BRITISH COLUMBIA 
 

June 26th - July 5th:

My first long bus trip ever and what an experience it was! Not long into the bus-trip to Vancouver BC, I opened up my bottle of root beer and watched like a stunned mullet as the effervescent drink bubbled over and oozed out... down my hands, onto the crotch of my pants and quickly found its way into my handbag! An exasperated bark from my MOTH to put the fornicating bottle top back on, woke me up from my stupor. Luckily I wasn't wearing white pants, eh? 

I was filled with anticipation when told that the bus would be stopping at a duty free store (if my memory serves me right, it was West Coast Duty Free in Surrey, BC) so passengers would get a chance to indulge in a few minutes of shopping. I gleefully hopped off the bus and re-boarded shortly, triumphantly clutching a bag full of duty free goodies. We went through the Canadian Customs checkpoint without any hassle but got several quizzical looks when we said our Canadian destination is Tumbler Ridge.

Hopped off at Vancouver Bus Depot and on to Greyhound Canada to continue on our journey. By the time we got to Kamloops for another bus change, our bellies were growling somewhat but we  had overlooked getting some Canadian currency. Undaunted, my MOTH went ahead and bought some sandwiches and drinks with US currency. We got back onboard and started wolfing down our dinner. Halfway through my sandwich, I decided to use the restroom while it was unoccupied, so I put down my half eaten egg and mayo sandwich on my seat. Bad move! Upon my return, I promptly sat down on it, resulting in a decorative smear across the backside of my pants! The rest of the bus trip continued without a hitch with another bus change at Prince George and a breakfast of fried chicken wings at Mackenzie before arriving in Chetwynd in the late morning.

Our friends, Eric and Prudence, were waiting for us at the bus depot there and after a much needed cup of coffee (Tim Hortons, of course!), we travelled on in their vehicle to Tumbler Ridge. The small town of Tumbler Ridge is a fairly new one, built in the
 
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early 1980's, to house the families and workers in the two local coal mines (Quintette and Bullmoose) (Click on Quintette Mountain for larger image). When the Quintette mine closed in 2000, the residents warmly welcomed new neighbours, (mainly from all over Canada and the U.S.) into their friendly community. People like my good friends who retired there from Calgary.

  I saw the attraction almost immediately - scenic vistas of the Rocky Mountains, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, abundant wildlife... oh yes, did I mention the magnificent golf course there? I believe the fishing is excellent too, although we never got around to doing any fishing, simply ran out of time.... Sure would have liked to wet a line at the promising fishing "holes" in the area. I guess to fully appreciate the beauty of this beautiful peaceful region and the various outdoor activities available, we should have given ourselves more time... and more warm clothing, too. Quite unprepared for the cooler than expected weather, the only warm clothes we had were a couple of windcheaters each and a light jacket.

Where was I? Oh yes, the very next day after our arrival, our friends took us on a short, easy hike to Quality Creek - (note the word, "easy") Yeah, right! Easy, my foot! The way there was fun, had a fire happening, cooked beef franks on sticks and cooled our drinks in the icy cold waterfall nearby. Then it was time to head back - that was when the word "easy" got misunderstood by my brain. It was like climbing the Himalayas, if you asked me! Needless to say, there were no more suggestions of future hikes after hearing my wheezy gasping pleas to slow down some.

While there, our friends took us to Dawson Creek (click on "Mile 0" on the left for larger image), Fort St John, the awesome Kinuseo Falls, Monkman Park (where they serve as voluntary rangers), Quintette Mine and various other interesting places. As a wee gesture of my appreciation, I cooked a pot of chicken curry for our hosts and threw in a free hair cut as well  (during a friends get together bbq at Moose Lake). I had my first taste of a moose roast one night - it was okay but I made a point of not having seconds though. Give me a roast lamb dinner any time!

The whole township of Tumbler Ridge turned up at the high school grounds to watch the fireworks display on Canada Day (July 1st). I had forgotten what cold meant until that night - it was so cold my fingers couldn't function properly so missed some good shots of the fireworks. My MOTH's birthday the next day was celebrated with our friends - Prudence whipped up a very yummy rum cake while Eric did a magnificent job of preparing an Indonesian feast. 

The next couple of days were spent sight-seeing, with me desperately longing to snap photos of bears and moose in the wild, while trying to absorb as much of the beautiful sights as I possibly could. I knew for a fact that there were bears aplenty as I had seen their poo in the middle of the road! More proof of elks, too - I got a photo of elk poo in my collection now, together with many, many photos of the native flora. I marvelled at the size of the native bird - the mosquito! I wish our Aussie mozzies are that big - far easier to see and swat, I reckon. If not for the fact that my family are all in Melbourne, I would seriously consider moving to Tumbler Ridge. I'll bet I'd have some fishing tales to share, not to mention encounters with a bear or two!

All too soon, it was time to say goodbye to our dear friends at the bus depot in Chetwynd. After a tearful farewell,  we got on a Greyhound Canada bus to begin our long journey back to Vancouver, then on to Seattle. At least we had the right currency this time and were able to enjoy lunch and dinner. From within the bus, I saw a glorious sunset that evening and then the sunrise as we approached Vancouver the next morning. It was a pretty uneventful ride as we spent our 17th wedding anniversary sitting up all night in the oh-so-romantic atmosphere of a moving Greyhound bus....





 

         


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