Friday, December 07, 2007

Road Trip to Eureka, USA

OK, I owe you an update on what's been going on around here, but really - what happened on Tuesday deserves its own special mention.

One of the events that was scheduled for the catchup blog was the pending arrival of my new room mate, Terri. She was my basement tenant in 04/05, went to Phoenix to do a 2-year grad programme at the U, and back in October mailed me to ask if the suite was available, and if not, would I like a room mate?

This was crazy: Terri phoned me at 4:00 Tuesday afternoon to say she was just south of the boarder. The Canadian government wouldn't let her bring her truck across because she was financing it and didn't own it outright. The decision was made very quickly that a road trip south was in my very immediate future!

By 5:00 I was on my way to the south end of Calgary - you guessed it - through rush hour traffic! I turned on the radio, curious to see what I was in for music-wise for my impromptu drive:

AC / DC - You Shook Me All Night Long

Perfect. And as luck would have it, ALL the music that came across the airwaves until I lost Calgary reception was GOOD! I've kept a mental note of the tunes and given time I may release a Turtle Tunes disc.

My trip was to take me south of Calgary through Okotoks, Black Diamond, Longview, to the #3 highway west to Fernie, British Columbia, then south to the American boarder to - you guessed it - Eureka, Montana!

According to Mapquest, Calgary to Eureka is a 4.5 hour run. I was on schedule for about half of that until I blew out a tire. Yup, that's right, not just flat, blown out. It was the rear-passenger-side tire, thankfully. Had it been a front tire it might have increased the scary-factor, steering-wise and all. I pulled over, but it really wasn't an appropriate space to change a tire. The shoulder was narrow, and the ground sloped away from the road.

My first thought was "Great, I'm going to be late."

My second thought was "How am I going to change the tire with no road-shoulder to speak of?

With the 4-way flashers on I crawled the van forward about 300 meters where I found an adjoining road into a farmer's field. The mouth of the road was wide, gravel-packed and relatively flat. I pulled out the jack and tire iron and proceeded to lower the spare from beneath the van. The only thing I didn't have with me was a flashlight. Although not impossible, this was going to be unpleasant, changing a 1-ton tire in the dark.

Then the Universe sent me a light - among other things. An SUV pulled in and the fellow driving rolled down the window and asked,

"You need a hand?"

I couldn't believe it. I didn't ask for THIS.

"I'll pull around to the other side of your van so we have some light..."

What amazing luck.

My new-found friend, Kevin, putting the final touches on the 8 lug nuts of the replaced tire.

Kevin, as it turned out, used to work for the military in Calgary and knows the dad of a high school friend of mine. How's that for "small world"? Turns out that Kevin also lives in Calgary and was on his way to Cranbrook (a town beyond Fernie where I was scheduled to turn south).

Back on the road in 40 minutes, I was both pleased with and blown away by this fellow's generosity and good-samaritanship.

After exchanging business cards and shaking hands, Kevin followed me south to the #3 highway. We stopped at the next town, Belleview, AB, but finding only a gas station with no real place to sit in for a coffee, decided we would touch base in Calgary instead.

Back on the road, I relayed my adventures to Terri. She had in the meantime, found a storage facility for her truck. I was to meet her on the Canadian side of the boarder to transfer her belongings to my van, then follow her south to Eureka where she would store her Jeep.


Terri, Emarie and Me in front of the Jeep the Canadian government refused to allow her to bring into the country

It took us about 45 minutes to transfer everything and check in with Customs to inform them to our intended travel. Lucky for me, since I don't have a passport as yet, that the new rule doesn't take effect until January of 2008. Lucky for me they didn't take exception to Terri's bumper stickers...




On crossing the boarder, I was asked by the American guard,

"Have you ever been arrested for anything that you know of?"

I had to process that statement for a bit before I replied. It struck me as odd - being the English Language guy I am.

"...that I know of"???

I just about made a smart-ass remark, but thought better of it. He was tired, and probably had to ask the same stupid question 60 times a day. All in all, they were pretty laid back.

The Jeep just barely fit in the storage unit; in fact, the roll top door curved outward as it passed the front bumper. We had to take the spare tire off the back of the vehicle to make it fit!


Terri's friend Emarie had never been to a Tim Horton coffee shop. We decided to stop in Fernie to take in a Tim's and a bite to eat.

Back at the point where I lost the tire I started feeling pretty tired, my eyes were sore and I felt I needed a break. Besides, at this point it was close to 3AM.


Terri took the wheel to get us to Calgary by 5:30.

I emailed all the appropriate people whom I had informed of my journey, then hit my pillow, but hard!

Two sleeps and three days in, Terri's settled (mostly) in her new room. There will be a blog post descibing the transformation of my office space to her living quarters, but for now it suffices to say she's most comfortable at Chez-Turtle.

Did I mention the dogs? I think not. Terri has two Daschounds. Ginger and Diesel. Ginger was with her back in '04, and Diesel is pretty new to the clan. It's been a bit of an adjustment living with only Tiki to living with another human and two more animals, but I think it's going to work out well for all of us. Terri has agreed to help with a number of reno projects around here, and I can't wait to get on it!

More later on this same station.

Turtle out.

5 comments:

Anvilcloud said...

Phew!

Sarah Elaine said...

Quite the adventure!

ipm said...

DUDE!!!

You RAWK!!!

well done there...

sari said...

Sounds like a busy trip!

There's nothing better than good music for a road trip, is there??

Glad you weren't hurt when the tire blew out.

Runa said...

Well written article.

About Me

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Calgary, Alberta, Canada
English student, Pottery enthusiast, Yoga novice and lover of all people. I make friends over a warm handshake and a beverage. I discover, every day, someone willing to help me along my path.