Lessons Learned

  • Hi Guest, you may choose a LIGHT or DARK theme that works best for you with the "Style Chooser" button at the bottom left on this page!


Rank II

Traveler I

Niagara Falls, ON, Canada
First Name
Last Name
Member #


Well, like most of my adventures, they are unplanned to some extent and yet I try to have the truck packed in order to leave at a moments notice whether to the grocery store, or a cross country trek. I just got back from a 3000 km, 3 day excursion to go on a house hunting trip to find a new locale.
Let me backtrack a little and let you in on what should be a given for me and previous lessons I learned years ago while in the military and those veterans among you will know exactly what I mean. The mission that sticks out on my mind where most of the habits I now perform stem from. First it was a hasty mission with no advance notice, my role was to drive an HLVW loaded with water and ammo to a besieged Afghan Police unit north of Kandahar district. I grabbed my person gear which I always thought was checked out and loaded the truck with the manifest assigned to me, a 15 minutes notice that included me loading the truck, finding a co-driver and getting orders. Problem one, my co-driver could not speak french, neither could I for that matter, why was that a problem? I was embedded in a french infantry unit for the mission. The co-driver saying he could speak fluent french wasn't the case at all. In the 15 minutes he received the orders, and I loaded the truck I wasn't allowed the time to put extra blast blankets in the cab. It was a hasty 24 hour mission and I did not load extra rations...problem 3. Included in the fiasco was the fact my truck didn't have electronic counter measures, nor comms to other vehicles in the mission. The fact I was the only truck in the convoy as it was the only vehicle carry ammo and water, the rest were fighting vehicles which were to act as security for me and to aid in breaking the siege. Oh there were indicators on the convoy out that this was a SNAFU, first the co-driver said he didn't catch everything but did hear recoilless anti-tank gun, not a word in french so it was spoke in english. Second was IED intel that he never caught and third we were going to be gone longer than 24 hours if we were not able to break the siege.
Mission: Turned onto the road to the outpost - got ambushed, incoming 12.5mm and mortars...'target me,' the only non armoured vehicle. LAVs broke the contact with co-ordinated 25mm fire. Blackout drive - found that my night vision bracket snapped and wouldn't stay mounted on helmet, problem 2, NVG would not penetrate up-armoured glass. Got into outpost and immediately were pinned down with mortars that took out the camp's generator. Next problem, was no rations, not a biggy. Next problem was after the battle that ensued and medivac of all wounded ANP fighters it was too late to exfil back to our nearest FOB. The next 2 days involved me getting separated from the column and spending two days lost in the desert in bandit country with no map or GPS.
Lessons I should have learned, which to some extent I did and utilize when I can.
Keep your survival gear in your rig at all times, including emergency water and rations, spare batteries and a blanket or sleeping bag. Keep a spare fuel can with fuel in your rig. Keep maps of the area you are traveling and keep GPS updated.
Back to the 3000 km trek. March 1st, Canada, north shore of Lake Superior...get the picture? They have 5' of snow and it is -21C before the wind chill.
There are no gas stations between Sault Saint Marie and WAWA...almost 400 km. In the summer this isn't an issue because there are seasonal fuel stations catering to tourists.
Issue: GPS took me around the SOO so I wouldn't get caught up in traffic...it also had me bypass all service centers that sold fuel...see the issue?
The last sign I saw before the fuel light went on was 'Wawa 80 km'....then the light went on. Ok, how many KMs did I travel after that sign was it when the light came on? The first question I asked myself was, "Why did you take the 5 gallon can out of the back of the truck stupid?"
Ok, keep your mouth shut and do not worry Mark, your faithful co-driver on this adventure. Next sign, Wawa 60 km, the next question I heard was. "Is that the fuel light on?" Hmmm...yes it is. "You usually get 30 kms on reserve right?" Yes, but most of the time 50 km. "How long has it been on?" Oh about 20 km, I have been praying silently. "Oh ok, well how about I start praying audibly." Oh, good idea, I will join you.
The last sign I saw before the truck finally chucked going up a hill was Davidson's Esso, Wawa, 10 km ahead. Up until that point, never took the truck off of cruise control, and never saw another vehicle. After more prayer and a few more chucks from the truck we were crawling at 20km /h trying to crest the hill to coast some down the other side, then by a miracle an F150 was over taking me in the passing lane. Me with the 4 ways on, rolled the window down as they passed and waved. Thank the Lord they pulled over and I was able to coast up to them.
30 minutes later, they returned with a 5 gallon can which Mark gladly gave them 50.00, which they didn't want but he insisted stating that it was worth it not to have to walk to Wawa in the -21 evening...yes, it was going onto dark now and that impasse only put us 30 minutes behind.
New plan, I was going to use debit to pay all expenses and keep the cash for emergencies.
The Hotel at our destination ended up being cash only, crisis averted.
So did I learn anything? You bet, always carry spare fuel especially driving in Northern Ontario where sometimes gas stations may be beyond 400 km apart. Keep GPS units upto date and road atlases available. Keep cold weather gear and good walking boots in the truck. Ensure road flares, or LED beacons have fresh batteries and are functioning, good to have so that Tractor Trailers don't run you over while refueling. In retrospect I should have also taken it off cruise control and dropped my speed down to 80 km/h in order to drop the rpms, that alone might have gained me the 10km I needed to coast me into the gas station. And cash is king! Keep it available.
All in all, we shared some good laughs, saw how vast our province is and how remote the town I plan on moving to is. Most importantly learned valuable lessons, again, and this time it should stick.