Monday, April 26, 2010

November until now (Part 4)

My destination was a farm outside of Ellensberg Washington to pick up a ton and a half of hay. I thought it would be pretty silly to haul an empty trailer all the way to Alaska. I got into Ellensberg a little after 2pm and picked up 33 one hundred pound bales of hay and then headed into town for an early sit down dinner. Until this point I had a really specific plan for where I was going to be and when but I hadn't made anything firm for after I picked up the hay. I was planning on a stop over at a friends in Fort Saint John on my way through central BC but that was still a sixteen to eighteen hour drive from Ellensberg. I took my time and relaxed awhile over dinner, ordered a to go milkshake and then headed north for the border.

The further I drove the more intense things were getting "under the dome". Towns people pitted against one another, people were dying , mobs were rioting for no clear reason. After listening to this story for the last two thousand miles I was pretty into it. I drove by the junction to turn to go to Wenatchee around dark stopping about fifteen minutes later at a small Shell station to get fuel before I got to the border. For some reason I thought I was a lot closer to the border than I really was, I still had three hours to go until I there. I pulled into the station but there weren't any diesel pumps out front so I pulled around back where there was a single diesel pump but it was older and didn't have a credit card swipe option. When I went inside there were about six people in line so I waited until they had all paid and then left my credit card with the clerk and told him I was on the diesel pump and went back out to the pump. I had been very meticulous with each fuel stop making sure to log all of the mileage, figure out my economy, and add fuel additive during each fill up. I put in my additive and then lifted the slide on the pump to turn it on but nothing happened. I turned it off and tried it again but still nothing. I started to go back in when I noticed the clerk looking at me through the glass door. He pushed it open and in a tone you might talk to someone who you think might be about to steal something from you said "Can I HELP you". I said "I hope so I just gave you my credit card" and then his look changed back to relaxed and he said "Oh yea, sorry it has been a weird night" and then went back inside. When I finished fueling up I went back inside grabbed two Red Bull's out of the cooler and went up to pay. At this point I was the only person in the store. As he was ringing me up he said that before he had come outside he had gotten a call from his wife and said that she had gotten a weird text on her phone that said to be safe and make sure to stick close to a friend, so he told her to call the cops right away. I must have had a pretty perplexed look on my face because he said "Well with all that has been happening around here you can't be too cautious". I explained that I was just driving through and hadn't listened to any local news so I was completely in the dark. He told me that just the night before in Wenatchee they had found the body of a young woman that had been missing for a few days on the river bank near town. I recall that he said that her body was naked and that she had a bag over her head and that another girl was now missing also. Apparently the FBI was involved and there were cops everywhere. I guess he was a little worried when his wife called because he didn't know who had sent her the text message. Considering the story I was listening to had one of the main evil characters hanging out in a closet several times a day with two naked girls that he had killed days earlier, my head was starting to spin. Out of the four times I had gotten out of the truck that day this was the second time that my story seemed to somehow follow me outside of the truck. After I paid I got in my truck, locked the doors and was ready to get back on the road without wasting another second. Turning back onto highway 97 I actually cut it a little close and ran the trailer tires in the ditch on the way out. I didn't really care at this point I just wanted to put as much distance between this whole interaction and myself as possible.

I was starting to get pretty tired at this point and was wanting to get some sleep within the next few hours. I thought maybe if I made it to the border there would be a place I could park and sleep. About an hour from the border I passed a guy walking north with a backpack. All I could think about was that I sure wasn't stopping anytime soon now because the guy I just passed may bave been the same guy that had left that girl on the riverbank in Wenatchee. I drove another two hours and finally reached the border and was glad I fueled up where I did because everything in northern Washington seemed to be closed up tight on this Tuesday night. Usually when you get to the border you don't stop and there aren't border guards from the country that you are leaving, only the one you are entering. When I approached the US side of the border there were five US customs officers standing in the middle of the road. I rolled down my window and slowed to a stop and was asked to please turn off my engine. They wanted to know where I was headed, why, what I was carrying, etc. All of the usual questions you get from a Customs Officer but generally not at the country that you are leaving. After I explained everything one of them asked me for the keys to the trailer. I handed him my key ring but the trailed has four different keys for different types of locks which vary depending on the door and lock type. I asked if they wanted me to open it up but was told to remain inside the vehicle. While four Customs Officers looked over the truck and trailer I explained the purpose of my whole trip to the fifth one. After a few minutes I was asked to get out and open up the trailer because they weren't sure which keys went to which locks. At this point I was hoping that they weren't going to want to pull all of the bales of hay out to see that I didn't have anything inside the back of the trailer other than hay. When they opened the door to the midtack I was hoping they didn't want to look inside the toolbox that came with the truck that I had to take out for the trailer and was now residing beneath Sandi's trunk and boxes of stuff from her Mom's garage. Luckily they seemed to believe me and then wanted to look inside the living quarters. I unlocked the door and went in to turn on a light for them but was told to please step outside. They looked through everything and were apparently satisfied with what they found (or didn't find) and told me I could go. The Canadian Customs was a breeze compared to what I had gone through on the American side. I gave her my passport, told her my destination, how much money I had and how long I planned to be in Canada. She seemed satisfied and told me I could go.

