Sunday, July 11, 2010

Week One on the Sherman Journey...

There is more to say than I could possibly tell to explain the events that have occurred in the past two weeks. OK not QUITE two weeks, however as of 3pm tomorrow - we will have been away for that long and we are not even 1/2 way through our journey!

After leaving Hope on the true first day we had a great drive and a bit of a lazy day... we meandered up the Coquihalla Highway and through Kamloops with the intent to proceed to Golden for the night. I had in my pre-planning way set up a rough itinerary of what we would do and where we would go each day. Day one - Golden, BC! We accomplished that goal.... but not quite as intended!

We headed along past Salmon Arm and stopped at a station to check the engine oil level, anti-freeze for the radiator, and general engine maintenance, We were being very careful about paying attention to all of the fluid levels. Len was channeling his inner mechanic in preparation for his future as a red neck! I must say he was very sexy - leaning over that truck, dipping his stick in and pulling it out! Dirty but fun! I teased him and told him that he might just deserve that man room by the time we reached NB.

We all laughed and enjoyed the drive. We were very impressed at how Buddy (our truck) pulled that cargo trailer and seemed to head up those long mountain hills with little to no trouble. We were feeling pretty fine about that purchase and Buddy was a welcome member of our family!

Just outside of Revelstoke there was a pullout where lots of motor homes and truckers stopped to rest and use the facilities. I was getting a bit tired so I asked everyone to let me take a short nap, just 10-20 minutes so that I could drive the last hour or so and then rest for the night. The girls were pooped out from the travel and preparation so they just crashed in the back seat. Len went for a walk and took some pictures. All was well.

After about 30 minutes, I woke up, used the port a pottie and went out to find Len and let him know I was ready to continue. I was feeling quite proud of myself for acknowledging my fatigue and getting into the habit early of resting when required. Yes we were in for an amazing trip!

About 10 minutes down the road I realized that although I had been watching all of the gauges carefully I had not looked at the fuel gauge after my rest and should have filled up the diesel in Revelstoke. Len made a comment to me about the importance of being more careful and how it was my job to keep track of these things. I agreed but also said that it was not really a problem since we had fuel in the tidy tank in the back of the truck. Len gently reminded me that the canopy and truck bed were overflowing with items to move and we could barely open the tail gate without things falling out so how could we possibly empty the whole truck on the side of the road and get to the fuel tank???

I (being the calm person I am) said let me try since we don't actually have any choice I don't think we can make it back to Revelstoke and we could drain the tidy tank into the fuel tank then drive on to Golden, fuel up and stop for the night. It really is not a big deal so let's just do it, ok? (Such a good thing I am so relaxed.)

We pulled out some stuff from the back of the truck and I found some hedge clippers that allowed me to squish in the truck, lean way back and FLIP the lever with the hedge clippers, let the tank drain and re-FLIP the lever, no problem! Right? Um, well, yes it WAS a problem! The fuel worked fine, but while I did that Len lifted the hood and checked everything else out. We were overheating and the reserve tank was dry...

The cap was really hard to open so although I thought it had been checked, I guess it hadn't. Len my muscular man was finally able to open it and that is when we noticed it was dry... We called the towing company as we were afraid to continue on - Day one and a break down? What are the odds? The upside is we were happy to think that at least it happened early and nothing else could go wrong from here right?

The towing company was very helpful, they knew that it would be an hour and a half before they could get to us so suggested a few ways to keep things running and get into town for repairs. We followed their advice and used 16 water bottles to fill the reserve tank to the radiator and Len made 2 more trips down a very steep and treed hill past the dirt and mud to a mountain creek and filled up the bottles and returned to fill the tank. He was such a trooper and even though he slipped and fell, he thought it wasn't safe for us to go help. So the girls and I stayed out of his way and tried to help in anyway we could. Poor Len, his aching body was being worked hard!

We then drove to the nearest gas station located at Roger's Pass. I was so glad to get there as we were overheating again. I ran into the station and looked at the store which had two huge rooms, one for tourist paraphernalia and anther for convenience store items and roadside vehicle repair. The size of the store was nothing in compare to the empty shelves. I could not believe that the store was spread over two rooms and half the shelves were empty! They had NO antifreeze and only four chocolate bar choices! I mention the chocolate bars since I knew it would be at least an hour until dinner when we hit Golden and a bite to eat would hold us over.

