Thursday, May 22, 2008

So close yet so far.

After over 2 days on the road the house of high school friend, Felix Hirbour, was a welcome reprieve. It offered the first non peanut butter and jelly sandwhich meal in 2 days, as well as an opportunity to not worry about the next turn, next gas fill up, or next breakdown. Not so welcome however, was the plethora of Tequila shots Mr. Hirbour felt the need to serve.

Our ddd, (designated driver Dave) did quite well to get us into the truck only 3 hours behind schedule, and did even better to drive the next 8 hours from Drummondville, QC. Without a third driver, I’m sure we’d still be in Saskatchewan, that is if we hadn’t changed our mind altogether and turned back for Calgary before even reaching QC.

The only side effect that progress experienced as a result of our previous nights homage to Mr. Hose Cuervo, was an un-required stop for fuel. (Our fuel gauge was out of whack, so we were tracking the amount of fuel left in the tank by tracking kilometers driven since last fillup. After both falling asleep, and giving the wrong answer twice to the DD, the Co-pilot reading the spreadsheet finally admitted he was too drunk to know how many kilometers they had driven.) As a result the DDD decided it was best to fill up the tank then to end up at a standstill in QC in addition to ON.

That was the fault of one of the co pilots, the second managed to save face until after two fill ups, one provincial border crossing, and a coffee stop, he woke up and said did we leave Felix’s yet?

Sobered up, and approximately 600km from Drummondville, it was calculated that if we filled both of our fuel tanks, this should be our last fill up until we reach our final destination. So we roll on and into Petro Canada. Both Tanks are fueled, and to the devastation of the peanut butter and jam per hour count, we pick up a bag full of A & W bacon and eggers.

So here goes nothing, let’s start this beast for the last leg…. Okay, no really start her up.

Funny Dave, let’s go.

No, that would just be a little too ironic, 300 km from our destination and she won’t start.

Right, so the saga drags on……. For some reason, I was much less discouraged than I should have been. Possibly it was just denial. I really didn’t think that this close to our destination anything was going to stop us for any considerable amount of time.

So out we go, push the truck to the side, and for 6 of the longest hours of my life we alternate between trying to start the truck, coordinating a drive, and waiting for the drive.

From our previous breakdown, one thing we learned was that there is no need to stay in the truck when times are bad, and without discussing it, we all took our waiting spots 50 feet
apart at separate locations around the parking lot. Again we found moods were growing sour. Nobody had dropped the f bomb but communication was growing ever blunter with the minute.

Finally, Dave reverts to last week’s advice and takes the situation into his own hands.

“Do you have that Frisbee Tyler and Marcia gave you for your birthday? “

“Ha, you know what I do.. “

So. Dave and I decided that our hands were tired and we were going to make the best of it.

It’s remarkable what a Frisbee can do. We hadn’t tossed it back and forth two times before we were both laughing and fairly care free about the predicament. It’s hard to say whether or not, without Frisbee, we would have reverted back to our pass the f#$king wrench selves or not, and you know what I don’t really feel the need to guess.

All I do know is that we did make the best of things. And 6.5 hours after pulling into the petro Canada, for the second time in three days, we left in the cab of a truck towing our own.

I’m sure this is not how any of us imagined the last leg. Personally I foresaw it ending via a fiery crash over a guard rail, or at least with a Ben Johnsonian arms raised top speed arrival, but alas, as we stair at the grill of our truck through the rear window, looks like this will be one son of a b#$%h anti-climactic finish.

But you know what, in light of all that’s happened. I think I may prefer it.

Until next time,


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lighten up during lightning.

Pending gloom

Driving from Calgary to Marten River, a small village 60km North of North Bay, was by all accounts, much more efficient and much less eventful than driving, or being towed if you will, from Marten River to North Bay.

However our method of propulsion unfortunately wasn't the only thing that changed.

Upon leaving Calgary, one of the first pieces I received from a man much wiser than I was, "try and get along".

Well, it was advice well needed, but unfortunately not well heeded.

As three travelers frantically determined how to start moving east again, the god of mood was breaking egg shells and throwing them under our feet.

No showers, no sleep, no nutritional diversity (you can only dress up peanut butter and jam so much). Combine this with a mechanical break down devastating displacement goals and assaulting wallets and my recommendation to any betting man would be to put his last dollar on an interestingly tense situation.

