August 23: Canadian road angels

IMG_0917I did quite a lot of thinking last night given la bestia‘s engine troubles and the fact today–a Sunday–didn’t seem to be a particularly suitable day to try to reach a repair shop 260km away from my current location. The weather–frequent thunderstorms and occasional hail–added yet another dimension to my worries.

IMG_0916It just didn’t feel right to attempt to drive to Watson Lake in the hope that I would actually get there and then find someone there who could fix the truck. So I started exploring alternatives, and the only one that made sense was to drive in the opposite direction — to Whitehorse, Yukon’s capital and host to a Toyota dealership. The distance between Whitehorse and Teslin is considerably less than between Watson Lake and Teslin, which was another aspect in favor of returning to Whitehorse.

Whitehorse to Watson LakeThis morning I mentioned the situation to Lois, one of the waitresses at the Yukon Motel. She gave me a startled look. “Why don’t you get one of the truckers to tow you to either Whitehorse or Watson Lake instead of trying to drive there with a broken truck?,” she asked. That option hadn’t occurred to me (and I have since realized that I simply hadn’t considered the possibility that anyone might want to help me out). She continued her brainstorming: “But first you should talk to Brandy; he comes in every day. He may be able to fix it.” Ten minutes later, Brandy walked in. He agreed to take a look at la bestia’s engine. “If you’re lucky,” he said, “Tom might be able to help you. Tom lives about four kilometers from here. He has a junkyard and is mechanically inclined.” ‘Mechanically inclined’ — I wasn’t sure what to make of that. While I was still pondering whether or not to risk taking la bestia to a junkyard out of town without knowing that she could actually be repaired there, Brandy spotted Tom who had just gotten breakfast with his partner and was on his way back. He, too, took a look–first at la bestia‘s engine and then at me–and nodded. “I think I can do that.”

IMG_0918And he did it. Three and a half hours later, he had changed the thermostat, built a gasket to replace the shot-up one in la bestia‘s engine that was unusable (it took two attempts; the first one blew as the material hadn’t hardened enough yet), replaced a brittle hose, flushed the cooling system, and changed the oil and oil filter with supplies I provided. While waiting for the silicone to set, we talked about dogs and the importance of having a place to call home. He charged me much less than what I had thought it would cost. Tomorrow morning we’ll have breakfast together, and he will then run a final check before Harry and I can hopefully resume our trip.

IMG_0928The silicone needs 24 hours to set fully, so we’re staying in Teslin on the Yukon Motel‘s campground for another night. I treated myself to a Yukon Gold beer and a cigarillo…

IMG_0926… and Harry got a peanut butter-flavored chewing bone.

IMG_0930I decided to designate this postcard as the lucky charm for my trip; it is now affixed to la bestia‘s windscreen. I trust it will remind me that wonderful things can happen when one least expects them — and that there are many people out there who are happy to help.

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