February 12th, 2014
If you’ve seen us around Alberta, you undoubtedly noticed our larger-than-life logo on the side of our Nissan Pathfinder, which we love!
If you noticed it a couple of weeks ago stopped on the side of Hwy 49 north of Valleyview, or parked in a mechanic’s yard in Valleyview, well, let me tell you about a little winter adventure we had!
We were on our way to Edmonton to visit family and pick up a shipment of York Boat Captain books from our Canadian printing company. All was going well until the cruise control spontaneously went off. Then the ABS light came on, and the emergency brake indicator was flashing. We made a quick call to a mechanically-inclined friend of ours who told us the likely cause — the alternator or the battery. He figured we could probably go for a half hour or so, so we continued on.
We weren’t that far out of Valleyview, and we thought we could make it… and we came close! Our beloved Pathfinder came to a rolling stop about 10 km north of town. Thankfully, we were near a driveway, so we pushed it the last 10 metres or so to get it safely off the road. We walked up the driveway, hoping someone was home.
The woman who lived there was so kind! She quickly agreed to drive us into town to a hotel, and on the way, she told us her daughter works for the best mechanic in town! Uncanny. We took the name and number of the place, along with her suggestion of a tow truck driver to call. She said, “just tell them you’re at Susie’s north of town, and he’ll know where that is!” Gotta love small towns!
The hotel we chose turned out to the nicest, cheapest hotel in Alberta, I’m sure. I mean, where else can you get a really nice room for $79/night! In the morning, Darren and I walked over to Napa Auto Parts to see about a battery. A lovely lady named Charlotte stared searching on her computer to see if they had the right kind. Unfortunately, they didn’t (I had never noticed how batteries come in so many sizes), and they couldn’t find one at nearby Napa stores either. Meanwhile, a fellow who worked there, Dean, took a battery off the shelf and started measuring it. He figured he could make it work — it was a slightly smaller than we needed — so he offered to drive Darren out to the Pathfinder and install the battery to get us into town. No tow truck needed!
Well, the manoeuvre worked. The battery was much too small and the terminals were reversed, so to hook it up, Darren and Dean had to put it on an angle. It did the trick though, so Darren drove the Pathfinder to the mechanic’s shop. Dean, the bearded sweetheart that he is, didn’t charge us for the use of the battery, and came back to Napa to get me. The mechanic, Ken, put our battery on the charger to check its condition.
The battery was taking a charge just fine, so after 10 minutes or so, they put it in our vehicle to drive it into one of their bays. Now, make no mistake — the mechanic shop, called “MacKENics” after the owner, Ken, was completely booked. Ken, taking pity on us I suppose, still managed to help us out and it was determined that our alternator was dead.
Such a small part, but without it, wheels don’t turn. So, I continued the search I had started with Charlotte to find a replacement. The Nissan dealer in Grande Prairie was able to locate one at a Napa warehouse in Edmonton, so Charlotte ordered it for us. Darren got the idea that maybe our belts should be replaced at the same time. Ken agreed, so the belts were also ordered, and all the parts would arrive the next day. The only problem was the next day was a Saturday, and the mechanic shop is closed on Saturdays.
Ken didn’t even skip a beat when we realized it. He just called one of his mechanics who was having a day off and asked him to come in. So, while Darren and I had a leisurely morning, a guy who was supposed to be lounging at home came in and fixed our Pathfinder for us! We walked over and got it and were underway shortly after noon.
So, let me make a huge shout out to Susie, Charlotte and Dean at Napa, Ken at MacKenics, everyone at the Horizon Inn, and Ryan at the Grande Prairie Nissan dealership. Thank you so much for getting us back on the road! We actually enjoyed out little unexpected vacation in Valleyview. 🙂