Our stay in Whitehorse was always intended to be a brief one – primarily for maintenance. You haven’t heard much about Bus Issues lately — and indeed RV WHERE YET has been performing well. Still, we build in a day here and a day there to take care of things — especially if we are in a real city with actual Hardware Stores and Napas and stuff!
And I certainly wondered what other miraculous things lived in Casper’s belly!
First things first, I needed to replace the Jeep’s battery, which we had purchased at the Whitehorse Canadian Tire in late May, and which hasn’t been holding a charge for about the past month. Fortunately, Steve had a spare battery in a bay on his bus – which happened to be EXACTLY the right battery for the Jeep!!! Never mind WHY would Steve be carrying a battery for OUR JEEP; I NEVER look a gift-Steve in the mouth!! I would have just bought it from him if it the bad one weren’t still under warranty! And I certainly wondered what other miraculous things lived in Casper’s belly!
So, we arrived at Whitehorse, and went DIRECTLY to the Canadian Tire. They promptly replaced the battery and we then checked back in to the Pioneer Park – a place we had stopped at in May. Examination of other Whitehorse options had not turned up a better one, so that’s where we went! I then unhooked the car to set out for a couple of other errands.
AND IMMEDIATELY DISCOVERED A PROBLEM!
Remember when I said in a previous post that travelers with BAD ATTITUDES are given Flat Tires as kharmic retribution?? I was trying to remember when and where I had been rude to someone or grumpy, because the Jeep was fairly trying to shake my fillings out on a fully paved road!!! We DEFINITELY had a tire issue!!! I pulled off to the side of the road, and found a SEVERE bulge and exposed steel belts on a rear tire.
That the tire had not exploded was a miracle.
I KNEW that the tires on the Jeep were old – I was hoping to make it back to the states before putting 4 new ones on; rationalizing that if we were going to rip up a tire on Alaska’s famous rough roads, why rip up a new one!!! I wondered how long it had been in that condition – we had not driven it for several days – just dragged it dutifully along behind the bus! Steve later speculated it was the road to Kennecott that damaged the tire initially, and he might be right. That road was built right over the old railroad bed, and there were signs to watch out for railroad spikes…
Anyway, I was thinking how serious an issue that would have been had the tire actually exploded while we were on some of the recent pretty narrow roads with no shoulders through the wilds of Alaska. SO, perhaps I needed to consider our misfortune and kharmic-state another way – had I ACTUALLY been rude to someone, the inevitable Alaska-flat tire would have occurred in a much worse place. Thinking this, I felt better. Well, at least relieved! I had stopped worrying about who I might have offended, but I still had to change the tire, and in the rain, to boot!
I chose to use the Spare-Spare tire we had purchased for the trip to Wiseman (above the Arctic Circle) and had been dutifully carrying on the Jeep’s roof ever since. Dismounted it, and was crawling around in the rain under the car setting the jack, when I saw an upside-down White Ford Edge with Tennessee Plates pull up next to me. TO be clear, I was upside down, the car was not.
To be clear, none of us, ESPECIALLY KATHY had any misunderstanding that Kathy might help change a tire.
Out stepped Kathy – she and Steve had left Destruction Bay a little behind us, and apparently had driven by while I was under the Jeep on the shoulder. While Steve parked the Bus, Kathy came back (it was less than a mile from the park that I had pulled off onto the shoulder) to see if she could “help.” To be clear, none of us, ESPECIALLY KATHY had any misunderstanding that Kathy might help change a tire. I THINK she was offering to direct traffic, or buy me a beer. Or sing songs while I worked. In truth, one should NEVER discount the immense power and value of morale (if not moral) support! But I was actually just wrapping up.
We are still hoping to reach somewhere in the USA before replacing all 4 old tires on the Jeep, for simple, warranty-reasons. The replacement of the Canadian-purchased battery needed to be done in Canada, but as luck would have it, we were passing thru Canada so this was not a challenge. We won’t be BACK up this way for awhile, tho, so we surely want US Tires with a US Warranty. I THINK (hope!) we’ll be OK even though the spare I put on is older and in worse condition than the old tires that came with the vehicle. As long as I am not rude to anyone!!
The rest of the time in Whitehorse was uneventful, sort of. I was having more trouble with my Red-Neck-Engineered Hazard lights, so I decided to install the Turn Signal/Hazard switch I had purchased back even before we had “launched” on this trip. You might recall that I had come to believe that the part from a 1978 Ford E350 was the one Blue Bird had used, so I bought this way back then. I discovered that the part, though it LOOKED right, was actually NOT the right part. It was designed for a smaller steering column – it was like RV WHERE YET’s Turn Signal Mini-me! ELECTRICALLY it was correct, mechanically it just didn’t fit where it needed to go!
