Nick, Seamus, and I (Daniel) were heading from Squamish to Tofino, dropping off Seamus in Nanaimo on the way. Thanks to a conversation with my cousin Anna along the way, we chose the name Wesley for the van. Upbeat, we were happily bouncing around in our newly named Chossmobile.
Once we crossed on the ferry to Nanimo, Nick and I slowly said our goodbyes to Seamus. It was almost dark when we started the 3-hour drive to Tofino. Nick happily drove while I chatted to my girlfriend Sarah Jane in the back of the van. As we neared Tofino, we were getting tired but the winding turns in the road kept us on edge. Nerves were high. All of a sudden, Wesley's engine abruptly stopped and the Chossmobile puttered to a stop on the side of the highway. Nick informed me that "the accelerator just stopped working". We were 17 kilometers from Tofino. The time was 11:30PM. It was dark and no other vehicles were in sight.
The Chossmobile was chugging down the highway when the accelerator just stopped working. The engine abruptly turned off and Wesley rolled to a stop on the side of the highway.
We knew we would face this moment at some point on this trip, but we didn't expect it so soon. We weren't ready. Neither of us knew enough about carburetor engines, we didn't have any extra parts, and we didn't even have cell service!
Monday night: Tommy gives us a crash course
Parked on the thin shoulder of the winding highway in the pitch black of night, we realized the van didn't have emergency lights. We took out our headlamps, popped the hood, and fiddled with some things we didn't understand. "Let's check the engine oil!" "Wait, I think that one is the transmission fluid..." "Maybe we should try flooding the carburetor again..." "Try holding the ignition for longer."
A couple minutes later, we jogged up and down the highway looking for a spot to spend the night. We found a closed entrance to a little beach park 100 meters up the road, festooned with signs prohibiting overnight parking. Perfect. The only problem was it was slightly uphill. Overestimating our strength, Nick got behind, I steered and pushed from the side, and we started to guide Wesley uphill towards refuge. About 50 meters down the road, the van's weight on the slight incline got the better of us...
We were pushing with all of our might and about to start rolling backwards when a Jeep that happened to be speeding down the highway stopped next to us. A young, wily looking man in bare feet jumped out and offered to push our van with his bumper. He quickly pushed us the rest of the way and then started asking us what was wrong. Tommy was his name. Everything about Tommy was quick; he spoke quickly, he walked quickly, and he assessed the situation quickly. He noticed we didn't have a sweet clue what we were doing and quickly launched into a crash course in engine repair. He quickly ruled out most of "the basics" and told us we'd have to get towed. He left abruptly. Nick and I stood there in silence, flabbergasted, trying to digest everything he had just said and done. Slowly, we resigned to stay the night on the side of the road right in front of a big "No Parking" sign.
Tuesday morning: Jesus sends Larry to save us
We awoke at 6AM, when the park gatekeepers knocked sharply on the van's window and told us we couldn't park there. We abruptly and painfully remembered our van was in disrepair, quickly put on our clothes, and jumped out of bed to meet the day. The two kind, middle-aged gatekeepers, a man and a woman, immediately sympathized to our cause and helped us push the van into the parking lot just beyond the newly opened gate. They offered us a free parking day pass, took a brief look at our engine, and suggested we call a tow for a costly $200. We were completely at a loss, so we ate a sad breakfast in our broken-down Chossmobile, avoiding the inevitable next move.
As an old, similar-looking Dodge camper van pulled into the lot near us, Nick approached the owner to ask if he could help. A futile attempt to evade calling a tow truck. The gruff-looking, older man introduced himself as Lightnin' and strolled over to our van. He mentioned we could also call him Rakeman, or Larry. He then quickly assessed the Chossmobile and informed us we would need a tow truck. What were we going to do?! Luckily, Larry offered to use his own BCAA insurance to pay for our towing. He told them the van broke down while he was test driving it and voila: a free tow!
During the 45 minute wait, Larry smoked a joint and shared his life stories.
After an offhand comment about the stickers coating his van, Larry offered us a couple of extras he had on hand. "Save the CBC," and another, the logo of a Christian radio station. Nick, not taking Larry for the religious type, gave a thoughtless smirk in response. Larry must have mistook the look for one of interest, for soon he began an unexpected tirade on the subject of finding Jesus. Amid old testament references, and gestures to the heavens, Nick was able to parse out a story about Larry's re-connection with God:
"While playing a drug-fueled show in the desert sands of Baja, Mexico, I hit a feeling of true dissatisfaction with my life." Despite Nick's perplexed look, or perhaps encouraged by it, he continued on. "At the end of the night, the bassist from the band invited me to a church service the following morning. During the ceremony, I was swept up in the music and the reverence, and could feel a sensation washing over my body." Larry exclaimed "just as the mass climaxed with the command to 'accept the Holy Spirit into your body,' I did just that." At that moment he recalled a feeling like "a 5-gallon pot of the sweetest warm honey," being dumped over his head. He had accepted Jesus into his life.
That was unexpected. Jesus had apparently inspired him to wake up early that day, and he believed he found the purpose.
As our Chossmobile was towed into Long Beach Automotive, we encountered a specimen of divine beauty: Dave, the jaw-droppingly handsome mechanic who looked at our van. Aphrodite must have chiseled his face with her own hands. When he showed us how our spark plug distributor broke, all we saw was his piercing blue eyes. When he told us we would have to wait two days, and the repair would cost nearly $600, all we heard was a mellifluous chorus of angels singing.
While Wesley recovered, the Choss Boys still managed to keep their spirits up. Kate generously ferried us to the beaches and we all experienced world-famous Tofino surfing.
We are Daniel, David & Nick
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