I have to admit that – in spite of my advancing years and general all-round good fortune when it comes to opportunities for adventure and experience – I am still a neophyte in many regards. There are skills and proficiencies that I have yet to attempt, let alone to master, but at which others seem to have been practicing since they were able to walk.
Some such – hunting, fishing, flying, parachute jumping, skiing and so forth – I am not even sure that I much care about, although I am aware that they arouse in others a mighty passion. Other competences I have attempted in my later years, mindful that a chap probably really ought so to have done. Riding was one such. I didn’t stick at it for long – sad to say – discovering that (although like everyone else I must surely have already known) the pursuit is massively expensive and also that (and this was news to me) all horses are actually a fair bit madder than their owners.
The subject of this post is – however – none of the above. I was – until a couple of days ago – a tow virgin!
I know – I know!
Though I was for several decades the proud possessor of a 12 seat V8 Land Rover County Station Wagon (named Katy after the 4×4 army ambulance that John Mills cajoles across the desert in ‘Ice Cold in Alex’) which I even took off-road on occasion, I never did get around to towing anything with it.
My only real experience in this regard was assisting our dear friends here in Saanichton a few years back in taking their boat to the launch. I had to drive the empty trailer back to their farm on my own, the which I duly did with a certain degree of trepidation. I must admit that after a few abortive attempts at backing the trailer into its parking space I gave up, uncoupled it and pushed it in by hand. Not feasible when fully loaded of course.
Since I firmly intend to own a boat here on the island and will definitely need to trailer it, I already had on my agenda for the coming months some time spent in a quiet spot practicing. This gentle approach was blown out of the water in snowy Kamloops earlier this week when it became apparent that we would need to convey quite a large number of boxes back to Victoria. The only feasible method of so-doing was to hire a U-Haul trailer, to tow it over the icy mountains to the coast, to take the ferry across to the island and – having unloaded – deposit the beast at the Victoria U-Haul depot.
To say that the prospect aroused in me some apprehension would be to put it mildly. I had no real experience to call upon and – though the Lexus is supposedly well up to this sort of task – I had no way of knowing if it were fully equipped so to do.
In the event – and with some extremely cautious driving on my part, particularly when it started to snow – we made it back in one piece. We took the Fraser Canyon in preference to the Coqhuihalla – the former being nowhere near as high a pass, with Jackass Mountain being the only really tough stretch. The weather tends to be a little kinder as well on this route and the only downside is that it adds an hour to the journey. The Girl estimated that departure from Kamloops at 10:00am would see us reach the ferry at Tsawwassen at 4:00pm and she was bang on the money!
The hardest part of the whole proceeding was back in North Saanich. It was dark by the time we got home and raining heavily. I had to back the trailer off the road and into our steep and fairly narrow drive. It took two attempts and I nearly put the Lexus into a ditch in the process. Fortunately the natives are friendly in these parts and the few passing motorists forced to delay their journeys indulged my amateurish attempts with patience and the minimum of heckling.
Considerable amounts of practice will be required before I attempt that with a boat!
What I did learn is that the Lexus is a magnificent vehicle for this sort of thing. It scarcely turned a hair at having to lug a heavy trailer over the mountains in snow and ice and at no point gave us the slightest cause for concern. I am also extremely glad that we spent a packet fitting new winter tyres before we headed inland three weeks ago, a feeling amplified each time we saw some hapless soul in the ditch on the more treacherous stretches of the road.
The Lexus is clearly currently far better equipped than am I. Back to school for me!