Things went smoothly enough for the first few days, all the way through North Dakota and into Saskatchewan. At the Canadian border, she was given five days to get to her destination.
It ended up taking her seven.
First, she lost her cell signal, and as the weather got worse, she lost her bearings several times, forcing her to buy a GPS along the way. It was getting colder, and the children didn’t have their thick winter coats. She also hadn’t driven through heavy snow before, and she had the wrong tires for the terrain. But pandemic-related restrictions had prevented her from shipping their belongings to Alaska, she said, leaving her no choice but to press on.
After five days of “white-knuckling” her way across snowy western Canada, she stopped at a gas station in Wonowon, a small mountain town in British Columbia, and started to break down. “A woman just happened to come out of the gas station and asked, ‘Are you OK?’” she said.
She wasn’t. She was spent and couldn’t bring herself to drive any farther.
“I guess I was at the point where I needed to talk to somebody,” she said.
The stranger, a paramedic named Teena Sew, generously offered to help. First, she guided Ms. Marchessault to a tire shop to have her truck outfitted with winter tires. Then, after leading the family to the Buffalo Inn in neighboring Pink Mountain, Ms. Sew reached out on Facebook to veterans she knew. Those friends in turn got in touch with other friends, and eventually word got to Mr. Bath.
“A friend of mine had shared someone else’s post on Facebook, saying that they were looking for someone to drive from Pink Mountain to Alaska,” he said. “Everybody was wishing they could help, but nobody was able to do it. We talked, and I said I would take her all the way up there.”
Mr. Bath lives with his wife, Selena, in Fort St. John, about an hour and a half from Pink Mountain. A veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces’ Cadet Instructors Cadre, he currently assists with Operation LASER, the C.A.F.’s effort to respond to Covid-19.