After a relaxing week in Saskatoon, it was time to head home. It was an uneventful trip across highways 7 and 9, through Drumheller, into Calgary.
I love the colors of the prairies.
It was all good, until I decided we should stop to see Lake Louise…when the timing belt snapped.
Fortunately I’d charged the cell phone for emergencies and there was cell reception so we could call CAA for a tow. While we waited, we watched the sun move across the sky. Just as it was about to disappear behind the trees (90 minutes later), the tow truck arrived. We got a tow down to the Petro Can in Banff, then set off on foot with the bird stuffed inside my down jacket, to find a place to stay. The chap at the Information Center got us a deal at one of the hotels ($119 instead of the regular rate of $169). I noticed in their pamphlet that pets are not allowed. “Shhh Carlos!”
The next morning, Monday, we found on Booking.com that the hotel across the street was pet-friendly and considerably cheaper. The woman behind the desk was VERY sympathetic and checked us in right away, so we had a warm dry place to hang out while we figured out what to do next.
Plan A: First off, we considered renting a Uhaul truck and dolly to tow the car back to BC. But we couldn’t find a truck or dolly nearby, and one of the UHaul people told us we’d be crazy to try to tow a car across the Rockies using an empty truck.
Plan B: Next, we considered renting a car and leaving the Subaru in Banff, and sorting out the repairs from home. But I was really reluctant to abandon the car, and renting a car was going to cost as much as getting a tow back to Calgary.
Plan C: Our third option was to find a mechanic in Calgary and get a tow back there, and that is what we ended up doing. Patrick found a mechanic in the local Yellow Pages and I phoned the CAA to arrange another tow.
Here we are outside All Makes in Calgary. We couldn’t have found a better mechanic. He and the crew started working on our car on Monday afternoon, and had us back on the road by lunch time Wednesday. Amazing, considering they had the engine out, replaced the cylinder heads, gaskets, timing belt, clutch, and all sorts of other things. If you ever need a mechanic in Calgary, I would definitely recommend these guys!
On Wednesday, we left Calgary for the second time. It was +12 degrees C, but not for long.
Once we hit the Rockies, the rest of the trip was dark and wet.
And we were glad of our winter tires.
Until we got to the gulf islands!
The hero of the day was definitely the mechanic in Calgary. Those guys rock!
But I also have to give kudos to the bird, who put up with being stuffed inside my jacket more than once, smuggled into hotels, shushed over and over, bumped and rattled in two different tow trucks, dragged out to the supermarket when we got cabin fever in Calgary (which also meant being stuffed under my fleece and held onto tightly when we had to cross the road), and fed the most meager of rations (more apple Carlos?).
And cheers to Patrick who drove the entire way back from Saskatoon while I nursed a sinus infection.
Lessons learned? Upgrade my CAA membership so that it covers more than the first 5km of a tow.