Finishing up our drive through Red Rock Canyon, Vegas 2015
Grace and I chatted casually about the trip we were embarking upon. It was still dark out and the rain was coming down pretty good.
We’d stopped to pick up a coffee at Starbuck’s and they both sat untouched in the cup holders. Gotta let them cool down, you know.
We were just coming to the end of the Alex Fraser Bridge on Highway 91 southbound when we saw the red and blue flashing lights ahead.
I slowed then signaled to merge into the left lane. There was not much in the way of traffic at 5:45 AM.
Orange cones surrounded the accident scene. In the quick glance that I took it was evident this was a serious accident. A car had flipped. I hoped no one was seriously hurt.
I had reduced my speed to about 60-70 KM and checked the road ahead for debris. We had almost passed the scene and I began to give the accelerator some juice.
My car was a 2003 Toyota Echo with just 167,000 km on it.
Best car ever!
It was a loud, intrusive sound. There was an odd sensation of movement in a disjointed kind of way. The air bags were not deployed.
Grace and I simultaneously questioned ‘What the hell just happened?”
I slowed and came to a stop approximately 150-200 feet from the original accident scene.
This was definitely a ‘W.T.F.’ moment.
Grace was asking the question again. “What just happened?”
I replied something to the effect of ‘I think we just got hit.’ Or ‘Were we just hit?’
We were understandably stunned and likely a little in shock.
Next I said something like, ‘I don’t fucking believe this.” It was a statement, a declaration.
We were on our way to Vegas. This couldn’t possibly be happening, could it?
I slipped from the car to find out what was going on.
A young man emerged from an older white vehicle adorned in a security guard uniform.
“Did you just hit me?” I asked.
“It’s slippery.” He replied.
It didn’t sink in. I asked once more. “Did you hit me?”
His vehicle really didn’t look too bad and I wasn’t certain just what had happened just yet.
“Couldn’t stop…too slippery.” He stated
“Then you hit me?” I asked once more for clarification.
“I want to call my parents.” He replied.
A RCMP police officer approached then.
“Is everyone okay?” he enquired, “ Does anyone need an ambulance?”
The young man turned to him “Can I call my parents?”
The officer instructed us to get back in our vehicles. No point in getting soaked. He would call for back up and get our information. Everything would be taken care of he assured.
I turned then and really looked at my car.
The backend had been completely mashed in and the bumper was hanging by a hair in a tangled mess.
Conversations occurred now.
Telling the officer where were coming from and where we were going. He called us a cab. Then Grace’s husband said he’d come for us and take us to the airport in Bellingham. Grace ran out in the rain to have the officer cancel the taxi and not five minutes later he called back saying he couldn’t do it. His passport was at home. By the time he got home to pick it up then came to us it would be way too late to make our flight.
I called my daughter and she started to cry.
“I’m okay.” I reassured her.
I had to cut her short initially as the police had arrived once more, but I called her back later.
Taps on my window were constant now with the condensation making it difficult to see who was beckoning us, Grace and I wiped the windows so that we might see what was going on in the world outside this space.
The Vegas vacation now seemed to slip a little further into the shadows.
My car had been rendered un-drivable yet I was thinking about the vacation we’d planned. A friend of ours lived down there now and the plan had been to reconnect and get caught up.
All we had to do was get the Bellingham Airport.
I could clean up this mess when I got back.
The thing about messes is they never go away. As much as you’d like them to disappear they’ll stay just the way you left them.
This little adventure of ours was slipping away. Grace and I sat quietly as the minutes slipped past. The possibility of a taxi coming and making its way in time becoming more remote by the moment.
I began to process that this little adventure wasn’t going to happen. I was trying to make sense of that which cannot be explained. I was trying to turn it over in my head and reconcile it.
The damage to my car was extreme.
Green garbage bags in the trunk that has been prepped for charity bins now appeared rather grotesque.
“You got body parts back there?” Grace had asked smiling getting back in the car. Thankfully we’d stowed our luggage in the backseat.
