Key to the success of the summer road trip is an assortment of the beverages appropriate to each occasion, and the necessary equipment to concoct and serve them.
Take this morning, for instance I am sitting on a camp chair outside Pinedale Auto Wreckers on the outskirts of Prince George, British Columbia. The fence beside me is fabricated from the crumpled steel of vehicles that have seen better days.
My trusty companion is in the shop with James Ploeger, the proprietor of Pinedale Auto Wreckers, discussing how much time it will take for the static electricity in the computer system of our Kia Rondeau to discharge, prior to installing the two leather seats James has just sold us for $200, to replace the old ones, in which the air bag on the passenger’s side is faulty.
The driver’s side seat is fine, but it’s an all-or-nothing deal. If there’s too much static electricity remaining in the car there’s a chance the air bags will burst out of the seats during installation, and we don’t want that.
We left our campsite on beautiful Pulden Lake at seven this morning in order to be here bright and early for this great venture, whose end is uncertain, but on which we have pinned our hope of saving several thousand dollars for a brand new seat.
We found this place quite by chance, the way you do when you’re on a road trip and pop into the local Kia dealer, who can’t help you but gives you the name of a guy he knows on the outskirts of town.
I have not yet had my morning coffee. There is an Esso down the road and a Petrocan on the corner, where I could get a cup of classic gas station brew. But, there is no need.
I have a pound of Bean North Coffee Roasting’s Claim Jumper’s Full City Blend, a stove, a plastic French press coffee maker newly purchased in Jasper, Alberta, cream, sugar, a camping box that doubles as a table and a couple of folding chairs.
So while others debate the amount of time necessary for static electricity to fully discharge in the computer system of a 2008 Kia Rondeau I sit here in the sun with a perfect cup of coffee and contemplate the rosehips growing in abundance in the ditch.
When my travelling companion comes to join me and wait out the static electricity I will offer him a cup, and together we will be fortified for the adventure ahead, which could end badly. We have the beverage appropriate to the event.
The night before last, we left our gorgeous campsite near Wilcox Pass, where our view across the valley was the Athabaska Glacier tumbling down between two peaks, and headed towards Jasper only to discover every campsite near town was full, and Parks Canada had opened up their overflow camping in a field.
No campfires, no privacy, just lots and lots of people like us, and though we like people like us we don’t like them in great number or in too-close proximity.
Our program the next day was to hike the Cavell Meadows underneath Mount Edith Cavell.
So we drove up the twisting road to the parking lot near the entrance to the Tonquin Valley, a few kilometres from the Meadows, and backed the car close to the grass at the parking lot’s edge.
At our feet, a steep bank plunged down into the dark forest beneath. Edith Cavell glowed in the evening light.
We unpacked the camping box, unfolded the camp chairs, fired up the stove and cooked a meal of smokies, onions, red peppers, garlic, spaghetti and parmesan.
We washed it down with a bottle of Oyster Bay Chardonnay, and toasted Edith Cavell, which my companion had climbed, twice, 40 years ago.
Then we threw everything into the back of the car, grabbed the tent, the sleeping bags, the Therm-a-rests, the headlamps and the books and scampered down the bank and into the forest.
There, we found a quiet spot tucked out of sight of roving Parks authorities and slept the sleep of the wicked – fortified and emboldened by the beverage appropriate to the occasion.
Now, looking ahead to the completion of this seat installation gamble, we will toast the adventure with a shot of 12-year-old Glenrothes single malt whisky. The only appropriate beverage for the occasion.