Thursday, March 26, 2020

Pandemic Drive Home.

Depart Yuma Wednesday Midday-Arrive Winnipeg Sunday Midday.
____ Sitting in the desert as the World reeled from the relentless spread of Covid 19; we felt we were in a good place. The snowbirds had thinned; neighbours had left throughout the previous two weeks and we were surrounded by wide open wilderness. Our only close interaction with crowded areas was at the launderette and Fry's supermarket in the Foothills, near Yuma. A once a week, fifty mile round trip.

____ The original plan was to be back on Canadian soil by April 14; the determining factor being our health insurance. After last years tragedy; when Gilles from Montreal collapsed against the side of the truck with a stroke, health and fitness has been of elevated importance. Good coverage for over 65s is expensive for long-term visits to the US but totally essential. However, once the coronavirus situation had been designated as a "Pandemic"; all health insurance policies refused to pay for treatment. Then the Canadian government issued a "No Travel" advisory for the USA which gave the insurance companies the excuse to cancel all travel and health cover to people in the States. We were given ten days to get back to Canada.

___ The Mack had developed a few problems since the start of the trip, nothing too serious and stuff that could wait until the return to Manitoba. But coming North in the tension of a country on the verge of shut-down was stressful. The fuel pump was leaking, a drip, drip, drip at idle; the 11 litre motor marking its territory at every truckstop, rest area and car park. The diesel fuel at the front was now being complimented by a oil seal leak at the differential. The fuel level gauge in the diesel tank abruptly stopped working. One of the battery isolating solenoids gave up the ghost; so the truck now just had the one operable 12 volt battery in the front bumper. Somewhere, unknown, a parasitic draw resulted in a flat battery every morning; luckily a 3500 watt generator easily over came that problem.

___ But Macks are built tough, they get the job done. A bottle of gear oil in the rear axle every morning and a lot of concentration; we brought it home. Many Canadian snowbirds on the same roads; playing leap-frog with Manitoba plated travel trailers, 5th wheel and motorhomes all the way from Tucumcari. The final two nights were cold, drumming in the fact we had returned too early, but a strong tail-wind gave us good fuel mileage and the price of a gallon was way less than the outbound journey.

____ The border at Pembina/Emerson was the last stressful obstacle. There were plenty of warnings on the Internet that the border was closed with chaotic advice about who would be let into Canada. At the end of Interstate 29, the line-up was short and we were across with just a few questions answered. However we  did have agree to a 14 day period of isolation at home. Go home, straight home and don't stop a Tim Hortons for coffee at Morris. So, the Mack is back in same spot where it was re-purposed; the snow is still two feet  deep on the deck. The groceries are delivered and I have conditioned myself to sit and watch TV for 16 hours a day. The Mack needs a lot of TLC but with such an uncertain future, there is no time-line; just a quiet determination to get through the unforeseen darkness that has enveloped everyone's lives.

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