On Monday, April 29 Clara and I began our drive to Alaska.
First we said goodbye to Mac and Smokey and gave them some last minute treats. Then we checked the motorhome’s oil and the tires. Marie and Rocky Aitken managed to get the 1990 motorhome through the inspection and drove it out to Osoyoos for us. I will never be able to thank them!
“You guys have a safe trip, Rocky and I will come out at some point to see you two,” Marie said before giving me a strong hug a few nights prior.
The 3,500-kilometer drive to the final frontier was an adventure of its own.
Along the way I was able to pinpoint the major obstacles we will encounter on our ride south. We saw 16 bears, 4 moose, 6 herds of buffalo, helicopter-sized mosquitos, several dangerously-narrow mountain passes and too many long bridges. Some in the Yuko, have a metal-grade floor. Which will be quite difficult to get the horses to cross.
On our third day on the road, the motorhome started making a weird sound. It almost sounded like the heater was broken. “tek, tek, tek,” the noise was fast and not too loud, coming from under the hood.
“That’s not good,” Clara said to me.
I pulled over next to Bijou Falls National Park in British Columbia and opened the hood. Everything looked normal. Until I checked the oil. It was bone dry.
“This is really not good, it’s the pistons we are hearing,” I said to Clara while she looked at me with wide eyes.
We were several hundred kilometers north of Prince George and about an hour from the next town, Chetwynd. While we contemplated what to do next, already late in the afternoon, a truck pulled over.
“You guys ok,” a tall gentleman in his 50’s asked.
We told him about our problem and he offered to drive us to Chetwynd. Clara and I jumped in and alongside his son and another young kid in his early 20’s, we made the hour and a half drive. When we arrived in the town we went to a gas station and Clara called her 70-year-old neighbor in Argentina who is an experienced truck driver. Carlitos told us to buy 6 liters of oil and hope that the motorhome wasn’t leaking the oil.
“Hopefully it’s just consuming a lot of oil because it’s an old vehicle,” he said over whatsapp.
We followed the elderly man’s instructions and went back to the highway to try to hitch a ride back to the motorhome. It was a long, chilly hour and a half before a miner in a red truck finally stopped and picked us up.
By the time we arrived back at the motorhome it was already dark out. I poured the oil into the engine and prayed before turning the vehicle on. Luckily, it started right up and the engine sounded as smooth as it had when we left Osoyoos.
Feeling lucky we continued north.
On Friday May 3, five minutes before I had to give a motivational talk at the University of Anchorage, we arrived at the Palmer campus. I couldn’t believe it. I turned off the motorhome, changed my shirt and went into the building. Pete, a professor at the university and horse lover, who I had been in contact with for a year, was there to greet me.
“You made it right on time,” he said with a big smile.
“I can’t believe it, there really is a God,” I said to him.
When I entered the lecture hall, after making a quick pit stop to pee and brush my teeth, it was packed with people. I set up my laptop, turned on my presentation and after a wonderful introduction by Pete’s wife Alys, I began telling them my story.