A measurable symptom of this pending pessimism was the dramatically increasing use of the f bomb.

“ don’t even f#$king bother”

are you “f$%king stupid.”

“get your f%^king feet down. “

“don’t f#$king touch that you idiot…. F$%k you’re stupid..”

In any unfavorable situation, one always has two options to relieve the pressure. You can change the situation, or rise above the situation.

Although I was 3000km from my bed, it was pouring rain, and I would probably be days late for work, I Still seriously contemplated getting out of the misery ridden truck cab, crossing the street and putting out my thumb for a long, wet hike back to Calgary. However, practicality and logic took over and I decided to bear the abuse. So, if the situation isn’t easily changed, how can I rise above?

Rising above is not always easy, but it IS always possible. In retrospect some steps to follow;

Weigh the light to lightening. We had had 30-40 successful and safe hours. A 5-hour delay was really quite insignificant. Had we have kept driving we very well could have found a moose crashing through our windshield making broken bones our priorities not broken u joints.

Look for the light. Innumerable negatives fought to keep any positive outlook from breaking through, However some silver lining could be found, for example the breakdown got us off the road refreshing our minds for safer driving ahead, we saved gas money by the detour, and we saved driving time by not going to Bancroft.

Light illuminates logic Upon arriving at Canadian Tire, we had a mission. Change the u-joint and get moving. Ask yourself, what will keep you more productive, a mind open to innovative ideas? Or a cloudy gloomy pair of glasses coloring every sense that crosses your eyes, ears, mouth, nose, and touch. Without question it is the former.

Opening our mind for a few minutes allowed us to rethink the situation, figure it out, and get out of there. It is not impossible that had we not opened up to innovation and external output, we could still be at the North Bay Canadian Tire.

It is critical when shit is bad to say to yourself, I’m not helping anyone by being negative and I’m going to be way more effective in changing the situation if it only has me physically handcuffed, instead of physically and mentally.

Laugh and relax In 2001 I found myself sitting curled up on the floor in St. Anne’s university dorm room dealing with the fact that I had crossed the laws clearly set out for me by teachers on this high school trip, and that there was the possibility of suspension if not expulsion being handed to me.

“You know Luke, in a few years we’ll look back and laugh”. Said fellow Accused Jason Tait.

“Ha, we’ll probably laugh in a few months” I said somewhat disbelievingly.

“I’ll laugh right now if you will” he said. He kept his word when in about 30 seconds we were busting a gut despite the load we had placed on our backs.

The situation held incredible relevance rolling around a rainy parking lot in North Bay

Employing the above principles is often easier said than done. Two examples of how I know this

1 We were far from care free campers when the shit hit the fan in ON. Mood fell as a priority and pass the wrench became pass the fucking wrench. It took all we had to keep any open mind, and as a whole I’d say we failed fairly miserably.

2. my computer just crashed halfway and I lost about 1 /4 of this blog. After taking the computer and bashing it into the desk until the keys fell out, I rose above and told Dave to pass me his f%king laptop.

I challenge you to try this. Next time the guy on the train puts his bottle filled garbage bag on your white khakis. Or your car gets hit and run in a parking lot. Yeah fate has you physically beat, but you can turn the tables a lot quicker if you’re smiling.

A mere 15 hours after our break down, we rolled into the gloriously clean and dry house of our high school friend Felix “the cat “ Hirbour.

Drinks in hand, watching Felix flip 6 delicious inch and a half thick chops on the BBQ, life couldn’t have been better. Stories were told of our last meeting 4 years ago that had us laughing so hard it would have been impossible for the untrained eye to identify us as the same gargamel Mechanics of North Bay. (that’s right, a smurf reference)

Now, if I can only rise above the challenge of Jose Quervo that my colleagues have just put in front of me It’ll be a favorable end to a not so favorable day.

Stay tuned over the next day or two as I detail our ride from QC where the above principles of light hearted living are tested again.

Luke A

Beating the lightening....

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The new breakfast of champions

On the road again… playing music with my friends…

For those of you not completely informed on automobile mechanics the universal joint transfer power from the drive shaft to the rear wheels. No universal, no power to your rear wheels.

A text from Josh DeCoste said “ I wouldn’t laugh at a text saying you blew a u joint (universal) at the best of times much less from Ontario”.

