VANCOUVER FRI 18th SEP.
Homer Alaska is behind me, its 4pm and have got away heading for Anchorage 3hours plus drive……on my journey I can decide were I want to stop and how far I go in any one day…….I am set up for that with the vehicle, today is Saturday so a beer in town would be good and I could bump into some friends there. The drive is easy and I make the city for 7.30ish and camp again in the R/V park in the centre….set up my tent to clip on the back of the van and make up my bed……I don’t have a watch I don’t need one and I don’t miss one…I have the time, its on my cell phone should it be wanted. There again I have gone through so many time zones up to 9hrs in Alaska to the UK you sometimes get fooled anyway, its later than I think as darkness is on me, I’d almost forgotten about that stuff and walk the short distance to the pub and just stay for the one before heading back. I find I don’t stay to long in places of population, I have I think been like that most of my life and living on the ISLE OF MULL is good for me, whenever I go back there it is the best place to be……..I do try to plan when to go to a populated place just to top up (my need to get out of there gene) it works for me.
Sunday and I am up early into the laundry room to get my smalls done and to make usage of the wi-fi to catch up on friends……there’s one there from Rick Higgs of the Vancouver Mini Club…..Rick’s been great and was the first to make contact with me when I put some e-mails out to CANADA MINI CLUBS before leaving the UK……and if I recall his e-mail basically said if I get down to him, the club would like to meet up, they have things planned they would like me to join in with………so if I get to him for the 12th then we would as they say in Canada (be good to go)……and with that in the back of my mind I set of for the the Canadian border which I will get to tomorrow.
The drive now is a lot easier and a real joy as the countryside is going through its transition to autumn……this is the part of the world, you should be in at this time of the year…….the same should be said when I started on the Atlantic side of this trip……out of spring into summer, but this is the Pacific side and there is much change to the countryside, the colours are out of this world……..take…..green, yellow, brown and red, hen take all the shades of each colour…….you then add the blue sky the white clouds, the odd black mountain that shades the sun also throw in the odd glacier……..I could go on…….like the many rivers, it was so good to be alive and all day I had to put up with this. That night I stopped just outside TOK and for some reason was feeling a bit under the weather…….bed came early that night. Today unbeknown to me was a Labour Day holiday in both Canada and U S A, great I had the road to myself and I felt a lot better after cooking breakfast on my MATTY stove (it’s a Coleman petrol one) so named after a friend I get to see usually when he takes time out to come and service our TOUR OF MULL car rally, he does a lot of work for M-SPORT the FORD backed WORLD rally TEAM…..he is a whizz for them on his laptop……as the drivers don’t drive them anymore the laptop man does,…..anyway dishes washed and tent packed up I head out for the border that’s 90miles down the road. I pass the U S Border post and travel a further 20 miles to the Canadian Border post thinking who owns this bit in the middle and should I put an offer in for it……..trust me it’s quiet and as I pull up to the box I can see that there is no barrier down…should I make a run for it….do they leave it down on purpose to test you…… I hope I have all the paperwork and all the answers to the questions that I get asked……you have to enter your brain into a different node when you get to a border……good afternoon sir……now they like sinple answers back, but if you take a chance and slip two in then you could gain some high ground……Vancouver…..and onto Russia……this way if I am a terrorsist then I am leaving the country…….any guns…….only a flare gun (that you would use if you had a hole in your boat at sea) it was given to me by Bill de Crefft back in Homer….it’s a handy thing to have and is legal…….any beer……tobacco….no mam……what’s in the alluminium box…my tools………ok have a good day and off I go noticing that I had left my camcorder on…must play it back and see what it sounds like.
I must have covered a few miles today, sorry kilometres in Canada as I filled up twice today….I have had 700KMs on a good day out of the gas tank on the main highway,…. but I can not give spot on figures guys, as the Odometer has not worked since stopping at13,000KMs……talking of…that reminds me.
Back in Homer at the airfield hanger do you remember me telling you about my check over of the vehicle and sorting out the inboard drive pods, cleaning and adusting the brakes etc., also refitting the front shockers after taking them off 25,000miles ago……… having taken all that time to figure out why they kept breaking the top bolt off….well I don’t wish to name, names and I won’t but let me say that I had a couple of young apprentices helping out on some of the build (bless them, they were just trying to help). One of them, the younger of the two, offered to fit the front upper shock mounting brackets that are held on with four short bolts, this he did….the items are competition ones so these were welded in place (we do this on our rally cars) what the stupid tall, spotty faced young brainless, thumb in his mouth clown forgot to check was that they are handed…….thus fitting them on the wrong sides upside down…….but not to worry I have removed the two items and rebolted them back on and refitted the shocks………..I of course will be talking to the main culprit and he will be supplying my BEER needs for the rest of my life, no matter where in the world that I maybe.
