A Most Costly Cheeseburger

I awake in Many Glacier Campground to what my boating friends would call a “snotty day.” It’s thick pea soup fog, cold and gray out my rain-streaked window. I have done a “big hike” yesterday, and I have another one planned for tomorrow, so I do not feel guilty for taking a day off and being lazy.

It has now been three days without any internet connectivity, and I am starting to exhibit signs of addictive behavior. Fidgety. Restless. Unable to focus on the book lying next to me. I start to consider extreme measures in the lodge nearby, like bribing guests for their room number so I could use the wifi, or lying to front desk clerks at the lodge that I had a family emergency, and could I please have a guest wifi code. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

I know I can get a signal back down in St. Mary’s. I have also read about a restaurant recommendation on one of my fellow RVers blogs for Two Sister’s Café, halfway between St. Mary’s and Many Glacier. I rationalize a trip into town under the guise that I will do some research in the educational exhibits at St. Mary’s Visitor Center. And since the Sister’s Café is on the way, of course…

The sign on the roof, "Aliens Welcome" makes me laugh.

The sign on the roof, “Aliens Welcome” makes me laugh.

It’s warm inside, there is a table by the rain-speckled window in front, and the staff is friendly. I ask if I can sit awhile, and he says “You just missed the lunchtime rush, so stay as long as I would like, I could use the rest.” The internet signal is strong, and the cheeseburger is grilled to perfection. And I use my previous day’s hike to not only rationalize my day off, but there is Huckleberry Pie on the menu. I’ve never had a huckleberry. Another educational opportunity.IMG_0653

I push out a blog post, get caught up on emails, and check the weather forecast. Tomorrow, looks like the rain will be moving out for a glorious, sun-filled weekend.IMG_0654

I leave the cute and cozy Two Sister’s Café, and drive six miles down to St. Mary’s Visitor Center. As I slow to pull into the parking lot, I hear a strange rattling noise coming from the Tracker. I have never heard this sound before, and find it odd that it doesn’t stop when I kill the engine. I get out, open the hood, and water is literally sizzling….not just boiling, but sizzling into the coolant overflow container. It is at this moment that I realize my temperature gauge has most likely been stuck just to the left of center for who knows how long?

I go inside the Visitor’s Center to give the car time to cool down. While in there, I inquire about any local mechanics nearby. I find out the nearest one is in Babb, Montana, 8 miles away. At this point, I am 20 miles from the mother-ship, which is still parked up in Many Glacier Campground.

After the car has cooled, I add over a gallon of water to the radiator. While the hood is up, a lovely RVing couple comes over to ask if I need help. I explain my situation, and ask for any additional advice. He tells me most likely my thermostat is stuck, so just keep a close eye on it, and get to mechanic asap. As I pull out into the street, enough steam billows from my tailpipe to rival the last of the great steam engines.

Unbeknownst to me, the RVing couple watches me leave the parking lot. Knowing I wouldn’t get far, they decide to come looking for me, and find me half a mile away parked at the Exxon station. The general consensus is, the little Tracker is hosed. We discuss my options. Being good RV folks that they are, they insist on driving me the 20 miles back up to the Winnie in Many Glacier campground, despite my resistance. “No-no.  I’ll be fine.  Really!  I have my bike on the back.”  You see, I have a hard time accepting help from others. They counter, “Look, even if you call a tow truck, you have no way back to Many Glacier. What are you going to do, ride your bike 20 miles uphill? It’s getting dark soon. Traffic is too light this late in the evening to hitchhike. You don’t want to get stuck up there in bear country alone!” So finally, we come to a compromise. I will accept their generous offer, if they will allow me to top off their tank. We have a deal.

Once back in Many Glacier campground, I work fast to stow the Winnie, as it is now approaching sundown. I hurry down the pot-holed road as fast as I am comfortable without crashing things in the kitchen. I hitch up the Tracker and tow it back to Many Glacier, into my spacious pull-thru site. There is something to be said for having one’s own tow truck!

By the time I get back to the campground and start the Tracker to unhitch, the engine has seized up. Thus bringing my Glacier National Park vacation to an abrupt end….and beginning a journey of an unexpected sort altogether…IMG_0890

12 thoughts on “A Most Costly Cheeseburger

  1. Oh dear,my friend…yet another thing we have in common. That strong independent spirit that drives us to great adventures….also foolishly resists needed help . So glad you were able to accept their kind help. I am always amazed by the RV community around us. Such a caring and responsive backup network.I sometimes hate the Life Lessons that come my way. Peace and better fortune to you my friend!