The You-Tube video in the last post may make that somewhat clear, however he did his in a shop, with the drive shaft off the truck wheras we, well Dustin, completed this in a rainy parking lot with the shaft still on the truck. No room, no tools, no dry anything, and certainly no smiles.

So,….. I would be remiss in not commending the work of road trip of the year team, Dustin Swinkels, CEO, Operations Manger David Hennigar, and Project Coordinator Luke DeCoste.

David Hennigar points the following as the TSN turning point of the trip.

Dustin as the tow truck pulls into Canadian Tire “ That’s a good sign, there’s a tim horton’s right across from Canadian Tire”

Tow Truck Driver “ Ha, There’s one in the Canadian Tire”

Dustin, in retrospect grinning like a traveler back on the road after delays laughs “ ha, right on. A little too perfect.”

Personally I think the turning point was somewhere following the conclusion made while rolling around under a truck on a piece of drenched cardboard that we weren’t getting this u joint out without some acetlyne torches. (Thankfully, this was later proved false)

Currently we’re back east bound and down about 130 km west of Ottawa. The revised as f$*k schedule, shows we’ll hit our destination only 4 hours late on a 60 hour trip. “Not too baed” especially considering we rolled out of North Bay 9 hours late. Tonight at 21 hundred hours local time we’ll roll into Felix Hirbour’s for BBQ, burnt Nintendo stories, and best of all, a road crew with a fully functioning 2002 duramax diesel..

All the best,

Luke A. DeCoste

Cautiously Optimistic

Calling onstar at 4am local time to led us to finding out that because we didn't pay for the service of onstar we were up shit creek, and that the cozy feeling displayed in the commercials cost $x per month.

"Time for a siesta" Dustin as we buried 3 weary faces into three dirty pillows.

Rising 3 hours later, at 7:am local time, we began kicking tires and passing around ideas.

A few minutes later and we're putting the truck into 4 wheel drive which allowed the front and operating drive shafts pull the camper and truck into a parking lot next door.

We didn’t say “uh-oh” but we likely both thought it as Dave and I watched a probably shop owner storming towards us.

“So what am I going to do charge you $40.00 per day.”

With his face only 4” from Dave Hennigar’s, it was clear by the amount of spit hitting Dave’s face with the words that this guy wasn’t kidding.

Dave having played the role of that angry ontarion many times before had him soon apologising for overreacting.

Calling the owner of the camper, Paul, Dustin explained that he had two choices, pick up the camper 60km north of North Bay, or have no camper.

Need less to say Paul located a truck that he couldn’t previously locate.

At the same time, I’m on the phone with “Car Care Centre” signing up for a 1 hour tow truck and a $185.00 bill.

“Neutral” Cries Dustin from below the truck

“Neutral” I confirm after selecting the position on the gear shift.

With the exception of the word being cried varying back and forth from “neutral” to “park”.

After two return trips to Canadian tire to buy bigger hammer’s, 3 coffees we’ve completed the task shown in the video below in a rainy North Bay Parking Lot. The only difference between us and the video is that we were short the proper clothes, tools, and dry shop. However we’ve got plenty of cheer to make up for that…. (Okay, that’s nothing but a bold and unrepentant lie…. But we are making progress and growing more opptimistic

Where does this leave us? currently we’re 7 hours behind schedule but saved 4 hours by not driving camper to Bancroft. We’re also out about $250.00 but we’ll save $75.00 in fuel.. .

The problem now is getting the u-joint back in, essentially reverse of that shown in the video.

We must be making some progress as Dave just checked in and told me to start researching how to get out of here and onto the highway.

For godsakes, with 3 iron rings and a Canadian tire 100m away surely to fuck we can fix things.

Wish us luck, tell it to stop raining and stay tuned for further updates.


Temagimie ON

Dustin would probably kill me if he knew I was updating the blog right now.

As i type, Dave is putting the truck into 4 wheel drive. Last night at 1:30 am we blew the rear universal on the drive shaft which is currently hanging from below the truck. We're going to try and limp into a parking lot next door, then hope for a miracle that we can find a universal for a 2002 GMC Sierra 2500 somewhere in North Bay which is 60km south of us along the highway 11. .

