We had originally planned to do the North American stint of our round the world adventure in a rented motorhome, but having been put off by the cost, as well as the limitations of having to pick up and drop off in the same city (we needed to start the trip in Vancouver and finish in LA and no rental companies were set up to enable this) we had to have a rethink. We decided to look for one to buy, thinking we could sell it on to one of those we-buy-any-"beaten-up-hippy-motorhome" companies once we arrived in LA, before flying on to Lima. In the end, the kid’s Auntie Rocky came to our rescue with an exciting proposition. She had adventurous travel plans of her own and offered to buy the motorhome from us in LA, so that she could then drive it on to Costa Rica!

We found the perfect machine just outside Ottawa, close to where Auntie Rocky was living - a 1997 Great West Van Dodge 'Classic Supreme' with a bunk like a musk ox’s head slung low over the driver’s cabin and an overdose of plush blue-green upholstery that earned it the nick-name, the ‘Teal Mobile’. It even came with teal coloured go-faster stripes, though in the end, ‘go-smoother’ might have been a more realistic aspiration! Adorned with all the necessary hippy accoutrements thanks to Roxy - the Grateful Dead Poster, the reflective lightening bolt wheel stickers, the tie-die cushions, the fridge magnets that urged "Be Nice, or Leave!" and the hip-tastic hula dancer on the dash (whose joints would no doubt need replacing by the end of the trip!) - the Teal Mobile was all set.

Rocky had the mammoth task of driving this beast all the way across Canada from Ottawa to meet us in Vancouver, as we had already booked our round the world flights, which included a leg from Montreal. Thankfully, she managed to convince her long-time friend Gord to accompany her and the plan was for us to meet them both at our friends house in Vancouver on the 29th July, or thereabouts. The lovely result of all this spontaneous planning/un-planning/re-planning was that Gord and Roxy actually ended up travelling with us for two whole months through BC, Alberta and then on through the States, all the way to LA. They turned out to be some of the most special weeks of our trip so far and precious time spent together that we’ll never forget.

It would've been a bit of a squash and a squeeze with us all packed into the Teal Mobile however, so Roxy and Gord picked up a pretty funky looking truck in the form of a Toyota FJ and camped alongside us as we meandered our way through the incredible landscapes of the Canadian Rockies and the US. Stephane and Roxy reverted to kids again as we used walkie talkies to chat to each other on the road. Cell service was thin on the ground in most of the places we were and besides, this was much cheaper than using our mobiles and way more fun!

"Tango Mountain" and his best buddy "Forest Jezebel" - our radio code names for the Teal Mobile and Auntie Rocky's Toyota FJ.

"Tango Mountain" and his best buddy "Forest Jezebel" - our radio code names for the Teal Mobile and Auntie Rocky's Toyota FJ.

Soon after arriving in convoy at our first campsite on Vancouver Island, Roxy and Gord began to tell us tales of a mini, munching monster that had been hiding out in the Teal Mobile and keeping them awake at night with its gobbling, during their epic 'delivery' trip across Canada. They think they picked up their stowaway, who they had nick-named ‘Hitch’ (Gord was a big fan of Douglas Adams' 'Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy') somewhere in Ontario and had suffered the intrusion at the same time as being mildly entertained by it. What was it??! How big was it? Was there only one? In the end, they think there was, as it seems calamity struck for that little critter when a clunk, and then a rather nasty smell emitting from the undercarriage of the Teal Mobile, led to Roxy and Gord's first quiet night's sleep in days...

Well, long story short, after a few nights of us Stragglers having moved into the Teal Mobile, there was, lo and behold more munching to be heard. Imaginations went wild and Daisy thought perhaps it was the ghost of Hitch come back to haunt us! As the night's progressed, the munching got louder and we beame more intrigued. We thought the creature was at least contained within one particular cupboard and decided, to much relief that it must therefore have been very small as there was only one way in - a small gap at the back where the curve of the Teal Mobile's exterior panel didn't quite meet with the shelf. When we heard nibbling inside we would silently creep up and yank the door open, but the creature was too fast! Larger holes began to appear in food wrappers and then other areas of the van became prey to its nibbling. We lived with it for a while, but after finding miniature teeth marks in the apples and tiny monster poop in the fruit bowl, we decided it was finally time to do something about it. Mind you, it wasn't until Stephane's finger got munched one night as he slept, that we finally did make that trip to Canadian Tyre to buy a trap. A live one of course...

We figured the culprit (or culprits?!) must have been very small...