Whitehorse and Axles
So, last week when we left off we still did not know what was going to happen with our axle after leaving it with the welding shop in Whitehorse. could they fix it? fun times for sure., let me tell ya. I was sitting on the stress express, and I needed to find a cannabis shop, PRONTO.
That was priority #1 for me, while Patrick’s first priority was hunting down a couple new tires. How convenient for us both that right in the parking lot of Canadian Tire, which by the way is a massively huge store. surprisingly it only had tires in about 1/4 of the store. The rest was EVERYTHING else you could imagine ever needing, at any time. It’s like a more congested Walmart. Anyway, we were talking about the convenient fact that right on the other side of the parking lot was the prize.
A pretty little shop called Fire & Flower. Very well put together and even a little on the bougie side of cannabis shops. They had perfectly nice people behind the counter, but I didn’t get a whole lot from the exchange, to be honest. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any inexpensive straws to purchase for concentrates. Remember I needed to replace the tools I left in Alaska? Being on a budget as well as not knowing what was coming with the axle and how much it was going to cost was a problem. So that just meant that I grabbed the 10-pack of .5g pre-rolls instead.
Little side note, pre-rolls aren’t my first choice for medicating. While in a pinch, they can help put me in a better headspace. My first choice is concentrates or a good edible always, but if its decent product joints will do in a pinch.
We found a neat little historical hotel in downtown Whitehorse named Elite Hotel Downtown. It shared one entrance door with an Italian restaurant called Giorgio’s Cuccina where we had dinner. At the other door was a bar and grill that we didn’t go into. Dinner was simply delicious. the restaurant has a really great staff. For instance, when I asked for no bread they actually asked if it was a gluten issue. When I said yes, they didn’t roll their eyes at me. Yes, that has actually happened to me, more than once. They simply asked if it was a dietary choice or celiac.
The people working in the food industry in Canada are really informed about real food issues.
I was very pleasantly surprised. This was to become pretty standard when eating out in Canada. Another standard in Canada we were introduced to that night was the fact that most “come with the meal” type side salads are Greek salads. I had no idea how much of a fan I was until this trip. When they say that traveling opens you to new things they aren’t kidding. It forces you to get out of your comfort zone and opens you up to a whole new fun flavor experience.
After dinner, it was time to find our way upstairs through the old, kind of dark, very “Steven King” like halls to our room. So, I’m going to share a weird little fact about me. One of the fun things I like to imagine when going down the halls of old historical hotels are the different people who have been in them. What kind of dark and sinister things happened in the old more “lawless” days in those halls? Then I secretly hope that they might actually be haunted. Unfortunately, I did not have any ghostly encounters while there for that one night, but I did get to soak in a nice hot long bath.
To be honest was probably for the best considering the last few days we had already had.
Also, hot baths are a luxury I once took for granted. That is no longer the case now that I live full-time in an RV. It’s a luxury that unfortunately usually only comes with staying in a hotel now. Some RV resorts, I will come to find out later in our travels, have hot tubs. However, they are definitely not the same. RV parks usually frown on me putting the bubble bath into the hot tubs. Something about messing with the filters or some such nonsense. I digress.
I’m soaking away in the tub, watching YouTube as one does, when Patrick comes in with some news. He starts to inform me that the welding shop has called to tell him that the bend in the axle was in fact too great of a bend to safely repair. We needed a whole new axle. My heart just sank. I just knew we were in for a 4 to 6-week wait. I should have allowed him to finish the message before starting to cry. He then told me they were going to go ahead and fabricate one. It should be ready for us by noon the next morning.
AM I imagining that, did he just say NOON? He did, he just said noon, THE NEXT DAY!
So yeah, I cried a little, but it was tears of relief this time. I knew it was going to cost us big time. about $3500 total is big time in my book, I don’t know about you. Thankfully though we had an emergency fund set aside just in case we had some such emergency come up. We certainly did not want to have to use it. We were hoping to use it to live off of while the military retirement kicked in, just in case something held that up a bit. if you know the government or have ever worked for it, you understand. Let’s just say we had it when we needed it, and the rest we would deal with later.
I was just excited that we weren’t going to be stuck living on blocks in a gas station parking lot for 4 to 6 weeks in Destruction Bay. Here comes that Focusing on being lucky! We were lucky that we found Charlie in Destruction Bay who could point us to Tamarack. The person who would have the ability to create exactly what it was that we needed. I truly believe that it’s all about the mindset, and I was constantly reminding myself to be grateful for how truly lucky we were. If all this worst-case scenario situation was going to happen, we were lucky in where and how it was happening.
The next morning, we had to check out of the delightfully creepy yet somewhat comfy hotel early.
We had yet to find the tires we needed. They didn’t have them at Canadian Tire, and we had some other errands to do while in town. At the suggestion of the front desk clerk when checking out, we found a sweet little breakfast/lunch spot called Burnt Toast Cafe.
It was located right around the corner from the hotel. a perfect place to stop and feed our bellies. Then we had to somehow find the tires, do an errand for Charlie, then go pick up our Axle and head back to Destruction Bay.
We knew we would be back here in Whitehorse in just a couple of days for enough time to sightsee. Right then we just wanted to get the things we needed completing and head back to our rig. We were sitting there enjoying a nice hearty breakfast of ham and eggs when we got a call from the welding shop. It would seem that we also needed new bearings, brake drums, and basically the whole damn assembly. The problem was not just the bent shaft, which was bad enough considering the multiple flat tires. It was the whole damn Assembly. The bearings were wrecked, and if not fixed would have caused even more problems down the road, literally.
