Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wolf Quest Part XIV: South to the Wolf

Way up on the northern tip of New Foundland
For all the trouble the Transmission gave me after it lost 2nd gear in Quebec the reckoning would arrive after the trip ended. 2nd gear actually isn't used much and unlike a manual transmission that falls apart all at once after a gradual slide, a 3 speed C4 uses one gear at a time and with 2nd gear completely gone because the transmission band that clamps down on the drum had lost all friction material, with enough pressure, third gear will be fine. Yes, the batteries and exhaust fell apart but everything else miraculously needed no maintenance. Fate would not cooperate with providing a ship to Ellesmere Island, but many other problems could've caused delays or even cancellation of this trip. Now I've read a great deal more about the obstacles overcome for other Econoline owners so I know that without a doubt the van can go on and on. My personal suspicion is that only gas prices will cause the retirement of this van. Anything can be fixed. Furthermore, within a week I can personally rebuild any one vehicle component. I'm almost looking forward to the day I replace all the differential bearings. It's the one realm I haven't investigated too closely. An 9 inch rear differential. It's pretty complicated but every part is available and there's even a dvd repair video to show you how to rebuild it. The only things that worried me were the backlash settings and the crush washers but I know the people to ask. There's an art to rebuilding differentials, and a shop would probably charge $400+, but I hope I get to tackle it on my own terms like the transmission project back in Tejas.

I remember ordering a transmission modulator, this little vacuum operated gadget that regulates the pressure, which regulates auto gear shifting, and I ordered it to be delivered to a place called Cornerbrook so I could leave St. Anthony and drive south. I figured that having driven from Labrador City with the transmission problem then I could make it to Cornerbrook. 
Fall brings clear skies and wind to New Foundland

I remember that the two sailboats were also having problems. The one I had spent 8 hours feeding the fish with my lunch on had no working motor. And the other one had a transmission problem. And I decided my rest period was over and no northbound ships were going to offer me a cabin to Ellesmere Island. I waited until the leaves started to change and had an idealized fantasy of following Fall as it descended south on the land, but of course I drove faster than the season so I dragged my feet by camping at all the empty RV parks and campgrounds.

I do have video footage but I have to say it's a tedious job sorting through hours and hours of my monologues. This was a mission of mercy and education, not entertainment. Though I tried to entertain myself the realities often depressed me...as this video demonstrates.

I've been spoiled in terms of natural beauty and I've mentioned before that I think the Internet is ruining travel as we either narcissistic-ally take photos of every taco...or else we have previously spoiled the adventure by seeing every angle of a location. Mentally, I think we are tricking our minds into thinking we have done more and experienced more than we have. A photo is not a travel essay, but we seem to be developing an ability to lie to ourselves and imagine a photo is a true visual memory. Well, it isn't, and the internet photo depository is simply not worth enslaving a generation of magic elves to pull the gold out of the earth because Steve Jobs says his circuit boards are "sustainable". That's all total bullshit. Nothing associated with computers is sustainable. It's all poison. And the corruption of our visual memory is simply another dimension of destruction.
From Frozen Planet by David Attenborough. This is a Arctic Wolf and I think this is Ellesmere Island. I could photo edit myself into this photo but that wouldn't be the same thing.

Gros Mourne is worth visiting if you haven't been to Yosemite. I mean, if you are in the neighborhood of Gros Mourne then of course you should walk around. There's a boat trip on the west side that takes folks to the valley. I hiked around to allow my modulator time to get to Cornerbrook. There were no wolves. If back country hiking is your thing then Mont Groulx would be my first recommendation because it's as remote as Denali and is probably high enough in altitude to reduce the mosquitoes. I had plans to do that months before when my battery died and I decided to press on.

Ah, what fate awaits us all? I wish I knew. So much evidence of coming Armageddon but there's no guarantee. Maybe mankind turns it all around and avoids nuclear holocaust. It's possible but I don't see the evidence to back it up. I think the environmental consequences of a 4-6 degree increase in global climate cause a ripple effect that leads to nuclear war. Because only when people start to believe there is no hope anyway, then they will not feel too bad about shooting ICBMs at one another. The economic and environmental refugees will be like a second mass migration....the first started sort of recently in 1630s...and the next will involve gigantic hijacked freighters with tens of thousands of people on them heading for San Diego. Yes, the U.S. Navy will mercilessly defend the shores but the flood will be more than can be stopped. They will simply go to Mexico where there is no Navy. And then come across the border on foot. I would consider this inevitable, all the Sourthwestern states gradually becoming uninhabitable due to drought and extreme heat, refugees living there, starting new lives maybe underground. But the problems they fled from didn't go away. The Reds and Whites will still be at war and they will find the means to destroy cities. Resources are already stressed and the only way major consumer nations like the U.S. and Russia can survive is through pure exploitation of smaller nations that have been artificially corrupted for this purpose. It will be interesting.

I was still miles away from the van when I stopped to get this shot on the trail. This time I had a flashlight.
I waited and waited in Cornerbrook, played guitar, snuck into the university to take a shower, hung around the library pretending like I belonged there. I partly wanted that modulator but I also wanted to make sure I witnessed the changing of Summer to Fall, the maple leaves changing, the birch trees, the frost in the air, the geese in flight. I had enough wood to keep the van warm in the morning and evening, dry everything out from the leaking windows. Other than the fact I had to live on public streets and spit my toothpaste into someone's lawn, it was sort of quaint and charming. This period of time was more minimal than it currently is. I didn't have the moped or the piano or the bass guitar. There was room in the van and it was pleasant.

Eventually, I went back to the Canadian Tire and asked them when the modulator would ever arrive and they checked and determined it had never been ordered. I had never been charged. I guess this was my fault but for 21 days I had been under the impression that the item was en route. No, the order was never processed. And I decided to simply keep driving south down the coast to Port Aux Basques. I briefly thought about traveling across New Foundland to St. John's but the two speeds and the vast distance across the island persuaded me to continue south. I'm sure that city is unique but there are about 500 KM between the west coast and the east coast, so that would be 1000 additional KM and the Fall is short on New Foundland. I already knew the van was mostly unsuitable for driving in the snow and I was not interested in spending a winter stuck in St. John's so I sadly said goodbye to New Foundland and Labrador to drive onto a ferry to Nova Scotia. It had taken three years and three attempts to finally reach these last unknown Canadian provinces but I had a goal in mind for when I reached Nova Scotia that would introduce me to the Arctic Wolf.

The last view of New Foundland from the Port Basques ferry?
Here are links to the installments of the Wolf Quest

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.