Note from the VertiCulture Editor: This is a re-telling of a story about OR gear guru Jeremy Park by Courtney Estes, aka Coke, former OR Retail Store Manager and lifetime OR family member….

So here is the story (only slightly embellished on my [Coke's] part).…. Jeremy took a week off work in the store to go climbing in the Bugaboos. He was due to return to work on the first day of the Sidewalk Sale, which is one of the busiest days of the year for us. The first six days of his trip, they had fantastic weather: Blue skies, gorgeous sunshine, and fantastic climbing. The seventh day, however, a massive storm of biblical proportions set in. Their climbing trip over, they packed up his car and prepared to return stateside. As they drove, Jeremy noticed a great deal of water pouring onto the road, but his car had seen worse and he was determined to get home. He rounded a sharp curve in the road and slammed on his brakes. Just ahead of them, a massive mudslide had come through and completely washed out the highway. The only road home was gone. Without food, fuel, or shelter, they turned the car around and drove to a small inn a few kilometers (we’re in Canada , remember?) back. Inquiring about the condition of the roads, they were disturbed to hear that it would take at least two days, if not more, for the road to reopen. They were trapped. And the Sidewalk Sale started the next day.

Most of us, if we found ourselves in Jeremy’s position, would understand that the gods were simply not favorable of a return to work, and instead wanted us to extend our vacation by several days. There was no alternative way back to the States, so of course everyone would understand why a return to work was impossible. Jeremy, however, saw the situation as a challenge and was ready to meet it head on. 

 He had noticed an Apache attack helicopter sitting nearby the inn, and a plan began to formulate in his head. He walked back to his car and gathered up everything he could carry in his bag. He bade a sad farewell to his car, not knowing if the two would ever meet again. Striding over to the helicopter, he noticed the pilot starting preparations to leave. He stood in front of the helicopter and stuck out his fthumb. How could the pilot resist? The door to the helicopter opened, and Jeremy jumped in. Up they flew, headed south. Out the window Jeremy could see that the road had washed out in a number of locations – it would definitely take weeks for the road to reopen. 

On the Apache flew until they reached a lonely field in rural Canada . There the pilot dropped Jeremy off, wished him luck, and continued on his highly classified Canadian CIA mission. Jeremy had no choice but to stick out his thumb again, and hope for the best. 

After some time, he was picked up and driven to some random town in the middle of Canada . The town had a bus stop, but it would be days before the next bus to Seattle came through so Jeremy was forced to hitchhike again. This time, he was able to reach a slightly larger town that had a bus coming in 7 hours, at 3 in the morning. Jeremy used the time to take his first shower in a week and to study the locals at an all night trucker diner. Turns out Canadian truckers are quite similar to American truckers. Who knew? 

At 3am, a road weary Jeremy boarded a bus headed to Seattle . The Sidewalk Sale was due to begin in 7 hours. The race was on. At 8am, Jeremy called from Bellingham to let the crew know he’d be running late. The response from his coworkers was less than positive, and I will leave the exact words out of this story to prevent offending anyone. Then Jeremy explained that he had been stranded in Canada, had hitchhiked on a helicopter, and had been on a Greyhound bus since 3am. There was no way he was going to abandon his team on sale day. Cheers and shouts of joy erupted from the store. Jeremy arrived just after the store opened and performed brilliantly all day.

The store hit their sale goal and Legendary Service was received by all. That would be the end of this happy tale, except that Jeremy’s car still sat abandoned in Canada . He sent a heartfelt plea to the climbing community, hoping that someone would pick his car up for him and drive it back to Seattle . A few days went by, and finally someone called him offering to return his beloved vehicle. 

 Fred Beckey had heard Jeremy’s cry for help, understood his plight, and was willing to bring his car home. Several days later Mr. Beckey’s climbing partner, a 23 year old blond Swede, dropped Jeremy’s car off at OR. With tears of joy in his eyes, he pushed past the young girl and embraced his beloved automobile. After days of adventure into the great unknown, simply so he wouldn’t leave his team hung out to dry, Jeremy Park ’s Excellent Escapade was over.

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