October 28th 1981

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 3
Leaving Kelowna

A big day, fraught with changes.  It was Val’s turn to make breakfast for me.  A real feast, since yesterday we’d bought half a dozen real English crumpets, so we ate 3 each.  Took some time for final domestic things – the last bit of clearing up, packing, loading the car, and while it was absolutely pissing down.  We walked over to say goodbye to Mr K (I’d said goodbye to the others the night before.)  He was just as crazy as ever, still talking about “discing the mice!”  And so, farewell.  Into Kelowna, to cash a cheque, change a tape (Wings for Joni Mitchell) + celebrate our departure with coffee + a hot cinnamon bun.  Then down to Osoyoos to get our visas extended – that didn’t prove too difficult, though it did take quite a while – that’s bureaucracy for you.  We asked for a month, he gave us 2, so that was OK.  Val finally managed to get thro’ to Liz – we said we’d see her soon.  In fact, it turned out that Vancouver was still 250 miles, so quite a bit of driving to go.

We were listening to our tapes going along – they were great, especially Mr Gabriel.  It started to get dark, + the weather really closed in, really foggy + unpleasant, as we were driving thro’ the mountain pass from Princeton to Hope.  Then we hit some roadworks, really rocky.  Then… disaster.  Driving along, the road suddenly dropped 6 inches.  Terrific bang.  So I stopped, thinking I’d blown a tyre.  Got out, + it was worse, the whole wheel had caved in.  I hitched back, in the back of an open pick-up (freezing) to a service station, + the owner there came straight out with a pick-up.  When he lifted the car up, we could see the wheel had virtually fallen off – a very expensive repair, so we sold it to the guy for the cost of the tow.  He was good tho’ – gave us a lift to the bus station.

We rang Liz again, + got instructions for buses, then managed to load all our bags + boxes on the Greyhound for Vancouver.  At Langley tho’, Liz came on the bus + dragged us off – she + Brent came out.  Took us home, sat around, drank.

I think, before moving on to Oct 29th, I should deal a little more fully with the events of the 28th – it was, after all, quite a momentous day.  When the moment came, when we slammed over the drop in the road, I knew as soon as I looked at the wheel that it was time to say goodbye to our trusty Pontiac – well, it was a bit obvious.  It didn’t really come as a surprise.  When we first bought the car + got it checked over, the guy there warned us about it, + didn’t recommend it even for the drive to Seattle, + we managed near as dammit 5000 miles, so that we can’t complain.  But still, we weren’t in any doubt as to whether we should get rid of it.  The garage guy was quite nice, tho’ he didn’t give us much money for the car, just the cost of towing us from where we broke down into Hope.  However, he did give me a cup of coffee when I hitched out there, + he gave us both a ride to the Greyhound station.  From then on, it was just like a movie.

All of a sudden we were left in the middle of a dark car park, surrounded by bags + boxes.  Somehow, we managed to get the boxes onto the bus, one under the seat, one on each of our laps, the bags put away in the luggage compartment.  We were sat there loaded up, peering out over the top into the night as we zapped towards Vancouver.  Val’s phone call to Liz had been rushed + confused, so it looked as though we would have to catch a bus from the bus station out to their place – Brent didn’t have any lights on the back of his car.  However, at Langley, Liz trotted on to the bus + pulled us off it.  A very nice surprise.

Their place is good – a rent-free house (so that has to be good) small + cosy.  We had a nice friendly evening – talking, talking, drinking home-brew + wine.  Brent was very quiet, the same as he’d been the time we’d seen him before.

And so, in one day, we lose both our cosy cabin and our bed on wheels.  As you will be aware, it had not proved the most reliable of machines, and had been in various repair shops ever since we had had it, along with numerous tows (some my fault, some not) so it was fitting that its final journey was on the back of a tow truck.  Those of you who remember us buying it will recall the garage telling us the front bar was suspect… and so it proved.  But it had provided us with a certain amount of security, knowing we had somewhere to sleep, and (probably) a way to continue our journey.

The irony of breaking down just outside Hope was not lost on us, and led to quite a few jokes.

But now, most definitely on to another stage of our trip, but with the comfort and companionship of old friends from Cornwall.


3 Responses


    . did the road actually drop 6 inches as you drove along the roadworks section causing the front end of the car to collapse or was it just the sensation of the front end of the car collapsing…?

    • chriswalters

      No, it actually did drop – part of the roadworks – and the jolt was enough to snap the front bar.

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