Camping with Family is the best

Adventure Canada: Failure to Launch

This is the 1st post on the Adventure Canada Series. If you haven’t read the other parts of the blog series yet, you can read them here:
Adventure Canada: Failure to Launch
Adventure Canada: The Gravel Strip & Beauty
Adventure Canada: How to Go Insane

“You never really learn to swear until you learn to drive.”  -Author Unknown

Imagine you’re headed out for a week long adventure in the wilds of Canada.  It is over 100 degrees (f) at home and you’re sweating while dreaming of the clear cool air of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.  You’ve loaded your teardrop trailer and vehicle, you’ve got the audio books lined up, and all you have to do is get on the highway and make tracks.

The light changes from red to green.  You ease in to the gas and propel your vehicle left onto the highway. Suddenly, your vehicle lurches as if tugged from behind by one of those dinosaurs from Jurassic Park.  Then it lurches again.  You check your mirror…no dinosaurs…no flat tires.  The vehicle loses power on the on-ramp.  You are forced to coast to the shoulder and park.  The next action is obvious: vent.  When you’ve expelled all of the negative thoughts, it is time to vent the vehicle.

You smile like a loony, because you’re just so happy, and step out into 100 degree weather. As you open the hood, a wave of heat sears your corneas.  You pay it no mind because you’re happy, nay, overjoyed to be marooned on the side of the road in the middle of the hottest day the devil can dream up from the depths of hell.  You do a little happy dance after you touch a particularly hot hose because you choose to think of the sensation as a tickle on your fingers rather than a nasty burn.  Sweat drips from your face onto the engine’s manifold where it is instantly vaporized and sizzles back into your face with a strange metallic scent.  You decide to let the engine cool as much as it can while parked on the side of what feels like a gaping volcano.


What is that?

You ask yourself.

You look down to the liquid collecting on the pavement.  Assuming it is coming from under the vehicle, you gently kneel down on the hottest pavement you’ve seen that wasn’t still a liquid hot tar.  Nothing.  Upon standing up again, you realize that the liquid is sweat dripping from your elbows and knees.  You begin to bloat and blister like sausage in a pan.

A thought materializes and drifts through your mind.

Man, I’ve got to smell amazing!  

Then your mind moves on.

THIS is the long hoped for vacation.  THIS is what the weeks of planning has produced.  You begin saying “really nice things” to each system of the vehicle as you run through the likely culprits. As the engine simmers away, you sense something boiling in the background:  RAGE.  OH, and this is on your 10th wedding anniversary!  Enjoy 😉


This describes the first 30 seconds of our trip to Canada this summer.  The trip was inspired family wedding to attend in Edmonton, Alberta.  Since both Senior Management and I have family in Canada, we spent chunks of our formative years in the nation to the north.  We’ve both done a lot of camping in Canada but not since we’ve been married.  We decided to capitalize on the wedding attendance by extending the vacation to enjoy some of the innumerable beautiful spots in western Canada.  Plus, it was our 10 year wedding anniversary and we couldn’t think of a more beautiful place to camp and read together as a family.

Explorer David Thompson

As a social studies teacher, I am constantly reading “nerdy” material that I can use to enhance my classes and expand my knowledge.  One of my heroes in history is David Thompson. He was the first European to map most of what is now Canada and the Pacific Northwest.  As we drove through the rocky mountains and out onto the Alberta plains, I couldn’t help but think of all of David Thompson‘s adventures with his cedar bark canoe, compass, and sextant.  It almost seemed a inappropriate to be driving 90 km/h over land that holds so many sacred stories.  However, by the time we were in Alberta, I felt lucky to have simply made it a mere mile from our house.

We started our journey about 1/2 mile from home.  It was about 100 degrees (F) out when I left the house to pick up my wife and daughter.  Moments later, I was sitting on the side of the highway in the Jeep with the jPod teardrop trailer loaded and ready for a week’s trip. One would think that someone who has built their own teardrop trailer and who is an owner in a company that builds trailers would enjoy working on a vehicle.  You are right, of course, but only in certain conditions.

After a night of trouble shooting and some engine work, it seemed that the engine was fine.  In fact, it was fine.  There never was anything wrong with the engine. The culprit?  A small donut-sized piece of plastic with a sensor in it named the “camshaft sensor”. Its job is to shut the engine down if something goes wrong with the engine.  However, if the sensor goes bad, it thinks something in the engine is wrong and shuts it down anyhow!  What a brilliant design!  I love my Jeep but I want to slap the group that thought that sensor would be a good idea.

The evil sensorThanks to my business partner Nathan, his helpful hands, an engine code scanner, a new little piece of expensive plastic -which held a cooperative sensor-, and a screwdriver, we were able to leave the next day.  The cost?  A pretty inexpensive auto part, 20 hours of travel time, no sleep for over 30 hours, and 20 gallons of sweat.  All I can say is that I’m glad I was home.  What a great place to break down.  Whew.

As we left home, our time table forced us to make the 13 hour drive directly to Edmonton in time for the wedding preparations and ceremony.  With a one year old in the back seat, we took to this idea with some trepidation.  To our pleasure, she did just fine.  Oh, sure, she wanted to walk, we all did, but she was a real trooper.

Upon arriving in Edmonton, we did the logical thing when towing a teardrop trailer 13 hours after working through the night before on the tow vehicle.  We checked into our hotel room and went to bed.  The weekend went smoothly.  It was a great wedding and we’ve added a wonderful member to the family. Congrats Ryan & Trina!

After the weekend, it was time to check out of the hotel and the urban scene. It was time to check-in with Nature.

Read the next blog in this series here: Adventure Canada: The Gravel Strip & Beauty

6 thoughts on “Adventure Canada: Failure to Launch”

  1. So I was curious as to whether the city in which I was born, Thompson, Manitoba, was named after the David Thompson you mentioned. It was not–Thompson, Manitoba was named after the chairman of the mining company that founded the town (Thompson is a planned city). I also learned that Thompson has been ranked Canada’s most violent city for the past several years, topping their Violent Crime Severity Index. So much for the glory of my native land… 🙂 Anyway, that’s just my own nerdy foray into Canadian history.

  2. I love it Erin. What a great little foray. At least you found some colorful history and present fact about it. It seems fitting that a town named after a miner would be a violent place. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Pingback: Adventure Canada: The Gravel Strip & Beauty ‹ Overland Teardrop Trailer & Adventures

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  5. Pingback: Adventure Canada: The Gravel Strip & Beauty ‹ Overland Teardrop Trailer & Adventures

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