Bird Cannons


The first time we heard the blast we thought it was a shotgun.

We chose Oliver as our next destination; a small town, but lush with amazing landscapes. Most of the RV parks were full, but I found one place that was willing to give us a spot for two weeks. I didn’t realize it would be in an overflow area. That meant we were right on a busy road and very close to our neighbours. We had just spent the Labour Day long weekend in a provincial campground. There we had more space than we needed. It was like night and day.

A propane powered sonic blast goes off randomly to scare the birds from the crops.

We tried walking into town, but the road had no shoulder. We had to walk a few kilometres before we found a sidewalk. We stopped and got a treat at one business along the way and had a chat with the business owner about how hard it had been to get established. He had one more month to go and then he was packing it in. We saw the ‘for sale’ sign on our way through the door. That didn’t stop us from looking at real estate in the town and surrounding areas.

The cannons emit a blast similar to a shotgun.

Our RV park was right on the lake, and we carried our kayaks down for a paddle. There were lots of bugs, the water was a bit scummy, but on the other side of the lake, we found a quietness unlike where we camped beside the vineyards.

These audible “bird scare” devices are used in many southern BC towns.

We spoke with a couple of real estate agents to view properties in Oliver and Keremeos and the surrounding areas. The inventory was low, and although we liked a few places, we knew we hadn’t found our home yet. We talked at length about what we were doing, where we could go next, and if we should put the search for a home base on hold until the spring. Maybe there would be more land available. The realization that we had missed the window to go east, that even in Southern BC along the US border things were cooling off. We needed to start preparing if we wanted to cross the border and go south. To us, heading south seemed like the best way to keep traveling, to continue exploring.

You never know when the next blast will come.

We were in search of A Life Less Burdened. So far, we hadn’t found it in the small towns in our province. Much of our energy had gone into downsizing and changing our lifestyle. We could say now that picking a travel trailer we could tow with our truck that would be under 40 feet in total length was now putting us into the worst spots as we traveled. Sure, it was easier to drive on the highway with our 20-foot trailer, cheaper to take on the ferry, less weight to tow, but bigger rigs always had greener grass on their side. In privately owned parks, we didn’t get the views, and we didn’t get the larger spaces, we didn’t get privacy or tucked away into a quiet corner. No, we had to wedge ourselves between the rocks and the busy roads. This was another lesson for us. The reality of living on the road was something we had to experience. No amount of planning would have saved us from feeling this way.

By all appearances, we should have been enjoying what many thought was a “vacation.” We weren’t working, and we didn’t have a mortgage. Home was wherever we parked it. We were on a road trip. Weren’t we having adventures? Hadn’t we escaped responsibilities that others had? The blast of energy we’d experienced in the first half of the year to pack up and leave, that feeling of being launched out of a cannon, of flying south like a snowbird, now we didn’t know when the next cannon would go off.

There’s nothing romantic about the anxiety that was building for us. This was a life we had put ourselves into and had to figure out.

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  • We haven't used our kayaks as much as we thought we would. Having them strapped to the top of our truck, or even having the rack for them on our F150 makes the truck overheight for undercover parking lots. There isn't always room in our site to leave the kayaks behind either.

  • Staying in Oliver allowed us to explore a larger area of southern BC on day trips. Rates for RV parks drop after the Labour Day weekend, but many sites are reserved months ahead as snowbirds position themselves in warmer climates. We found it hard to find space during September for this reason.

Janet KittoComment