RCMP Cpl. Robert Drapeau stands next to Ranger Gary Bath,
Lynn Marchessault, Payton Marchessault, Rebecca Marchessault
and Tim Marchessault near the U.S.-Canadian border crossing. (CNN)
CNN reports a story that’s sure to warm your heart:
There’s nice, and then there’s Canadian-nice, which sometimes involves driving a total stranger, her two kids, a pair of elderly dogs and a cat named “Midnight” more than a thousand miles through a snowstorm to another country.
It all started because Lynn Marchessault and her family needed to get from Georgia to Alaska, where her husband is stationed at the U.S. Army base – Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks.
So Marchessault packed up all their belongings, bought a truck that could handle Alaska winters, rented a U-Haul, and made plans for a cross-country family adventure during the balmy days of early fall. But, 2020 happened.
Marchessault waited months for the travel documents that would allow her to drive from Georgia, through Canada and up to Alaska. Due to the coronavirus, Canada had instituted strict guidelines for Americans traveling through the country, en route to Alaska. By the time she got things in order, her September road trip was pushed to November. Besides the restrictions placed on her by the Canadian government, she knew she’d have to keep up a good driving pace to avoid the worst of winter weather.
The first 3,000 miles of the trip went well. They entered Canada through Saskatchewan. Border authorities checked Marchessault’s paperwork and warned her to keep to the main roads and stop only when necessary for food or gas.The family would have to order any food to-go, even at motels they stayed in along the way. She was allotted five days to drive through Canada and get to the U.S. border in Alaska.
The farther north they traveled, the worse the weather got. Marchessault, who was raised in the South, encountered her first winter white-out conditions. Then she ran out of windshield wiping fluid, slush covered her windows, she couldn’t see to drive, and her tires seemed to be losing traction.
Gary Bath, a Canadian ranger from British Columbia, whose job includes training members of the Canadian military to survive the Arctic, was at home when he saw his friend’s Facebook post about the stranded American family. “A lot of people were wanting to donate money or saying they wish they could help but no one was able to get off work or be close enough to go do it,” Bath told CTV News Channel on Friday. “So, I talked to my wife and we decided that I would drive all the way from Pink Mountain to the border.” Bath says he stepped in to offer the family a helping hand because “it was the right thing to do.”
“It took us two and half days, but for me it wasn’t a big deal,” he said. “I love driving so what a great way to see parts of the country that I haven’t seen in a few minutes.” Marchessault says that she and her family are very grateful for Bath’s help and says that they intended to be lifelong friends. “We’re hoping that when we do leave Alaska some of the COVID restrictions will be lifted by then because we would stop to see Gary and his wife on the way through and just thank them again for what they did to help us,” Marchessault added.
credits: CNN, Martha Shade – CDV News, Den Lourenco
“unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.”