Other than my children, about the only thing that I am as proud of creating is my Jeep. I know that’s such a lame and stereotypical guy thing to say, but I mean it. I meticulously planned, built and created this absolute unit of a jeep over the past three years and it has been my chariot of many epic adventures all the while. You can check out #tinythejeep to see everything that I mean. 

On Tuesday March 19th, I had some time to kill between dropping the littlest kiddo off at a spring break day camp and having to pick him up again at noon. It was a delightful lovely sunny day so I thought maybe a drive up Cypress Mountain might be in order. I drove up to the main lookout with my Hasselblad, took a panorama, grabbed a shot of the boats in English bay. Played with the depth of field along a fence that led to an unremarkable outhouse and continued on up the mountain. 

I drove up to the Picnic lookout, parked, walked over to the edge to realize that in the past 15 years the trees have grown up to make it not much of a lookout anymore. I took a photo of The jeep as I almost  always do when I am walking back with my camera. Hopped back in and drove up to the only off-roading you can do in the North Vancouver limits. I am talking about that unmaintained road that takes you past all of the cabins to the trailheads near Hollyburn cabin and Hollyburn Lodge. Which is just a gravel road most of the time, but in the winter it can be a kilometre of an epic snow wheeling adventure.

I made it all the way up the trail despite there being plenty of snow and no real fresh tracks, because Tiny The Jeep is an absolute unit. It will happily plow through snow that is bumper deep and ask for more. I did manage to get stuck for a brief moment at the very end of the trail in the turn around but a quick winch and I had myself out without problem. This is what Tiny The jeep was built to do. 

I continued up Cypress Bowl Road and I toured about the Downhill ski area as well as the cross country Nordic track parking lot. Basically seeing what there was to see and just killing some time with my camera. Eventually at about 11AM I started back down the mountain but on my way down I noticed this amazing view of Bowen Island and the Strait of Georgia which I see every time I go up Cypress Road but on this particular trip the snow had melted enough that there was a place to safely pull over and park on the side of the road.

I pulled over and parked, grabbed my camera bag and my tripod and hopped up on the snowbank to take a photo but in less than a minute there was somebody driving by frantically honking their horn yelling at me. 

My jeep was on fire. 

I literally dropped the Hasselblad in the snow and I Immediately grabbed the fire extinguisher from the passenger side and I ran around to the driver side to see that there was a fire rapidly growing at the rear of the jeep. I hosed it down with the extinguisher and gave it a quick look to see if it was apparent to the cause. Seeing nothing other than the flood of yellow powder that is the aftermath of a fire extinguisher I thanked the person who had warned me profusely for literally saving my pride and joy. He took off down the hill and I ran up on the bank to rescue my camera out of the snow when dejavu hit me as another person that was driving by, started honking their horn to let me know that my jeep was still on fire. 

Fire extinguisher still in hand, I ran back around to give it another dose.  Sadly this time my fire extinguisher was pretty much spent, and I was not able to stop the flames that were now growing rapidly. I started throwing snow at the jeep, but it was already too late. After a moment one of the bystanders that had pulled over strongly suggested that we get far away as there was nothing else we could do. I went to call 911 when I realized my phone, my keys, my wallet and even my glasses (I was wearing my prescription sunglasses) were all sitting on the dash. Someone was kind enough to call 911 and alert the fire department, but all I could do was just stand and watch #tiny as the Jeep burnt to the ground.   

I borrowed a bystander’s (thank you to all the strangers that helped you are all a godsend) phone to call my partner who was literally in the dentist chair to let her know that she would have to pick up the kiddos from their respective play dates and day camps and then just sat and watched as the fire raged on. 

The small crowd that had gathered and I waited for what seemed like forever, but in reality was maybe 8 to 10 minutes for the fire department to come. They came with a truck and did what they could to put the fire out, but in all it took two fire truck loads of water to eventually get the fire out. The police and a tow truck came to load up what was left of #tinythejeep and I made my way home. 

And since then… the aftermath. 

On the way I was still in the thick of the moment jumping into action. There were things that needed to happen and I could focus on doing them. I was mentally making the list:

  • I need to call icbc to make a claim, 
  • I need to call to get new glasses, 
  • I will need to make an appointment at icbc to get a new license

I need to do all these things… Let’s prioritize them, what first? Call to make a claim… reach for my phone… ahh fracking hell!!  Ok phone first…. Ok where are my truck keys… right they were in the Jeep. Where are my spare keys for the truck? 20 min searching later I had my keys, my passport… shit I am going to need to pay for this all…. Dig around for that spare visa that I don’t use… alright!! I got it all… off to replace the phone…  

It was like that for a day or two and I did a great job at keeping busy. Things like getting a new driver’s license. Going to the bank and getting new debit cards and credit cards, filing my claim with ICBC, getting that new phone and reconnecting to all my old apps like the BC services app so I could even log into ICBC. Finding my reading glasses so I can see indoors, ordering new glasses. Making sure the truck is up to being a daily driver, gathering all the information about my Jeep, receipts and listing things that were in it, renewing the truck insurance, getting some new keys cut for the house and the truck, tracking down this and that. 

All the problems to solve, problems to solve, problems to solve. This all did a good job of keeping my mind off of things, but there were always these little things that kept bringing my mind back to the top of the mountain.

Like when I go to make my morning coffee and 20 seconds into looking for my travel mug, only to realize that it was in the Jeep. Or going to grab my coat, only to realize that it was in the Jeep. Going to put my watch on the charger, only to realize that it was in the Jeep.

This frantic problem solving energy also did a great job of keeping me from having to really think about what had actually happened. It was while waiting in line for something that I looked down and my entire hands and arms were shaking. I was having a bit of a battle breathing and there was a base level of panic that was washing over me. Then this realization hit me hard. The jeep was probably on fire while I was driving about and I likely wouldn’t have known. I am calling it lucky that I happened to stop for the random photo, I am calling it lucky that I was alone in the Jeep at the time. I am calling it lucky that this didn’t happen near my house or other peoples cars and trust me when I say that every possible scenario of what COULD have happened has been running over and over in my mind every night since. 

It also hit me that the possibility for truly unlimited adventure that was possible with Tiny had gone up in flames, too. That ability to go and do pretty much anything with what I had created might be gone forever. 

Truthfully, unless there is another global pandemic, I don’t think I would have the time, energy, or ability to build another jeep to the extent that I had with #tinythejeep and sadly based on what I am reading online about other people’s experience with their ICBC claims, I am very fearful that I wouldn’t have the money to do it anyway :( 

But mostly, if you’re reading this – I am writing this single source of truth here mostly so I don’t have to relive this whole experience every time I have to retell this story to everyone, over and over.

“No you are right, it is so good that no one was hurt.”
“Nope I have no idea what started the fire.” 
“Well yes it did in fact suck to watch my pride and joy burn to the ground, thanks for asking” 
“No I haven’t heard anything from ICBC, other than I have to wait” 
“Yes, hopefully they can determine what caused the fire”  
“No, I am not super interested in hearing about your cousins/friends/housekeepers drama with their ICBC claim”

So my humble ask to all that know me is to understand when I say that I really don’t want to talk about it. 

I can’t. 

I will update via socials when I have something to update with. I love you all but I really would love it if my next 6 months of personal interactions didn’t involve a telling and retelling of this story. 

Until then – so how about that weather?

1 thought on “Tiny The Jeep

Comments are closed.