Friday, June 8, 2012

Life's Twists and Turns

We are now in Edmonton, Alberta, and soon to leave for Vegreville - 1 hour east of here - to attend to funeral arrangements for Jeanette's father.  He passed away yesterday, early in the afternoon.

Downtown Peachland
Last Tuesday, while I was enjoying a chin wag - drinking far too many coffees - with a long time former work colleague of mine, who lives in Summerland, BC, Jeanette was burning the cell phone minutes discussing her father's critical situation after a fall in the long term care facility he was in.  A long suffering bone cancer patient, the fall broke his hip and he never did recover.  He quickly developed pneumonia and we immediately cancelled our Okanagan Valley plans, packed up the fiver, hitched up and we were on the road to Edmonton - via highway 5, north of Kamloops - by 9:00am yesterday morning.

Early Tuesday morning - closing up.
Tight but manageable exit from the RV park in Peachland, BC.
Heading west towards Merritt, BC before heading north on Highway 5.
RVers, who were sharing the park we were in, knew we were there for a few more days but became inquisitive when they saw us quickly packing and hitching up.  When told of our situation, all commented on the fact that Highway 1 - the Trans Canada Highway - was closed due to a landslide in the mountains between Revelstoke and Golden, BC.  We knew that.  Although the shortest route from the Okanagan to Edmonton, going through Merritt and north through Kamloops - through Jasper Park and on the Yellowhead Highway 16- was our favoured and only option.
Snow on the Coquihalla Connector high mountain pass.
The weather went from sunny and cool to rain, sleet, then snow at the highest elevation.

Just east from Mount Robson - the curve below is where our tires began burning blue smoke.
After refueling - diesel and food - in Blue River, BC, we continue north to the westbound connector to Highway 16.  Our goal was to get as close to Edmonton as possible - overnight somewhere on the road - then arrive at the funeral home by 11:00 am today.  That was not to least the overnight part.

Tires rubbing together at 60 mph does not bode well for a safe journey.
Descending a steep hill - about 55 km west of Jasper Park - I notice blue smoke emanating behind the fiver.  Looking at the passenger mirror showed a deeper blue.  Whoa!, thought I, something wrong with my truck?  I quickly realized it could be a bearing...but I had to exit the highway pronto.  The shoulder was my only option.  Had I not stopped when I did, the tires would have burned....and our rig could have burned too.  I had the fire extinguisher at the ready.  The tires cooled on their own...and I examined the stinking rubber undercarriage of the passenger side of the 5th wheel.  Not a pretty sight.  The rear axle spring shackle had broken.  That forced the rear axle onto the front axle - the tires furiously rubbing together, heating up and hence, the blue smoke.

The reason for the blue smoke and now damaged new tires.
The short of this story is this; we were in a no cell service zone.  Aarrgh!  After securing and unhitching, we drove to the west Jasper Park gates where we were allowed to use their land line to call AAA (BCAA and AMA).  That's a  story for another blog.  Suffice it so say that the level of incompetence - other than one really good lady at an AMA office Alberta - was really high!  It took no less than seven telephone calls to achieve little.

As I write this, we are well over five hours east from where our 5th wheel sits precariously on the edge of a major highway.  It has not been recovered yet.  AAA has contracts for the special equipment but not with a nearby town.  Get this, the recovery trailer and special truck has to travel from Banff, Alberta - a full four + hours away.  From there, our rig has to be hauled to the town of Hinton, Alberta - another 1.5 hours east from where it presently sits.

