This story was requested by Alex’s sister Sharon and also, by Owen my brother in law from Ohio, who just loved Alex’s life and story telling, and has often told us how he regretted not coming to Yellowknife to see us. This is a difficult one for me to share, because of the trauma I experienced on that very High mountain road in British Columbia, between Whistler and Lillooet. I have just spent an hour sitting in the lovely breeze under thick maple tree canopy deciding whether I would or not.
It starts back in Yellowknife.
In 1978, Alex bid for more tanks in the eastern Arctic, for the Government of the Northwest Territories and attended the bid opening and found out he was the lowest bidder. Now, his father died and after attending the funeral and returning to Yellowknife, he had an appointment with the purchasing department and found out they gave the job to a Calgary company. It was somewhat of a blow and after some time he realized his opportunities for business here was dependent on one customer, the government of NWT.
So by the next spring we were ready to head back to Edmonton. We asked Alex’s brother Daniel and his wife Janet, if they would drive our welding truck with some furniture, while we piled into our Motor Home that we traded our Suburban in for. When we got to Edmonton, we stored our truck with furniture and took on Daniel and Janet and went to see Victoria BC. Of course it was like a fantasy land, gardens, water falling from rock cuts, huge fir trees, blooming rhododendron, plus the ocean with all the gentle islands. Daniel and Janet flew back to Yellowknife .
We crossed on the ferry and headed north of Vancouver to Squamish and Alex saw a road that went beyond Whistler and meandered over the mountains back to the main highway heading east.
After Whistler, we got to a place where we were stopped and told the road was closed and we would need to go back to Vancouver the way we had come. This seemed just too much to accept, with so much incredible scenery to be seen!
” Is there no other way to get across there?” asked Alex.
“Well”, said one man to the other, there is the HIGH LINE”( Did I detect a wink wink? ) Alex was eager to hear about the alternative route.
“We recommend four wheel drive, but it hasn’t rained lately, so you should make it” Should make it? That sounded dubious to me.
The rough gravel road extends from south to north, from D’Arcy to Seton Portage, 33 kilometres (21 miles). It travels along the west side of the lake. The gravel route is referred to as the Highline Road and is a very popular route for dirt biking and atving in the summer and snowmobiling in the winter.( Found this on the web, dirt bikes YES , motor homes NO. the longest 21 miles in my life)
Off we went, and the climb was incredible, and the scenery was spectacular.
As we kept climbing the road narrowed and became narrower until it was scary to look out my window. Alex drove as close to the mountain as possible and all we could do was hope the two right side wheels had earth beneath them. My stomach was in a turmoil. Not being one to “freak out” in front of the children, I tried to remain calm. Alex spoke encouraging words to the children and even found humour . Now we had one passenger that did not try to hide her terror. Cinnamon our cat, who picked our house in Yellowknife one terribly cold night, and had ever since showed her gratitude, and not a typical “catitude”was riding up on the big bunk above the drivers seats with Jonathan. All at once she made a mad jump down, with a shriek and dove under my feet and tried to get into the heater duct. That should tell you something, for a cat to see the danger. The thing I remember as we proceeded, there was no way to turn around, was how long this went on. It wasn’t just a short lived terror. At one point, the road had been eroded at one spot and our vehicle came to a stop, with a hill to climb. Alex knew the peril and said , “lets pray”. As I recall the prayer was very short and in essence was, “Lord I have done it again(pushed the limit) please help.” He eased that bulky motor home out of park and put it back into low and it took off and up the mountain.Hallelujah, but still we were not through this trial. I call it the agony and ecstasy because of nearly unbelievable view of mountain tops. (yes we were up there with the peaks) and the thought, what will it feel like to tumble down off this precipice? There was no thought of taking pictures, my knuckles were too white.!!.
Anyway, as you know we did survive, but it was hard for me not blame Alex for putting us into that situation, but of course the men that told us we SHOULD make it were also under my judgement.
We made it Calgary and I will add this just to see what you think, about the next part of the story. Someone had recommended a church in Calgary that we should visit, so we found it on a sunny Sunday, walking in, not knowing a soul, choosing a bench near the back with our family. At one point in this meeting a women stood up, very near to us,and began to speak. I will never forget how it started. “There is a high mountain road” , and she likened God to the mountain and she even said that we must keep as close to the mountain as possible and not be distracted by the view. She described the experience that was still occupying my thoughts and emotions. In essence the message was we would encounter some difficult times, but that we must keep focused on God our source.
We were stunned and a little bewildered . And yes, there were some difficult times, less of what we would call miraculous interventions. That is when you dig deep and search for truth, constantly making adjustments to our beliefs, and hopefully getting to KNOW, not just believe.