That ol’ set o’ wheels

They are now working! Working great! Got that old (1990) van working and rolling and doing what old vans are supposed to do. Sal and guests (plus dog) went on a ‘touristy’ drive around the island yesterday (all dirt/logging roads). Had a great time. It’s a Toyota, all-wheel drive van, under 185,000 kms, good tires, mechanically sound, everything working well and even the air conditioning blew cool!

I am 73. Sal a few years younger. If Sal or I drive that van as much as anyone else does their car on this island, we will be challenged to put on 1000kms a year. A more realistic estimate is 250 – 300 kms a year, maybe less. The old Toyota (already 31 years old) is reputed to go, on average, close to 500,000 kms before joining the old jalopies at the junk yard. Do the math: that puppy should run for over 300 years!

Realistically, neither it nor I will last 300 years. In fact, I am sorta counting on just 15 more (if I am lucky). The point of all this? Even tho Sal will last closer to 30 years (she comes from a great gene pool) that truck will see her out and the next generation after us……seriously, it will not have hit 200K kms before I leave this mortal coil and it, as the bard might say, “will have no doubt about it’s being”. ‘To be or not to be?’, is not a question for an old Toyota.

It’s a JDM Previa, the precursor to the now ubiquitous Toyota Sienna, the ‘family van’. 1990 was the first year they were ever made and then it was repeated as launched for a number of years until the last one rolled out in 1997. Right-hand drive. Automatic.

Our island is approximately 17 miles long, tip to tip, but the road system does not go all the way. As the raven flies, the main-track goes maybe 12 or 13 miles down the middle (North-South) and the secondary road, (off the Y intersection at the old Maple) goes for maybe half of that again in another direction (NE- SW). There are little overgrown pathways that spin off the two main roads but they don’t go far – usually nowhere (they were just ‘access-to-trees’ roads). I suppose that If I spent the day driving every passable road that actually went anywhere, going out and coming back, I might accumulate 50 miles tops. A typical ‘trip’ would be eight miles out and eight miles back (see a friend, visit, etc). And we might do that once every three months. It will be hard to put on the miles.

“Why bother?” Well, there is always a reason to go somewhere on the island and, while walking is OK for most of our contacts to be reached, walking back in inclement weather or at night is prohibitive. Cougar-prohibitive. Plus we are always carrying something. Always. Plus we are getting older. Vehicles on the island are necessary but not used often. In fact, for the most part, all the traffic happens on Friday.

Friday is when the food-delivery-boat arrives and people are now trundling down to the dock in the early afternoon in old, rolling, rust-buckets to get their order and, usually, a neighbour’s or two or even three others. Given that the old logging roads are barely two vehicles wide, we can get a bit of a traffic jam on Fridays but there is never any road rage. Traffic jams are social occasions out here.

We are not quite as sanguine about the community docks, however. Our most critical dock on the neighbouring island (car-park) holds only six vessels 18 feet and smaller. We tie-up twelve vessels by rafting up two deep or even, maybe 15 small vessels if a few are willing to climb over two boats to get to the dock. Dock space is at a premium and, when you arrive, the pressure is on. “Why?” Because no one goes there unless they are embarking on some kind of longer drive-the-car type mission. Most such sorties involve catching the ferry an hour away. To arrive at the dock with no place to tie up throws the mission’s plans off track.

There are maybe 250 people in the general area on average spread over 250 square miles and 5 separate islands (all OTG). That translates into maybe 60 or so separate vehicles. Maybe 80 households? Our parking lot is jammed. But dock space for only six vessels is where the real bottle-neck is. We need a bigger community dock.

Anyway, we have wheels on one island, wheels on another and two boats to go get to them. And, in keeping with the logic, there is no road anywhere near my house (water access only). Weird!

4 thoughts on “That ol’ set o’ wheels

  1. So where do you park the car when you don’t use it? Just at the side of the road at the nearest possible space to your house? I thought you did everything by boat. But I can imagine a car might be handy on the island as well. So if you would want to expand the community dock, you have to ask the government, or is this a community decision/execution project?


  2. The dock is an interesting division of responsibility. We are ‘responsible’ for it but we could not get it in the first place without THEIR permission and a grant. So, it is theirs in ownership and the odd grant but we pretty much have to act as ‘caretakers, managers and repairmen’. Bottom line: we cannot expand it without them.
    We do everything by boat. And our boat is a few miles at least from the nearest road. But, of course, when the boat lands (usually at a road access), your destination might still be a few miles away down that road. In our case, we park the Previa in the (surprise!) Community parking lot on OUR island which holds about six cars. That lot is at the terminus of our main road. There are old vehicles on the other four islands as well – same idea. One can park anywhere on the logging roads, of course, but it is more convenient to have the car nearby the community dock #2 (dock#2 is on our island, dock#1 is on the neighbouring island). So we go by boat up-coast for just about two or so miles, tie up the boat, walk up the hill to the lot and get in the vehicle. That is the process for OUR island and for the neighbouring island. In other words, we are about 2.5 miles from any road head.


  3. That works to keep me in, fer sure. I do not wanna go out into the madding crowd at the best of times but that 2.5 mile ‘moat’ works to keep ’em out and keep me in.


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