Are we Ever Going to Reach Quebec City?
James 1:2-4 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever
you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the
testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance
must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything." NIV
It wasn't Friday the 13th. It was Thursday, the 12th.
Nevertheless, this day was never meant to be!
It all started while we were still at the campground where
we had spent the night. When we had the trailer hitch
initially installed on our van, we inherited a thick,
electrical tape-covered cord that was supposed to stick out
of the bottom of the hatch and plug into the trailer, thus
supplying electrical energy to the trailer's lights. Now, I
won't say that it was ALWAYS easy to close the hatch around
that cord, but never before in our three short weeks of
RVing had it taken us 30 minutes to accomplish the task! For
whatever reason, that hatch just did NOT want to close
around that cord! But finally, after plenty of banging,
reopening, and banging again, it was closed, and we vowed to
NEVER open it again-a vow that was broken at least four
times before we had driven 60 km.
It was 9:00 a.m. by the time I finally drove to the camp
entrance. But my wife met me there with a worried look on
her face. "Uh . . ." she said, gesturing towards the left
trailer tire. "This tire seems a little low! We'd better
check the air pressure when we stop in town for gas!"
Sure enough, the gauge read 20 psi instead of 80 psi. Now
that IS low! But when we tried to fill it back up with air,
it hissed back out at us as fast as we put it in! Psssssssss…
We had a flat!
Being the "expert" tire changers that we are, it took us 30
minutes to put the spare on the trailer, and then we set out
for our next destination: The Flat Fixer. Believe it or not,
this was the actual name of the garage! The Flat Fixer
advertised that he was open 23 ½ hours a day. He told us
that he spends the other half an hour spreading nails on the
road, and it appeared that we had picked up one of his
nails! Of course, in order to do all this, we had to open
the infamous hatch and close it again . . .
"Do you think we'll get to Quebec City on time?" asked one
of my sons.
"No problem," I said. "It's only 350 km from here. We'll
have plenty of time to explore the city!"
Or so we thought . . .
By 10:30 a.m. we were finally on the highway. We covered a
whole 30 kms before the next problem surfaced. My wife, who
was looking in the rear view mirror, saw it first: "Uh… I
think we forgot to close the vent of the roof of the
Sure enough, it was open just enough to catch the wind. We
would have to close it as soon as possible or risk the wind
ripping it off. Of course, since this was a tent trailer, it
meant that we had to raise the top . . . Another 30 minutes
I was right in the middle of typing a devotional about
stinking nostrils when my wife, who was driving, made
another of her infamous observations: "Uh . . . I think I
saw part of our tire fly away!" We had driven a total of 60
"What?" I exclaimed. "We just had it repaired 45 minutes
ago! Tires don't just fly around like that."
"Uh . . ." she said, with hesitation.
How I was beginning to hate that word!
"It was the other tire we had fixed!" she continued,
completing her statement of doom. As she pulled over to the
side of the road, I dutifully crawled out from under the
laptop and walked to the back of the trailer. Together we
pushed and prodded at the trailer tires, but we couldn't see
anything. "I must have been mistaken," my wife said. But
though there was an element of wistful thinking in her tone,
I could tell she still wasn't convinced.
That's when we noticed that the trailer lights were not
flashing, even though my wife had put on the emergency
flashers. We did a quick test: brakes, right turn signal,
left turn signal, headlights . . . But it didn't do any
good. The trailer lights were COMPLETELY dead, and we were
forced to yet again open the back of the van. Fiddling with
the wires did no good, however, and since it isn't safe to
drive without trailer lights, we resigned ourselves to our
fate: Our next stop would have to be at an RV garage.
Several minutes of banging later, the hatch was again closed
around its despised cord and we were free to concentrate on
our newest problem. But the trailer lights soon became the
least of our worries. As soon as we were back on the road,
the trailer began listing to one side. My wife pulled to the
side of the road again, and once again we bailed out to find
that a large piece of the inside of our right trailer tire
tread was completely missing. The tire must have been turned
in such a way that when we stopped the first time, it was
hidden behind the wheel, but there was no denying it now. We
simply had to accept the fact that we had 3 kinds of
tires-one with a repaired nail hole; one with only part of
its tread; and a spare one. How original!
It only took us 20 minutes to change the tire this
time-practice DOES make perfect, you see!-and after
struggling once again with our beloved hatch-we headed
towards the next exit. It was the last exit in New
Brunswick, and here we were faced with an unexpected
challenge: The local people, though we had not yet crossed
over into Quebec, all spoke French. Now, for a French
teacher and his bilingual wife, this shouldn't have been an
issue. But the dialect used in the particular part of Canada
was foreign to us. In fact, they might as well have been
speaking Chinese! Somehow, however, we found an RV sales and
service place in the town we had just passed who was willing
to help us.
We were feeling pretty good, and it didn't take us long to
cover the 10 kms back to town. But when we arrived, our good
feeling soured. "Uh . . . " stammered my wife, once again
using that dreaded starter: "Where are the trailers?"
