Route 66 :: June '97 -- October '97

Subject: Hee Haw, Moose Jaw!
Date: Tue, 22 Jul 1997 20:48:52 -0700

00:00 Prairie Oasis RV Park; Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan :: 15 JUL 97

The title of this piece was an often heard expression in my years growing up. Old family friends, fellow RCAF folks, were once stationed here in Moose Jaw (nearly as unlikely a name for a town as Goombungee) and whenever talk turned to this small Canadian prairie city the inevitable result was a loud, boisterous, "HEE HAW, MOOSE JAW!"

At least that's the way I remember it.

In any case, I've been driving a few days. My calendar shows 10 days have elapsed since departing Vancouver July 4. As some of you already know, getting out of Vancouver was a test of perseverance and patience. Without detailing the boring minutiae of the ordeal, suffice it to say even a week after getting the truck back from them I was still finding loose screws, improperly installed coolant hoses (that subsequently blew out) and whole parts missing. Everything seems operable now, but we'll see how long that lasts...

Although Sunday, the 5th of July, in Kelowna was kind of nice, as was the Thursday following it, I'm more than a little glad to have left all that BC rain behind. CBC Radio is keeping me company so far this trip, but I had to switch off a couple times last week when every hour brought a report lamenting the "wettest 9 month period in recorded history." It was really great to finally leave the Rockies and all that rain behind. Of course, I promptly ran into one of those freakish hail storms.

00:00 Upsala, Ontario :: 16 JUL 97

It happened to be Stampede time in Calgary...and I also happened to need four new tires for the RV. So, rather than trundling off ever eastward in the morning, I ran a few errands and stopped by a tire shop. "No problem. I'm sure we've got the tires. Just call back with the tire sizes." Well, it wasn't quite that easy. Nothing ever is with travelling, it seems.

Apparently, the tires on the trailer are older than the trailer. "H78 - 15," I told Bert over the phone.

"Err, what?" replied Bert.

"H78 - 15"

"Hmm. Nobody's used 'H' numbers in 15 or 20 years."

"But, Bert," said I, "the trailer's an '86!"

"Yeah, kinda interestin' isn't it? ... They're probably a 220 or a 225. Just bring the trailer 'round."

So I did. After some "Hmmm"ing and "Haw"ing, and a couple phone calls, and Bert realizing they were bias ply rather than radials, we figured out they were indeed 225s. A few hours later, Rolling Thunder sported 4 new 8-ply steel belted radials, a thumbs up on the brakes and freshly greased and packed bearings. I knew the tires were a liability and had planned on purchasing new ones immediately upon reaching a province without sales tax: Alberta. But since I've owned the trailer, the wheel hubs had never been opened so I wasn't sure what was going on in there. Driving with a known liability is one thing-it's something you can keep your eye on. However, whatever was gong on inside those hubs was a mystery and when you're lugging nearly 5 tons of metal, appliances, electonics and underwear-not to mention 30lb propane tanks-mystery implies unknown risk.

As it turns out, one of the bearings needed replacement. Now I figure I can run mystery-free for, oh, 30,000 kilometers before things start getting mysterious again.

So, while all that work was getting done, I completed more errands. First, I mailed a few images off to a poster distributor. Hopefully, they'll agree to publish and distribute-in sizes suitable for framing-some of the pix appearing on the website.

Then I bought an acoustic coupler. Some of you might even know what that is. For the benefit of those who don' acoustic coupler simply allows your modem to literally 'talk' over a phone the same way you or I do. It consists of a microphone and speaker and a few circuits to convert sound from the telephone earpiece (picked up by the mic) into something the computer can understand while converting things your computer has to say into sound that the speaker blasts into the mouthpiece.

10:40 Cochrane, Ontario - Canada :: 17 JUL 97

Some level of calm is restored. Perhaps I should explain...

Darn near the worst piece of highway I've rolled the RV down is a couple 100 km or so stretch of TransCanada #11 between Jellicoe and Longlac. Hoy. Granted, it's under construction but...JEEZ! Signs warned "BUMP!" and no bump. Then, without warning, BUMP! Or should I say SEISMIC EVENT! By the end of it, the inside of the trailer was a shambles. CDs, Photo-CDs, CD-ROM, audio and video tapes: strewn about the floor of the trailer. The computer monitor had broken from its stand and was dangling over the front of the desk-by its video cable. Worse yet, the C: DRIVE on the computer itself gave up the ghost. This message now greets me at bootup:



Bloody hell.

That was yesterday. I guess saying I was in shell shock would be putting it too strongly, but I caught myself in the mirror while putting the Photo-CDs back in their cases and what I saw was a deflated soul. Also, Longlac is not reached by the nearest CBC broadcast station so no soothing Gzowski this morning, either. Cleaning up the damage, and thinking on new preventive measures this morning kept me from getting back on the road until well after noon. Then there were a couple stops in various Home Hardware and Canadian Tire stores purchasing the preventive measures. Tomorrow AM will see more time spent installing preventive measures, and repairing more of the damage.

06:45 Canadian Tire parking lot; Val d'Or, Quebec :: 20 JUL 97

Well, when you're just travelling about having a look see events like this are just a good reason to have a look around a place you might otherwise have driven right through. But on a point-to-point destination journey, when you're trying to get somewhere by a particular date, blowing a wheel bearing at 4:00 PM on a Saturday's something of a setback. The sound coming from the passenger-side rear wheel is scary enough that the truck won't be leaving this parking lot until Monday when the mechanics get back to work. Hopefully, it will be early Monday rather than late.

At least the accommodation is cheap.

It would be nice to have some electricity. And water.

In the meantime...a recap of the journey so far.

British Columbia: wet. CBC Radio informed me that I'd just escaped the rainiest July on record in Vancouver. In fact, the previous 9 months were the wettest since weather records had been compiled.

Alberta: dry, and hot. As stated above, the trailer wheels were checked and a faulty bearing replaced. Wish I'd taken the extra time there to have the truck checked out to. Ah well.

23:20 Isle Alberg; on Lake Champlain, Vermont :: 21 JUL 97

Well, it wasn't a bearing this time on the truck. It was a shot universal joint in the drive shaft. $83 to repair. Could've fixed that one myself, if I'd have been able to diagnose the problem. That's why good mechanics deserve the big bucks.

23:50 Gunstock Acres; Gilford, NH :: 22 JUL 97

Back in New Hampshire, finally.

~~~ Responses Sought ~~~

When the only tool you have is a hammer, Every problem starts looking like a nail.
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