I’m on my way to Port Alberni. Last night sometime in the wee hours of the morning I decided enough is enough – it’s time for me to get in the Van and go somewhere. So now the Red Mountain and I, minus Ceilidh are on our way up Island. Tomorrow I am going for a boat ride with “Lady Rose Marine Services” out of Port Alberni. It’s a cargo hauling workboat called the “M.V. Frances Barkley” and it goes to Bamfield and back dropping off freight along the way. Ceilidh has to stay home as I will be on the ship for the whole day and dogs aren’t allowed.
It’s been a challenge getting ready. I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Sometimes a person has to wonder if it is worth all this work just trying to get away for a few days. I watered and tended the garden and scrubbed the house down before I even started packing the van. I haven’t used the van this season so I loaded her up with all sorts of crap I’ll probably never use but will worry about if I don’t haul it with me. The weather is supposed to be sunshine and calm winds all the way but I’ve packed gravol and imodium just in case the weather guy is wrong. I am not the best sailor so I like to have drugs that cover both ends of me. I felt I was finally done once I emptied and cleaned the porti-potti and stuck it back in its little cubby-hole. As I pulled out of the driveway my little girl of a dog stared sorrowfully at me through the cracks of the fence her beady eyes watching intensely as I slithered away.
Within 15 minutes of hitting the road the van and I were stuck in road construction on the Old Island highway. I didn’t mind the wait at all. There was a lot to admire all around. All I can say is that there is something about all those red and yellow vests, heavy equipment and trucks, multicoloured hardhats and jeans that give me that tugboat feeling. The one thing I noticed pretty quickly while sitting there was that the van felt empty and lonely. There was no dog in the back doing a travel road dance. She likes to huff and puff while jumping up and down off the bed. In-between the up’s and down’s she’ll bark, snap and run back and forth from the front of the van to the back. So basically it’s up, down, and all around causing lots of commotion as I try to ignore her while I drive. I never thought I’d say this but I miss that irritating racket but I think this is the first time in 11 years she hasn’t joined me on a van trip.
Well, so much for the weather man’s clear sailing report. In the distance over the Saanich peninsula hung a few slightly grey puffed clouds in a clear cerulean sky. But up above me was one granddaddy of a dark cloud. It poured buckets as I drove over the Malahat. My windshield squirty thing would not squirt. So when I turned on my wipers I had lovely streaks of dark mud smeared across the glass. In-between the wet dust and dried up dead bugs I could barely see the little white sailboats and one man fish boats skimming across the water below me.
When the rain hit the Van it was chilly but I couldn’t turn on the heat as I was afraid my engine or radiator would blow up. You see my coolant from the heater under the dash is slowly leaking into the passenger side of the van. If you lift up the floor mat there is a steady drip line down the front, under the dash towards the floor. Not much but enough to worry me that if I turn on my heater something would let loose.
The reason I’ve got this in my head is because a mechanic told me something to this effect when he gave the van a $500 tune up last month. He told me I needed to fix the problem or it might blow up on me somewhere along the line and I’ll have a huge mess. As he told me this I could picture myself standing on the side of the highway trying to flag down a serial killer who would drag me off to some nasty place and probably a much nastier end. My legs quivered as I reached for my keys and I told him it would have to wait until another time. He had quoted me another $500 to fix the leak.
The Red Mountain has a slanted windshield that I don’t really like as it’s low on the top and the seats inside are high. When you’re looking out you feel like you have a ball cap on when you don’t. I want to cut out about six inches of the top so I can see more of the sky and get more light into the cab. The rain continued to belt down from above which cleaned my window and I no longer had to crook my neck to see. I made it without running into anyone to my first stop in Mill Bay at Serious Coffee for a coffee and treat.
I swung the van sharply into the parking lot and jumped out. I have on my worn Keen sandals, a light pair of cotton army green pants with the patch pockets and my black CBC T-Shirt. My right sandal is broken so I’ve tied it together with a multicoloured rainbow, foot long shoelace. I’ve weaved the lace in and about my Keen shoe to try and hold it together for one last summer. The coffee folks sitting at tables are staring at me as I stand in line . They see a worn Red Mountain outside in the lot and an aging old gal standing in line eyeballing the gluten, dairy and sugar free treats. I am not suppose to be drinking coffee but I order a regular one anyways and a delicious looking lemon poppy seed treat, gluten free, so I feel I can indulge safely. I feel carefree as I stare out the window sipping my drink and savouring my treat. I look out at the old girl waiting in the parking lot and a swell develops inside of me. I know I am one lucky darn gal to be hitting the road and going on a boat ride to boot.