Katie and her boyfriend Colin invited me for a weekend of camping and exploring at the Lion’s Head (north end of Priest Lake). 24 hours later they probably wished they never had.
I’m a new driver and want to practice my chauffeuring skills so we all got into my 1991 Mitsubishi Montero and drove to the end of a dirt road in the wild Selkirks. After 3-4 hours of playing around Devil’s Falls we return to the vehicle and—click—the battery is dead. I’d left the lights on. I feel terrible and crossing eyes we realize “this is a serious problem”.
So we hop out to start on the 5-mile walk down, where we haven’t seen a soul since setting off. Fortunately we have plenty of light left, and there is water. Colin has no shoes and perhaps this is why he had the epiphany; “let’s roll it down the hill!” Duh. The road is steep and rugged with boulders and trenches and I learn that brakes don’t work very effectively without the engine running. Hey, this is fun!
We laugh and reflect on how stupid I am and are all amazed at how far this car rolls on flat spots. We often jump out—car still creeping along—push with all our might up a slope and jump back in. Coast-jump-push-jump-coast. Because it’s getting more flat, we let the car go fast to make up for it while I yell “Hold on!!” Still laughing, we stop to get some water. Out of habit I turn the key off (the same habit that failed me to turn the lights off earlier) and we’re soon back on our way in neutral gear.
Picking up speed again, I steer into the curve ahead. And then—CLICK—the wheel locks! “I can’t steer!” We’re going off the road and straight for a drop-off where our fall (and our teeth) would have gracefully been broken by some mature cedar trees.
We now know what Katie Botkin will say in the face of death: “Holy shit!” Meanwhile, Colin, who is next to me, seems to have frozen. I hit the weak brakes as hard as I can, intuitively reach for the emergency brake and miraculously manage to stop us a foot from serious injury. Then, rational Colin drily contributes “Steering locks in neutral with the engine off.” I had no idea.
We push ourselves back on the road, take a few deep breaths and continue. I was feeling bad before, but now I nearly killed my co-worker and her handsome partner who is also a father. A little while later we face a hill too steep to push the Montero up and leave it in the shoulder. 10 minutes later a massive pickup comes up the hill! I try to flag it down, but he’s reluctant to stop so I practically block its way and walk up to the window. “Can you jump-start our truck, it’s a half mile up the road.” The old man seems apprehensive but finally gets out, showing a huge gun, rows of 9mm bullets and one impressive buck knife on his belt. Here’s one o’ them folks. No cables so he offers us a ride to camp. I haven’t caught a ride in the back of a pickup since I was in Peru, and it’s lovely.
Is it raining?
Ah, windshield wash. I was feeling a bit warm anyway.
Two young men in a wild camp along the road stare at us go by, puzzled. They saw us go up the hill in a car and come down in the back of a different one. So I wave fanatically at them while they have another sip of beer.
We take Colin’s huge dependable well-equipped truck (with seat warming) back 1.8 miles to jump my Walmart battery (in case you were wondering which brand not to buy) and reflect we probably used up all our luck for a year. This was confirmed when we got stuck behind a camper van. “Are they Germans? Because if they are Germans we definitely have used up all of our luck.”
Did I recently write I was feeling bored? Here’s what I did about it. I’ve resorted to stay inside until 2017. The next day I went online and bought my awesome car an awesome new battery.