A West Coast Winter Evening— Living Off Grid on Hornby Island

We arrived home on a dark and stormy night in mid-December. Melody, our eccentric elderly pug, jumped off my lap as I opened the passenger door of the white 80s pickup truck. My partner, Kevin, and I sorted through the mess of things in the cab and grabbed what we’d need for the night— my backpack, Kevin’s purse, and a plastic bag with old pasta sauce jars containing homemade cream of broccoli soup, gifted to us by a friend the day before. I pulled a headlamp out of my pocket and braced myself for the journey ahead.

Our driveway is not what most people think of when they picture a driveway. From September through to June every year, it is better described as a body of water than a surface suitable for driving on. We only attempt to ford it by truck when bringing home firewood every few weeks. To avoid situations involving tire chains and come-alongs on the way to work the next morning, we generally park just off the road and walk the 2 or 3 minutes back to the trailer. There’s a narrow path between the gargantuan puddles and the tree line that will keep your feet pretty dry if you’ve got your wits about you. It’s terribly inconvenient, but to be honest, I find that it always makes coming home feel like an adventure. I kind of love it.

Read More »

How I Got Home

The night after I found out that I’d lost the entirety of my adult life’s worth of writing to a poorly placed beer spill, I ended up on the side of a street in Victoria, sharing a 2 litre bottle of cider with a runaway teenager, a dreadlocked twenty-something year old dude in a onesie, and an honest to goodness magician. How any of them might have described me in 10 words or less will always be a mystery. Someone had found half a pepperoni pizza sitting on top of a dumpster, which we were using to try and befriend a nearby seagull, and a quiet boy played guitar in the corner. I had no plans for my future and what felt like no proof of my past.

I had been thinking that that the next day I’d probably be running away to Sooke with the not-even-that-cute-or-nice boy I’d met earlier in the evening. Or maybe I’d be hanging out with an old friend who was passing through town and going to a concert for a band I hardly knew the name of with him. Or maybe I’d just stay in bed all day and mourn the contents of that damn hard drive. I had my big backpack packed and ready to go, full of anything I could possibly need for an indefinite time on the road, just in case. I could have done anything, if only I could have picked something.

The next morning, when I woke up hungover in my mom’s guest bed, I still wasn’t sure what to do, so like any normal human, I grabbed my phone and started scrolling through Facebook. I read a post by a “friend” who I hadn’t even met before that said there was work helping to sand a wooden floor in a house on Galiano Island. I had never done any sort of work like that before, but the pay was good, the island was an old favourite of mine, and the only requirement for the job was the ability to be there the following day. That was the last time I felt aimless.

View this post on Instagram

I love working with my hands

A post shared by Allie Quelch (@gonevagabonding) on

Read More »

My Super Stupid South American Odyssey

So it’s been a while… My bad. I bet/hope at least one of you wonders what I’ve been up to in the 9 months since I last wrote anything for this blog.

Well, after leaving Puerto Natales on the final leg of Otra Vida’s journey south, I promptly lost a large chunk of my right hand ring finger in an accident involving a 72-foot mega yacht, wine, and a creepy captain named Chase. A week later, I poured a beer into the keyboard of my laptop. These two incidents should explain at least the first half of my radio silence.

With my right hand mangled and my favourite worldly possession ruined, I was in pretty bad shape, more than a little frustrated with life. Martin stepped up in a big way, not only taking over almost all of the chores on board, but also listening patiently as I all-out screamed at the coffee pot most mornings for being so difficult to operate with my left hand. Read More »

Sin Camino

Her voice came through the satellite phone sounding strange. Like it held emotions so big that they couldn’t possibly fit through the small holes in the speaker.

“It’s so good to hear your voice,” we told each other. Then awkward silence. What do you say to someone who you’ve spent hours and hours searching for, while not expecting to find anything more than a body?

“I love you.”

This picture has nothing to do with anything, but I’m including it because it’s beautiful and i have to lighten the mood somehow.

Read More »

Night Sailing

The last thing I blogged about was Christmas. What’s left of the aspiring professional in me wants to catch up, but I’m not going to do that. That’s because I really don’t want to write about New Year’s Eve, which is a story I told to someone and heard “Wow, that’s almost Bukowski-level” in response. I also don’t want to write about the endless, anxiety-ridden weeks of waiting for the boat, Otra Vida, to arrive in and leave again from Puerto Montt, even if they did feature a few really good hikes. And I definitely don’t want to write about the tense hours spent passing a “talking stick” around a circle in the boat’s cabin, after which I became the only remaining sojourning crew member of Otra Vida.

Anxiously exploring an abandoned house in Puerto Varas while waiting for Otra Vida

What I do want to write about is the passage across Golfo de Corcovado. Read More »