I received a call from towing firm this morning, asking if I was sitting near my 5th wheel.  AAA had promised they would explain our circumstances - funeral arrangements, etc...and the need for us to be where we are now - but the tow truck firm had no inkling of our situation.  It is, in short, a bizarre and incompetent handling of what should be a linear process.  I am far too puzzled to say more....but I sure could!  My faith in human beings continually erodes as I face such high levels of incompetence and lack of decisiveness.
Having a look at the problem
The broken shackle ....and hoping that the axle is not damaged.
Word now has it that my 5th wheel will not be towed till late this afternoon or early evening....a full 24+ hours after the incident.  Unbelievable!  That this could happen in this day and age is incomprehensible.
Damaged new tire.
I can only hope that the repair facility in Hinton will be competent and quick with solutions, parts and repairs.
Ho Hum!  At least the tanks are clean!
Fridges are empty and loaded into the truck.  Our clothing is in the truck too.
Jeanette and I drove to Jasper to be in cell phone service to maintain contact with AAA, get something to eat, take on more diesel, collect boxes needed for the refrigerator and frozen foods, before driving the 55 km back to our rig.  Once we had loaded everything that we needed, we closed off the propane then headed for the long 5+ hours drive to Edmonton.  We arrived at our son's home near 2:00 am, a full 19 hours after preparing our departure from Peachland, BC.
Sure hope the rig survived the night, and the day, before it is safely removed to a repair facility.  Nice view though....but the fiver looks lonely sitting there!
You must wonder how anyone could make this stuff up?  This is reality!  Seriously though, the twist and turns of life - and certainly in this case - only lead one to appreciate the smooth times.  We are not - by any means - overwhelmed by this.  The AAA process? Yes, of course we are frustrated but, this will be resolved at one point or other.  We have had so few encounters like this in our life....and this one will be resolved.

We have more urgent priorities.  The funeral arrangements are first!  Consoling and spending quality time with Jeanette's mom is most important.  That's our goal today. Family will take precedence over a broken shackle....and towing.....and repairs!

More later.

Thanks for dropping in, as usual.


  1. What a sad and frustrating time for the two of you! I am so sorry for your loss. Just continue to take things one at a time and carry on. Let someone else worry about the rig repairs and you take care of Jeanette's mom! Things like this have a way of sorting themselves out.

  2. I am so sorry for your loss. That alone is more than difficult enough to deal with but having the issue with your 5th wheel compounded by the incompetence of your support company is horrible. You seem to have all your priorities straight so I hope that the other problems will be handled safely on your behalf.

  3. First, let me express my condolences for the loss of Jeanettes, Dad. I'm very sorry.

    As far as AAA, I've always been pleased with them except for an incident that happened last year when I requested trip tix and they tried to direct me through NY tunnels with propane.

    The last time I used them for service, they were excellent. They sent two flat bed trucks--one for my trailer and one for my truck and I was on my way within a couple of hours. Sorry you didn't have the same experience, especially with the stress you were already under.

    Hope all goes well, now. Scary the things that can happen when towing.

  4. Wow now that's a really bad day and the kind of thing I dread, particularly as a single RVer with a pet. I can't imagine leaving my home on the side of the road like that. Well it all gets better from here -- one thing at a time!

  5. My goodness..can the day get any worse sorry for the loss if your father-in-law....hope the trailer is towed away soon..things could have been much for that I am sure you are most thankful..
    Take care

  6. On behalf of Paulette and myself please accept our condolences on the loss of Jeanette's Father. Jeanette, we will be thinking of you and your family during this difficult time.

    Mechanical problems can happy to anyone at anytime. Considering what could have happened (i.e. fire or a tire blowout) things could have been much worse. I'm sure glad no one was injured by this break.

    Having said that, I share your frustration over the total lack of concern or ability to just do the job they were contracted to do. What's so difficult about just doing your job? This should not be anything new for them, right?

    I hope your 5'er gets towed soon and the repairs handled quickly and efficiently in Hinton.

    Again, our condolences to Jeanette and best wishes to all of you.

  7. Judy and I pass along our condolences... Our prayers are with you.

  8. Condolences to both of you and Jeanette's family. Let's hope the fifth wheel has reached the repair facility!

  9. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and Jeanette and her family during this time of sorrow.

    As for the fiver well that is just stuff and as you say it will be resolved.

  10. Rene' We are very sorry to hear of Jeanette's fathers passing and both send our sincere condolences. Hope all goes well with the 5'er repair and glad you both were Ok.

  11. A brief note to say a big Thank You for your thoughts. Most appreciated!