It is an unbelievably gorgeous, sunny afternoon. I’m standing on the side of what might be Highway 97. I’m not sure exactly where I am because less than an hour ago I crossed the Alberta border into British Columbia for the first time. Unfortunately I am one of those people who rely heavily on their GPS to guide them and I haven’t been paying attention. I do know that I am roughly 50 kilometres outside of Golden. My car is smoking in front of me.
My cell phone is dead, so I can’t call BCAA to come and tow me to the nearest mechanic. It wouldn’t do much good anyway because it is Sunday and hardly anything is open. I have less than 24 hours before I am due in Oliver to start my new job at the Chronicle, but at this moment, surrounded by trees and mountains, all I am thinking about is how beautiful it is here and what a great tan I am going to get on my legs while I am trying to flag someone down.
Tan aside; the situation is starting to seem a little grim. No one is stopping and the clock is ticking. I raise my arms and put on my best damsel in distress face when I see a car approaching.
As the driver speeds past me I start thinking about my cat. If she were here right now she would be extremely unhappy. Like most cats, she is not a fan of five-day road trips. But Dinah isn’t with me. She is in a hotel in Northern Ontario.
I think I might be getting ahead of myself here. I’ll start at the beginning. Last summer I left the newspaper I was working for to go back to school to study video and audio production in Windsor, Ontario. I completed school on April 22 and was fortunate enough to get an interview with the Chronicle a few weeks later. On May 24 I received my job offer.
You can imagine the jumping and shrieking that went on when my phone rang that day. After I called almost everyone I know to tell them I had basically won the job lottery, reality set in. I had to start in three weeks.
That left me two weeks to pack up my things, and my cat, say goodbye to everyone, and drive across four provinces. Those two weeks flew by and on June 10, I crammed as many of my belongings as I could into my tiny car and embarked on my first trip across Canada, well, half of it anyway.
On my third day I stopped in Sioux Lookout, Ontario to see some friends. I stayed in a hotel that was advertised as “pet friendly”, but had the misfortune of getting a room with a cat-sized hole in the wall under the sink in the bathroom. Apparently they had been working on some plumbing and didn’t close it up. Disgruntled from the three-day drive, Dinah found the hole, went inside it and refused to come out. I had the entire hotel on cat alert and convinced the maintenance crew to bring out the blue prints to the building so that we could see where she might go. I even stayed in town an extra day trying to coax her out to no avail. If I wanted to make it to Oliver in time for my first day, which was to be June 17, I needed to keep moving. If I had my way I would have stayed until she came out. I hated the thought of leaving her behind but the realist in me didn’t think it would be a wise move to call my new boss and explain that I would not make it in on my first day because my cat got lost in a wall. So I forged on through the rest of Ontario and across the Prairies.
I drove through Calgary just as the sun was going down. That was when I saw the Rocky Mountains for the first time. Words cannot describe it. Even in silhouette the sight was breathtaking. Absolutely nothing could have prepared me for what I saw when I crossed into British Columbia the next day. I’ve been around, but I have never seen anything quite like it, right here in our own country. No wonder everyone who comes here never leaves!
That is what I was thinking when it happened – my car began to slow. Then it made a horrible noise followed by the urgent blinking of my check engine light. And then, inevitably, it just stopped. And that takes us to the beginning of my story. Someone did stop and allow me to use her phone to call BCAA to come and tow my car to a mechanic in Revelstoke, where it remains, along with most of my possessions, for the time being. I should be able to pick it up at the end of the week. I did get a great tan on my legs while I waited for the tow and was quite pleased about that. The tow truck driver was incredibly kind and got a friend of his who owns a rental company to come from home and rent me a car so I could get to Oliver on time.
I also got a phone call from the hotel. They found my cat and she is in good hands until I can get her a flight, most likely to Kelowna, where I can collect her. In the end, I did make it to work for my first day. Actually, I was 15 minutes early, which is a big deal for me because I am often late. That probably isn’t something you want to hear from a reporter, but trust me, come hell or high water, or in my case, cat drama and car drama, I will always get where I need to be.