Monday, June 20, 2011

Labrador City

Did I remember to check the electrolyte level in my batteries? No. Would that oversight eventually bite me in the ass? Yes. Would it bite me in the ass at the worst possible most remote location between Nowhere and Dead Meat? Oh, yes.

That's the tailpipe and a piece of the exhaust inside my van.

Here I am troubleshooting the battery problem on the tundra. That telephone is the nearest one for 200km so I decided to stop there and do my work. That work was fruitless but the situation was getting desperate. One battery, the main one, was holding no charge and because it couldn't even give me 3 volts the axillary battery would not automatically kick in. This meant I had to jump start the van using cables from the cabin through the window and out to the main battery. Because the exhaust had fallen apart somewhere 200 km back in the taiga, I was forced to drive with the windows down as the cabin was filled with exhaust smoke, except for the smoke that was heating up the fuel tank to dangerous levels.
It was a few hours of tense driving in 100km of twisty with the windows down, rain pouring in, smoke pouring out, unable to stop because I had to jump start the battery with my one remaining battery and I had no idea how long that would work...and I had already shorted out fuses trying to use the deep cell marine battery as a main battery. It was truly Labrador or Bust.
Can you count the wildlife in this picture? Perfectly camouflaged. I asked two French Canadian hikers in the Mont Groulx park where we met what it was. I thought it was a wild chicken. Then it flew like a turkey. But it sort of looked like ptarmigan from Alaska. Turns out we agree it was a Partridge. I didn't get a picture of them. We were all 40 years old and destined to meet on the edge of the forest.

All this adds up to an adventure to get here:

Labrador City's auto parts stores now know me by first name as I required all kinds of attention to set things right again. My dead battery was 6 years old. Replaced it. The tailpipe could only receive a replacement flex pipe that will last another 6 months before rotting out like my teeth.
These repairs are not part of the wolf expedition but for the time they enable the wolf expedition. I can't lose sight of that. They are here.

I went for a wolf sighting hike but freaked myself out because I was in an uninhabited area as big as New Hampshire and wolves and bears, if I saw them, could have their way with me. They'd probably be rabid. I was scared of the Partridge. And which way was the van?

I heard the term "Open Country" for the first time since Alaska. It's used to describe park land that has no trails. I can thank the Labrador City McDonalds (still horrible food) for the Internet access but I thank the Vikings for finding this continent and setting in motion the chain of events that led to a hippie fixing his exhaust pipe in the pouring rain in a Walmart parking lot.
If the weather ever clears up I might still see the Northern Lights. We get darkness from 10pm to 5 so it's possible.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.