So, I DUSTED OFF THE REDNECK in me, and set about to make’r work! With a judicious application of cutting force and wire snipping, I was able to effect another, surely temporary repair. It took about 3x longer than I expected, however, so we did not get a chance to visit the EXCELLENT Whitehorse Microbrewery we had found as we passed through Northbound. 🙁
I have already written the Blue Bird Parts Angel, Trish, in Houston, and she has already confirmed she knows the part I need. That is not the same as saying she has one or that it is on the way, but she’ll get’r done for sure! We may even stop in Houston to pick it up, and thank her personally for all her help to date and all her future help! That’s only about 5,000 miles from where we are at the moment!!!
Steve and Kathy actually left ahead of us – they did NOT stay in Whitehorse the extra day, having decided they wanted to move a little faster than we did, to see their daughter and Grandson in Olympia Washington. This meant we were now parting company for the last time, so we decided to have a “last supper” after I had changed my tire, and reminisced about our trip.
The Enfingers have been THE BEST travelling companions one could ever ask for; flexible, adaptable and enjoyable through and through. Didn’t hurt that Steve had been carrying spare parts for us! We feel VERY FORTUNATE to have spent 3 months and over 5,000 miles with them, even if ultimately Kathy left me to my own devices, under the jeep, in the rain on the side of the road . 😉
We lost all our other Stalkers in the last week or so, too. Randy Dupree’s crew, we learned, had been in Whitehorse also, but left at noon the day we arrived at 2:00. So we BARELY missed them. But Randy said in an email, “We are heading south through the Icefields into Montana and then South from there. That sounded to me like EXACTLY the route we were taking, so I suggested that we MIGHT just run into them again…you never know!
Randy said, “No Way, you’ll never catch us now!”
I wondered what he meant by that. Several possibilities. He may have been tired of running into us (which I can certainly understand). Or, he might have been in a hurry to get back south (since, as he has pointed out to me on more than one occasion, “We are not all retired…”). Still, I wondered why he was so sure we’d “never catch them.” After all, Randy is the guy who famously starts each day at the crack of noon!
“No, none of the above,” Randy said. “We go uphill much faster than you can, and there are a lot of those through the Rockies!”
TRUE DAT! I could not argue with the logic from behind the wheel of our bus, with its mighty mighty 210hp Non-turbo (bad at altitude, not bad attitude!!) Cat 3208.
Our other stalkers, the Purcells, had been off the air for a couple weeks. We had discussed the idea of connecting again, since our projected paths were coincident for at least awhile, but we KNEW they were headed to some remote areas, and we also knew that Bob resented the hell out of his roaming charges in Canada, so we were not surprised that we hadn’t managed to connect. Eventually, Bob emailed that they were heading back to Ohio, and would be out ahead of us!
“THANK GOODNESS,” I replied. “Now we won’t have to look over our shoulders every time we check into a campground!”
Seriously, I count our serial intersections with the Purcells as one of the highlights of the summer, and we look forward to intersecting again in the future!
We did manage to pick up another stalker, though. A fella named Fred and his dog Buddy. He said they had been following us more or less throughout Alaska – since at least Fairbanks in mid June!!! I did not remember him, but he remembered RV WHERE YET! That happens to us a lot, actually!
Thinking we had had all the bad luck we’d be experiencing this summer, we had just a little bit more. SNOW!!!! In Freakin’ August!!! As we headed East and South, the weather reports got VERY ominous. Ahead of us now, Steve said it was already snowing in Watson Lake, our next stop. He sent a very sad picture of snow beginning to accumulate on his car. And, in the direction of our collective travel, it was snowing EVEN MORE — 6-12” expected along the way and more in the mountain pass we needed to traverse on the way to Dawson Creek.
YIKES! We had hoped to avoid all that drama, but apparently we were leaving the GREAT “WHITE” NORTH after all! (Maybe THIS was the reason Randy was screaming southward?)
Steve and Kathy made the call to divert and head SOUTH along the Cassiar Highway instead of southeast to Dawson Creek to avoid the snow. The Cassiar was the way we had come north, and we did NOT want to do that route again – been there, done that. Besides, we are heading towards Denver and Albuquerque, not Seattle! We were a day behind , so we hoped that the delay would let the snow melt before we tried to continue.
As it turned out, it did, but we were still affected! Our next stop after Watson Lake was intended to be the Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park. The snow, being VERY HEAVY and WET, had broken trees in the campground, and had in fact injured some campers! Had we not stayed in Whitehorse for that extra day, WE might have been in that campground, with a tree draped over us! Let’s just say I was NO LONGER WORRIED that I had been rude to someone – this PROVED our Kharma and its associated good luck was very much intact!
So, with Liard off the table, we next stopped at a Provincial Park on Muncho Lake. Our route was through the very same Mountain passes that had been buried in snow – though the one day delay had seen it completely melt! Not only that, we saw a TON of wildlife on this route – Bison, Caribou, Deer, Fox, Porcupine and Black Bear. Also a couple of Habs – Les Habitants (Montrealers), who pulled in behind us and were fascinated by RV WHERE YET when we stopped to inspect the Liard Closure.
The Muncho Lake campground turned out to be AWESOME. Right on the lake, which is a long and deep alpine finger set into the top end of the Canadian Rockies. An EXQUISITE place to spend an evening before heading onwards and southwards.