"In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks."
John Muir

Monday, October 10, 2011

Where IS that pilot car, anyway?

We drove many hours southward near the coastline in glorious
British Columbia. Our goal was to veer off the Cassiar Highway onto
a little road to Hyder, Alaska. We'd heard this town is interesting in that
Hyder is officially in Alaska but the school is in Canada.
Not only different countries but time zones and currency, as well.
Also near a salt water fjord upon the US/Canadian border.
seemed worth the 80 miles off the route.
That was the plan, anyway.
Until around just one more bend in the winding road--WHOA!!

Being positioned behind a commercial truck, we came to a sudden halt.
In response to asking what the hold-up was all about we learned that we were waiting for a
pilot car to take us through. Well, that's a little delay but we've certainly had to wait for these cars before. Usually the longest wait was 30 minutes.
But honestly, seeing the road crew sitting in a chair with a log fire and portapotty
made us a bit uneasy. Seemed a bit too permanent.

Our senses were right on!
To our shock and dismay we learned that the pilot car wait was 2 hours--
And even worse, it only made the trip one more time this evening
and then closed the road until 8 AM. It was now 6PM.
What to do?
Well, the workers calmly told us that the line of waiting cars just sat there all night,
the people inside sleeping in the cars.
It was cold. We were miles and miles from any gas stations.
Couldn't risk using much gas for the heater. Quite a dilemma. Unbelievable, really.

Around 8:10 the pilot car showed up.
Driver got out and hung around visiting, no sign of urgency to stay on schedule.
I finally walked up to talk to her and get some information.
Road was washed out 2 weeks ago by heavy mountain rains.
That's it. This is life living in a coastal mountain area.

We eventually began the caravan, traveling 20 mph for an hour behind the pilot car.
We were amazed by the many pieces of heavy equipment working in this wide area,
trying to repair so many places where there was no longer a road.

Our arrival to Hyder/Stewart was totally blocked as there was another
washout on the road to there and it only opened 3 times daily.
Of course there was no cell service and we couldn't call to cancel.
We were so grateful that we were simply passing through because we had met
other drivers that had to do this as part of their daily commute.
Can you even imagine that kind of patience?


The moral of this true story is:
The next time you grow edgy sitting at a red light,
remember our adventure with the pilot car on the Cassiar Highway.
And breathe a sigh of thankfulness.
Your light will quickly turn to green.

1 comment:

  1. So where did you go to spend the night? You guys certainly had adventures! carol e