What does the movie “Into the Wild” and the Miss BC Pageant have in common?

Last year around this time, I was gearing up for the Miss BC Pageant. That was a VERY exciting time! I loved it and I am sincerely excited for 2021 when pageants can open up again. During the 2019 Miss BC Pageant, I got to meet Darren Storsley, who is really the most important name you’ll hear in my blog post today.

(I’m so excited, I’m practically tripping over my words, so let me back up.)

I turned on Netflix tonight fully planning to do nothing except eat the mountain of fresh vegetables I bought at a local produce market today. I had piled as many vegetables as I could onto a small wood tray and had just turned on the TV when a “recommended for you” video cropped up: “Into the Wild.” Netflix had knocked it out of the park. YES. This movie was completely for me. I was IN.

I had first heard about this movie when I was in the Miss BC pageant last year. The pageant organizer’s husband had offered to pick me up from the ferry so I wouldn’t have to bring my car. It was very exciting and I spent the entire drive from the ferry to the hotel listening to stories told by Mr. Storsley Sr. who had more or less dedicated years of his life to assisting with the thousands of things that have to happen in the background. He was a wealth of information and shared the history of the Miss BC Pageant with amusing and loving anecdotes in turn. The stories he shared with the most pride, however, were about his son, Darren Storsley.

If you live in BC and have ever been involved in pageantry, you have heard the name Darren Storsley. Miss BC was his baby. Every summer, you would turn on the TV and watch the Miss BC live broadcast and you would see Darren Storsley on stage. His face and his voice floated into homes, becoming as familiar as the cousin you see once each year at a family dinner. (When I was sitting in one of the pageant training sessions and he walked in for the first time, I nearly rushed him like a groupie.)

The pageant was great and I had an absolutely amazing three days that ignited a lifelong love of pageantry. At the end of it, Mr. Storsley Sr. came back to the hotel to pick me up for my return trip to the ferry. On the way back to the ferry, I was once again treated to more stories about pageants, Miss BC, and about the ever proud son, Darren Storsley. One story stuck with me though.

“Ever hear of the book Into the Wild? Darren did that trip. He re-created it.”

Say what?

“Oh yes,” said Mr. Storsley Sr. “Darren drove to Alaska, picked up a hitch hiker, and together they found the bus.”

It was said as casually as if it were as simple as finding a neato cafe across town. I was spellbound. Mr. Universe, the man who emceed the pageant, who had been emceeing the Miss BC pageant for as long as there had been a Miss BC pageant, had retraced the footsteps of a book. And not just any book. The book of a man who hitch-hiked to Alaska. (Who chooses Alaska? It’s cold.) This wasn’t a light trip. It was a very comprehensive pilgrimmage into the middle of nowhere.

This was amazing to me. As we said our goodbyes at the ferry, I pulled out my phone. Sure enough, there was a reference to the journey Darren Storsley had recreated. My mind was in awe of what he had done. I knew there was a movie – but what I couldn’t find was a way to watch it. Even Apple didn’t have it listed. So much for that.

And then tonight, as I sat down with my mountain of fresh veggies, Netflix was all, “Yo. Check this out.” And instantly, I was transported back a year to Miss BC. Mr. Storsley Sr. gave me a lot of background details that don’t appear online and don’t seem to be included in the plot summary that I can very clearly see from my seat because I paused it to write this. That’s too bad but maybe they’ll turn up when I watch the movie. For me – watching this movie is like watching a movie set in a place you know. I’m super excited to watch it and scream and point at things I learned from Mr. Storsley Sr.

If you are into a fascinating story, go watch this movie. When you do, imagine the journey Darren Storsley took to be able to re-create this.

And now you know what “Into the Wild” and the Miss BC Pageant have in common.