How a Border Agent Pushed our Bus Back into America

Having driven more than 2800 miles since leaving our garage, there have been ZERO technical difficulties as far as Vanessa came. I watched the CHT (cylinder head temperature) gauge like a madman, and religiously checked the oil level at each gas up. She was running like a top, and at idle was purring like a tiger.

Alas, on a normal gas up routine in Watson Lake in BC, I turned the key in the ignition, and heard the oddly familiar sound of the *click* of a dead starter. Familiar, because Kat and I have gotten tired of crawling under the bus, and had already installed a ‘hot-start relay’ a few years ago to address this very problem. Everything else checked out – the battery had lots of juice, but the starter wasn’t turning.


Hey man, nice rug.

A quick inspection revealed a blown out 15 amp fuse. The massive amounts of driving and stop-starts we were doing must’ve done a number. No worries. I had no spare 15A fuse, so I popped in a 10A and she fired up.

Things were going fine, until we hit the last stretch of highway in BC before hitting Alaska, when I managed to blow 2 more 10A fuses in succession. We knew we had a problem, and we’d keep blowing the 10’s. The plan was to not shut off the engine, until we bought the proper 15A fuse. I held one last 10A spare to get us by, and sneak us back into America. Or so we thought.


I was kinda hoping this RV would crash into the ceiling.

Upon crossing into the US border, we lined up to the single customs/immigration lane that was open. A line of vehicles waiting behind us was starting to grow. As we pulled up, the officer asked me to shut off the engine.

Shit.

Well, that’s fine. I had a spare fuse in my pocket, and could pop it back in to start again after our interrogation was over. We answered the typical questions. No officer, we don’t have weapons. Yes, the plates are really HEY 1979. No, we don’t have any “plants”. We’re on our honeymoon, and driving into Alaska for a few weeks. And when he says “Okay, thanks, you can drive through” while handing us our paperwork, I cross my fingers and turn the ignition.

*Click*

Shit.

I look at the officer and shyly explain that we’ve been having start issues, and that I’ll need 30 seconds to pop in a new fuse under the bus. By the time I finish my sentence, I was already on the ground replacing the one that bombed when I tried to start it. I ran back into the bus, and turned the ignition.

*Click*

Shit. That was the sound of my last fuse that just exploded.

Quickly assessing the situation. I was holding up a sizable line, and we were the only lane open. I looked at the officer in the eye, and said “Well, looks like we’ll need to push her out of the way”. Guys, you should’ve seen the look on his face. He gets out of his stall.

My last memory is having him push the bus with Kat, and hearing him shout to pull it over the edge and try to push-start the engine. I kick the clutch, gear into second, release, and BOOM the engine turns over into a happy idle. Kat squeals and jumps triumphantly from the back, and runs up into her seat. High fives all around, while Nickel gives us a dirty look.

Hello, Alaska

And that, is the story of how the Border/Immigration agent, pushed our little VW bus back into America.

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