Throughout the pandemic, while international borders were closed, Canadians looked within exploring the beauty within Canada. Simultaneously, as Canadians re-connected with nature, they were separated from friends, family, and loved ones—those who matter most. Now, despite the return of “normal” travel and the ease of restrictions, as we race to catch up on life, many Canadians are still longing to discover and reconnect to make up for lost time. So, what better way to reconnect than to disconnect … exploring the gift that is Canada.
This summer, Ricky Forbes, star of CMT’s Tornado Hunters, embarked on a road trip with 11-year-old “Taco”, who he met through the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program. Driving across the prairies to the Rockies, Ricky passed along his passion for the outdoors, sharing the Gift of Canada and its unique landscapes that are best seen on the open road. In sharing unique experiences, Ricky and Taco grew closer than ever, reconnecting over their newfound shared passion for the outdoors. Now, Ricky wants to continue to share the Gift of Canada and inspire others to reconnect with their loved ones by getting outdoors and adding Canada back to their travel lists next year, shining a light on our country’s rare landscapes and reigniting the wanderlust in us all. We chatted with Ricky to learn more. —Noa Nichol
Hi Ricky! Please tell us a bit about yourself to start.
Hello! Thanks VITA Daily for having me for this interview! My name is Ricky Forbes, and I live in Saskatoon with my Fiancé, Tirzah, and my two children, Mason and Vayda. If I tell you about my family, I also have to include Taco, my little buddy from the Big Brother Big Sister program. Taco and I met six years ago, have been hanging out ever since and he’s family now. I love the outdoors, so much so, my job is being a professional storm chaser. I grew up in Saskatchewan where my parents fostered my love for adventure, this included multiple RV trips every year to explore much of Canada and the United States. This love for the open road is something I love to share with my family and Taco.
Today we’re talking about Canada and, specifically, travel. During the pandemic, a lot (more) of us travelled locally; did you do the same?
Absolutely. I always found it interesting that friends and myself would travel to other parts of the world with a tourist book in hand to find all the cool spots of that location we were at. Looking in all the nooks and crannies at the spot, finding the beautiful in what seemed ordinary to everyone else. However, coming home we often wouldn’t give that same effort to our home surroundings. During the pandemic, this did get turned around. We began looking for all of the hidden beauty and adventure at home. It is there, you just have to look for it. You might even need a tourist book for your own area. If I could make a suggestion, picking up photography even as a hobby, photography makes you look for the beauty in your surroundings, I promise you, it’s incredible what you will find. Now these local, close to home trips, have become some of my favorite destinations.
Can you tell us about your adventure with Taco, what it entailed, and what you gained from it?
A few years ago, I visited Crescent Falls in Alberta on an adventure. I showed Taco photos and ever since he’s wanted to see them for himself. We had talked a lot about taking a trip there during the pandemic, so once things opened up, I thought I’d surprise him with a trip. It was safe to say he was very excited and growing up RVing, I knew an RV trip would be the perfect way to do it. I had some of my fondest childhood memories and believe it’s one of the best ways to travel, especially within Canada. I find you’re able to do and see a lot more on the road than other forms of travel, plus it’s a great way to really connect with your loved ones. For instance, as we drove from Saskatoon to Alberta, we got to experience Canada’s Badlands. They are truly jaw-dropping and something you can only see while on the open road. Being a storm chaser, I’ve travelled and explored a lot of this country on the road. It’s really magical and I knew it was something I wanted to share with Taco, giving him a chance to experience the Gift of Canada and a way for us to reconnect again. There’s something about being on the road day in and day out that really allows you to strengthen your bond with unforgettable memories, like making a pit stop at a beautiful lake to eat lunch or witnessing the wildlife on the side of the road. RVing is such a special experience that I hold close to my heart and I think everyone should experience it for themselves.
Now that restrictions have eased, do you think Canadians are still wanting or willing to explore their own backyards? If so, why?
Yes, I think Canadians are more open and excited to explore Canada than they were before. Many of us saw international destinations as the priority for vacation, forgetting how beautiful our own country is. Canada has some of the most unique landscapes out there and I think the pandemic brought us a renewed appreciation for it. International travel has come back, but there’s still so many people looking to escape to the mountains and the oceans found here in our own backyard. Travelling domestically you avoid airports and the long security and baggage lines which are always a huge pain, especially as you come and go from your trip. I think a lot of Canadians have noticed this and are now prioritizing exploring Canada and I don’t see that going away anytime soon.
With the holiday/winter travel season coming up, how do you recommend we continue to share and discover the Gift of Canada?
Go RVing Canada is dedicated to helping Canadians explore their own backyard and experience the RV lifestyle. They offer free online resources like RV 101 tips for those just getting started and help finding campgrounds and dealers and sample itineraries for those unsure of where to go. In fact, they are even giving away a 7-day RV trip next summer to further pass on the Gift of Canada and reconnect one lucky Canadian with a loved one to share new memories on the open road. Those interested in their own RV trip, can enter the contest at www.gorving.ca/GiftofCanada.
Do you have any local winter travel plans on your calendar?
I do! In December I am travelling from Saskatoon to Tofino from some surfing, biking and storm chasing. This road trip is also one of my favourites—from the golden vast prairies, to the world class Rockies, rainforests with HUGE old growth cedars, a ferry across the ocean, all the way to Canada’s top surf spot! If you’ve never had the chance, I would highly recommend this road trip at any time of the year. After that, we will have lots of tobogganing and skiing at home in Saskatoon, and before you know it will be storm season in March and I’ll be off to Tornado Alley. If you’re looking for some trip inspiration, Go RVing Canada offers a ton of sample itineraries online all across the country. I would definitely check those out, they have some great destinations.