Stocked up on food in Edmonton in the morning along with picking up differential fluid. Pete made quick work of adding more differential fluid and we were back on the road at a decent time.
We arrived in Dawson Creek, BC just before 5pm. I filled up with gas and we were headed to the campsite when Pete noticed one of his rear tires had gone flat. We made an emergency stop in an alley off the busy four-lane road. It was so HOT! Temperature was almost 80 degrees as we both were on our hands and knees crawing around the tires checking to see where the leak had come from. We had to open the large back storage hatch on the bus to access our full size 8-ply spare tire, bottle jacks and breaker bar. Miraculously nothing fell out! We had been nervously contemplating when we would have to open the back hatch after we stuffed that compartment to the brim with every tool, boot and the like we could fit. Then being tossed around on the frost heaves in Alberta. The plan was to quickly replace the flat tire and head to the campsite to make dinner and plan to get a professional patch for the tire in the morning. Of course, things didn't go according to plan, after all, we are at mile zero of the famously treacherous Alaskan Highway.
Since we had to unload everything from the back, including the air compressor, Pete plugged in the compressor and tried to fill the flat tire back up. Using the on-board A/C inverter to power the compressor (which he forgot was wired through the new switch he installed), it drew too much current and burned out the switch. He quickly got to Plan B for this situation and began wiring up the two deep cycle batteries and the 2000W A/C inverter we had in the back which we planned to use when we got to Alaska. This setup powered the compressor without issue. After filling the tire, we couldn't hear any air coming out and didn't know where the leak was. Then we realized it was the valve stem and not the tire - just pushing the valve stem to the side caused air to come rushing out. This was somewhat good news because it meant the tire was still good, and a tire shop should be able to easily replace the valve stem. Then, as we mounted the spare tire we realized the cutout in the center of the rim for the hub was about 1/2" too small and didn't fit. We guessed the wheel was designed only for the front axle. So, Plan B: Pete crawled under and loosened the bolts which mounted second spare beneath the bus and got it down. Within moments of tightening the last bolt on the newly installed second spare, the inside tire next to the spare started squealing and releasing air due to a rupture in it's old braided extension valve. The next step was to remove the second spare to get to the now flat inside tire and take the faulty valve extension off. Then, Pete used the air compressor to fill both tires that had depleted, put the second spare back on, and tightened down all the lug nuts.
We finally rolled into the campsite around 8PM, sweaty, dirty and tired. We were expecting showers at the campground only to find out they closed at 7PM and didn't open until 10AM the next day. They even closed the bathrooms and laundry during those hours too. This was not our favorite campground being in our current condition. We laid down in the toasty bus (mind you the A/C had stopped working in the back too, possibly due to mud from the dirt roads the first night getting on the condenser) sprawled out waiting for morning to come.
*This was our worst day (mostly evening) on the 9 day road trip. Looking back, we are so thankful, as it could have been so much worse. It wasn't raining, we didn't break down in a remote area, and it was a cheap fix. We are also grateful this was the ONLY major issue that we had on the 3,000 mile road trip. We had cell service so we were able to prearrange the campground accommodations before they closed (though we could've dry camped in the Walmart parking lot just the same) and find a professional tire shop to get into in the morning.
Hello, I am Melissa, owner of Wild North Design. Recently, my husband and I decided to pick up and move to Alaska. This dream has been a couple years in the making and we are enjoying the journey so far. We love to learn and make all kinds of things. From wood craft, to painting, to vehicles, landscaping, building, exploring...we love it all! We are finding out that Alaska is a great fit for our restless minds and bodies! Excited for what the future holds for our expanding family!
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