We awaken in Merritt to a lake outside the motel and a large oil slick spreading across its surface, thanks to Cool Ranch.
The order of the day today is to drive up Highway 99 ("The Duffy") and ideally reach Whistler or similar before the end of the day. After a hearty breakfast care of the in-room kitchens, we gas up and hit the road.
Once on Highway 99, we immediately ran into some construction. The thing with mountain driving in BC, especially in the less traveled urban parts, is that rockfalls are extremely common. Modern road design is helping to reduce it with the invention of things known as "fences" and "ditches," but you will still hear of a lot of people getting taken out by a boulder.
[The following] pictures were taken by Jason, which you can tell because they are good.
Highway 99 is extremely technical. We're talking dozens of switchbacks, very tight blind corners, decreasing-radius off-camber turns, the entire lot of what people commonly think of when they think of a challenging mountain drive. Luckily the weather was on our side, and wildlife stayed off the road with the exception of a near-oops with a brown bear on behalf of SCH.
While Kyle was driving, the car started to feel weird. It began to manifest excessive body roll, and then eventually just under-steered off a tight switchback, across the (thankfully empty) opposing lane of traffic and into a road sign. It was a good thing the sign was there, because what you can't see is the deep gully and creek behind it. [ Post Rally investigation: Drivers side rear swaybar link snapped - followed by 4 corners later the drag link buckling.]
Later, thanks to the mega-soupy ground, these jackstands collapsed and the car fell over, thankfully with nobody under it.
The diagnosis is pretty bad: both control arms, the drag link, and the idler and pitman arms were all bent or fucked in one way or another. What's more, the NAPA couldn't order in any of those parts, and we were likely to need more, especially with the toe this far out.
With the sun growing low in the sky and no hope of resurrecting Sweet Chili Heat that evening, we determined that we were going to be stuck in Pemberton. After finding accommodation at a Swiss-Christian Murder Hostel (more on this in a bit), we secured liquor.
Slung Blade got offered drugs by some guy who was standing outside the grocery store and had presumably missed the music festival that had blown through the day before.
Oh yeah, the music festival.
In case you're unfamiliar with the Pemberton Music Festival, as I was, apparently there are some pretty major headliners. Apparently Jay-Z had been where we were just a few days previous, in uckyfay pseudorural BC. The McDonalds had a sign in the window claiming that it was out of both iced tea and Fruitopia.
Morale was low at this point. It looked increasingly unlikely that we would secure parts for Sweet Chili Heat within BC, let alone within the next day, and our already-marginal chances of hitting Tofino were now out the window.
That night, we drank. The next morning brought clarity, and opportunity.
The Swiss-Christian Murder Hostel
Working in shifts, we trucked manpower and gear to a nearby hostel that Kelly found on the internet.
Okay, fuck you, we're chicken shits. It was actually super nice although the facility maintenance was a little rustic. Almost none of us were murdered overnight, and they even provided a rec room that we could get hammered on Crown Royal Apple in.