A Once in a Lifetime Trip

One of my epic adventures started when I got out of the military. I was discharged in Anchorage, Alaska and decided to ship all my stuff home and make the 5,500 mile drive back to the Catskill Mountains of New York.

I had a car after all, though it was this great big car, which my friends called the Blue Boat.  It was a 1977 Mercury Cougar, and pretty much a gas guzzler due to it’s weighing two tons with a 351 engine under the hood.  The car was nearly 18 feet in length and around five and a half feet in width.  My dad's dual axle dump trucks were only slightly larger in parking space needs.

Now the kicker is that this car was ten years old when I made this trip in 1987.  Yet it managed to survive an average of 800 miles a day during my week long journey. The only issue I had was a transmission leak in Grand Prairie, Alberta.  I figured I was up to driving to the next town, but the car decided it wanted to die a couple miles out.  I ended up blocking this guy’s driveway before it finally gave out.  That driveway led up to a house on a knoll (what you might call a knoll in the Great Plains), that seemed way longer that evening than it really was.  I was halfway home during a three day weekend in Canada with Monday being their Thanksgiving.  I actually listened to Turkey themed classical music on the radio for an hour due to the tape cassette overheating.  I bet some of you don't even remember tape cassettes, other than your parents' old music on them.

Anyway, I get up to the house where the fellow is really nice and even has transmission fluid in his garage.  Actually his garage reminded me of what most of my family did. We would have everything and anything you might need in it for fixing cars and equipment. So once we get the fluid in my car, it starts right up.  Even better, a friend of the guy's wife was heading back into town and she followed me to make sure I got to a hotel near a repair station.  First thing I did was check what the ground under my car looked like.  This was for puddles and whatever dripping were occurring so I could compare it the following morning.  Then I proceeded to get a room with a hamster in tow.  I forgot to mention that I made this trip with a pet hamster named Wembley, whom I had gotten from a coworker when he changed duty stations. (My mom swore he would come when you called it.  After all he did get out a few times, but I never lost him throughout his whole life.)

For the rest of the trip I kept checking my transmission fluid every time I fueled up.  Why?  Because I know the seal had some issues when the car overheated, luckily it hardly leaked after the guy helped me the night before.  It took a couple liters to get it back to normal and keep it that way, but I made it the rest of the way without any further breakdowns.  I did stop a lot to let the car cool down, just to be on the safe side.

My route included the infamous Alaskan-Canadian Highway (better known as the Al-Can).  Remember this was 1987, before they had the entire highway paved, and on top of that, it was October and in the middle of the rainy season. When I finally got to the end of the Al-Can and decided to wash off my big ole car, it took several rounds at the car wash to get nearly an inch of mud off.  Yup, it was that crazy.  It was a brown boat with a blue top until five Canadian dollars worth of quarters later I had it all spiffed up again.

Another crazy thing that happened on this trip was in Western Ontario over Lake Superior in the middle of nowhere.  I got pulled over for speeding.  I was just letting my Blue Boat coast down this gentle incline around this really long curve, taking in the fall foliage with a view of Lake Superior on a wonderful sunny day.  My car was registered in Alaska, my drivers license was from New York and here I was being pulled over in the middle of no where in Ontario.  Aside from that, my car was full of stuff I did not ship and a hamster riding shotgun.  I turned the car off and 20 minutes later he finally finished writing the speeding ticket..  This was the most unforgiving cop I ever met in my life when it came to speeding.  He probably was bored, as I don't remember a single car going by while we sat there.

An annoying thing at the time was that once I hit Ontario, whenever I tried to call into the U.S. the phone lines were always busy.  (I later worked for a telecom company that helped alleviate these issues in the 90's.) So much for updating where I was to the parents until I finally dropped down into the states and stopped at a rest area near Watertown. They were shocked to find me already in NY as they thought it would be two weeks of travel.  Lucky for me it was only a week and I wound up home with thirteen Canadian pennies in my pocket and a near empty gas tank.  I even slept in my car at a truck stop one night to save on hotel costs.  I also had a cooler that I ate out of most of the time, though I did get a few hot meals along the way.  I doubt I could do that in this day and age with gas costs being what they are on the same amount of money.  I'd need three times what I had then to do the trip again.

Not everyone gets a chance to go on crazy trips like this. Some people hardly venture out of the place they grew up in.  However, you can live epic no matter where you are.  It's not about how big the adventure is.  What I've found that makes an adventure epic is what it really means to you and how it makes you grow.  Even better are the adventures that lead you into doing little things for others that mean the world to them because someone bothered.  That's why I've stayed with Gaiscioch since I joined back in 2009.  There are lots of epic game adventures meant to involve the community and make everyone feel like they can contribute and have fun.  There is plenty of help outside the games, too.  Sure my trek of 5,500 miles across North America was epic, but I still have epic moments right here in the good ole Catskills stomping around my backyard.  I'm just glad I got to do that trip. It was a fun adventure that would be entirely impossible for me to do now.  I had decided to do this whole trip through Canada because I knew I would never do it again.  Now, living with multiple sclerosis there are days I don't want to drive the ten miles I need to go to town.   

Go live epic!  Give people smiles, time, something they need.  Volunteer to do things at your church or in your community somehow.  That's where the best epics will be written.

Published: July 23rd, 2015   |  2,851 Reads

About the Author

Althea "Briseadh" Damgaard
Senior Editor

Althea joined Gaiscioch back in October of 2009 and has been here ever since with only a few month hiatus between Warhammer and Rift. As soon as she knew they were in Rift, she jumped ship to Faeblight and has followed them onward through every chapter since with a few side games thrown in for spice.

She has been an avid player of RPG style games since 1980 when she first played Dungeons and Dragons. Since then she has created her own tabletop gaming world used with various rule sets as D&D progressed. Once she could get online she played MUDs. Her MMO days started with Everquest and have moved through over a dozen games with some lasting only a month's time in her life and others going for years. She has tested several games from the perspective of a disabled gamer with hand issues due to her multiple sclerosis.

When not writing about or playing games, she can be found writing novels, reading and doing various art projects. She also writes items based on her faith and is working on publishing a novel. She also does editing for a gaming developer.

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