  2. OH NO! I almost can’t believe this. What in the world. Did you water pump go? That happened to us on our wonderful 1986 Honda Accord with 325K miles. It had been showing signs and I told David we needed to get it looked at and he said ok, later and then when he was driving it home late one night on back roads about 25 miles from anywhere with no cell signal it went and the engine overheated and the car was hosed. I’ve never forgiven him for it. I was going to drive MY car to at least 500K miles. It was a great car. I hate that your Glacier vacation is coming to a halt in such a really bummer way. Glacier has something….I broke my ankle, visit over. Your car hosed, visit over. You’ve me on the edge of my seat. How old is the tracker?? Well just DARN!

  3. Yet another reason to give up your addiction to red meat?!!!

    I’m so glad the kind RV couple persisted in rescuing you, and glad you could get the Tracker hitched back up to the RV. What luck to already have a pull-thru site too!

    East Glacier certainly seems to have some kind of bad-luck voodoo to it. That had been my destination in 2008 when my brand new Subaru Outback decided to blow its transmission leaving us stranded in Great Falls for over a week and reducing our park visit to only 2 short days. One day I hope to get back there, but dread what it might ask me to sacrifice in return!

  4. Sounds as if your water pump has failed and the hot engine seized the pistons. Sometimes when they cool down the pistons release themselves and you can get lucky in that there’s no serious damage to the piston bores. Fingers crossed. Thanks for the info on the camera, I had a good Google of the reviews. It was a bit of a coincidence as I was looking at WiFi cameras. I still have one of the first Canon Ixus digi cameras, and even with the now low pixel count of 4 million, it still takes photos good enough for A5 size blowups.

  5. I did not learn the “let others help” you lesson until physical infirmities required it after retirement so you are fortunate to learn it at an earlier age.
    Sorry about the failure, hope all comes out well. At least you are surrounded by beauty as you solve it. So happy that you did not have to walk in bear country after dark.

  6. So very sorry to read about your troubles. I sure hope you were able to get a reasonable fix:)

    Isn’t the Two Sisters a hoot! We were hoping to get in one last meal but they closed the Sunday we arrived for round two. Glad they had WiFi. I so understand your withdrawal. We left Banff four days early just because we were so tired of only having WiFi at a coffee shop in town and we had no TV. Three weeks of this was all we could take. Thank goodness that we did get in all the hikes I had planned and really didn’t need the extra days.

    The Iceberg Lake post should be up tomorrow:)

  7. My husband the former master mechanic says it could be anything from a stuck thermostat to a complete engine replacement. The seized engine pretty much guarantees a spendy repair though. He suggests you do a search for the best independent garage rather than a dealership. Glad there was someone to help you. Gotta love life’s little curve balls. Good luck!

  8. Kim — Only you…. 😉

    Karen — Yes, that stubborn independent streak is an affliction we both share, but it sure is rewarding when we are able to succeed on our own, right? Like solving a challenging puzzle…

    Nina and Polly — Thanks for the positive paws. Unfortunately destiny had a different plan…

    Sherry — The Tracker is a 1994. If it were a Honda, then I REALLY would be grieving! I have a CRV that will soon hit 200K, and it’s just getting broken in. 😉 I am reliving your “Accord accord,” my friend…

    BC Mark — I am ready for “these things” to pass, already!!

    Lynne — We’ll take Millie, and sacrifice a chicken. 😉

    Dave — I haven’t used the wifi feature yet, but will hopefully do some experimenting soon, as it is a feature I have enjoyed with my iphone camera. I hear it is a real “battery hog,” though.

    Lisa — Yes, some nerve is right! That’s why I nicknamed him the “Bratty Tracker!”

    Allen — The lesson comes from my hard headed Mom, who at 86 years is still trying to “do it all!”

    Pam — Yes, I LOVED that cafe! A whole lot of personality. I enjoyed sitting there for hours! I was trying to remember whose blog I first saw it. It must have been ohtheplacestheygo.wordpress.com! I don’t know for sure if they had wifi, as I was carrying my Verizon mifi with me.

    Tina — Your former master mechanic husband was right. ;-(

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