They weren't wrong (we'll come back to who THEY were later). The trip had some of the most stunning scenery I've ever seen and it was like driving through a safari park.I was lucky enough to have a fun travel buddy as well (this will be important later in the story).
So... what possessed us to make this trip? Some may say repeated moments of madness, some may say a sound commercial decision, others might say IKEA (or maybe I was the only one saying this?). In reality it was a mix of fact finding and gathering of supplies.
It's important to us that we shop as locally as possible in an effort to reduce our carbon footprint. However, we are a victim of our geographical location. It's the thing that makes things so wonderful here in Dawson but at the same time considerably more expensive. As we discussed a number of our renovation supplies an worked them into our budgets, it became apparent that for certain things, not only could we not afford them but they would break our budget so dramatically that a little company like us with limited buying power at this stage, would struggle. the other main reason to take a trip to the big city was to establish relationships with suppliers we will need for future projects. So... we bit the bullet. Off we set with a shopping list, a 5 day round trip ahead of us and snacks.
And then the problems began. In Stewart Crossing, we found we had an oil leak. A quick assessment by a friendly mechanic in Whitehorse diagnosed our problem but with the stark news that our old truck would need a part from Alberta as they couldn't find anywhere else closer that had the (obsolete) part. How lucky, we were going to Alberta. The advice, keep checking the oil and add more as needed. We arrive in Alberta after a stop every 300km to check and add oil, each time hoping it would spontaneously heal itself but with no such luck.
Problem 1 fixed, only to be told that we had a break problem that could be fixed the following day and without that fix, we would likely become the subject of a TV news story. That story headline would probably have read something like "A pair of Yukoners thought they could drive without breaks and this devastating multi-car accident is the result of their stupidity". With that in mind, of course we got the breaks fixed!
After some serious shopping, meeting some construction and hotel equipment suppliers , a couple of nights in a youth hostel we start our journey home. All was going smoothly until bam! Out of nowhere as we pulled into a rest stop to do a driver swap, the engine started to steam. And there, our of the bottom of the engine, car blood was pouring. I say car blood, I was assured this was transmission fluid and that was bad. Fortunately we had the only bar of cell service we needed to call a tow truck and be taken to Fort Nelson, where the nicest heavy duty garage was able to get us fixed up and on the road the next morning. At this point, all of the savings we'd made from shopping in Alberta were gone. But we still had the benefit of making some face to face relationships and so as we searched for the silver lining, we were on the road again. Only to discover a new problem with the automatic transmission that prevented us from really getting any more than 40km per hour out of the truck. A discussion with the mechanic who had done such a great job on the original problem revealed either a slow limping drive home or a 3 day stay in Fort Nelson for a further repair as our options. So we started limping. The first reassuring sign that we were making prgress was the sign for Watson Lake. We were close enough to Yukon for there to be a sign. And then we calculated our journey time. The drive to Watson that should take about 3.5 hours was going to take us over 9. Our spirits sank a little as we were passed by the 50th big camping trailer. But as a natural optimist, I searched for the silver lining. And found it. How many people get to drive through the amazing safari park that is Northern BC at a speed where you get to see everything?
My photographic skills are truly appalling. So I missed the majority of the wildlife but we stopped counting black bears we saw so many. There were bison and Dall sheep everywhere. We saw 2 Grizzly bears, so many porcupine, bunnies and other little scurrying rodents that I couldn't identify. It was amazing to be able to drive through this part of Canada, however, at 2am in Watson Lake, even my optimism, bolstered by the wildlife sightings and scenery was wearing thin.
And then, out of nowhere after a driver swap in Teslin, as we pulled onto the highway, we had an unexpected gear change and we were able to go a little faster, then it happened again and again. We were travelling at a normal speed and the truck didn't sound angry anymore. And with that we had a smooth uneventful return to Dawson. Terrified to turn the engine off in case the gremlins came back but we made it home without incident.
So here we are, 5000km later with a lot of supplies that saved us a lot of money and a lot of truck that cost us a lot of time and money. But an experience that was priceless. So here we are, back home. Hitting the renovations hard and having lost a week to the trip with questionable benefit in terms of cost savings. What we do have though is a much greater appreciation of the strength and resilience within the team. Not only can we do this, we can be successful. Partly because of our stubborn resolve to not be beaten by the odds and partly because of our determination and drive to achieve our goals. I think both are good things to have. When balanced with continuously checking our thoughts and behaviours against our company values, we have a winning combination that will give Yukon Spaces its edge. And after a 500km round trip on about 16 hours sleep each over 5 days, anything else has to be achievable... right?? It's just a matter of getting on it?