Well, we made it safely back from our mini vacation. On Thursday Aug. 16, we packed our camping stuff into the truck and headed up to Lac le Jeune which is near Merritt. We were intending to camp there over the weekend with a number of other families who attend our church. We had just passed the first snow shed (tunnel) and begun the first serious climb out of Hope when the temp on the dashboard started to climb. We were about 2/3’rds of the way up the hill and the temp had hit around 3/4’s of the gauge. Not in the red yet, but high enough that I thought we should probably pull off and let things cool down. There is a large pull out area there but just as we pulled off, the temp spiked to the top, and steam began to billow from the engine. Unfortunately, this was when we discovered that particular stretch of highway has no cell phone access at all and we had no easy way to contact anyone we knew to call for help.
We flagged down a few cars/trucks, and while people had many theories about what was wrong, nobody knew for sure. We sent 3-4 cars/semi’s on their way asking them to please call for a tow truck once they got cell access but really had no idea if anything was coming to rescue us. Finally, after around 2 1/2 hours we were seen by one of the other members of our group who pulled over to help.
While they were there with us, a tow truck showed up and asked if we needed help. Unfortunately he was NOT there to help us, but on his way to pick up someone who was further up. However, he promised to call home base and find out if a truck was on the way or not. Then we continued to wait. Eventually, we decided that our friends should take Carolanne and Julia with them in their truck the rest of the way to the camp site, while Ben and I would wait with the truck. We couldn’t fit in their vehicle anyway. Carolanne would then try and get a tow truck for us in Merritt and make sure it was actually coming to rescue us. Twenty minutes or so after they left, we finally saw the other tow truck (the one we had spoken to earlier) coming back down the hill. He pulled over and let us know that home base was sending a truck right away. That other truck arrived within five minutes.
After Ben helped the tow truck driver load our Jimmy onto the flatbed, we got back on the road. The tow truck driver suggested that he could drop Ben and I off at Larson hill to be picked up by our other group member who was intending to come back and get us. What we didn’t know was that Larson hill is pretty much in the center of the middle of nowhere and we were still an hour and a half from camp.
We were dropped off at Larson hill at around 8:00 pm with all our stuff and that is where I took the first picture (above) which I also posted to Facebook. This set off an unexpected flurry of comments, well wishes and offers of help. Thanks especially to Matthew Tait for sending a truck. I have to say, being there in the middle of nowhere watching the sun go down and hoping our friends can eventually find us is a VERY disconcerting feeling. Oh, and shortly after I posted the pic, my phone battery decided to take a vacation too so we couldn’t communicate with anyone. (normally it lasts a lot longer than just a day) We also weren’t sure if our friends would even find us easily. After dark, we saw a vehicle pull off the road in the distance, wait there for a while, then leave again. We had no idea if that was our ride. It got very dark, and the breeze was somewhat chilly. I also had no idea what sort of wildlife was in the area. I didn’t relish being a grizzly snack.
Eventually though, at around 10:15 pm, our friend Keith Jordan arrived back with his truck and we loaded everything in and took off for camp. Almost as soon as we got in the truck, Ben was asleep. We arrived at the camp site somewhere around midnight, and promptly began setting up the tent.
Unfortunately, we had left our cell phone charging cables in the truck, and as such could not recharge the phones. On Friday we borrowed Keiths cell (that happened a lot this trip) and put a call through to Kal Tire in Hope to ask if they had our Jimmy. They did have it, and after some examination called us back and let us know that we’d blown the bottom out of our radiator. They said they should be able to have it repaired within the day.
Camping as a family with no access to a car is surprisingly complicated. The campsite we were in was QUITE rustic. It did have out-houses with flush toilets, but that’s about all it had. Our site was way at the back, quite a way up the hill, and about a 15-20 minute walk from the lake. (30 with a cranky 2 year old) The air mattress we brought is very nice (borrowed from the Walls) but it requires 110 Volts of power to run the built-in inflation pump. That’s somewhat difficult without a vehicle. We had also been planning to put Cookie in her crate in the car for nights, but that didn’t work out either. She joined us in the tent which turned out ok.
I have to say, the weather was gorgeous though hot. The climate there is very dry, and during the days I think it generally hit around 36 C. The nights however would get quite cold and were very clear. The night skies were absolutely amazing, giving us the ability to see the actual path of the Milky Way. (Julia thought the stars would be prettier if they were pink… girls!) We saw quite a few meteors, and more stars than could be counted. There were piles of chimpmunks running around, and I heard wolves howling on the far side of the lake almost every night. (though my dad tells me they were Loons)
On Saturday, my parents very kindly drove out to Hope, picked up our car, and drove both vehicles out to the campsite to spend part of the day on the lake with the grandkids. That part of the trip was actually quite restful. It was very nice to finally have our lives back “in order”. Today (Sunday) we drove back relatively uneventfully and arrived back home at around 3:30.
Many thanks to all who generously helped us during this time. Thanks Keith and Donna Jordan for being SUCH great friends and support to us when we needed them. Thanks again Matt for sending a truck. (Please thank the driver for us as well for taking the time to look for us) Thanks Dad and Mom for making us part of your day on Saturday. (I know that’s a LOT of driving for one day) Thanks to everyone else for your prayers and kind words. It was an adventure, but I’m looking forward to a bit of normal routine at work tomorrow. 🙂