The Canadian Rockies are Magnificent!
Jun 21, 2005
|We stayed three nights in Quesnel, BC with the motorhome positioned for a view of Dragon Lake. On the grassy shore Canada geese were parading their goslings for the admiration of the tourists. One family appeared to have 10 children, others as few as four. What caught our attention was something we called Mother Goose Day Care: there would be dozens of goslings gathered together, watched over by four or five adults. These adults would scare away other birds they felt were intruders and keep a wary eye on the human observers.
In the town of Quesnel we found the Quesnel Museum and Archives. For a small fee we gave the place a quick tour, pausing to pay particular attention to Mandy. Mandy was an old doll said to be either haunted or haunting, or both. Her eyes have been described as following one around the room; one excited witness declared that real blood had poured from the cracks in Mandy's head after she had been dropped; and Mandy has been blamed for the disappearance (and later the finding in another place) of various personal items. The museum's curator is quick to deny these rumors, but the highway signs remain, advertising Mandy, the Haunted Doll.
Barkerville is an old town, born in 1862 when Billy Barker found gold on Williams Creek. Between then and 1870, over 100,000 people traveled the Cariboo Waggon Road, named the Eighth Wonder of the World, converging on the gold fields. In its heyday, this was the largest city west of Chicago and north of San Francisco. Barkerville was nearly dead, of course, when B.C.'s provincial government began restoration in 1958, but today it is a faithful reconstruction of the gold rush center it used to be.
We visited Barkerville along with busloads of schoolchildren and a few dozen other seniors like ourselves. We slogged the muddy streets (unpaved, just as they were back then) with the rainwater streaming down the road, filtering through the horse droppings. After the show in the Theatre Royal (a one-hour, one-woman presentation recounting the joyous and plaintive letters of the early citizens to those they left behind), we drank hot chocolate from the general store and toured the Chinese section of town. The rain didn't bother us: it gave us a feeling of oneness with those hardy souls who gave up hearth and home to try to strike it rich, but seldom did.
"Look where we are! Look where we are." We couldn't stop saying it: "Look where we are!"
We had planned to drive from Quesnel to Chetwynd, BC, but we realized that it was too far, considering what we'd been doing recently, so we stopped short at Whisker Point Provincial Park and took a campsite on the shore of McLeod Lake. Twelve feet from the waterline, separated from the lake only by a thin line of aspen, watching the clouds trying to decide whether or not to bring us rain. We laughed, and yes, we cried, recalling what we have done over these past nearly 45 years of marriage, pausing here by the grace of God and the companionship of each other's love.
The last stop before Dawson Creek was at Chetwynd, BC, the self-proclaimed "Chain Saw Carving Capital of the World." It was rainy most of the time, but we did get a picture or two of their chainsaw sculptures and of the Little Prairie Heritage Museum. The museum did little to bolster our self-esteem, as many of the displays featured items we had used either in our own home or at work! I wondered if I should set myself one on of their shelves as an antique!
DAWSON CREEK, BC - Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway! We arrived two days early for the caravan and found that nearly everyone else was already there also, making sure their vehicles were in good shape, laundry and dishes were done and stored, gas, propane and fresh water tanks full and holding tanks empty. Most of the men were out polishing their motorhomes or cleaning bugs off their windshields, while the ladies were busy making sure everything inside was shipshape.
To get to Dawson Creek, we had traveled 1057 miles from Snohomish, WA (after leaving cousins Kevin and Sharon Gansneder), attended an RV Rally and a youth circus, crossed an international border, crossed the Canadian Rockies and the continental divide, and drove past so many excellent fishing lakes that we were roundly scolded by one of our readers. On the way we saw deer (two), bear (one cub tumbling over himself to get into cover), bald eagles (three), bison (one, in a bison ranch), and fox (one, dead on the road).
Next time we'll talk about the first days of the caravan. We've been out of contact with the Internet for a few days, so this message is a little behind schedule. But ... Our Life on Wheels is always right on schedule. We just aren't always sure whose schedule it is!