The Southern Route into Beautiful British Columbia

Departing from the Bomber Museum we skirted out of town without stopping for ice cream or antique shopping, next time through I thought. Where do we connect to highway 3? Is it at Ft McLeod?” I say driving 50 kmph thru town.

She grabs her phone and starts punching in information to see what the route is. “It says,” she begins, “take junction 533 to highway 22 then get on at highway 3.” “ok, but we just went by that first road. What’s faster?” I asked pulling off the road to check the map, distance and routes.

Turning around we headed back to 533, chucked a left and headed west.

Twenty-ish minutes later our eyes widened as the prairies rolled into short bluffs followed by poplar trees and misting rain. The entire countryside POPPED into thirty shades of green. Simply marvelous!

Approaching the end of a long road we spotted a small yellow sign just beyond the pavement No Exit. Shit we tapped the brakes and squared of on a quick short left turn as Tacoma gripped the pavement on the front two tires as the rear peeled around skipping out the back. Yanking on the wheel we pulled the truck back into its parraellel lines with the roadside edge.

Down the next hill we slowed the Tacoma watching ranchhands pushing cattle across a paddock then over the roadway ahead and into a second paddock. They waived us thru and as we traveled by we gave them the courtesy wave and kept on towards the Cowboy Trail (highway 22).

At the trail we spun out turned left and traveled alongside the Livingstone Mountain Range for the next twenty-eight or so minutes until we slowed down at the perpendicular crossing to hop onto highway 3 also known as Crowsnest Trail.

Thunder Mountain, Alberta

Heading west we rolled into the crossover towns of Lundebreck, Frank, and Crowsnest breaking out of Alberta and heading into Sparwood, British Columbia. “Hey do you want to stop for the worlds largest truck?” I asked slowing down like I was going to pull into the information centre. “No, but keep it steady,” she replies pulling out her camera then with every snap she said, “pound! pound! pound!” followed by a girlish giggle.

With five hours to go the clouds darkened and we pulled the Tacoma in and around a multitude of corners heading into the town limits of Fernie. “Do you need anything?” I asked. “Nah. I’m good for now. Maybe in the next larger town I might need a break,” she replied.

It was just that simple. We drove in, through and out of Fernie watching it disappear in the rearview mirror as we rounded a bend in the road pushing us further into the mountains of British Columbia.

Down a long stretch of open road with a few turns we passed through smaller towns of Morrissey, and Elko, where I decided as I tend to checking in on the trucks onboard information system to see how we are doing with oil, fuel, tire pressure, oil pressure, and other diagnostics.

I noted the rear passenger tire was sitting at 31-PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) about 3-PSI lower than the rest of the tires. Which is when I decided to watch it as we neared Cranbrook. “What is it?” I heard from the seat to my right. She must have seen the grimace on my face, Oh, nothing too serious. Just the rear tire behind you is lower than the rest. Might be all this rain and change in temperature. But we’ll just keep an eye on it for now. When we reach Cranbrook we’ll stop for fuel and snacks. I’ll check on it then.”

Fourteen minutes later we drove through the small town of Galloway which sparked conversations about our fly n’ drive trip with Air Canada back in 2016 when we went to Ireland. We idly chatted reminiscing about our favourite mishaps on that trip. “Oh, do you remember when the rain started pissing hard on us, as we were wandering back from dinner in the town centre in Galloway. That was priceless,” she says as we both laughed about my taking photos in the rain to ensure we captured the moment. “How about the twin beds we slept in, in Kilkenny. I think that might top the rain walk,” I smiled remembering our entry into the room as we laughter continued to fill the cab.

Sixty-six point six kilometres later we entered the outskirts of Cranbrook at 5:45pm. Traveling down Van Horne Street South (Hwy 95) we stopped at the last gas station on the right side of the road which had an air compressor on the outside. She headed into the shop for snacks, a beverage and to use the restroom, as I pulled the truck into place and began looking over how-to operate the air compressor.

The rear tire was now at 29-PSI and the small concern was rising however I had to search the tire to see if I could find what was causing the pain in our rear. As my hand moved over the outside tire wall and around the tread I was unable to locate any punctures or hear any air escaping. Choosing not to give up, I dropped the Toonie ($2) coin into the air compressor and blew up the tire to 36-PSI.

Back in the truck, I pulled it around to the air compressor to add a few PSI into all other tires. As the machine hissed, I started my second check of the tire. Sitting dead centre in the meaty bit of the tire was a nail head. Taking a couple of photos, to ensure I could recall its location the wife returned. We had a few words as I headed in to repeat what she had just completed.

Upon my return she says, “Canadian Tire, is open until 8:00pm tonight. Can we make it there?” As she is asking this, I’m punching in a phone number for the local Toyota dealership in Castlegar. “Hello, This is Castlegar Toyota, I’m Aaron, how may I assist you?” came the voice on the other end. Laughing as I answered, I responded with, “Hey Aaron, It’s Aaron!” He too laughed, “What’s up?” Well it seems that on our way down from Edmonton, we picked up a nail in our rear passenger tire. Hoping you can help us out in the morning as we are just coming through Creston.” He punched in some keys on his keyboard then responded with, “Hey looks like we had a cancellation at Noon, would that work?” Pondering it for like 33-seconds I replied with, “Unfortunately no. We need to get it done ASAP. If possible first thing in the morning. As we need to be in Grand Forks by 10:00am to see family.” A few more exchanges and Aaron acknowledged our appointment for 8:00am the next day. We ended the call, ate our snacks and headed back out onto the highway.

~ Aaron JacksonCrabb