We left bright and early on Saturday for an amazing adventure out on Vancouver Island. We were traveling in my 1975 Volkswagen Westfalia camper van and brought Nathan's younger siblings with us! (to prepare for such a journey, we had the van completely inspected by a Volkswagen mechanic) We left Edmonton singing songs and playing games, very excited for our journey.
We crossed the border into British Columbia at around noon. We got gas in Valemount but we decided to go a bit further before stopping for lunch. About 25kms outside of Valemount we pulled over and ate a relaxing lunch. I had a nap. We remarked how well the van was driving and how we were making really good time.
Just after leaving our lunch spot, the van started to smell funny and I could tell something was wrong. It's really hard to tell though because the motor is in the back. At the next roadside pull off, we pulled over and Nathan and I got out and looked at the motor. It was really hot and seemed like it was overheating... Understandable from the steep mountain drive. We waited a bit but decided we needed to carry on until we had cell phone reception and then we would call someone.
Well, we drove out of the pullout and the engine started to make a weird noise. We went for about 2 kms and then the engine just stopped. We were stuck on the side of the road with no idea what was wrong and with no cell service.
I checked all the things I knew to check but there was an oil spill in the middle of the highway so we knew we needed a mechanic. After a quick conference, we decided that Nathan needed to hitch hike back to Valemount to get a tow truck. We also decided that we needed to get the van back to the pullout where we would be safe.
Nathan and his brother pushed the van backwards, uphill for about 2 kms while I drove and his little sister filmed the occasion.
After we got safely into the pullout, Nathan started to look for a ride. We tried to get people to stop but they wouldn't. Eventually, he decided to walk towards Valemount and continue to get a ride.
Meanwhile, the kids and I hung out in the van and I tried to control my anxiety. We read books, played games, foraged for berries, wandered down to the little creek beside us, and did everything to keep our minds off the situation. We actually had quite a but of fun, besides the fact that Nathan's brother kept getting attacked by giant beatles which made his little sister scream.
But then, Nathan was gone for four hours and it was getting to be around supper time. Finally, a guy stopped to see if we were ok. He said that he used to drive a VW van and so he always stops for VW people. He took a look at the motor and I explained that NAthan was walking. There wasn't anything he could do, so I suggested he pick up Nathan since he was heading that way anyways.
About half an hour later, a giant tow truck came to pick up the van! Yay!
But, he didn't pick up Nathan because there wasn't room for him in the tow truck. By the time we drove back to Valemount, he was no longer walking.
When we got to the mechanic place (which is also uHaul, the tow company, the Purolator, and the Greyhound station) Nathan was sitting there. We had a mock dramatic reunion, although secretly I was really glad that he wasn't eaten by bears or by someone who picked him up.
Nathan ended up walking just under 20 kms before the guy who stopped to talk to me picked him up. He guy remarked to Nathan that he probably won't get a ride this close to Alberta... Haha. Honestly though, I can't believe that in 4 hours, more than one person didn't stop to help us. In fact, as soon as we made eye contact they avoided us.
Anyways, no one works on Sundays in Valemount, so we had to wait at least two nights. They also said that the probably can't fix it anyways because they dont have Volkswagen expertise. We settled into a gross yet overpriced hotel.
By the next day, everyone in Valemount knew us and asked us how our van was. We walked around the entire town, played at the park and in the pool.
On Monday, the had looked at the van by about 11 am and had said they couldn't fix it. So, we began to make new plans. We moved to a nice yet cheaper hotel with a waterside.
Yeah, that was the extent of our plans.
I made phone calls, canceled reservations and tried to figure out how to entertain kids in Valemount. We visited the tourist info booth and found out that the salmon were running. We made the little hike down to the river and watched the salmon. It was actually amazing and proved to be hours of enjoyment over multiple days.
We also visited the little Valemount museum. For $8 for all of us, it was a pretty cool place. My favorite part was gathering awesome ideas of things to replicate and learning about the Sasquatch woman.
On Tuesday morning, my dad called and he offered to come get us since he was working relatively near us. When he got there, I felt so relieved! I had been feeling really claustrophobic in the tiny mountain town. We had a nice drive home listening to The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
We still have to go back Saturday to get the van.... So the adventure continues.
Even though we didn't make it out to the island, we had a ton of fun talking and being goofs together.
The best part of the whole adventure is that today is my birthday and we are heading out to see my family at the lake. I get to spend my birthday with all the other weirdos that I love!