Day 93 (June 29): A Black Bear Saved Our Butts
I hardly slept last night because I was so exhausted from the long day before. I was also preoccupied with trying to find a fix for the truck. As much as I wanted to sleep in to recover from the 12+ hour drive day I knew there were things that needed to be done.
The first thing I did was check with George, our mechanic friend from home who put a lot of time into getting us road-ready before we left. He gave a few suggestions for us to consider in the process of finding a repair. Then I called Larry to let him know we drove to his town in hopes that maybe he could help us there instead of on his possible trip to Jasper. He mentioned that he was too busy for the trip to Jasper, so immediately I felt confirmation of our decision to drive to Hinton. He advised us to get an oil change and then swing by his shop afterward and he would read the computer for any codes.
Next I searched for a place to do an oil change. Siri only gave me 2 options, which was par for the course so far. I tried calling both, but the numbers were not valid. I was frustrated but Lindsay said to try Googling “oil change in Hinton” because Siri had let us down so many times in the past. When I did this the first result was Quick Lane. The two that Siri gave me were not even on the Google list.
Setting a Diving Appointment
I called Quick Lane and spoke with Jess, who kindly accepted a last minute appointment for an hour later. We packed up the truck and camper and made our way to Napa to pick up the oil we wanted to use. Then we continued on to our appointment for an oil change. The truck started each time, so we had hope it was just a glitch yesterday.
Jess was very business-like in handling us. I told her the issue we had, that we thought the oil was over-filled from the previous change and that Larry had told us to not fill it to spec. We almost argued over whether she could allow that. They go by the book. I needed the book to be a little more lenient. I trusted what Larry, a 24 year Ford veteran mechanic, told me about the oil level.
As we waited I struck up conversation with Jess about whether Lindsay might have offended some of the people at Napa. When trying to determine how much oil to purchase she did not know how to convert gallons to liters. Without thinking, she said “Hey I’m American and I don’t know how many liters we need.” She wasn’t being intentional in that statement. But she said it anyway.
I checked with Jess to see if she thought Lindsay did anything wrong. Jess started laughing and said no, especially at that Napa nobody was offended. Then she asked about our trip. I gave her the option of the long or short story. Jess chose the long story.
So over the course of the next few hours we hung out in the shop while the oil was changed and several other issues were repaired. It turned out that our brakes were down to their last millimeter so we were bound to go out on us at the most inopportune time along the Alaska Highway.
In this, Lindsay says that a black bear saved our butts. I have to agree. If we did not have the issue with the truck starting then we would have overlooked a most important maintenance issue.
An Awesome Invite
Toward the end of the day as the truck was coming out of its repair Jess invited us to come camp with her family. She and her husband along with her sister and mom and dad were spending a few weeks camping on public land just outside of town. They do this every summer, she said, because its so beautiful.
We were overjoyed at the invite. Not only did it solidify where we would stay for the night. But also it meant that we would be camping with great people.
We gathered groceries, refueled our propane and met Jess for the drive out into the “bush.” It was a beautiful drive that took us off pavement for a few miles. At one point we crossed a single-lane bridge and disappeared into the bush of British Columbia.
Camping With New Friends
We spent the evening camping with our new friends. Jess’ family greeted us warmly. She already told them all about our journey. So we spent dinner and well into the evening talking about where we had been and where we hoped to go. We exchanged stories of our respective cultures and shared how much we wished the world would just get along.
It was after 1 AM before we finally called it a night. I could have stayed and talked with Jess’ parents all night long. We were not so different, regardless of age or nationality. Their campsite was a metaphor for what the world should be. One day at a time we should all sit around a campfire sharing a meal, drinks and conversation about what life is and what we think it could be. Then when we leave camp we take with us a part of everyone else and head off into the world to meet new friends at new campsites.
It’s an oversimplified idea. But that is why we love traveling so much. We are conduits of love, transporting kindness and the innermost sanctities of the human spirit with us as we wander. I don’t imagine life can ever be the same for us now. We’re transforming ourselves and the world in which we live. And what a job that is…