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​Information and services offered are for educational, spiritual, and entertainment purposes only.

© 2015 by Brett Carstens. All rights reserved.

Skirting Disaster

If only I knew in advance that I'd be ok, I could go on with a bit more grace...

 

I think I articulated this idea on this month-long trip. I had ridden a dirt bike solo from Los Angeles to the Arctic circle in Alaska and was on my way back towards home when disaster struck. Now this wasn't a real-life, true disaster where lives were in jeopardy or consequences were serious. It was more of an inconvenience, the kind we get caught up in on a weekly basis.


When we're swept up in the emotions and turmoil during a crisis it's hard to see that we'll eventually get through it and we'll be okay, but we will. And on a spiritual level, we'll be better for having had the experience. 


...So know in advance that you'll be ok. Trust that you'll make it through this ok...

 

After leaving Canmore, I got into the most intense riding I've ever had on regular roads in a typical first-world environment.  I'd have stopped to take photos of all of this, except that oil was leaking from my bike whether I was stopped or moving, and I needed to focus on getting to my destination.


About 50 miles down the road from Canmore, I had just passed a gas station. I've gotten in the habit of checking my trip odometer to note the mile/kilometer of the last station, since I've been on so many deserted stretches sin petrol.  A few miles beyond the station, my Spidey-sense started going off and I looked down at my left boot--which was covered with oil.  "Oh fuck.  I may be done with my trip."  I took a quick look at the motor and decided to ride back to the station to figure out what to do.  

 

With some parking lot wrenching, I discovered that a plastic bag had wrapped up on my chain and gotten pulled and twisted around my front sprocket.  It melted into and tore out part of a seal, spraying oil all over my leg and left side of my bike.  Cool.  I've got to be the only one in history to have this happen with a plastic bag.  Totally unique experience.  Wonderful.

 

The station owner, who became involved in assisting me with some rags and mineral spirits to clean my bike, found a Suzuki dealer in Cochrane, about 50 miles away, so that sounded like a good target for me. I happened to have a quart of Rotella-T motor oil with me, so I made sure I had oil in the crank case, crossed my fingers, and headed off.

 

The ride was stressful, intense, and scary.  First, my focus was solely on staying safe, and keeping oil in the bike.  I had to ride at a reasonable pace on the shoulder, periodically pulling over to check my oil.  Next, I realized that I was riding towards the biggest thunderhead that I had ever seen, with a giant mushroom cloud developing near the top.  This cloud eventually spawned the beginning of two tornadoes.  I had never seen this before, except on TV--a small but definite cone, and a tube rolling at a 45-degree angle near the cloud.  Wow.  Cool.  I'd figure out what to do as I went if this developed into something worse.

 

Then, with the cloud at my back, I hit the highway. The 110 kph speeds were too fast for me to even feel comfortable on the shoulder, so at the next exit, I pulled off and found my GPS rerouting me to Cochrane via dirt roads.  With it getting dark rapidly from the shade of the giant clouds, and with oil spewing from my bike, I really didn't want to, but turned down the dirt road towards my destination.

 

After what felt like a very long time, and with a hoot of joy, I made it back onto a paved road. Soon after, I began to feel something like giant insects hitting my visor and jacket.  Nope.  It was marble-sized hail that was eventually accompanied by thunder, lightning, and heavy rain.  Enough that I pulled into a closed gas station to wait it out and call Crystal, who found me the last remaining room anywhere within 50 miles.  

 

The Calgary Stampede was happening that week, so everything was booked and at high prices. I got a $40 room for a mere $110.  What a steal.

 

After letting the storm pass, I hopped on the bike and headed off for the last miles to Cochrane.  I should have waited longer because I immediately caught up to the storm, and it had increased so much that I wanted to pull over, but couldn't because I couldn't see.  The rain was so hard on my visor that I couldn't see anything of the road but the yellow stripes in the center.  I was able to stay on the road by using my GPS, which showed me generally where the road was going, and with the flashes of the road that I got from the lightning strikes. 

 

The lightning was terrifyingly intense, so much that the local Calgary news was talking about it for days to afterward.

 

I was shaking by the time I pulled into the motel.  But I did make it.  Whew!

 

I spent three nights in Cochrane, Alberta.  It turned out that the Suzuki Dealer was a car dealership and couldn't get me the $11 part. Neither could anybody else in Alberta, so the part had to be sent on a Greyhound bus from Vernon, British Columbia.  

 

Then, on the day it was supposed to arrive at the motel, I found out that I needed to go pick it up 50 miles away in Calgary.  I had three hours to get there, before they closed for the weekend.  After looking into all of my options, I booked a rental car online, discovered that I left my credit card at a restaurant, and called the rental place to come pick me up, while retrieving my lost credit card.  

 

The guy at the rental place told me that the online booking was broken and he didn't have any cars.  I told him that he was my only hope, and explained my predicament.  The guy said he'd figure it out and came and picked me up in a dirty, abused little car.  

 

I raced to Calgary, where Greyhound had temporarily lost my package, then after a few "this can't be happening" minutes, I left with the crankshaft seal safe in my pocket.  

 

I dropped off the car at the rental agency, walked a couple miles back to motel, and had the trip-stopping part installed within 10 minutes of arriving. Whoopee! I was done with what felt like cursed luck, and back on the road. 


If I could have trusted that it would have turned out ok, I could have skipped the worry and struggle that I neglected to emphasize in my writing.


...So know in advance that you'll be ok. Trust that you'll make it through this ok...

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Brett Carstens

info@brettcarstens.com

323-515-9111

2633 Lincoln Blvd #523, Santa Monica, CA 90405