Are you looking for an adventure? Want to borrow my car?
My son and I left bright and early to pick up a friend who was flying into Edmonton from Toronto. He is coming to spend a week with us on the farm. After a mostly uneventful drive, we came upon the aftermath of an accident on Highway 16 east of Edmonton. As we slowed down for the police officers who were directing traffic …. ‘Keep it moving…nothing to see here’…….my car stalled.
Sort of embarrassing. I didn’t want to appear interested in the misfortune of the people involved in the accident, so I put the car in neutral and coaxed it – speaking nicely to it the whole time – as far away from the accident site as possible. We have dealt with this type of unruly behavior before from our vehicle, so I knew that after a short ‘time out’ all would be well again and we would be off.
I was right. We got another 30 km down the highway and it happened again! So, once more I coaxed the car to the shoulder of the road, no big deal, rubbing the dashboard and speaking soothingly to the car about how I understood that it’s hard to do a good job when it’s 30 degrees outside, but that I knew we still had plenty of time to get to the airport and that my amazing car would get us there. On the bright side, there was a moose right where the car stalled, so we got to check out some beautiful wildlife while we sat waiting for the car to recover.
With two stalls in such a short period of time, I was a bit unnerved so I called my husband just to give him a heads up that our last trip to the garage didn’t solve the stalling problem, and he might need to be on call to help us figure things out. No big deal, we are fine, but just wanting him to be aware of the situation. He gave us some great tips on why this might still be happening, and we were on our way again.
Entering the bustling metropolis of Edmonton, we stalled again. This time at the entry to an overpass. I managed to pull into the ditch far enough so the gravel trucks could still pass us at the careful speed of 180 km/hr, and waited the allotted time for my car to go through all of it’s checkpoints until it realized that it has fuel, oil, and all is well so we could drive again…..
………for about another 5 minutes until it stalled again on Anthony Henday drive, which isn’t exactly a small country road. This time I didn’t speak sweetly at all. I pulled into the ditch beneath the overpass and wrestled with thoughts of abandoning the car. My 17-year-old son was sleeping blissfully in the passenger seat while I called his father to ask for better advice on what to do. He told me that he was trying to cut hay, but he would make some calls for me. On the bright side, at least we stalled beneath an overpass, so we were shaded from the sweltering hot sun. That was a good thing.
Two or three more stalls and we were at the airport. We parked the car and left it at the Edmonton International Airport with the windows down and the keys in the ignition. Fingers crossed that someone would steal it.
No luck there. Sadly, our car was waiting for us exactly where we left it. I was convinced that it now had a nice long break in the shade to recover from the heat, and it had taken enough time to think about what it had done, so we would have no more problems. All the same, my husband had contacted a nearby dealer who would see us right away and we could make sure that the trip home would be less eventful.
Three stalls later, (one in an intersection on Gateway Ave during rush hour), we were at the dealership. We were so lucky that they took us right away, and they had the most wonderful customer waiting area with snacks, video games, big sofa’s and a T.V. It was very relaxing. Especially for our visitor who had been travelling all night on a plane that apparently had encountered significant turbulence due to all the hot weather. The turbulence, combined with a very nervous and possibly alcoholic seat partner had made his day an interesting one even before he climbed into our temperamental vehicle.
One hour later the mechanics had installed a new fuel filter into our fussy car, and we were off. Thrilled with the new power and momentum we roared off to the east. Convinced that the problem was solved, I relaxed and headed for Sherwood Park where I would treat the guys to a nice early supper and we would be home by 7:30. We were listening to the radio, laughing about our crazy day, and the car stalled. In an intersection on Whitemud Drive.
There was no shade. There was no sweet talking to the car. If there had been any wildlife they surely would have been frightened away by my language and maniacal laughter. I was no longer toying with thoughts of abandoning the car, but rather with thoughts of borrowing a sledgehammer from the creepy guy who had pulled up beside us, and smashing away at the hood until I felt better. I called my husband. He stopped cutting hay and left with a trailer to load up the car and get it safely away from me.
We set out again after allowing the car to make the choice to start. We stopped to fuel up and decided against trying to find a nice restaurant, choosing instead to eat at the truck stop where I bought fuel. It was a pretty good meal, and it settled the nerves enough for us to feel good about heading out onto the highway to meet our trailer/tow truck.
A few miles down the road there was an accident. We don’t know what happened, but traffic was backed up for miles. There were many police cars, ambulances and emergency vehicles. Police were directing traffic. It looked very serious. The car did not stall. I spoke to the officer and he told me that getting past them to Lloydminster was no problem; I just had to go back a few miles and take a short detour that would put us back onto the highway.
The detour was approximately 100 km. Through some very beautiful countryside though. We saw very nicely landscaped farmyards, animals, and even a Hutterite family at work in the field. We stopped in the town of Mundare so our guest from the East could take a photo of their giant sausage, and generally made a sight-seeing tour out of our 100km detour. It would have been more fun if the car hadn’t stalled many times along the way, but we had a new appreciation of the fact that we were merely being inconvenienced. The people who were involved in the accidents we had seen would undoubtedly change places with us in a heartbeat.
Hours later, as we approached the truck stop where my husband was waiting with the trailer to rescue us, we saw more emergency vehicles speeding down the highway with lights flashing. We cannot know if they were also heading to the site east of Edmonton, or if there was another emergency, but wherever they were heading, we were happy to have only had engine trouble that day.
It had been a long drive, so while the guys loaded the car onto the trailer to be hauled home, I decided to take a break in the washroom….where there was no toilet paper….anywhere. Sometimes you just have to laugh.
“Is the glass half empty, half full, or twice as large as it needs to be?” – Unknown