I was hoping to find a place to park to get a little sleep but all I found was a restroom with a not so big place to park. I hadn't given it much thought before but I kind of realized that all the American Customs guys must have been there because of the girl that was murdered in Wenatchee and looking for someone trying to get out of the country. Again this was all too weird combined with the audio book I was listening to. Since there was nowhere to park I started driving north hoping to find a pullout. I drove north into Pentiction, BC and after trying to turn into an over crowded Chevron I managed to get out and cross the street to a large parking lot in front of a sports arena. I really wanted to sleep here as there were lots of lights in the parking lot and plenty of room to turn the truck around. From the looks of the movable barricades it looked to me like they closed up the parking lot though. At this point I should have just said screw it and gone to sleep but for some stupid reason I wasn't smart enough to do that. I pulled out of the arena parking lot and somehow ended up in a roundabout, got off of 97 and ended up downtown and not knowing how to get back to the highway. It isn't easy with a long trailer to just take any corner or turn down any street. I finally managed to find my way back on 97 and headed out of town. A few miles out of town I passed another person walking north on the side of the road, alone and now at almost midnight. Like before I decided there was no way I was stopping now without putting as many miles as possible between me and this guy walking. Paranoid? Quite. Strange events and fatigue combined with Stephen King tend to have bad effects on one's mental state. I drove for about half an hour or more until I found a pullout where I stopped and tried to go to sleep. I unrolled my sleeping bag in the back seat, laid down and tried to fall asleep. Between thoughts about the guy who was walking beside the road showing up and peering in my window, and all of the other voices in my head I laid there for about forty five minutes and was still awake.

What do I do when I can't sleep? I drive. So I decided I'd go a little further. I got to the junction for 97 and 97C and took 97C west, and I guess I just didn't study a map hard enough to realize I should have just kept going due north on 97 instead of going west on 97C. Once when I drove from Alaska to Washington I went through Merritt and just figured that would be the way I'd go. What I didn't realize was that 97C from Peachland to Merritt is a high mountain pass with a few really long up hill climbs. I stopped at a chain up pull out and again tried to sleep but still couldn't. I laid there for about thirty minutes and then decided to just push on to Merritt. As I climbed higher into the pass the worse the weather got and and the steeper the pass became. After I started the truck the last time I stopped I forgot to turn off my overdrive and as I was climbing the hill my overdrive light started flashing. I wasn't sure what this meant and tried pushing the button to turn it off but the light continued to flash. I was almost to the top of the hill and decided I'd stop at the top and figure out what the problem was. I hadn't finished this thought when my truck slowed to a stop and started smoking so bad I thought it was on fire. Luckily I was on a divided highway and I was in the right lane, but I was on a hill on a curve. I put my flashers on and dug out my owners manual to try and find out what a flashing overdrive light meant. According to the manual it it a transmission malfunction. To me a malfunction is if say you can't shift into gear, when smoke and oil are puking out of it and your truck won't move that is more of a catastrophe than a malfunction to me. By now it was 1:30 am so I called Sandi and woke her up and asked her to Google me a towing company in Merritt. While I waited for the tow truck I was being passed by logging trucks doing about 40 mph and I was really worried about getting rear ended by a sleepy logging truck driver so I walked a safety reflector way behind the truck and sat it in the middle of the lane. To make matters worse when I tried to set the emergency brake it wouldn't hold so I had to keep my foot on it. My stomach got a knot in it every time I saw another logging truck round the corner in the mirror so it turned out to be a very unpleasant wait for the tow truck. Sleep was the last thing on my mind.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ok, you have me hooked. Where's the end of the story Tyson?

- Brad (Mesa, Az Brad that is)