So back to the plot…..as I say I am heading south and I am in the Yukon the road is clear of traffic for most of this holiday……..but you are never alone, trust me somewhere in hiding is a large animal in one shape or another…….car killing animals big or small things that come out from nowhere and in a in a flash you are history, concentration is a must…….well here goes, first you focus on the road what type of road is it? Lets say its paved, if it is then you tend to push on and up goes your speed thus giving a greater impact if the beast walks, runs or falls onto the road…….when it appears do I hit it and avoid weaving and rolling down an endless embankment or just pray the beast goes into reverse but by then you have made your move…..so now you get the picture. So with two of your many eyes you look at the road,….your right eye looks ahead your left eye looks over the bonnet….yet both feeding back to the control centre the road conditions. Don’t forget this is a paved road, all sorts get thrown at you……some times its pot holes that will wipe out your suspension (as I now), then there is the launch pad, the one that puts you into orbit. This one you train your right eye to watch for…..the tell tale trick is to look at the verge and see if the edge is flat or it has dropped away……..so how about the dirt road, well the same applies but build into that the size of the stones,….is it dry or wet, then add the dust the stones from a vehicle that you may be following or the oncoming traffic…..let me tell you, if you are doing say, as I was at the time, 100km an hour down hill, with drops both sides when a big truck came round the corner doing the same speed on a dirt road and you’re both travelling in the centre of the road (its safer if you do, more time to make a decision) with a half mile dust trail behind you it’s frightening for a while, but having said that most days I ask myself were is the rest of the people, you can have days that you only see a couple of vehicles.
I am now out of the Yukon and into British Columba all the time the landscape is changing and the weather was getting hotter. On this part of the drive it was to me to have the greatest amount of changes to the landscape….simply one minute, it was as I had said before colour, mountains and trees….now it was dry like cowboy country but with pastures then desert and dry barren mountains, followed by narrow gorges with deep rivers and lots of Canadian Pacific Rail long, long trains, the landslides that come with the area,……the traffic was getting more and could feel that city feeling (the fast lane) city’s are not top of my list to get to……….but I am getting excited to be getting near to the finish of my first leg…30,000 miles is quite a lot in 5months….I would be meeting Rick Higgs and the guys from the Vancouver Mini Club, who I will be staying with for a while. Also they are having a run up to Whistler with a stop over and I am to join them with my vehicle. I have been to Whistler in a former life before and look forward to going back. l have to say the thought of getting back to see my grandchildren and to hook up with my daughter Louise is good ….. She, I think, is more excited than me…..why…..well the two of us get together for the 2009 TOUR OF MULL CAR RALLY. It’s forty years this October since the first one, so it’s a bit special since I was there for the first, I packed it in a couple of years ago and left Louise to keep up the family name…….then just as I was about to leave on my journey JIM from R.A.C.E Motorsport……(not a bad apprentice) his business is building all forms of Mini. He’s been there and done it all……… said to me…..well Diddy if I were to put together this 1275GT Clubman and make it a Historic build, would you drive it on the 40th?…….Jim no matter were I am in the world, I would love to come back and drive it…so the seed was sown and this car is ready. It’s 40 years old to the month of October, but the best bit is Louise is to navigate for me. She is a good navigator and can handle her own rally Mini when she drives it and is navigated by another girl and has done that for a few years…..they have the best of time together amongst the guys on the rally that lasts for 3days and 2nights.
So I am on my last day of driving and its not long before I get on the final highway into Vancouver or Pitt Meadows which is 25 miles due East of Vancouver.
So as most of you know if I have a plan, which I don’t, the next big move is to Russia. I might just put that on hold…and I am awaiting some input back to me that I have put out and will make the decision on what route I will take over the winter back in the U K.
Well these blogs have got longer……maybe I have got a hidden talent and I do have lots to share with you all……l have kept a log for each day so maybe I can put together some more stuff.
Any way I am about to sign of for this part of the trip and of course met SO, SO many people on this trip to date and do want to thank you all…….on this journey across CANADA and ALASKA. As I have said to a few of you on the way…you guys could teach the world a thing or two…….not the government but you guys as people….there is something that is special with you,….don’t let the world change you…….so I will, if you don’t mind mention a few manes……starting back in Halifax with Chris Reid at the Border/Customs Agency……Peter & Anne Freeman that looked after me and drove me round to sort things out in Halifax………..Mike & Sharon & all my friends on P.E.I….be back…….to Gerard, Dave and there Mum Theresa up by Meat Cove, Cape Breton……..to so many people on the ROCK ….Newfoundland, there were so many including all the LIONS guys, the cellphone pioneers at the Lion Max Simms camp and to Paul Malone and his mini in St Johns……….to that very nice Trooper that told me about the BEAR that was busey in Churchill Falls were I was camping…..to the 10 girls that fed me food and beer on their ‘hen night‘……..to Jack, Karen and Lisa in Lab City……….then there was Kieth, Deb and Cathrine of the Mainly Minis Montreal (an Oasis in the desert)…………to so many more I met as I drove across that I will e-mail back home ………to Robert Rogers who I met in Inuvik and he did a drawing on the rear of the van of a polar bear….fantastic…also to the Ice Road Truckers getting ready for the next filming……then there was Alaska…so many great people…….again to the Lions Club and the whole of the Village of Anderson/Clear…for that great WEEK and the Blue Grass Festival we all worked at, and to Mary Jane great, great time………and to Homer it’s the end of the road west…Russia would come next if there was a road,…….there is so many names to thank here…..but have to limit it…..Bill and Barbara De Crefft, Bill is 77 and should be 40…a fab guy…we have unfinished work to do……..and I just can not and will not leave out Mike McCann….he has Irish in him should I say more,..he is lots of things, float plane pilot, writer of just the best short stores, so funny and most of them true……..and finally to Vancouver and Rick & Elaine Higgs, Larry Sutton for storing the mini over the winter and to all the Vancouver Mini Club people……to you ALL and with a TEAR in my eye I say THANK YOU.
Dave Thomas…..Diddy Dave……Diddy……or the Polar Bear…how ever you remember me.