Day 19: Repairs in Fort Nelson

Well, I wasn’t planning on stopping in Fort Nelson at all, let alone for two days. But this morning when the repair shops opened I talked to the mechanics about finding me a new starter and while they searched high and low, I went to the tire shop to get a replacement tire.

I can’t say enough good things about the employees at Tirecraft and Gearhead truck repair. Everyone has gone out of their way to get me back on the road as quickly as possible. The guys at Tirecraft had me in and out in an hour. It was amazing. And they were already super busy. Unfortunately I had to buy 4 new rear tires, but they also rotated the front tires.

With the new tires installed and rotated I headed back to Gearhead hoping they’d have good news. And they did. Sort of. They found me a replacement starter and they’d be able to install it really fast, but it wouldn’t get here until Thursday! Yikes. As I was debating just limping along their phone rang and it was one of their suppliers. They found a starter closer and could have it by tomorrow (Wednesday). The front desk clerk asked me what I wanted to do and I decided that spending a day here and getting it all taken care of would be better than getting stranded. So I told them to order the part.

It will be in around noon tomorrow and they said they’d have it installed asap, but definitely early afternoon. Not perfect, but considering how remote I am right now, not bad at all.

With fresh tires and a bus that starts most of the time, I set off to explore Fort Nelson. First stop was the visitor’s center. Not all that informative or friendly, but I did pick up a couple of postcards. Then it was across the street to the Fort Nelson Heritage museum. This place could be mistaken for a junkyard, but it’s filled with old antique cars and old equipment used to construct the Alaska Highway. It was only $5, so I figured I’d check it out (plus I had no where else to go).

Turns out it was pretty cool. They have a Buick that is over 100 years old and just drove from Fort Nelson to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, around 625 miles!

After the museum was a trip to the city sponsored RV dump and fill stations. Its nice to have a full fresh water tank again. After that I decided to go for a little drive and picnic. Just 80km up the Alaska Highway is Steamboat pass. I heard the views were incredible, so I figured I’d break in the new tires with a little jaunt, but not so far out of town that if I was stranded I’d be in trouble. I’m glad I did. It was therapeutic to get back on the road and know that I’m making progress on getting the bus back in shape. It was also a really pretty drive.

After the picnic I returned to town, ran a couple of errands (bought more diesel) and now I’m parked at Gearheads. They were nice enough to let me leave the bus here and stay in the bus overnight so that I don’t have to stay in a hotel.

Hopefully the new starter shows up at noon and then I’ll be on my way soon after that. I’m only two days behind schedule and I’ll be able to make that up and still arrive in Anchorage on time.