Operation Tuktoyaktuk is put off until the spring, but the mission isn’t over.
It was late in the afternoon on Friday, October the 11th, and we were about a kilometer north of Fort Nelson, B.C.. We had just picked up road coffees and I was on Google Maps, looking at the final leg of the day’s journey from Fort Nelson to Fort Liard Hot Springs. I heard Mike say something about the truck up ahead that was coming out of a turnout. I looked up and saw the black Dodge Ram pulling out ahead of us, and he wasn’t slowing down. Moments later, two big Ram’s butted heads. The results speak for themselves.
Apart from the eerily familiar sound of vehicles colliding, the first thing I noticed was a sharp pain in my right shoulder. For a few minutes it felt as though I might have dislocated it, what with the sharp pain and inability to move my arm. I had to sit there for a few minutes and just take in what the hell had just happened.
I didn’t move but I could hear Mike shouting, and was soon able to see that that at least appeared unharmed. There were no screams of pain and no panic was present in either Mike or Spark as near as I was able to gather. Slowly I began to move my head which had been transfixed at the sight in front of it for a couple of minutes. The hood was crumpled up and part of the wrap on it was clearly visible to me now. I moved my gaze away from the canopy of the parachute on the hood and began to assess the situation further.
By now the other driver, a rather distraught looking young man named Brandon, had stepped out of his Dodge Ram and was on his cell phone. Mike noticed an RCMP cruiser just a couple of minutes prior to the accident so we knew that they wouldn’t be that far away. Sure enough we had 2 RCMP members on scene within about 15-20 minutes, and the whole thing was wrapped up on the highway in less than 90 minutes. By then the debris had been cleared from the highway, reports had been taken, information exchanged, and we were on our way to a hotel back in Fort Nelson for the forseeable future.
We had a late dinner at Boston Pizza with which I had a pint of Rickards Red. I should also add here that you would barely know that Spark was there. She keeps her presence discreet, laying under the table at Mike’s feet. She stays out of sight and is quiet the whole time and was under Mike’s control.
Now The Fun Really Begins
Overnight Friday into Saturday is when I first started to notice that I wasn’t feeling well. I had pain on the right side of my belly, and it was sore to the touch. I began throwing up, and starting feeling chills. Mike and Spark weren’t around for my first episode in the bathroom, but they were around for the next couple. By the way I REALLY must apologize to Mike and the housekeeping staff at the Lakeview Inn in Fort Nelson for the state of the bathroom. I tried cleaning it as best I could but I was just not up to santizing it. I mean it wasn’t like anything out of The Exorcist, but it was a little funky.
Mike repeatedly asked if I was okay and if I wanted to go to the hospital. The smart thing to do would have been to say “Great idea Mike, lets go now.”. This did not happen however, and I stubbornly insisted on waiting until morning to see how I felt. Well, as the night wore on all that happened was I began to feel even worse, so I decided to get my ass to the hospital.
So off to the northernmost hospital in British Columbia I went, and after the usual paperwork, triage, etc., I was put in a bed where I was then poked for blood and had an IV started. It wasn’t long before I was being told that I had an infection of some kind and that I would need to go for a CT scan. The only problem is, Fort Nelson doesn’t have a CT scanner so I was put on a medivac flight to the nearest community that had one, Fort St. John.
We had passed through Fort St. John only a couple of days before, and now I was back as a patient in the hospital. I would end up spending two nights under their care, and with no beds available I spent them on a gurney in the ER, but I at least had a room to myself. They gave me Ancef and Flagyl to treat whatever it was that had caused my white blood cell count to spike, and morphine to dull the cramps in my belly. I had E.coli once and the pains were quite similar, that severe cramping in your bowels that makes you break out into a cold sweat.
My Thanksgiving dinner consisted of a bowl of orange jello from the unit fridge and a bowl of cream of asparagus soup and a coffee from the supper tray they brought to me. It didn’t really sit well and shortly after the cramps began to return. It took a day or two before I was finally able to tolerate something other than soft foods.
By Tuesday I was declared fit enough to leave the hospital so I headed into town and found a room at the Motel 6 for the night. I now had to wait for Mike and Spark who were still a few hours up the road in Fort Nelson. There he would have ICBC to deal with and try to rustle up a rental vehicle for us, which would be no easy task considering that the box of the truck still had all of Mike’s stuff in it as well as most of the clothes I had packed for the trip. He would need to find a rental pick-up, and finding a sedan was hard enough up there so there would be no getting a rental.
The Rescue Mission
It didn’t take long before help was on its way and on Thursday night I was reunited with my travel companions. Our saviours were Mike’s sisters, and now mine, Roxanne and Colleen. They drove to Fort Nelson, picking up Mike, Spark, and all of our stuff, then stopped in Fort St. John to collect me. The next morning we began the drive back to Beaumont, and by the time we got there that Friday night I was glad to be one step closer to home. But, I had also found a group of friends that I hope to go on another road trip with someday, only next time it won’t be a rescue mission.
The Walk For Veterans
The Canadian Walk for Veterans is working in cooperation with Military Minds Inc. to identify, vet and donate net proceeds from the Canadian Walk For Veterans to programs/groups that are working for our fellow veteran/first responders. These retreats/camps are available to all serving members, veterans and first responders. Monies raised from the Canadian Walk for Veterans will be going directly to: Rally Point Retreat (Nova Scotia), Sheepdog Lodge (Alberta), Camp My Way (British Columbia), Honour House (Vancouver, BC)Canadian Walk for Veterans 2019
I was in Gold Bar Park in Edmonton on Saturday morning for the 2nd Annual Walk For Veterans, and it gave me the opportunity to meet a few people in person that I have interacted with online over the past several months. I was able to spend some time with Bruce Given, who put together the rally at the legislature in Edmonton last month. I also had the opportunity to blaze with Bryce Hooper, cannabis educator extraordinaire and co-founder of The Herb Clinic.
Al Cameron of Veteran’s Voices was there as well. He is talking to veterans across Canada and recording their stories for posterity, keeping alive a part of the history of our country and those who lived it. He is performing a valuable service to both veterans and Canada and I think should be commended for it.
It was a great day, as people got together to walk and talk and socialize while raising some money for some worthy local charities. I enjoyed some time out in the sun, got some exercise, and met a bunch of really great people.
Later on in the afternoon we made our way to the Calmar Legion, where I would help set up some tables and chairs for those who would be gathering to watch W5. Canada’s premier newsmagazine was doing a feature on the court action that veterans are bringing against the government. I saw the cameraman and producer on a few occasions while I was there that week.
On Sunday I made for home, and as I finish recovering from the accident in familiar surroundings I am also working on plans for the future. I am looking forward to a reunion with Mike and Spark, and I pray that it won’t be long before his epic journey resumes. I hope that I will be fortunate enough to join him and Spark once again, so that I can document his journey and help him reach as many veterans as possible. The message that we are bringing them will save some of their lives and offer some hope to those who previously had none.