Service, interrupted

What hapens when neither your car nor your cellphone work.

I once wrote a story called “Back Roads”, about a man who has a hankering to travel some of the roads snaking off from the highways around here. It stemmed in part from my own fascination with back roads, born of many years travelling in southern BC when I was a child.

The irony is that now that I live here, I rarely get to travel any back roads. So a few weeks back, when my husband and I were on a drive through Hat Creek Valley, I persuaded him to return home via Oregon Jack Road, a route I’ve known and loved for close on 40 years.

All was well, until we stopped to walk up to the pictographs near Three Sisters. When we returned to our vehicle, imagine the concern when our trusty Dodge Caravan suddenly and inexplicably refused to start. There was nothing obviously wrong under the hood – I always feel that if there’s no smoke then things can’t be that bad – but the van was as dead as a dodo.

I immediately reached for my Blackberry, but of course there was no service. My nifty piece of potentially life-saving technology had been reduced to an overpriced paperweight.

I quickly ran through the situation in my head. We were 4,000 feet up a mountain with a dead van, on a road with almost no traffic, in the middle of a forest filled with animals that would see us as a nice midday snack. Since the trip had been spur of the moment, no one knew where we were, and it looked as if it was going to start to rain. It was like a scene from a not very imaginative horror film, only without the benefit of anyone around to yell “Cut!”.

I knew there was a house about a quarter-mile away, so leaving Christopher to attempt to work miracles with the van I set out, trying to remember if it was make yourself big for a cougar and small for a bear, or vice versa. I was busy rehearsing my greeting to Candy and John Truscott, whose house I was heading for – but the speech was unnecessary, as there was no one home except two very zealous guard dogs.

Well, this was a blow, and no mistake. I tried to calculate how long a walk it was to the next house that was likely to be occupied. A very long way indeed (“And don’t forget about the bears and cougars!” whispered a cheerful voice in my head) was as far as I got, before the welcome sound of an approaching vehicle caught my ear. I ran towards the road, determined to flag the car down – but what to my wondering eyes should appear but Christopher in our once again trusty Caravan, firing on all cylinders.

In “Back Roads” the narrator finds something a lot worse than he bargained for down one particular road. My own story had a much happier ending; but it’s a reminder that while modern technology can be wonderful, it has its limits. And by the way, you make yourself big for both bears and cougars, although if the bear makes physical contact, make yourself small and play dead. At least I’ll know for the future.

Barbara Roden


Just Posted

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Most Read