Tuesday, April 27, 2010

November until now (Part 5)

I can't say that I'd ever thought I'd be so happy to see a short greasy tow truck driver with only four teeth. He showed up at about 3:30am and hooked up to the truck and towed the truck and trailer the mile or so to the top of the pass and pulled out at the brake check pull out. There he loaded the truck on the flatbed of the tow truck and at first didn't think we could tow the trailer at the same time which had me a little stressed out. After I showed him the type of hitch I had, he found an adapter with the right size ball and we were able to haul both truck and trailer in one trip going really slow. The towing service I called has shop where they do both engine and transmission work. The driver called the mechanic at home a little before 6am to see if he could come in a little early. We dropped the trailer in their yard and went and had a cup of coffee at a Tim Horton's donut shop. I was too sick to my stomach to actually eat anything so I just had coffee. The mechanic showed up at the shop at about 6:30 and we tried to figure out a path forward. This was now Wednesday morning, I had originally hoped to be home by Friday or Saturday and was being told that the earliest they could fix it was by Monday. They said there wasn't much option of finding an already built transmission anywhere sooner than that. At this point I didn't really seem have too many options. Their shop was full so they sent the truck over to another shop to have the transmission pulled out and brought back so they could rebuild it. It was going to take a few days to get parts and they thought by the end of Monday I'd be ready to go. I gathered my things out of the truck and put them in the trailer (which was still in their parking lot) and tried to go to sleep. By now I had been up almost twenty four hours but still had a hard time falling asleep. I slept for maybe an hour then got up to figure out what I was going to do for the next five days in Merritt British Columbia. I was supposed to be at work the following Wednesday but it was looking like I'd have to take vacation to make this work. If I could have seen into the future about a week I'd have done things a little different than I did.

When I went back inside the shop they had the idea of towing the trailer over to an RV park about three blocks from downtown. Mind you downtown isn't much in Merritt but it was a better option than staying in their parking lot. Once I got to the RV park I started looking at what my options for the next five days were. There was a guy in town that had a car rental place but when I called him he said he only had about three cars and none were available at the moment. Merritt is located about two hours west of Kelowna which is a nice destination resort type town (which would have been a great place to be stuck) and Kamloops which is about an hour north. The SkiDoo dealer I worked with on getting my snowmachine set up with all my mods was about an hour and a half east of Kamloops but without a car, getting over there was out of the question.

My friend Dale Berg lives in Edmonton so I called him to see about flying up there for a few days and he told me he'd check into tickets and call me back. I told him that the only way I thought things could get much worse was if a big dome came down over Merritt and I couldn't get out. I figured that while I was waiting for Dale to call back I'd walk to the grocery store and stock up on some food and other essentials. Three grocery bags of mostly general staples like bread, cereal and peanut butter, plus one quart pyrex dish for the microwave cost me $140. This was going to be an expensive week.
After I got back from the store, Dale called and said that he checked into flights from both Kamloops and Kelowna to Edmonton and it was over $400 round trip. He said he looked at prices from Kelowna to Seattle and then Edmonton and it was the same for a mileage ticket as from Kelowna to Anchorage so he just booked me a ticket to Anchorage for the next day using his frequent flier miles. I didn't know what to say, I was so appreciative I felt like I was going to cry. Then he said that he'd found a community bus that went from Merritt to Kelowna once a week (which happened to be on Thursday) for only $5 and he'd booked me on it. This meant I could fly home on Thursday for the weekend and then fly back on Monday to pick up the truck. I was ecstatic, and very thankful for Dale Berg and the internet. All I wanted now was to take a shower and go to sleep. The RV park had a bathroom with showers so I dug out some clean clothes but realized I'd left my towel in the truck. I was feeling too good to let this get me down so my hooded sweatshirt would have to make do as a towel.
After a long shower I climbed into my sleeping bag and since the RV park had wireless I had to post a big thanks to Dale on my FaceBook page before going to sleep.

