Around the world in however many days

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

David Birt and Carol Darwin’s home on wheels attracted some notice when it stopped in Slave Lake last month. A purpose-built camper of sorts, it looked ready to head off-road if necessary.

Thanks to a tip from a reader, The Leader was able to track down Birt and Darwin at The Fix, where they were enjoying a coffee and a muffin before resuming their trip to Alaska. They’ve been on the road since arriving in Halifax a few weeks ago, and plan to just keep going.

“In Alaska we turn around and then come down the west coast,” said Darwin (and yes, she’s related to Charles Darwin). We’re going through Central America, down to Patagonia.”

“We’re meeting friends of ours in another vehicle,” adds Birt. “They started at the other end and are coming north.”

And where do you plan on meeting?

“Who knows?” says Darwin.

They don’t seem to be in any hurry. Retired in the Lake District of England, the couple had their unit custom built in Germany. They shipped it over to Halifax from Liverpool in the spring and plan to be on the road for many months. It’s what they do.

“We like to explore,” said Darwin.

Asked why they chose the route through Slave Lake, Darwin said it looked to be the more interesting one between Edmonton and the start of the Alaska Highway. Not the shortest or most direct, but with no deadlines, that’s not a concern.

“We like to stop and look around,” she said.

They call their rig an “off-road camper,” and it certainly looks capable of fording the odd shallow stream. They’ve previously traveled across Europe and into Central Asia in it. They’re used to being approached and asked questions about it.

“People are fascinated by our vehicle,” Birt says.

At least one Slave Laker was, which is how The Leader found out about it.

So far, Darwin has done all the driving, thanks to Birt’s British license having expired not long before they left. He had applied for renewal, and is expecting the new license to arrive by mail in Grande Prairie, so he can share the driving load. In the meantime, “He has to do some of the cooking!” says Darwin.

Carol Darwin and David Birt of Grasmere, England, beside their ‘off-road camper’ during a stop in Slave Lake a couple of weeks ago.

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