Sarah Turner from Hingham will spend six weeks
driving 10,000 miles from Alaska to Arizona, raising money for Marie
Curie Cancer Care.
Saturday 28 February
With my wheels now better than new the plan was
to leave for the border this morning, but it's Saturday and Bruce
and Charla said they might well head out 'wheelin', so I was not
going to miss out on my only opportunity to hit the trails with
the company of a few Cruisers.
Sarah picks her way through the rocks on the
We headed out of town back towards the forest road.
A relatively easy day driving but what a great day.
We started out by the frozen river. It creaked
and crunched beneath our wheels and in several places the ice was
broken but there was no danger, it is a shallow river all the way
so if the ice gave way beneath we'd only get stuck rather than drown.
We zigged and zagged from bank to river bed and
back, skirting holes and boulders along the way. Driving directly
towards the mountains the view improved with every yard.
The first climb we encountered proved easy, despite
big rocks most of the ice was gone so there was ample grip to pick
your way up the rocks. We stopped for lunch around an open fire,
cooking hot dogs and marshmallows (not at the same time I hasten
Turning for home we took to the trail rather than
the river and wound our way through the trees before turning back
across the river to climb a long snow covered hill. Bruce was leading
and his 60 Series Cruiser seemed to find enough power and grip to
claw its way up. The Surf followed, superbly set up it made it look
easy. Then it was my turn.
Snow chains help with traction up the icy hills
I started off fine, put in the rear differential
lock for extra traction and climbed steadily for about 100yds. Then
a deep patch of snow with a slight dig out and camber brought me
to a halt.
It appeared that the rear diff lock was not engaging
so I was spinning one wheel as the camber shifted the weight. I
had several attempts, to no avail so it was time for a more definite
solution… snow chains. I reckoned that just fitting the rears would
be more than sufficient to get enough grip.
So we threw them on and away I went, first gear,
just above idle with no trouble at all, the chains offer an incredible
amount of grip, it was like someone had lain tarmac.
By the time we were all at the top of the climb,
which must be at around 5,600 ft we decided the light was going
and we'd backtrack to the way we'd come in. We did pause to admire
the view, an endless fire break stretches to the horizon in each
direction, you can spend days up here driving it.
What a great day, I said goodbye to Bruce, Charla
and co and set up camp on the edge of the trail, ready for a straight
run south tomorrow.
Wednesday 25/Thursday 26 February:
I departed Rocky Mountain House and the hospitality
of the Perkins family heading for Calgary and the Rocky Mountains
Cruiser Club. The split wheel was holding air OK and I had a good
drive, continuing down the forest road.
Devils Head Mountain, viewed from the Forest
This leg had a lot more ice on it than yesterday's
and the corrugations started things rattling but no problems arose.
The scenery was great, a constant backdrop of the Rocky Mountains
and a the rolling forests in front of me all the way to the main
I arrived in Calgary around midday and followed
the directions Charla had emailed to me straight to the door of
Prairie Dog Parts.
I'd first met Bruce, who runs the store with Marc,
when I visited Canada in 1998 and it was good to see him again.
I pulled the truck into the shop and before long the wheel was off,
tyre demounted and on inspection they were sure they could make
it shipshape once more. Not only that but they'd re-weld all five
wheels to be sure I would have no more problems, what stars!
This would mean a stop in Calgary for a day or
so whilst it was done. As if that was not enough they'd pulled together
as many members as they could find and we all hit the local grill
for a great meal and chat.
It was then I discovered that they had also run
a collection in the club, raising $600Cdn of which half was given
to me to add to my fundraising with the other half was going to
the Canadian Cancer Society's Kids Can Cope Program. This is an
educational and support programme for children and teenagers from
families in which a parent has cancer, it offers the opportunity
to learn about how to cope with the effects of cancer. You can visit
their website at www.cancer.ca.
I also added the length of Marlow D12 winch rope
I had on board as a raffle prize, raising more money. It seemed
appropriate to do so and I'm sure my colleagues at Marlow will approve.
After the meal Marc and Bruce returned to the workshop
and welded the wheels so they'd be ready for powder coating the
next morning, they finished at around 1am. So today we dropped them
off at the coaters and they should be ready by lunchtime tomorrow
Don and Viv with Stella the Land Cruiser
My hosts in Calgary are Don and Viv. They are club
members and Don has quite a collection of vehicles, a 55 series
Land Cruiser called Stella, a beautiful 40 Series, Natasha, which
Don has had 28 years and is fully restored. An old Checker Cab from
the US and an old Mini, this too is being restored to its original
I've spent today being chauffeured around by Don
in the 55, a great old truck with loads of character. By tomorrow
I should be on my way once more, wheels repaired and freshly powder
coated to give them some protection from the elements.
It will be my last day in Canada and as I think
back two phrases come to mind that sum everything up. The first
was a remark that Roy made, Roy was the gentleman who rescued me
in Vancouver and really started me off on the drive.
Roy said 'good deeds lead to good deeds', how right
he was. The other is a phrase that crops up in various forms but
in its simplest is 'Come as a stranger, leave as a friend.' And
that pretty much sums up the warmth of the people I have met along
the route so far, people without whom the trip might have failed,
but certainly without whom it would not have been the same.
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