Mike Hughes, another friend of the Houriet family and lover of Citroen cars, shows Jie Lou his former Citroen built in 1925 back in Wales.
A family from Maidstone, England, made a pit stop at the Houriet residence just outside of 100 Mile House off of Canim-Hendrix Lake Road on Oct. 28.
The Luo family, originally from the Guangxi province of China have been driving across the planet since April.
“We plan to spend a one-and-a-half or maybe two years on the road by car, specifically in this Citroen 2CV,” said Chong Luo, who is travelling with his wife, Jie and four-year-old daughter, Yuding. “We started this trip in the United Kingdom this April and we crossed Europe, visiting 17 countries.”
The trio then crossed the Finland and Russia border before driving across Mongolia and China to ship their red Citroen 2CV to Vancouver, arriving on Oct.26. Now they plan on heading up north to Inuvik, N.W.T. From there, they will drive to Alaska and then to Alberta. Afterwards, the Luo family will drive down the United States all the way to Argentina.
The Lou’s met the Houriet family by way of Facebook.
“A month ago, I posted my trip on Facebook and someone was interested and he added me into a group of Citroen fans in Canada, called Citroen Club Cascadia,” said Lou. “In that group, I got to know Lionel [Hondier], who is a French and British car mechanic based in Vancouver and Jean-Marc [Houriet] is one of his friends.”
Hondier reached out to the Houriet family and told them about the trio’s plan to drive up to Inuvik and Alaska.
“Lionel phoned us and said “They’re heading up to Alaska” and we almost fell off our chairs going “oh, my goodness they’re starting a trip off to Alaska, we just had snow last week,” said Donna Forward-Houriet. “We have never met them before. We thought they were nuts.”
Invited to stay the night, the Lou’s declined in favour of reaching Prince George before nightfall. So instead, the Houriet’s treated them to some coffee and rhubarb pie while their visitors waited for a friend’s family who joined on the Vancouver to Argentina leg of the trip.
“My best friend from my childhood, he’s a photographer for wild animals, this February, we told him we were doing this and he was so excited “I will join you with my family” and I said “okay,” said Lou, though he admitted his plans didn’t receive only positive responses from friends and families.
His friend met him in Vancouver and rented an RV but was lagging behind when the Lou’s made their stop at the Houriet residence.
“We don’t try to place a lot of pressure on each other, so as long as we are comfortable we will travel together, otherwise we may do it separately,” he said, regarding the safety of their “loose convoy.”
Of course, with such a young child on the trip, safety is a priority. In one instance, when they were travelling through China the 40-degree heat became unbearable for young Yuding. The solution was for Lou to drive from Shanghai to their hometown, while Jie and Yuding took a nice air-conditioned train.
“We just have one more thing to worry about because we already have lots of things to worry about every day, driving an old car but now we have a four-year-old on board,” said Jie on the challenges of having Yuding along on the trip. “We have to stop often and entertain her to make sure she’s happy.”
Both parents say having Yuding involved with the trip though is entertaining and she has no trouble adjusting to life on the road.
“In general, she is doing very well. She can entertain herself in the car,” said Lou.” She has created a lot of fun for us. As a little one, she always has different opinions than an adults viewpoint so that can be quite fun.”
The Houriet family also road tripped across the United States when their daughter was four (now 24). Forward-Houriet believes it’s the ideal age to bring a child tripping because they adapt well and parents don’t have to worry about their child missing school.
Yuding isn’t really missing out on an education, travelling through different countries, she is learning and experiencing new cultures and languages from playing with local children where ever she is, they say.
“We do a lot of couch surfing on the way, so we have stayed with local families and we always try to search for a family with similar aged-kids so they play together,” said Jie. “The third day when we entered Russia, she said “I can speak Russian now.”
The trip may not end in Argentina though. Lou said, depending on money and time they may try to ship the sticker-filled Citroen to Australia.
The family is also collecting money for two charities, China Rural Kids Care and the International China Concern. The former, established in 2012, is a non-governmental organization specializing in allowing children in poor rural areas get critical illness insurance. So far, the Lou family has collected roughly $3,000 (CAD). International China Concern focuses on China’s abandoned and disabled population and has taken a back-seat in donations, as it is a much bigger and better-known charity, with roughly $500 raised.
Jie writes travel articles on the application, WeChat, where readers can donate to either cause.
The Lou family during their stop at the Houriet residence just outside of 100 Mile House on Oct. 28