The bus to Kelowna left the library at 8:30 the next morning and I wasn't going to miss it so I woke up at about 6:30 the next morning. I threw my essentials in my backpack and headed for the coffee shop across the street from the library. After a latte and blueberry muffin I paid my $5 and got on the bus. It was only about an eight seater and had all local people going to Kelowna for the day for things like doctors appointments, hospital visits and such. I debated on listening to more "Under the Dome" but decided I was in too good of a mood to start back into the story. I only had about seven hours left and had listened to too much not to finish it but this wasn't the time. I put on some mellow music and relaxed for the trip. When we got to Kelowna the driver dropped the first people off at a doctors office, then one at the hospital, at the next stop I moved up front and told him I needed the nearest stop to the airport. He said to sit down and wait until the last stop. He was a little short so I thought he was upset or something. After he'd let off the last person besides me he explained that he had set stops and wasn't supposed to deviate from them. He couldn't take me to the airport because it was too far out but he said he'd take me to the Greyhound station where I could get a cab. He said to not to pay the cabbie the full fare and to haggle because they always will drop the price. On the way to the bus station we started talking and it turns out that his dad was in the military and when he was a kid he lived for four years in Brunswick Maine. When Sandi was growing up her folks owned a Baskin Robin's in Brunswick and lived in the nearby town of Bowdoinham. It is really a small world sometimes. After he dropped me off I caught a cab but I wasn't in much of a mood to haggle so I just told him I wanted to go to the airport. After about a ten minute ride we arrived at the airport and my fare was $25. I was amazed I could get a two hour bus ride for $5 and had to pay $25 to get the last ten minutes. Guess I should have haggled. My flight from Kelowna to Seattle was going pretty smooth so I decided I'd resume "Under the Dome" but after about fifteen minutes into it we hit a pretty decent patch of turbulence and I decided Stephen King was going to have to wait until I was back on the ground. The fact that there had already been two plane crashes in the story didn't help much. I caught my flight out of Seattle after a short layover which included a nice dinner and a couple of beers. Sandi and Thane met me at the airport in Anchorage that night and we headed for home.

I honestly don't remember anything that happened on Friday except that I picked Thane up from school and on the way home we were listening to NPR and a story came on about Tiger Woods' cheating incident. After it was over Thane said to me (he's only 7 mind you) "Tiger Woods cheated at golf?". I told him "not exactly" and then pondered how I was going to explain this since his next question was "well what did he cheat at then?". I took a deep breath and explained that when a man is single it is ok to have girlfriends but when a man is married, it is not ok to have girlfriends. Then I told him that Tiger was in trouble for cheating because he was married and he also had girlfriends and this wasn't ok. Thane said he understood.

My youngest sister Jana was racing the Irondog and it started on Saturday. The Irondog is a 2000 mile snowmachine race from Big Lake to Nome and then back to Fairbanks. A pretty grueling race in itself, and Jana and her partner Tammy Spain were the only women racing in the Pro class. Sandi had to work Saturday morning but the rest of my family were going to see the start of the race so Thane and I joined them for the ride to Big Lake. I rode with my older sister Rachelle and Thane rode with my parents until we got to the lake where there was an ice road out to the starting line across the lake. We parked Rachelle's car at a parking lot onshore and got in with my parents for the trip across the lake. It was really warm put and the ice was cracking and there was overflow all over. I was very uncomfortable being on the ice with so many other vehicles. Dad found a place to park and as soon as we got out the ice cracked so loud that Rachelle and I thought we were going through the ice for sure but we didn't. We made our way through the crowds and standing water to find a spot to watch at the end of the starting chute. We were far enough down that you couldn't really see or hear anything at the starting line so really all we were doing was sitting there waiting for team 20 to speed by us on their way out to the trail. My niece Sydney had made a bunch of colored signs that she, and Thane, and Jana's three kids held up to cheer Tammy and Jana on as she went by.
The Irondog is the snowmachine race that Todd Palin has won several times and usually Sarah is there to do some announcing and get the race started. I have a strong dislike for Sarah Palin and all of the guys at work give me a hard time about it. Dale actually got me a HUGE wall poster of just her face for Christmas and I find all sorts of Sarah Palin stuff in my office that the guys leave for me. I've never put any of my political thoughts on my blog because that isn't what I want it to be about. I only mention my dislike for Sarah Palin because on our ride back across the lake Rachelle, Thane and I were in the back seat of my parents suburban and Rachelle asked me "So did you see your girlfriend out there?". I hadn't even finished saying no and that I wasn't hoping to see her either when Thane looked at me and remembering our conversation about Tiger Woods said "Dad, you have a girlfriend? Mom is NOT going to like this!". It took a few minutes to talk my way out of that one.

Sunday was much like Friday, I really don't recall doing much of anything except dreading the redeye flight I had that night to get back to Merritt by Monday evening.

No comments: