van, I naturally jumped at the chance. I’m a newly self-proclaimed free-spirit (which is just before “self-proclaimed hippie” status FYI), and I suspect that’s why I was invited along in the first place. Needless to say, although I did think Aaron was a pretty cool guy, I hadn’t quite prepared myself for just HOW cool his Hippie Van was….!!
My favourite parts of the van had to be the random artifacts inside… a blow up dodo bird, a plastic lobster, and a stuffed Ernie toy. Aaron also tricked out the van with some serious speakers for blasting tunes, black shag rug, and long bench seating that our friends definitely took advantage of. Fun times were about to be had!
The ride up couldn’t have been long enough!! The experience of riding in the Hippie Van was so utterly uplifting. I mean, first, just look at the thing. It’s happy, it’s bold, it’s out there, blasting it’s rays of sunshine to anyone who lays eyes on it. Being in it was like an intravenous shot of hey everyone, life’s not so bad! The 3 hour ride was punctuated with stares of admiration from people walking down the street, other drivers passing by giving the thumbs up, and children pointing and shouting. People were snapping photos left and right, some with typical Canadian polite discreteness, others blatantly snapping away. I had instant celebrity status as a passenger. Score!
And, sounds a little crazy, but the Hippie Van was so happy, it seemed to snap people out of their ordinary mundane thoughts, maybe even out of their bad moods.
No matter what it was they were in the middle of, they couldn’t help smiling and being delighted again, like a kid. What also struck me was that the Hippie Van was able to unite people. There were people coming up to us any time we stopped, asking for the story behind the van, and some in turn sharing their stories of younger days when they were the “real hippies”. They were grateful and excited for the chance to share parts of their lives that for the most part remained in their fondest memories only.
I can’t remember the last time I met so many random people in one day without even trying. Being a traveler, I know that being out of your element in a foreign place naturally forces you to be more friendly, more open to strangers new experiences and to making new bonds. Getting to experience this however, in my own city and country, made me wonder if you really need to disappear to discover newness. …Maybe all you need is a friend with a Hippie Van. =)