Another tap on the window. The officer who had responded to Constable Mathew Taylor’s call for back up was Milo.
“Come on.I can give you a lift to the border,” Milo stated.
Hope sprang up in that damp dark moment. Grace and I were suddenly mobile.
I couldn’t get the backdoor open at first. The impact had tightened it considerably. I became herculean in that moment. I ripped the door open and I grabbed my suitcase and umbrella then tossed them into the back of the RCMP cruiser.
Milo escorted us to the border. He was a charming young man; lovely and warm, funny with a quirky side to him. He advised that should we wake sore and stiff to drink excessively.
It was a strange and surreal moment.
Then again, all the events that had occurred thus far were.
But even in this telling I don’t want to see the young officer who gave us a ride to the border be reprimanded for his kindness.
Milo took us to the truck border crossing. Had he taken us to the Peace Arch crossing we would have had to hike for a good half mile if not more in the rain that was coming down even harder now.
Grace and I thanked our host and made our way toward the border patrol office. Milo called my name then ran up and gave me back my driver’s license.
We laughed lightly then Grace and I continued our trek. I pulled out my umbrella that I’d rescued from the floor of my car and tried to keep the two of dry as we slipped through the dark of morning.
Unsmiling faces greeted us with suspicion as we explained our circumstance and that we were enroute to Vegas.
The gentle kindness of the RCMP officder was now countered with the cold suspicion of the U.S. border patrol.
“Could you call us a cab?” I asked hopefully.
‘Which one?’ was the reply as several business cards were displayed.
“Whomever you feel is a reputable company.” I replied.
We were instructed to sit. I would find a few minutes later this was more of a demand rather than a courtesy request.
The taxi arrived at length. An odd conversation ensued with the driver revealing that he had done time at Rikers, a well know prison in the States. I had been making small talk, you know the kind where you enquire if the person gets up to Canada very often.
I didn’t see it at the moment but now I realize I was in shock to some degree. I’d entered that zone where you give it up to the fates. As the cab driver rambled about all the places he’d been to I kept praying I’d see the sign indicating the turnoff for the Bellingham Airport.
And even as we boarded the plane at 8:11 AM for an 8:30 AM take-off, there was an odd separation of sorts.
I’ve only been to Las Vegas once back in 2009 and stayed on the strip for the most part.
This time out I really got a feel for this place and really got to know it a little more intimately. It is still a very strange and contradictory city in many ways.
We drove through Red Rock Canyon. A stunning visage of limestone and perhaps some other rock variations.
It has a lush obscurity to it. Then you drive into a city of extremes which is an architect’s dream to build big. To build the most elaborate and detailed structure possible where money is no object. But of course there is a cost.
All the houses in the subdivisions are the same colour in various shades of beige and tan earth tones. There is western motif that runs throughout the architecture here and it fits.
I had a good time despite the auspicious beginnings of this vacation. At the end of the day you gotta make the most of it.
And, damn, I did enjoy myself.
Now I am back home beginning to clean up the mess. My neck and back are mucked up and I will have to take some time off from the exercise regiment I’d been establishing.
I have to refrain from running for a while too. I was feeling a little down for a day or two as result of all this and the fact that all the headway I’d been making had now been sidetracked.
I was feeling a wee bit sorry for myself and I really detest this mindset.
I went for my first physiotherapy session yesterday and it was painful.
I’ll be at my doctor’s tomorrow and get set up with a massage therapist as well.
At the moment the discomfort and pain is a bitch. The physiotherapist did give me exercises to assist in releasing the muscles that are still seized up
My car is a write-off and I have to figure that out as well. I’m driving a rental provided by ICBC.
I hope the young man that hit us is okay. Grace is having massage treatments done as well.
And I can only hope that we will all have a speedy recovery.
What I do know is this could have been so much worse. I’ll get better. I always do.
I’ll release the book shortly and get on with that as well.
Thanks for checking in.