Stay tuned

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Giddy up Giddy up Giddy Oh…

Giddy up Giddy up Giddy Oh…

Note, this blog was conceived, typed, reviewed, revised, and after considerable difficulty finding internet on the air card, posted from a 2002 duramax chevy towing a 26 foot bumper toe camper and 187803948 Million Litres of dieseil………………………

After 14 premature warnings Dave finally hit the mark when he said I think the border is just around this turn.. Sure enough out of friendly Manitoba and into Ontario… More to discover.

So the OPP have lived up to their Notoriety when we spotted them only 12 minutes into the province.

By km, we’ve completed 30% of the road trip of the year. I’m beginning to feel that I am just part of a continuously moving machine that will go whether we want it to or not. The little engine that will. Despite 6 vehicle stops in 1500 km we’ve only shut down the beast twice.

As I type, 20 minutes into the province we meet the second OPP car… at least after 3 fuel ups we’re finally carrying under the legal limit of fuel. 3 drivers has likely saved out lives. Dustin has 726 km under his belt, while dave and I trail behind at 443km and 342 km respectively. I’m up next, which is fine as it will allow me to move from the back and out of this yogic leg interlock I’ve been holding for the past few hours. Other than that, I’m feeling pretty peppery.

Currently, Dave and Dustin are now criticizing poor traffic control efforts on a construction site we’ve passed. While I tell them to at least roll down the window an tell the workers to their face.

Dustin’s role is to make sure nothing goes wrong, like santa clause except he knows what you’re doing when he’s sleeping.

Dave’s role appears to provide helpful yet unbelievably random information about Canada’s transportation system…” in the early fifties Regina built a ring road that bypasses the city so we shouldn’t have to slow down too much….(This was hours before we approached the city).

My job ? chronicler, project coordinator, and apparently mother… who wants yogourt? Yeah, grapefruit is gross, but it’s good for you.. eat it. Hell somebody has to stabilize the PB & J count / hour. For godsakes we’ve fallen from 0.66 sandwhiches / hour to a current and unbelievably malnutritious 0.25…

Some quotable quotes;
Ø Nuclear Waste could pass grade 12
Ø I can’t wait until I’m in Brandon
Ø Pukie check the hubcabs while the big boys fuel up
Ø Guys If we get some internet we got to figure out where the “fuck” were going”

Right… so I better post this and get on that last quote…. Enjoy…..

Friday, May 16, 2008

5% down and 33% behind.

Pearl jam faded out and the wallflowers faded in. Its so hot in this cab I think my body parts are turning to liquid. We’re only 2.5 hours out of Calgary yet somehow we’re already 30% behind schedule. Apparently the camper starts to sway when you’re above 100 km/hr…… We've slowed down a bit, and eyes are starting to stay on the road ahead instead of nervously watching the camper behind.

Although thing may sound a little dismal, we’ve at least tried to stack the odds in our favor by way of 5 cell phones, a satellite radio, 2 laptops with satellite aircards, , police radar detector, gps, engine monitoring computer, exhaust temperature gauge, a full cooler , 1500L of fuel.. oh yeah, and 3 iron rings.

Dave and Dustin are talking construction, and complaining about Sherriff's and i'm recalculating our arrival times based on the new speeds. Looks like we've travelled 4.4% of the way to our final destination.

Stay tuned CP#1 Luke

Copilots and supplies

The Supplies.......

Reluctant copilot #2

Fearful girlfriend

Good News Story # 1

The dialogue went a little somethign like this,

T-2 days,

It's going to be a good time for sure..

Well why don't you come.

T-1 days,
next day, yeah you guys will have a good time, i'm kind of a little jealous

Well then come then.

....(few hours later) ......About to hit purchase button on west jet
"I'm trusting your judgment just as much as mine in this decision."

And so, the 2nd co-pilot was born. I would say this will increase our safety by well over 35%.

T-0 days 8 hours

Copilot#2 - To Quote my roomate " This is something a 19 year old would do, not you"

Co Pilot # 1 (Luke) - I'll be pretty surprised if you're not laughing about this in a month

CP #2 - I'm already laughing and we haven't left yet.

CP #1 - That's just fear

CP # 2 - No, I'll have to finish with denial before i can reach fear.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Insert suspenseful music here.

The things i find myself doing only to be able to say i've done them.

What is it you ask?

I'll give you a hint, Burt Reynolds would be proud... no, i've already shaved my mustache so its not that.

Check by over the week, i'll have you more details by days end Friday May 16th.