Wandering around Lillooet after arriving yesterday afternoon led me to conclude that it was depressed and declining. There were several closed retail outlets, including what seemed to be the only town centre food shop. Those businesses that were open seemed to be doing very little trade. I had a coffee and cake in a café where there was only one other customer to occupy the two staff.
Superficially, the picture of decline was confirmed this morning. However, conversation with the owner of another café offered a different view. Continue reading
Prince George was not inspiring. I walked a circular route from the hotel to the fringe of downtown, passing through surburban owner occupied housing and some low-cost rental estates. It seemed down-at-heel, and there was no sense of a lively, confident community. On the way back from town, I was overtaken by a middle-aged man on a bicycle. 10 metres up the road he came to a halt and fell with a crash horizontallly in the road. I hurried up and asked if he was OK. “It’s the damn pedals and brakes,” he said. “They won’t work together.” It was perhaps not a coincidence that the only shop I saw in the vicinity was selling Cold Beer and Liquor.
I was happy this morning to set off south on the Cariboo Highway. Continue reading
I had an excellent Indian meal in Smithers last night. Here it was labelled as an East Indian meal, to avoid offensive indigenous confusion I suspect. And from the reviews on tripadvisor, I conclude that asian food is still a bit of an oddity in these parts. The Smithereens (yes that is what the local inhabitants are called) don’t seem to readily embrace multi-culturalism over several continents.
The credit for my best night’s sleep so far must go to the mattress in the cabin. It’s some kind of magical memory foam, which I’ve been sceptical about, but now need to explore when I get back to Europe.
Today is the last stretch of really remote driving. From Stewart it’s only a 220km trip down the remaining section of the Cassiar Highway to join the Yellowhead Highway, which joins the port of Prince Rupert to Prince George and on across to Edmonton.
Stewart has been a very interesting stop. It does feel like a town with no purpose, but also one with a real sense of community. Pretty much every person, young or old, that I passed in the street greeted me. My hosts at House Austria, Martin and Angelika, had moved permanently from Austria only 3 years ago, after falling in love with Stewart on holiday trips. Martin is an enthusiastic proponent of the virtues of the town and the area, and says that there has been a small influx of outsiders like them in the last decade. Continue reading
My concentration was maximised by the earlier experience, and I still had several hundred kilometres to travel. Some of the road signs further encouraged me to keep my wits about me. Continue reading
I filled the car with petrol, having been warned that some of the pumps along my route were not reliably open, and set off in deteriorating near-zero weather.