Tag Archives: pajero

Winter driving

It’s starting to get cold.  The snow line is creeping down the mountains, making me think of snowboarding.  Temps are hovering between minus and plus 3 at night, and that means my relationship to driving will soon change.

At minus 10 and below, it’s too cold for biodiesel without a fuel tank heater, and the vegetable oil starts to gel.  So, it has to be blended with normal diesel.  Half and half even, in deep winter and going over passes.  Alberta is out of the question.

The other day I put in the first $10 of normal diesel since the summer, and that made me think about my driving habits again.  Driving biodiesel is not totally “clean”- driving at all has an impact, and the more miles you put on means petroleum products galore: oil changes and fluids and tires and maintenance – but it’s better, and for a little while I hardly thought twice about driving when I wanted to.  Putting nasty normal diesel in the tank means assessing the importance of every kilometer again and spending more energy hitchhiking and ridesharing.

Sigh.

It was fun while it lasted.  I swear, that must have been how it felt like 50 years ago, when gas was cheap and the road was fun to drive on, just to fly.  No one goes for Sunday drives anymore.  Gas matters.  It’s expensive and fraught with moral implications and we spend so much time driving because we have to that it’s ceased to be fun.

Road trip

Unreasonably happy tonight.  I’m the only car tucked in the trees of a rest area an hour from Kelowna, with strong cell service that ensures my phone alarm will wake me when I need it to tomorrow, my perfect truck is gently vibrating as it slowly sips from a full tank of biodiesel, and I’m clean and warm and wrapped in down in the back seat, zipped into my extravagantly subzero sleeping bag and jacket, writing on my computer and drinking San Pellegrino to the shadows of trees above me through the sunroof, all aimed at a vanishing point in the distant stars.  How could it get better than this?

On the drive I’ve had six hitchhikers but mostly been alone. I was blessed to see three grizzly bears, and I saved the life of the only deer I saw tonight.

I think I was the only one to see the bears.  I drive on the right side of my vehicle and caught them out of the corner of my eye crossing a cut block, gaped and slowed, then pulled over as soon as I could and  turned around, hoping to get a picture.  I saw then that they had waited as I had for opposing traffic to pass, and were crossing the highway.  Big mama and two cubs 2/3 as big as she.  All shimmering in the afternoon sun with that unmistakable ash blonde and silvery upper coat and dark brown undercarriages.  Motoring along, with long loping strides.  Wow.  I tried to focus on them as they slipped back over the bank but the shot is only one of those awful Loch Ness monster pictures that could just as well be a bad picture of three gophers in a brush pile.

I love my truck, but it has no guns going up a grade, so I was collecting a few pairs of headlights behind me with no passing lane in sight, so I suddenly got fed up, half pulled over, dumped my speed, and flashed my lights to tell the car behind me to pass.  The high beams just caught the deer that was standing in the middle of the lane facing away from us.  The car behind me had slowed too, the way people do in that situation, waiting to figure out what you’re doing, and he saw it too in my lights, braked and waited for the confused little thing to get off the road.  Random, perfect timing.  Another moment before making that decision and I would have come on it at speed with no time to react while being followed closely, and any number of bad things could have happened.  I love these kinds of confirmations that I’m tapped into the connections of life and my path, and in that place I feel perfectly safe and good and have no fear.

Oh, and earlier:  I was tired and wanting to pull over for a nap but feeling too gritty to be able to enjoy it, so  I followed the sudden tug to pull into a campsite and ask if I could buy a shower.  I was greeted by five working dogs with eyes so intelligent they made me feel insecure, and a surprised and slightly sauced horsewoman/proprietor named Wednesday who invited me in for a kick of moonshine with the boys, pointed at the bathroom door, refused money, and all but hugged me with open-hearted welcome.  I’m so glad that such a thing is possible in the world.  Two of the dogs stood watch at the bathroom door (I heard one slump his body against it after I closed it) and flirted shamelessly for ear scratches when I emerged.  That hot strong shower perked me up like four hours sleep, and I went on driving.

I love my life.

Biodiesel!

Unreasonably excited about the first fill-up with Bio!

It went like this.  I asked everyone I thought of, “where can you get biodiesel around here?”.  Anyone driving diesels, when I was hitchhiking, anyone who looked vaguely alternative.  Most people knew where Bio used to be available,  and a few people said “there’s someone in the valley making it.”  But no one knew more than that.  Then one person had a name. “There’s a guy in the valley making it.  I think his name’s Chris.”  Then a couple more people also knew his first name.  Still, not enough to go on.

On my way through the valley with a friend to go to the hot springs, we stopped at the health food store for halvah and to ask about Bio.  “oh yeah, I think his name’s Chris Summers.  And here’s a phone book”  Waahahaha (the sound of sunbeams parting clouds)

We were at his house in minutes.  A dollar a litre, here’s a funnel.  This family is so fully in production, with 1000s of litres ready to go,  it’s astonishing to me that so few people for so long could put me in touch with him.  FYI for locals- phone book under Vallican, and he’s in the Pennywise.  You can buy 5 gallon containers to go, and he visits Nelson weekly to exchange empties for fulls, so it really couldn’t be easier.

I was absolutely ecstatic to pour Bio in the tank for the first time. That’s what I got this truck for, after all.  Felt so good and freeing, to be at the end of a recycling loop, instead of counting km and feeling answerable for every one in terms of global cost.  Do I really need to drive this today?  Total weight off my mind to finally find my source!

It seemed to me the needle was moving more slowly, too, but I’ll have to run a few tanks scientifically to know for sure.

Truck truck truck

See how it glistens in the rain...that incessant rain we've been having

Overwhelmingly  in love with my truck!  It’s full of fun gadgetry- took ages for the previous owner to explain them all to me, with their odd symbols.  Fog lights, robotic collapsing side mirrors, heated seats, adjustable shocks, altimeter, compass, digi interior/exterior thermometer, giant sun/moon roof, auto temperature settings, floor storage, headlight washers, and an emergency flare.  Diesel of course, so I can put bio in it.  The stereo is so sophisticated I couldn’t figure out how to change the radio channel, and it can bluetooth my phone for handsfree chatting- not a headset, but the kind that will make passing drivers think you’re a crazy person talking to yourself.  I couldn’t get that hooked up yet either though, even with the help of an 11yr old- the one I have to ask when I need help with MY camera.

But most of all, it’s sexxxxy!  I can’t even explain why, but I think it’s gorgeous and pretty and hot!  As my friend said right away: “OMG, I want to climb on top of it!” I’m instantly over envying anyone’s Rav4s and Toyotas and flashy hybrids, that cost 8x as much.  Well, I still envy Smart cars, but you can’t tow a camper with those. Continue reading Truck truck truck