Risky Business
This was a lot of fun.  It was, in the vernacular, an Epic Journey.  But Epic Journeys are by their very nature, risky things.  No, I'm not saying this was Hannibal crosing the Alps or Lewis and Clark's sussing out a Way to the Western Sea.  But flying to a city halfway across the continent, buying a 43-year-old car from an unknown individual and trying get it back to your own garage 1,900mi (3,050km) away in another country puts you in a position to have a lot of things go sideways.  Not in a 'He's dead, Jim' kind of way.  But in other ways.  Potentially pretty costly ways.

I think, though, it was the RISK that made this enjoyable and memorable for me.  This was no beach vacation.  This was a Quest.  A Quest with to two overriding objectives:  1)  Get the car.  2)  Get it home.  That meant facing a number of unknown situations and having to overcome them.  It was a fairly stressful endeavour, as you'll pick up from the narrative, with lots of pre-planning to make sure it came off successfully.  From having to get a last-minute air ticket on points to figuring how to get myself around Chicago with two cars and one driver.  From researching Canadian car import laws to watching for a weather window between storms.  From preparing for driving all day in January without a heater to learning how to use a search bot to comb through Craig's List sites all over North America.  Getting the car home didn't just happen.  It happened because it was well researched and planned and worried about.


Still, there's a lot of fun to be had in just kicking the Type A Personality to the curb for a while and just going for it, damn those torpedoes.  Whatever goes wrong, you'll just deal with it.  Because you can't foresee every eventuality.  And the unexpected problems (hopefully) make for a better memory and a better story in the long run.

So if you deign to read about the Epic Quest on these pages, you'll pick up on some of that concerns that travelled along the Interstates with me.  Here are some of the scenarios that COULD have presented themselves:


Scenario 1 :   I fly to Chicago only to find that the seller didn't exist or is some nutcase who just likes to see what people are willing to pay for his car, but never has any intention of selling.

Scenario 2 I fly to Chicago only to find that the asking price has suddenly jumped from US$8,000 to US$14,000 'since yew has so much munny what you kin afford to fly down heah to buy mah car.'

Scenario 3 :   I walk into someone's garage in Chicago and find myself looking into the muzzle of a gun, held by someone looking to score and easy bundle of 80 'Benjamins.'

Scenario 4 The most concerning.  I buy a car of unknown mechanical soundness and have a major mechanical problem hours from any town with a major airport, in South Dakota, Wyoming or Montana.  Parts for a '73 LeMans are needed, but of course are not in stock at the nearest GM dealer and will take many days or even weeks to arrive.  I have one week, at most two, of vacation before I need to be back at work.  I call AAA and have the car towed to the nearest GM dealer, take a bus (are there buses?) to Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Sheridan, Billings or Great Falls - whichever is closest - and find an expensive last-minute regional flight to Denver, Minneapolis or Spokane, which are the only reasonable airline connections to Calgary.  Two months later I have to take another week of vacation to retrace my steps, retrieve the car and finish the journey.  I'm sure glad this didn't happen.

Scenario 5:   I arrive at the Canada/USA border and find the car inadmissable for a variety of reasons (mechanic's lien, failed inspection, illegal emissions, driver too ugly, etc.).  I call my wife who has to drive 3-1/2 hours to pick me up and abandon the car on the streets of Sweetgrass, Montana.  My wife doesn't speak to me for 6 months.

Scenario 6 :   It's January in the upper Midwest and Rockies.  I am already pretty sure the car's heater is not going to be working.  A -35F/-30C Alberta Clipper blows down out of Canada with blowing and drifting snow, making driving the car impossible for weeks and stranding me in Montana.

Scenario 7 As predicted, the Zombie Apocalypse finally falls upon our nation.  I raid the South Dakota National Guard Armory and weaponize the '73 with all manner of attached machine guns, flame throwers and missile launchers.  I become the ultimate Road Warrior, fighting through the un-dead hoard for months in a valiant and ultimately successful attempt to unite with my beloved family.  They make an awesome movie about it called 'Zombie Road '73.'  You know you'd watch it.