Jessie – An Update

In Jessie and I by David57 Comments

Roadside with Dr. House and an ailing Jessie

Today was meant to be a road-trip to Seattle to check in with Best Buy and REI and grab something amazing for lunch at Pike Place. And ya know what, we almost made it there. I had such high hopes. And when I say almost made it there, the there that I refer to is the Canada/US border. About 5kms away we heard a horrific sound that managed to make itself heard over the House MD soundtrack we were rocking to, then a smell like burnt cat soaked in engine grease, then all power to the drive-train was gone and shifting was impossible. I pulled off, put my work gloves on and grabbed the flashlight, jumped out feeling very manly and capable and looked under the truck. Even popped the hood for good measure. Why? No idea. NO. IDEA. What was I looking for? I’d have needed a post-it note that said, “This part here is busted.” And then what would I have done? Fixed it? AHAHAHAHA. That’s funny. But I felt very manly all the same.

And then I called CAA (like AAA but with free health-care and no guns) and they came and towed Jessie’s recalcitrant aluminum-clad ass back to the garage where she seems, these days, to spend most of her life.

This is all good stuff. It’s getting the kinks out, fixing things now so I needn’t do it later. And for the first time in my life I’m relatively relaxed about it, because it’s part of the adventure. But ask me how I feel when I’ve literally got no home to go to! On February 28, I leave Vancouver heading for Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, from there south through the Oregon coast and to San Francisco. And then I just keep going. More later on the actual time-line as I iron it out, as well as packing lists, and actual plans for this crazy trip. And photographs too, once the roof-tent is mounted and some of the final preparation is completed. Once on the road I hope to be blogging often and sharing the photographs and the stories with you. See you then!


  1. “feeling manly” … Bwhahahaaaa!!! I love that… must be in our genes to want to go look under the hood — even when we have no idea what we are looking for. hah

  2. You’re livin’ the dream – and thanks for letting me enjoy it! Keep these posts comin’! And I really like what somebody earlier observed about keeping your serenity amidst all this… Thanks David!

  3. having no home…i know it well…but this is the stuff that others wish they had the balls to do!!! wahaha i think jesse is just longing for some warmer climates!

  4. Hi David! If you make it all the way down to San Diego let me know… I would like to say Hi and buy you a cup of joe…

    Antonio originally from Montreal

  5. Heya David!

    Sounds like an interesting start to your adventure, but as you say, at least you are working out the kinks early on. Let me know if you want someone to go photograph with when you come to Oregon. I know several nice remote locations along the coast, and would love to talk with you sometime…

  6. David: I hope you still come to Seattle when Jessie “recovers”. Everything happens for a reason – not sure about this one but I know it will come to you. Take care and keep your great blogs coming. – C.J.

  7. Vernon – Thanks, but the truck was completely on dollies, no tires touching ground. But, um, the transmission is completely gone, so regardless, there’s not much I could do to damage it more. 🙂

  8. Looking at the photo, that is not a good way to tow a Land Rover. Doing that can damage the transmission. It needs to be placed on a roll back or flat bed truck (Not sure the correct term in Canada). If it must be towed then the drive shafts need to be removed first.

    I know your pain, I’ve just finished rebuilding mine after a small mishap.

  9. Not sure how far south you are considering going after San Francisco but if you want to check out some desolate untouched coastline and hills make a stop Jalama Beach, near Lompoc. Basically how California used to look 150 year ago…

    Then feel free to stop by the offices…we’ll put on a nice welcome for yah!

  10. I can’t wait to follow this adventure and see the photos that result. Best wishes Dave as you undertake this adventure, I will be routing for you and living vicariously through you!

  11. If you need a place to stay locally, please give me a buzz; I’ve got you covered.

    cheers – David McC

  12. As a guy who’s circled the USA a few times in old beat up vans, and even a mini school bus once, the only time we made it though a tour without major problems was when we rented a new van (after ours died on the way to our first show). I would seriously consider getting a vehicle made in the past decade before making your long trek, or it won’t be a very fun one. Sorry to be a buzz kill, but the minute you described your plans, I cringed at the thought of taking an old Landrover over the mountains and through the desert. I hope I’m wrong!

  13. As a prominent intellectual of our time might say, “Doh!”.

    Still, better it happened pre-trip and hope you get it sorted. Can I be so bold as to suggest a photo project for your forthcoming trip? “Garages of North America” 🙂

  14. Hey, I like Jeffrey’s idea of photographing North American garages. 🙂

    I love your humor in the face of trouble. It’s the only way to get through the hard times. Also, it makes for a great read.

  15. Great cars and the older ones are easy to fix, assuming nothing ‘big’ goes wrong, but I gave mine up years ago and moved to Toyota HiLux. Reliable and built like a mountain.

  16. This reminds me of one of our safari guides, mocking a private driver next to a stranded Defender in Zambia. He told us that this would either be a foreigner new to Africa, who grew up wanting to drive a Defender in Africa, or someone British, who can not imagine driving anything else. The rest would drive Landcruisers, since they’re indestructable. Later that evening, our Landcruiser was towed to camp, since it no longer ran.
    Good luck on your endeavors, David. I mostly envy the being relaxed about the whole thing. It’s one of those things you know to be best, but find hard to master.

