The XXI Century Pioneers who were not afraid to make 2600 miles or 4200 kilometers through the really Wild West to the Promised Land of Vancouver, British Columbia

The hour struck on March the 2nd when we, the pioneers of the XXI century, hit the road and headed for the Promised Western Lands, departing from the town of Bloomington. Well, for the first four hours the heavy, but still warm rain followed us up to St. Louis, highway # 70 and the huge bag on top of my jeep was slowly but surely getting wet (they didn’t guarantee water resistance on that item). In St. Louis, Missouri, the rain changed into slit and then into heavy snow. During the next two hours the temperature was considerably decreasing, snowflakes became ominous and we could see more and more vehicles swerved from freeway with lots of people bleeding and screaming in agony. And no one would stop by and give them a hand that showed the ugly face of American egoism and individualism! When it got too much slick we decided not to play with our luck and fate and to stop in a “motel home” (that’s the way our kids call them) though the time was 4 p.m. only. That day we made barely 300 miles. I bought a simple walkie-talkie in advance, when still in Bloomington, and that was extremely crucial during our six-day trip: I could communicate with my wife’s car.

Next day was extremely cold (about 5-10 F) and windy, and that resulted in reduced speed and extra gas consumption.  Imagine what you will feel when getting out of your car at a gas station shaking with real cold?

On the third day we decided to depart earlier but I discovered that the power steering belt was loose and that some weird sound was heard from the lower part of the engine. Later you will see what happened out of it. So I had to check the local garage, and they said that one of the supporting bolts broke and that the whole steering device had to be taken off, the old bolt drilled through, etc. etc., which, as you may guess must’ve taken time and money. They tightened other bolts a bit though and hopefully didn’t charge me a penny. However after three miles the belt broke, so after 800 miles driving I was deprived of smooth and easy steering. We took the local road going north to merge into interstate # 74. The wind was still strong but it grew remarkably warm. One of the small rocks from a big truck passing by ricocheted and made a bullet mark on my front windshield…

By the end of the third day the mountains showed up, the Rocky Mountains, but they were not that high so far.

On the forth day we decided to leave as early as possible, but after travelling for an hour (65 miles) all of a sudden I discovered that the black bag with all our documents (visas, passports, etc.) was missing. So we had to U-turn and go back to the motel to pick it up. Otherwise that day was all right, except for the fact that the mountains progressed and the number of passes grew in number. Highways were in excellent shape though, but some snow remained on shoulders. When a freeway would make a turn my wife was reducing speed down to 45 miles thus making us look foolish while the rest of people drove at 70 m/h at least, probably thinking: “What a stupid dumbbell from Indiana was ahead”. But no rain and snow was falling, hopefully..

On the fifth day we also made up our minds to leave early, at 8 a.m. After almost two hours of tranquil drive the left rear tire on my jeep Isuzu Trooper II blew up at 75 m/h, the vehicle veered a couple of times and I nearly rolled over but came to a halt. I ended up on the slope at the left side of the freeway stuck in sand. I couldn’t replace the tire from that position so I had to jack it up a little to raise the jeep from the sand and engage the 4 WD to get the car on the flat surface several yards ahead. But it took me more than an hour to switch tyros with the help of two jacks. Then we reached the local auto shop, my wife Yunona found out that she had lost her wallet at Twin Falls, Idaho, which was more than 100 miles away with about $ 160 in cash and her US driver license. After several unsuccessful attempts to locate that place on the phone we quit and decided that it would be wiser to continue the trip. No way back is our motto!

Later, by the end of the day, there was this mountain pass when we going down the hill with 6%: we entered the very dense fog area for more than 2 miles, and it was pure fear for my wife L(.

The sixth day was supposed to be the last one because only a little more than 200 miles were left, so we took our time in the morning. However, after only 5 miles the interstate turned out to be closed for some reason and we had to make a detour on some local one-lane road along a pretty tall canyon with picturesque mountains, a river covered with ice… With 55 m/h speed limit Yunona could barely make 35-40 miles, and that resulted in a long queue beside us..

OK, eventually we made it to Seattle and decided to pull over for a lunch at some big parking lot somewhere in the northern part. When I was already at the parking lot, something heavy came off from my poor jeep, all the indicators turned on and the jeep halted. I opened the hood and discovered that one gear wheel on which the most important belt used to be, came off and was lying ten feet away from the vehicle. I took it to local car repair shop, and they declared the verdict that the crankshaft was damaged and that that required replacing the motor… Jesus Almighty!

So we made our minds to say good-buy to my Isuzu Trooper II and rented a U-Haul truck. We went to the U-Haul office and they promised to give a van in two hours. When we were back in time they said that there was no van available and in its stead they provided me with a huge truck. It was after 4 p.m. and being determined to get to Canadian border by that day we had no other choice than to pick it up. When I started to reload the stuff from the jeep to that goddamn truck the heavy snowfall began. Believe it or not, but by the time I finished reloading and hit the road again, there was a terrible jam on the freeway. It delayed our trip for another hour or so.

OK, by about 7 p.m. only 40 miles remained to the border. The snow falls very selectively in these parts of the country, so we go several miles and there is no snow at all. Yet the headlights of my wife’s Mercury Sable started to turn off now and then, and it was pitch-dark. She was about to quit the trip and stop at some motel, however my persistence made her continue driving. And at ten minutes to eight at night after skipping the U.S. passport control and customs we eventually entered the Canadian territory. Well, the formalities took an hour and at last we got into the lightened Canadian freeway, so my wife Yunona didn’t need her stupid lights any more! After another hour – we had to ask the way at the local gas station, — we were there, in Burnaby at the end of our long and adventurous trip. It was a Bed & Breakfast place with a very cozy room: two large beds, TV/VCR set, microwave, oven toaster, kitchen table and all utilities. The owner placed us in this suite for special rate of 50 CAD/day only. There we stayed one week while looking for an affordable housing. Later I made a website for that B & B.

That’s about our extremely interesting and sort of a risky and adventurous trip which lasted for six days and five nights. A cheap walkie-talkie, as I said, was extremely critical and eased communication between two cars. It took us another two day to dry out the stuff, which was on top of our cars and to recuperate after the journey. And should you, dear read decide to make the same kind of trip, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me, Mitch.

January 2005

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