It was October 1976. Four of us had the same dream on the same night to move out West. Diana, who later became my wife, was one of the four. She agreed to share the gas in a 5 year old Renault, on our trip from Toronto to Vancouver. I loved the license plate. I still have it. It was just like me; Wide eyed and adventurous, and dumb as a a sack of hammers. That's what I love about that age. When I was 20 I thought I would live forever and had no fear. When I left my home in Richmond Hill, I only had my Learner's license so I had to have Diana in the seat beside me just to legally drive the car. I knew nothing about cars. I just got in and drove it. This picture was taken just minutes before I left on my trip. My brother Pete is standing with me here. I'm the one in the white sweater.
After travelling for two days through Northern Ontario, the idiot light (named for a reason) went on suggesting that I was low on oil. We drove 500 more miles to Regina before I bothered to have the oil checked. The woman who checked it was a large burly thing. She reached over the engine and put the dipstick in once. She pulled it out. She put it in again. She pulled it out and looked very puzzles and shook her head. Then she put it in again.
“You got no 'ole' ” she said.
Smiling, and quite unaware of the ramifications of having driven thousands of miles with no oil in my engine I said: "well, go ahead and put some in I guess". She put in four quarts and it was still barely full. We drove on through Saskatchewan and Alberta until we reached our first stop; my brother’s place in BC. We were about to turn off into Chillewack when we heard a bang and the lights on the dash lit up like a Christmas tree. We crept along for 2 blocks until we came to a place called Valley motors where we parked the car. I popped the hood and saw that the engine front had blown off and the cooling fan propeller was sitting against the radiator. Not only had we stopped exactly at a Renault dealership, it turned out it was the only Renault dealership for 600 miles. We had managed to break down in the one place in Canada where we knew someone. My brother picked us up and we stayed there while the mechanic fixed our car. A year ago, Kahlin and I went to Chillowack to visit some friends when we stumbled across Valley motors. It still looks exactly the same now as it did in 1976. On a whim, I took this picture. Twenty-nine years later, in November of 2004, I was moving back to Ontario when an almost identical thing happened again. I wrote about it in Calgary To Thailand In 2 Minutes . When that incident happened I immediately thought of this day.