As mentioned there was not any anti freeze but the attendant (who mentioned his boss was on the verge of bankruptcy so we were lucky they even HAD diesel!) got us a couple of jugs of water to help refill the truck. After a short stop we moved on and had barely driven 5 minutes down the road when we overheated again, the truck BURPED up all the water and the little coolant we had and we were hooped!

We now called Classic Towing ... AGAIN... and they said not to go any further they would send the truck - in an hour to an hour and a half! We were 100km away from Golden ... We needed a truck that would pull both the truck and the trailer so needed the big ass truck with flat deck and towing hitch. The kids were good, we were all a little frustrated but not much we could do so we made the best of it. A few games of Go Fish and photo taking consumed our time.

The truck eventually showed and a nice guy named Brad drove us into town (about 40 minutes to hook up and another hour to town) we got to the motel at about 10:15pm and ordered dinner by 10:30pm.... late night but we met our goal... we were in Golden!

The next day we extended our check out until 2pm as we waited for the truck to get repaired and Len and I swam with Jess in the pool. I had a blast doing my imitation of "a white whale sliding down the water slide" SPLASH! I had fun and screamed a lot so it is a good thing no one else was there. Lucky for them anyway, eh?

The truck was fixed, so we got a ride down to pick it up and we were glad the trailer was already at the TOP of Golden hill and we would not have to pull up there since it was such a steep incline. The mechanics showed us a few small repairs on the leaks and suggested that we get a new intake manifold once we were done our trip but they had epoxy'ed it to hold together. He also suggested we leave the reserve cap at half mast to allow "prevent the kettle from boiling" so to speak. We followed the shop's advice...

We drove up the hill and guess what? If you guessed, did you overheat? You would be right! We immediately tried to pull over past the campers and big rigs... We called the shop... again... and they said ok bring it in. Well, for what we paid we did not get far! Of course now it is about 3pm on a Wednesday the day before Canada Day when the shop would be closed... I will admit we were starting to get discouraged! We went to the shop to learn - not to our surprise - that no one would even look at the truck until Friday and if parts were needed we were lucky if they would arrive by Monday and now we are looking at potentially needing to have the head gasket replaced! OUCH! We are looking at close to a week in Golden and thousands of dollars in repair... We were still not even out of BC!

We found a room with a lovely little kitchen and the girls and I went grocery shopping. The only good thing Rachel could see is that there was internet and she would have plenty of time to do her hair since we were not going anywhere!

We spent Canada Day finding free pancake breakfasts and lunchtime BBQ's, checking out the museum and anything else including fireworks to fill our time! Much to our surprise we had a surprise call from Len's family - niece Angela was working on some way to get us to Stirling for the weekend (Alberta) to spend with the family. They were willing to go so far as bring a flat deck for the truck and another truck to tow the cargo trailer! We were overwhelmed with the generosity! Meanwhile Len's other niece Sherry and her boyfriend popped in to see how they could help. They had planned on surprising us in Stirling but came by to see if anyone wanted a ride!

To summarize, Jess headed off with Sherry and Chris. Rachel, Len and I stayed over since we could not locate anyone to help us get our truck/trailer out of the compound since it was a holiday. Good news! The truck was ready by 10:30 am on Friday and had been tested and was ready to go! We were so excited! It wasn't the head gasket and was way cheaper!

Len and I raced over to the repair shop and went for a test drive. The truck was so happy! YAY BUDDY! We could be on the road by noon and at Uncle Larry's just after dinner! Ecstatic would describe our emotions! Technically we would remain on schedule!

You might have guessed that this didn't happen? It was apparent by now that anything that COULD go wrong, just might! I mentioned to Len that the truck looked as though the cab and canopy were getting wider apart.... The mechanic noticed too... Yup, the truck frame was twisting from the weight and if we went any further it might SPLIT IN HALF while we were driving! AAAAHHHH! Would this ever end? I mean Golden is a lovely town and the people were truly exceptional! We just wanted to LEAVE!

Four hours and $500 more later we were on our way, Len, Rachel and I. We traveled in our overloaded truck and trailer that should maybe have carried 10,000 lbs but with us and everything we owned in the world... weighed over 16,000 lbs!

We were never more grateful to pull into Stirling, AB and be surrounded by loving family, a huge fire and LOTS of beer! Yes we had left one province and entered the next! It only took us 5 days to make at trip that takes most people 15 hours... but we were there, alive, well and still smiling!

