Saturday, February 11, 2012

"The best-laid plans of mice and men / Often go awry"

No truer words written (originally from Robert Burns) can describe my life in the past 24 hours. For the past year, I have been scheming about taking a trip -- something long and epic, that would provide memories to sustain me as I sit drooling in some old age home. My plan is to drive from Dead Horse, Alaska to Ushaia, Argentina, a distance of some 12,000 + miles -- essentially from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the tip of South America.

I was planning the first leg of the trip this year to commence after spending a few weeks in Washington State working a bike trip. Linda and I were going to take the ferry north towards Skagway and then drive the Dalton Highway to Dead Horse. From there, we would head south through Banff and back to St Paul. The next leg from Mexico south would start, probably in 2013.

To make this journey, I had purchased a 2011 Tacoma last year and spent a fair amount of time making it into a vehicle in which we could live comfortably for extended periods -- refrigerator, dual battery system, upgraded suspension and bumpers, a winch -- and a comfortable sleeping area. I used and tested most it last year on multiple trips west, and it all worked amazingly well, sometimes serving as luggage hauler, ambulance and home away from home.

Unfortunately, it was totaled yesterday afternoon as I was headed to work a shift at the Minneapolis Convention Center. While sitting at a light, I was rear ended by a Jeep Cherokee that police estimate was traveling at about 50 mph. After I got out of my car, the driver of the Jeep took off running down the street. One of his passengers was on the ground complaining of a broken leg and the other was clutching her arm, screaming. She too ended up running down the street after the driver. I attempted to chase them both down on foot but given the driver's head start and the guy laying on the ground screaming, I turned back to care for him. It turned out to be a good choice.

After calling 911, the fire department and the paramedics were on the scene quickly, treating the injured. One of the police officers informed me that both the driver and the passenger had been followed by a tow truck driver and taken into custody. After they were brought back to the scene, one of the officers tells me that the Jeep had just been used in a robbery of some sort, and they had been escaping the scene when I was hit. The Jeep was demolished, the engine pushed back into the passenger compartment and all the airbags deployed. When the driver was brought back to the scene, it was evident that he was able to run away uninjured due solely to his rather high level of intoxication.

My truck suffered extensive damage to the rear end. The cap was shoved off the bed rails, the drivers seat back was broken, and we discovered that the frame is twisted all the way to the cab. Aside from a little bit of stiffness 24 hours later, I walked away uninjured. I owe a little of that to the over sized bumper I had installed, and the rest to luck.

I can salvage most of the work to the truck and will hopefully find a replacement soon. I am scheduled to leave for Utah and points west for the beginning of the 2012 tour season in less than three weeks, and I will get there somehow.

As for Prudhoe Bay this year, who knows? Maybe this is a sign that, instead of doing the trip in sections, I should throw caution to the wind and take the year or two to do it in one trip. Whatever happens, I was reminded that while plans can be made, they can just as easily be undone.

"The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination."
Don Williams, Jr.

Amen to that!!!