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The Transmission Trial

In reviews of the first Powder Road book, there were media pundits who aired the word "redneck" in the general vicinity of the project. Granted, we employed a lot of old cars, campers, and sleds that broke over the course of the trip. Those unfortunate breakdowns invariably became part of the story line, and rightly so. We were on a expedition style road trip with some schiesse gear, afterall. You need wheels to travel and breakdowns make for good storytelling. But, somehow amidst it all, our mechanical mishaps turned us into this fantastic notion of a bunch of guys who drink whisky and cheap domestic beer while pouring diesel fuel onto a bonfire after a hard day of 2-stroking it. Seriously. In reality, we are environmentally conscience folks who like to travel cleanly and with minimal impact and emissions. If you totaled the emissions generated on the Powder Road trip they would be less then a Himalayan climbing trip with all of its air miles and dirty buses. That's another story though. For this project, we thought we would focus back on the beauty and experience of being in the mountains, and keep the story away from the gear. The John C. Anderson, a 2002 Ford F-350 with less than 50,000 miles, and newly equipped to run on french fry grease, would be the anchor of the trip- a dependable workhorse that would pull its load silently and not enter the story line. You can't imagine the sick laughter at 1 a.m when in Abbotsford British Columbia, just after picking up Tobias, Oskar, and Mike and about to truck north along Highway 1, the John C.'s transmission failed- and only 1000 miles after the warranty expired. And so there we were for 3 days, marooned with another mechanical in a suburb of sprawling grey skies and hedge-lined houses. The Japanese food lunches, Indian food dinners, and the children's waiting room- complete with funny ball cage- at the Ford dealership became our haunts. On the second evening, Tobias brewed up some mojitos at the Best Western. With mint and rum flowing through the veins, we had dinner at the Best Western Restaurant downstairs. Laughter was at a premium, the conversation good, and we each imagined our dream power trios- with two of us picking Hendrix on lead guitar. As the night stepped down, an older gentleman with a tweed jacket, pearl white hair, jolly smile, and red bolo tie walked past our table. He stopped briefly and announced, "I took a shower this morning." And before anyone could even digest his words, he walked out of the door of the restaurant like an apparition from another dimension.