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Just Ditch It

Updated: Dec 22, 2023

The Alpena News

AUG 5, 2023


Everyday Faith

A few years ago, our family took the plunge to spend the summer in Alaska.

For us to make that adventure work, we took our pop-up camper with us — 6,000 miles there and 6,000 miles back.

The pop-up was not a new, state-of-the-art camper loaded with amenities. It was a mid-1970s Skamper with brown, orange, and tan colors on it to make it feel just like the shag carpeting that was sported during that same era.

Prior to going to Alaska, I had done a lot of research on the drive there and back, and a recurring idea from those who had driven the route shared that the road ate tires and windshields. Before the trip ever started, I made sure to have two new tires for the camper, as well as potential supplies needed if a break-down occurred along the way.

True to form, both tires were needed.

I took the first tire off upon arriving in Alaska at a campground. One tire had worn just about bald, but the other still had some life in it. Rather than changing the tire out on the side of the road, I did it where there was no stress.

Later on, the second tire needed to be swapped out, and, again, I stayed ahead of the problem by changing it in a different campground. With two new tires on the camper for the return trip home, I was feeling pretty good.

That is, until we heard a long “bang”…

We had driven through White Horse three hours earlier, and we were about three hours from Watson Lake — the next town. My son was driving at the time the “bang” occurred.

Initially, we pulled over and went back to look at the tires, anticipating that we had another tire to change out.

But that was not the case.

We looked over the tires, and both appeared to be OK. That was when we noticed the tires weren’t the issue — the axle was. The leaf spring holding the axle in place had busted, and the axle was free-floating underneath the camper. The bang we heard was the leaf spring breaking, with the tire then hitting against the back of the wheel well on the driver’s side. That was a major problem!

Like much of Alaska, we were out of cell service, and we were covering an expanse of six hours of driving with no towns. We unhitched the camper on the side of the road and drove back to the nearest location where we had cell service. We frantically scoured the internet, looking for tow services that might be willing to come to our assistance, knowing that, being in the middle of nowhere, no one was obligated to help us.

We called and left messages at multiple tow services, as well as a fabrication company back in White Horse that was sure they could make the exact leaf spring for us if we brought it in.

In the midst of trying to figure out our course of action, we launched into a serious discussion about whether or not the trailer was even worth keeping. Maybe the best course of action would simply be to leave the camper on the side of the road. It wouldn’t have been the first one we had seen in our 130 hours of driving there and back.

Ultimately, we ended up with a gentleman who came to help us from Watson Lake. We waited five hours for him to get to us. He brought a trailer that was too small to load our camper and he ended up bush-fixing our camper by strapping on a 4X4 post above the axle to replace the leaf spring — with the final touches being strapping the axle in place with tow straps running from the front of the camper around the axle and being ratcheted on the bumper in the back.

We drove 30 mph with him following behind for 30 miles until we could reach his friend who had a campground where we could stay until the camper was legitimately fixed. He was a Godsend.

But the thing that really struck me in the middle of that dire situation was the legitimate conversation about ditching the camper.

Under normal circumstances, you might say that was a crazy idea. But we were being pushed to our limits in an extreme circumstance, with practically no viable options left in one of the most remote areas of North America. That’s what it took to get us to think about unloading the extra baggage.

Might I suggest that, for many of us, as believers in Christ, that we should consider reflecting on our lives to do an assessment of aspects of our lives that we can unload right now?

It seems that the normal habit for most is to keep adding on to what’s already in our lives. But to become more like Christ requires us to do the opposite — to remove aspects that don’t bring us closer to him.

It would be worthwhile for each of us to think through what we need built into our lives — emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

If it doesn’t build your faith, then have the courage to just ditch it.

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