Bitter Disappointment

The first part of today was wonderful and merits a gushing post of its own, so that will follow. But it was such a tiny part of this much too long day that I can’t even start with that.

Today was a case of déjà vu. Remember the first time I crossed the Rockies? The day started off great then went to pots around Revelstoke when I discovered I’d lost my 12V power. Followed a mad dash to the Okanagan. Well, that was today. Except the troubles started after the Columbia Ice Fields. And they were engine related.

I was coming down a very, very long 8% grade in low gear when my check engine light came on. It bugged me, but I know that a non-flashing check engine sign signifies a minor problem. Miranda was running great and not making any odd noises. I continued on and stopped a good while later after a stretch of flat so that I could sort of coast into the rest spot instead of having to jam the brakes to make it. My brakes weren’t mushy or showing any signs of problems, but I didn’t want to take any chances.

Soon as Miranda was stopped, she stalled. I took a deep breath, had a bathroom and snack break, then tried to start her. She’d start, then stall. I waited until the coast was clear behind me, started her, shifted into drive, and hit the gas. It took two tries, but she got going. Once she was moving, all was well and she performed well without a hint of trouble. Engine heat and RPMs were normal, there were no odd noises or smells.

I was out in the middle of nowhere and figured that if she was moving okay, I’d better keep going. I had about a hundred kilometres to the junction to the Transcanada highway in which to figure out my next move.

My options were:

1) Go east to Banff. But what then? I’d be a hundred kilometres out of my way in $50-night-for-boondocking territory.

2) Go south to Cranbrook via Kootenay park, as planned. I didn’t want to see the Kootenays that way and I had no idea what sort of conditions I would be heading into.

3) Go west via the Transcanada highway to 97A and the Okanagan, like I did back in ’08. This would get me out of the federal parks and into civilization along a well traveled road. I knew that Kelowna was a long, but doable, distance away, that I could get there with the gas I had on board, and that there I would be well situated to get help or even a tow to Osoyoos if needed.

I picked option 3, of course, and made yet another dash through Yoho, Glacier, and Revelstoke national parks. *sighs* I worked my ass off all summer to make this fall trip especially memorable and instead I’m living a nightmare all over again. Every time I had to stop for construction or a red light took ten years off my life. Some times she’d start up in one try, sometimes it took several. Once, in Vernon, she didn’t even conk out. Crossing that town almost made me regret not picking the Walmart there, but there are a ton of turns and stops and red lights to get into that store while the one in Kelowna is right off the highway.

The mechanical issue is surely minor. I probably have a clog in my fuel intake line or the air filter. It might even be something I’ll recognize the minute I pop the hood tomorrow morning. But put yourself in my shoes: you’re five hundred kilometres from civilization and your stalling vehicle runs normally when you get it going. Would you stop to try to solve the problem right there or make a run for it?

So, I’m now a couple of hours away from Osoyoos and my fun is thoroughly spoiled. Even if I get the problem solved first thing in the morning I’m too close to my destination for it to make sense running around for another week. I think I’ll just call the RV park and see if they can take me in early, then get a head start on the contract/job hunt.

I’m too tired and angry right now to make any sort of wild affirmations about what I may choose to do or not do the next time I take Miranda on the road, but I’m pretty sure this is going to be the last time I take her on a scenic detour.

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  • It may not be coincidence that you have been having charging problems just before this happened. When I had my problems in New Mexico the last thing I suspected was the alternator but that is what it turned out to be. I am thinking there might be a connection… It will cost you money to get the computer read but that is your best chance of finding the problem quickly.

    The check engine light followed by stalling was the first indication I had of trouble when my alternator failed. Mine however would not run normally after I got it restarted.

    Good luck.

  • I had alternator problems with my first car and it was NOTHING like what I was experiencing today. I’m not even going to entertain that possibility until I get the computer readout. No sense working myself into a panic at this point.

    Besides, I’ve been having the charging issues for ages but only just clued in to them.

  • Get a good night’s sleep and take care of things in the morning. Sometimes we don’t get to follow our plans, but things will work out in the long run. I’ve been sitting on my ass for the last 6 months when I had planned to be traveling, but who knows why this happened? You can’t change what has happened so the best thing is to go with the flow, try to get Miranda fixed, and then go from there. Good luck

  • Rae,

    I have been broken down many times on the side of the road over the last thirty five years and it always works out. Although it is not always fun at the time, it usually ends up as a good learning experience.

    With today’s computer controlled engines it could be almost anything, let’s hope it just needs something simple like a fuel filter.

    Best of luck, Gary

  • Gary, I just have to laugh. My dad, whose name was Gary, would have said the same thing. 😀

    Looking back through my two years of full-timing, I’ve always had good luck with getting things solved with a minimum of fuss. But this time made me angry because I feel it shouldn’t have happened–I was driving properly, my vehicle was in top mechanical shape, and, frankly, I deserved a trouble-free trip of a lifetime. Guess I used up all my luck on the Dempster. :-S

  • I’d just really rather be boondocking south of Kootenay park right now instead of sitting in the parking lot of the second noisiest Walmart I have encountered on my travels!

  • […] (don’t mind the wavy tension bar; it was a casualty of the Ice Fields dash!) […]

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