Wait a minute, we had all of that replaced and everything inspected for safety when we had our suspension upgraded at Cache Camper in September. Why didn’t they find that? Don’t worry, we will be addressing that once we get back to the valley. We don’t want anyone else to be told everything is A-OK for a trip down the AlCan when clearly it isn’t. Anyway… He wanted to let us know before he put it all together because it was about $800 more than we were quoted that morning. He said he would show us exactly why when we got there to pick it up. Ugh, sounds like we didn’t have a choice, didn’t it?
We asked Charlie if there was anything we could pick up for him while in town.
His request was to grab him another tire like ours just in case he ever needed it for the next person. It would seem that the tires on our rig were an odd size and he only had that one really used one. The one he had lent us the day before. It was not a tire worthy of selling and wouldn’t get anyone far. We also picked up a part at the automotive shop that he had on order.
Some backstory on us, we spend our summers camp hosting in a very remote town almost 100 miles from a city. We understood helping out when we can. So making a few extra stops to help out someone in a remote area is pretty normal for us. Not to mention what a truly nice guy he is. A few extra stops aren’t outside our normal. It’s just what living a remote life looks like when one “goes into town”.
We quickly recognized that those who answered the phones were not extremely helpful
So unhelpful it required that we actually visit the shops in person to get any kind of information. In fact, Canadian tire never did tell us on the phone or in person if they even had the tires, much less how much they would cost.
We did find great success at Integra Tire and Auto Centre, both in price and customer care. They were truly pretty great, especially when they found out why we needed them. it was understandable when they knew we had just gone through two new tires from that bent axle. They were super busy but they were able to replace them for us in about an hour and a half. After being saved weeks of waiting in the whole process, we were not even concerned about an hour and a half. Great time to go get the scoop on our axles. We were both pretty interested to see what we were about to be shown when we got to the welding shop.
The tires were finally found after more than a few frustrating phone calls to multiple shops.
Once we got there we were shown back into the very back the shop. There we met the owner of the place Chris Klassen, and were shown to the machine shop operating table. On it was the dead axle, next to it was a beefed up shiny new version all ready to go. First, though, he wanted to show us exactly what the problems were.
Of course, we knew that the shaft was bent, but we didn’t know it wasn’t a completely new bend. It had progressively gotten worse with time, but he suspected the bend had started some time ago. More than likely before we had purchased the rig the previous year. Our bad for not hiring an inspector, right? The part that he really wanted to show us was the brake drums and bearings. We had actually paid $800 to be replaced in Wasilla when we had the suspension upgrade. They had called us to let us know it was needed and would take longer than estimated. Would you be surprised to hear that they in fact were not done at all?
He showed us how one side of the axle
It weirdly had a bit of new marine-grade grease mixed in with some old grease. The old grease told us more than anything it had not been replaced. It wasn’t the only clue but a pretty clear one. One side didn’t have any new grease at all on the obviously ratchety old parts. He said he didn’t want to talk crap about anyone else’s work, but legally to keep his licensing requirements in his field he could not allow us to use those old parts. They were simply not safe.
What he showed us made that clear just by looking at it. It was weird being extremely grateful and pretty livid at the same time. We didn’t have time to germinate in that feeling though because it was time to load up. We needed to get those tires mounted and head back to the rig. It had only been 24 hours but somehow felt like days since we had seen our sweet little home on wheels. It was finally time to get back and get it fixed.
The return trip was finally completed when we reached Destruction Bay at around 4:30 p.m.
When we called Charlie to let him know we were back, he said he would meet us down at the rig at 10 am in the morning. he said, “not too early because the next day was supposed to be a really cold one and no one wants to be working outside in the cold wind”. Destruction Bay is really gorgeous, but extremely windy on the regular.
We were hungry and the restaurant was right there. It’s attached to the gas station, tiny provisions store, and bar. Amazingly enough, it offers great gluten-free options for me. There would be no cooking that night, dinner was at the Talbot Arms Motel Restaurant. I am really glad we did because 5 minutes after sitting down in walks Charlie. When we asked if he would like to join us, he didn’t even hesitate. When I say Charlie is a great guy, I truly mean it. I really appreciated how down-to-earth he is and he didn’t seem to have a problem hanging out with some crazy Americans for a bit.
I loved hearing him talk about growing up right there in the area.
He spoke on when he was a boy they lived in the woods for years and a bit about what that was like. How trapping was a way of life until they moved closer to town so he could attend a public school for a bit. He talked about how the area had changed with the building of the highway and shared about how very cold it would get there in the winter. Negative temperatures are as normal a thing in the Yukon as they are in Alaska. He explained how even in the summer months it’s just too cold to swim in the pretty lake. We could see it from the window as we ate our dinner so I had to ask.
It was such a pleasant time. I really enjoyed that dinner with Charlie and his neighbors that just kept filtering in and joining us. I was almost sad when Charlie’s son came and informed us that they would indeed be putting the axle on that evening.
He had just “gotten” a Moose.
That meant the next day was going to require all hands on deck for the processing of that moose. That’s just another thing about living in remote areas. When it’s moose season, it will always dictate how the days are planned.
We finished dinner, said goodbye to the locals, and headed out. I really love this part of remote life. the part where everyone knows everyone and when they get together it’s time to share memories. Now it was time to get to work to get that axle on. Well, it was time for them to get to work. They told me to go inside and warm up, so of course I did THAT. Then it was off to sleep so we could get an early start back to Whitehorse the next day.
I truly look forward to a stop in Destruction Bay again. This time will be just to say Hi. Hi to some new friends, we met along the way and really hope to see you again.
when we come back next week I’ll tell you all about the 57,000-year-old puppy we saw in Whitehorse. Until then, stay blessedly lifted