Monday, September 17, 2007
Stuck on the Alaska Highway
I always say an adventure wouldn't be an adventure if you didn't occasionally need to rely on the kindness of strangers. It's happened to me often enough now that I simply expect that at least once on my journey, I'll be begging for help.
It happened on day 2 of this trip when my battery died and I had to call my newest friend Jim in Boulder Creek. He showed up within half an hour with a spare battery that worked as a band-aid until I could get a new one. Had I not met Jim at a stop light the day before, I don't know what I would have done.
And today was another one of those days.
I broke down in about as remote a spot as one could break down, smack in the middle of Fort Nelson and Fort St. John on the Alaska Highway.
I'd already ridden three hours in the snow. My hands were freezing and my spirits low. There was hardly a car on the road, but within seconds of getting off my bike and wondering what to do, I saw a pickup truck heading north. The driver slowed as he approached, and I flagged him down.
Three guys leaped out, ready to do whatever it took.
Within ten minutes, Henk was loaded into the back of the truck and tied down, and I was in the cab warming up and thanking them. They offered me coffee and a danish. The ice on my jacket began to drop off and my hands quickly thawed.
They were going in the opposite direction, but offered to take me down the road to the trucker camp at Buckinghorse River, where I could get a room, have a hot shower and think about what to do next.
They offered to stop in tomorrow on their way back from the hotsprings and if I was still here, they'd take me all the way to Prince George, where my new tire and drive belt await.
I don't think any of these three regular Canadian guys would ever in their wildest dreams consider themselves an angel, but what am I to think? They just happened to have room in their truck, they just happened to have tie-downs handy, they just happened to be coming back my way tomorrow and just happened to be kind enough to offer to pick me and Henk up... Oh, and one of them just happens to be a mechanic.
What could easily have been a nightmare was instantly diffused by the kindness and generosity of these three strangers, Mark, John and Richard.
I could probably sit outside and wait for a truck heading south to hitch up to, but when presented with the option of getting to know these three who've offered their time and resources to a traveller in need, I really can't refuse.