Don’t worry, Mom(s). We’re home and all in one piece.

22 Oct

Michael, Jade, Nanuq, and I had a great trip to Fort Liard.  We saw lots of old friends, got better acquainted with some newer ones, and had two great visits to the Liard Hotsprings.  Unfortunately, the most memorable part of our holiday was the last leg of the trip home.  Well, to be more precise, the most memorable part was the unfortunate event that occurred on the way home.

We had spent the night in Watson Lake and got the morning off to a leisurely start.  After breakfast, Michael took Nanuq, bundled Jade up, and and started walking down the highway so that everyone could get some exercise and fresh air, while I packed up the car and got some groceries for our lunch.

I picked everyone up some distance outside of Watson Lake (Michael sure walks fast!) and Michael decided to do some reading while I continued to drive.  I wasn’t in the driver’s seat for that long, though.  Just outside of Nugget City, the highway was making a curve to the left and I guess I didn’t turn quite enough.  I believe I was glancing at Jade or some such thing; at any rate, the momentary lapse in attention was bloody stupid because there was hard-packed snow and ice right at the very edge of the road. 

When the car tire hit the edge, we started fishtailing.  I tried to correct the direction of the car, but was swinging too far to the right, so I tried again.  It almost worked.  (Meaning it didn’t.)  I ended up on the left side of the highway, and going down the (thank God!) gently-sloping ditch.  As I tried to regain control, we were once again headed to the right (back up toward the highway) and I could see one of those enormous green highway signs looming in front of us.  Then it disappeared in the spray of snow we were plowing as the car slid sort of sideways along the ditch.  We hit the sign and it popped up over the car.  I was really expecting to stop dead (and perhaps be seriously hurt) when we hit the sign, but I guess they’re designed not to kill idiots who hit them.

By this time, we were climbing back out of the ditch and we popped back up onto the highway.  I was kind of stunned, and still in directional correction mode, I guess, because Michael actually had to remind me to brake.  We pulled over to the side of the highway to take stock of the damage.

Michael was wonderful.  He was telling me, even as we were plowing through the ditch, "We’re okay. We’re fine."  After we finally stopped, he never blamed me or got angry in any way.  He complimented me on how I handled the situation and just said, "Well, we’ve got a flat!"  In truth, there was quite a bit more damage than that, and I’m not so sure that if our roles had been reversed that I would have been so easy on him.  Something to remember in future!

Jade was calmly sitting in her car seat, still munching on some cheese cubes Michael had given her just before I hit the ice.  I don’t think she even realized anything untoward had happened!  Nanuq did notice, but fortunately was not hurt in any way.  In fact, considering the crazy driving we’d just done, we’d had an incredibly smooth ride.  Michael commented a number of times on how well our car had pulled through.  I guess that’s why we drive a Volvo.  I just don’t know what we’ll do if we ever have more than two kids, ’cause three kids with car seats won’t fit in the back.  Too bad Volvo doesn’t make a mini-van.  But maybe in a few years…

Overall, we have a blown tire, damaged rim, dented fender, cracked bumper, cracked headlights and fog lights, a shattered sun roof, a dented roof, and the engine coolant line must have been damaged, too, since the coolant level would start dropping whenever we stopped the car.  There may be other damage to the underside of the car but we won’t know that until we take it in.

This is the second time Michael has had to change a tire on this car, but last time was in summer.  Michael was impressed that the tire-changing kit in the car includes an extra tire iron (the first one broke!) and a pair of light cotton gloves.  The cotton gloves made all the difference because with the wind blowing and air temperature at -3, it was really darned cold out there!  In the meantime, Jade was bundled back up into her snowsuit and I breastfed her in the front passenger seat to keep her occupied.  Ah, breastfeeding, is there anything you can’t fix?  (Um, besides the car, I mean…)

One of the blessings of driving a relatively remote highway is that there was absolutely no traffic around when the accident happened.  However, once we had stopped to change our tire, almost a dozen vehicles went by, and almost all of them stopped to ask if we needed help.  A couple of nice guys helped us to get the tire off – it was stuck pretty tight and required some coaxing after all the nuts were off.

On our spare tire, the maximum speed we can drive is 80 kmh, so we made our careful way back to Watson Lake (Michael driving…) after topping up the coolant resevoir with water.  Since it was Sunday, though, everything in Watson Lake was closed.  Michael decided we could limp home as long as we had some extra coolant and an extra big supply of water.  So we did.

The last hour was excruciating, as the light faded and it started snowing.  Our tires were out of alignment and the driving conditions were very stressful, but Michael did the whole thing without complaint.  I already knew he is the guy to have around in a crisis, but this was a good reminder, and I feel that he really was a hero yesterday!

Now we’ll be driving around in a Pontiac Vibe for a while.  The woman at the RCMP remarked, when I went to report the accident, "Well, you’ll have your car back before Christmas!"  Whew, with Christmas more than two months away, I sure hope so!

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3 Responses to “Don’t worry, Mom(s). We’re home and all in one piece.”

  1. Lindsay October 23, 2007 at 7:13 am #

    I\’m so glad you are all ok. Very scary! And to top it all off you\’ll have to get a new car seat now. I guess you\’ll be looking for a really narrow one so that you can try to squeeze more kids in. I did read an article in today\’s parent mentioning some of the most narrow seats if you are interested I try to find that info for you. Again glad you are all safe!

  2. Fawn October 23, 2007 at 4:07 pm #

    Actually, because of the type of accident we had (no real impact), I don\’t think we do need to replace the carseat.  But I will call the carseat experts to find out! 😀  I\’d still be interested in the car seat info, though – who knows when we\’ll need a second one?  The one we got was kind of a default because it was available in Whitehorse.

  3. Marian October 23, 2007 at 10:13 pm #

    Glad to know you\’re all OK.
    Yes, Michael\’s great in an emergency……it\’s only when you need help with the dishes that he disappears (hee, hee!)

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