‘Loaded’ cars on long hauls

Bi-weekly columnist shares memories of motor trips from yesteryear

Today, I own a large van. If I want to haul items, I simply put the back seats down and then lay out a protective tarp. That works to transport lumber, tree branches, autumn leaves, you name it. I’ve also hauled washers, dryers, mowers, and furniture. When finished, I simply pull out the tarp and sweep the vehicle clean.

Unfortunately, I haven’t always had a vehicle with so much cargo space. One strange summer when our kids were young, we were in Regina visiting my sister’s family.  My sister’s husband built a number of go-carts in his spare time. His kids enjoyed riding around on these rigs, and my kids wanted one. So we were given one of the go-carts, if we could get it back to Castlegar.

My wife came up with the solution: put it on top of the vehicle and tie it there for the long journey from Regina to Castlegar. That worked fairly well, and we stopped occasionally to check the ropes. What a sight that must have been, and yet we have no pictures of that bizarre shape attached to the top of our AMC Eagle.

One time when we travelled to the Prairies with our load of kids and trunk full of luggage, my wife decided to buy a large piece of furniture. It was a second-hand hall closet about eight feet in height and four feet wide. Again, the way to get it home was on top of the car. At that time, we owned a large Chevrolet Impala, so loading and tying this hall closet was easy. But then my wife decided she had to bring a bicycle she’d left there back to our mountain home, so it went on higher up.

That was another crazy journey because I worried that we would lose part of the load and destroy any number of vehicles behind us. I didn’t have to worry—everyone couldn’t wait to pass us. And did we ever get concerned looks and head shakes as they moved on by.

For a period of time, we had a small Toyota station wagon. One trip, we had to haul a bunch of stuff to the Prairies, and we couldn’t figure out how to do it with such a small vehicle. So I bought an open roof rack, several coils of rope, and a large tarp. After attaching the roof rack, I lay the tarp on the roof of the car and proceeded to fill it. I don’t remember what we were hauling, but I added the bags and suitcases to it and roped it all.

We were on our way to Vernon for a stopover at a friend’s place, and when we pulled into his driveway, he laughed so hard I thought he was going to hurt himself.  The gigantic bundle was plumped on top of the car from front window to back window.  It was a giant blob hovering above the vehicle and as high again as the vehicle was off the ground.

In the past, I hauled so many family heirlooms and kids’ toys from the prairies to the coast or to here in the Interior that it became second nature. I would leave home hoping that we wouldn’t end up with more cargo than we left with, but I took straps, bungee cords and ropes along just in case.

In all that hauling-most of it illegal probably, and certainly a danger to us and other travellers-we never had an accident. In fact, nothing ever blew off or came loose to cause us problems. We drove on—young and with a kind of innocence I sometimes wish we still had.

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