  17. I grew up driving a Land Rover… lots of good stories. My dad was big on popping the hood. Only, he usually BELIEVED he could fix whatever had gone awry, which sometimes involved things like putting house insulation under the hood. Needless to say, the results were, ah, more exciting than necessary??? I also have a distinct memory of a transmission issue much like the one you describe. We all loved that car. They are quirky and prone to health problems, but entirely lovable.

  18. Author

    Gretchen, not sure how you read what I wrote but there was no “knocking of the good ‘ole USA”

    James, I’m in Canada and I bought my Defender here. Lots of good used Landys for sale here. 🙂

  19. A DEFENDER sweet … one day when I win the lottery I’ll import one since you can’t seem to buy them in Canada, either that or go live in Northern Ireland and steal one from a cousin …LOL

  20. You know, you really can’t expect a stock (and old) transmission to handle a rebuilt motor with twin superchargers. That’s what caused it, right? 😉

    I hope the rest of your journey is as easily handled, and cheaper!

  21. Author

    Thanks Antony, but as you can see I do in fact already have a LandRover, so what I currently looking for is a transmission 🙂

  22. I am following your journey with interest so good luck!! You do inspire me. Just one word of advice. The older Landrovers are not that reliable. If you need 4×4, and you are looking for something in the Landrover vein, I’d suggest that you check out a Toyota Landcruiser…….They really are indestructable

  23. Every hero’s journey has its tests. Now that you’ (and Jessie) are being tested, you know you are properly on your way!

  24. We hope that doesn’t occur to us. Knock on wood, it hasn’t yet in our ongoing 11 month drive through Australia. Today was 9 hours across part of the Nullarbor. Long, hot, but scenic.
    Good luck!

  25. That’s how a real good road trip should start.

    Being on the road most of my time (driving a truck), I really look at those breakdowns on the way you pointed out, it’s another problem less that won’t put you down on a non so desirable place (kinda Stone’s “U turn”).

  26. in Africa, we use the land rover (defender) a lot. They often break down but are easily fixable. I love ours. It has 22 years old, is reformed from company safari and is still taking us to the Serengeti. ok, sometimes she is a b**** but everybody can help us with it. your landie is certainly more recent but I guess breaking up is a showing of a wild character 😉

  27. What an adventure…even before it was really supposed to begin! Don’t you just love vehicles? Can’t live with ’em but you can’t live without ’em either.

  28. Author

    @Ken – Fantastic resource – thanks. As a new Landy owner I’m still learning where to find the other cultists on the net 🙂

  29. If you’re in need of assistance during your travels drop a line on, lot’s of Defender gearheads willing to help.

  30. Popping the hood is really a good idea. It lets others know you have a mechanical failure and CAA will spot you on the Hwy. easier. 🙂

  31. Poor timing. You should have at least made it to the Oregon Coast, no Rover garages and no Rover parts, but a fantastic place to get stranded for awhile.

  32. “a smell like burnt cat soaked in engine grease”

    do i even dare ask how you know that?? lol. poor Jessie. Hope she has a speedy recovery. I drive a Dodge. I heart BCAA. hehe.

  33. I’m a pro at popping the hood, looking, and then closing, believing that if I at least look, I tried my best.

    Some times I’ll even tap on a few things for added effect.

  34. Geez, even your tow truck photo could grace the pages of CCA Magazine. Maybe you could swap garage photos for Rover repairs along the way. You know, do a 12 month calendar for the shop.

  35. In an effort to make this into the proverbial lemonade from lemons, perhaps you should start a photography series on North American garages.

    To make matters worse, it looks like your GPS is trying to put you into an endless infinity loop!

  36. Someone told me once, Rovers are great but they are like Jaguars, you need two because one is always in the shop…
    Good luck, at least this is not happening in the middle of a desert!

  37. Love your explanation of CAA!! Ha!

    By the way, what DO you do for health insurance whilst in the US? Off topic I know, but it looks like you have some time on your hands!

  38. Isn’t adventuring fun? Better there than in the middle of . . . well, plenty of places. Hope she’s up and running and feeling stellar soon.

  39. After reading this and laughing heartily at how you told it I was going to say you missed your calling as a stand up comedian, then I remembered…

    Best of luck on the next try. Looking forward to hearing all about it.

  40. Oh the joys of owning the world’s finest 4×4!

    Do you know what it means if your Defender stops leaking oil? Its empty!

    But seriously, I’m looking forward to tracking your adventures. And misadventures!

  41. Oh David – I don’t think Dr. House could help you. Dexter on the other hand could make the problem go away…

    Hope Jessie comes out of her coma soon and enjoys a full recovery.

  42. Hi David,

    The problem is you’re driving Jessie on the road; she is meant for places without pavement. I would try driving on the shoulder for the rest of your trip…you may have better luck with her.

    Best of luck!

    P.s. I’m not sure if “shoulder of the road” is a term used north of the border.

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