We were Chilliwack virgins. In fact we had never been farther east in British Columbia than White Rock, just north of the U.S. border. Our BC travel had been limited to Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and locations en route to those places.I think it possible that we might never have stayed a night in Chilliwack if not for our proposed, and then later intended, then finally consummated RV purchase. Not that is isn’t a wonderful place to visit — it surely is. We just didn’t know about it, until we became interested in Escape trailers.
But we did. You’ll recall Sooz’s “I LOVE it!” response to our tour of a nearby resident’s own Escape 21. And what wasn’t to love? So I sent them an email asking how to get on the production schedule so we could have one of our very own.
The response was sobering. Well, they said, our production schedule for 2014 is completely booked, in an early April email. We’re happy to put you on our 2015 production schedule, but it isn’t out yet, and when it does come out we’ll arrange a special, frenzied, phone-in, lottery kind of event at which time you can maybe get on our production schedule and good luck to you. In the meantime we’ll put you on our list of people who want to know about such things.
Arrrggh. Here we were ready to plunk down most of Sooz’s life savings — oh, wait, don’t let her see this part — to buy an RV and the company was telling us ‘yeah, when we’re good and ready for you.’ Zounds! But they are a smallish and growing company with a fabulous reputation for both product and service, so okay whatever we’ll wait.
We talked about it. Maybe it would be helpful for us to visibly demonstrate our passion for their product, we mused. Maybe we should go up there to Chilliwack, take a factory tour, look at the ‘display models,’ and appear to be earnest buyers. Because sometimes it helps to show people you’re serious, doesn’t it? I think so.
So we began thinking about going up there — a 3.5 hour (plus border wait time) journey, according to Google Maps. And then
My client cancelled a meeting in California. Yes! I woke up on a Tuesday, ready to head out to SeaTac airport for a flight down to the Bay Area for a two-day meeting. But I checked my email and the meeting was postponed! I had blocked out the time… I didn’t have any looming deadlines… so I suggested we bug out to Chilliwack. All four of us enthusiastically agreed, although Tyler and Wally will agree to pretty much anything if you ask them the right way.
Online, I found a dog-friendly motel located practically in Escape Trailer Industries’ back yard. Booked a room. We threw together some stuff, put the mutts in their car-beds and off we went.
Through Tacoma, and then Seattle, and then on up to Bellingham, Washington. Then it’s secondary roads and farmland up to the border in Sumas, Washington. ‘You’re going to see the Escape trailers? Oh, yeah, I’ve heard about those. Have fun!’ Even the border agent was enthusiastic.
The countryside around Chilliwack is gorgeous. It’s the wide, flat, lusciously green Fraser River valley, flanked by towering mountains in purple and jade. Tourism Chilliwack has some great photos, which you might want to see since all I have to offer are these Wikipedia images. At any rate, a lovely place. And when you get to the part of Chilliwack occupied by the Escape Trailer Industries factory, you realize you are in… an industrial area.
A small one, really — and still surrounded by all those gorgeous mountain views. Still, kind-of… industrial. Truck stop. Aging motel. Chain coffee shop. And a row of those industrial-looking developments with roll-up doors.
Our Best Western lodgings were more than adequate. When you book ‘dog-friendly’ rooms, your expectations are always low. In this case, the place looked dated, but well-preserved and clean. And there’s a very cool atrium at the hotel where you can eat meals and watch talented-but-possibly-underpaid locals tend the plants.
Before checking in, we drove by the ETI factory. It was almost closing time, but Sooz offered to wait in the car with the boys while I dashed in to begin our Demonstration of Earnestness. One of the firm’s owners, Tammy, asked if I’d like to see a trailer or two, and dispatched her daughter Erin to escort me. I looked at an Escape 21 — cool! Then dashed back out to the car so Sooz and Tyler and Wally wouldn’t have to wait too long. Time to get to our motel and relax!
We did. We got to the motel. And, like all modern people, the first thing we did after checking in was to fire up our laptop, connect to the motel’s Wi-Fi, and check emails. We dared not use our Verizon Wireless network for data; the international roaming data rates costs more than an RV. Per megabyte.
The email said… we’ve had a cancellation! You want an Escape 21? We can put you on the schedule for a November 14 completion date!!!
We discussed it for a good three minutes, then I replied YES MAKE ONE FOR US ALREADY or something similar.
Our trip to Chilliwack was becoming more eventful (and successful) than we had imagined it might. Yes. Well, wait ’til you learn what happened next.
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Following is daring.