The next update with our further adventures coming soon!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Trip...

I am currently sitting in Swift Current Sask, waiting for more repairs… My fault really, I was feeling good about our trip and we were driving along the highway. We left Alberta yesterday and Larry’s parting comment was…. “You are good to go! I don’t anticipate any more problems along the way. Done everything I can for the truck and trailer….” I am thinking Larry jinxed us! Thanks Larry! You NEVER say never!

The journey started out promising… we spent all of the last day loading up, realizing there was not enough room for much of what had been saved to the last minute, things I just did not want to part with! Trudi ran to the bus depot the morning of the move to get a list on what it cost to send boxes out and it did not seem to crazy so that was the plan! Off I sent Debra to get boxes, Trudi got the rates, Karen and Roslyn and I went through last minute packing, sorting, giving away, donating to the crazies across the street (who think they hit the frickin’ mother load!) Karen was trying to throw everything in the garbage and Roslyn packed our suitcase… we went from a large Rubbermaid bin to a small overnight bag for two of us! She was great… we just realized later that poor Len had one shirt, 2 t shirts and just the pants on his bum! OOPS!

I was so appreciative of my friends as I would never have made it out that day. Talk about crazy! People coming and going, saying goodbye, helping, picking up stuff… Paul the sweetheart that he is brought us a beautiful flat of cedar and arbutus saplings to plant trees in our new yard that reminded us of home. Sorry! No room!

Of course I could not only concentrate on packing and get the last load into the trailer and truck bed but also had to do banking, get a prescription filled, a few quick errands, speak at the final assembly of the year as PAC chair and … hmmm.. something else…. Oh ya EAT! Thanks Roslyn for making me stop to breathe and eat. (If you don’t tell anyone I will admit that I was a little tense that day!) Sadly the last assembly and my presentation were a bit weak… it was hard to say what I felt and to put across the importance of a PAC in the school to parents… Well I tried, I did my part and I worked with an amazing group of people. Many of whom will remain friends for life. I truly hope others come forward to help the kids and school…

I then rushed out of the assembly on to more errands, final goodbyes and had to have Elaine drop Jess off at home for me so that I could get my butt and the family on the ferry for 5pm! I wanted to be in the line up about 3pm since I was concerned the line up may be crazy. So I rushed frantically starting to work up a sweat a tad jittery and … yes… manic! Of course I am always easy to get along with and never tense in a way others can notice (at least that is what I think!) however, I apologize for snapping at Iona but really it was a bit of a rough time and I admit I was not at my most patient. My apologies Iona!

Meanwhile as the whole move was progressing my poor daughter Rachel was torn between going and the sadness she felt at missing her boyfriend and friends. There was a lot of crying that day! Weeping, wailing and my god the mascara companies could NOT keep up! My heart felt for her, her first love, her first loss, they have great hopes for the future and they may materialize, but if not, then she has loved and lost which was better than to have never loved at all. (Or so they say!)

We made it to the ferry with plenty of time to spare. We were first in line which allowed Rachel time to pull herself together. Len and I had a moment to relax and calm down after a month of heartfelt goodbyes. Pulling onto the ferry we felt we were on our way. As we sat on the boat, watching Nanaimo drift into the distance we knew that we would be back, or would we? With all that life has to offer and all that can go wrong or change maybe we wouldn’t be back… I know that these were thoughts that had haunted Len as he said goodbye to his friends and family. I know in my heart he will be back, but he has to believe it to.

About 10 minutes after we had been on the ferry Len’s eyes started to flutter, his head nodded and he drifted away. I was tired but not ready to relax… and then my phone knocked, I had a text. Brandi’s long awaited baby had arrived! She gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, 8 lbs 8 ozs! I had to wake Len up to tell him as I could not contain my excitement! Congratulations Brandi, James and beautiful little boy… we can’t wait to see you. IF WE EVER GET THERE! We are grandparents again and know that you will be the most wonderful and loving parents.

We drove off the ferry and off to meet Paula and Steve for dinner… they later helped us top up the oil and get us on our way. We drove to Hope BC for our first night on our journey and as we parked the truck and trailer so it wouldn’t be stolen, we all congratulated ourselves on a good first day!

Do stay tuned as we have been gone since June 28th and now it is July 8th we have managed to get almost across 4 provinces and met many kind mechanics along the way! Yes we are doing OUR part to help advance the economy in the small towns of Canada…. More to come…

See you next week!