"I'm not sure," I replied. "Maybe around back?"
This answer satisfied her for the moment, but once inside
the office, we were told that the man who could help us was
out to lunch and wouldn't be back for 45 minutes. Or at
least that's what we THINK we were told. I was guessing at
more than half of what was said.
We decided that if it was time for THEM to have lunch, then
it was time for US as well, and we drove around to the back
of the garage. But the promised trailers were nowhere to be
seen. Instead, the back parking lot was filled up with
broken down trucks!
"Uh . . ."
There she goes again!
"How can a place that advertises itself as being an RV Sales
and Service garage not have any RVs?"
My wife just WOULDN'T let this one go, would she? But it
probably only annoyed me because I was wondering the same
thing! If they didn't have any RVs, would they know how to
help us? And if not, what would we do?
It was about 50 minutes before someone finally came to help
us, and over the course of the next 15 minutes, a total of
four different men came and went, each with his own set of
unique questions. We had just repeated our story for the
fourth time when they asked us to drive into the garage. My
wife and I looked at each other. These people obviously
didn't know just WHO was behind the wheel of this rig!
Driving INTO the garage would be no problem; but getting
back OUT would require using reverse! Even after 3 weeks of
towing experience, we still avoided THAT direction! But my
practical wife said, "Let's don't worry about that right
now! Something will turn up!"
At least she didn't say "Uh"!
One man began unloaded the back of the van to work on the
electrical problem, while another two began to change our
tires into brand new ones.
"With all the help we're getting, this should be done in
1-2-3!" commented my wife.
But I couldn't help but note the sarcasm in her voice, for
in reality, it was taking those TWO men LONGER (is it
possible?) to take off our trailer tires than it had taken
us! It was 90 minutes before two brand new tires graced our
"Be aware that those tires are cheap," one man stated, his
voice calm and reassuring. "They could blow up any time!" Or
at least that's what we THOUGHT he said.
Duly "encouraged", I asked: "Aren't there better ones
Neither of us had any difficulty understanding that! And the
man was obviously encouraged by our progress with
understanding French, for he immediately began sharing with
us about morning problems at the hospital. Or at least
that's what we THOUGHT he was saying. All we could do is nod
our heads and hope that this was somehow the appropriate
Meanwhile, the other mechanic was still trying to figure out
our electricity problem. He was sure the problem was the
power converter, but he had never seen one with SIX wires
before. All he knew about were FIVE-wired power converters.
Quite a bit more time had elapsed before he finally located
a six-wired power converter, but after warning us that it
would be quite expensive, he left the garage. I couldn't
feel ANY better now!
We waited another eternity before I decided to go see what
he was doing. I found him all right. He was standing in a
store filled with customers. Seeing us, his manager asked,
"You're not in a hurry, are you?"
"Well kind off…"
"We will be with you right away."
It was fifteen minutes before the mechanic reappeared. But
he was visibly excited. "I think I found the problem!" he
nearly shouted. "It must be a ____!" And sure enough, it was
a blown fuse in the battery of our van. In just a few
moments, our trailer lights were working, and we were
presented with the bill. What an expensive fuse that turned
out to be!
The mechanic closed our hatch for us this time, and it only
took him about 10 tries. Then, sensing our hesitation with
backing out of the garage, he soon had the van and trailer
back in the parking lot, and finally, at 3:45 p.m., we were
back on the road.
We had covered a total of 60 km in 6½ hours. But we only had
another 300 km to go, and we would gain an hour when we
crossed into Quebec. We'd be in Quebec City by 5:30 at the
latest! No problem!
But it was not to be. As soon as we crossed into Quebec, my
wife started in again: "Uh . . . There sure is a lot of road
construction in Quebec!"
Sure enough, we immediately encountered delays long enough
that my wife, who was driving, literally took a nap while
waiting for the "stop" (or "arrêt"!) sign to be turned to
Then it started raining. Torrentially. And when the rain let
up, the cloud settled down onto the road and we had fog so
thick that our visibility was less than half a kilometre.
But that's another story!
"Are we ever going to reach Quebec City?" came the voice
from the back seat-again! It wasn't the first time the
question had been asked, nor would it be the last! All we
could say was who needs Friday the 13th, when you can have a
Thursday the 12th!
Have you ever experienced days like these? Welcome to Job's
house. Trials are part of life and trying to figure these
out will only lead to frustration. The only way to enjoy
going through such ordeals is by trusting in Jesus. Knowing
that He was right beside us reassured us that we are not
alone, and this helped us to enjoy ourselves that day,
despite the troubles. We knew that He was in charge, no
matter what, and this gave us the required amount of
patience to endure those 350 kilometres.
Do you have any tire problems? Don't loose hope. There is a
RV garage not far from you! And don't be turned off if there
aren't any trailers in the yard . . .
P. S. It is now 7:00 p.m. and we are still hundred
kilometres from Quebec City . . .