Barkerville, Prince George Hospitality and The Trail of Tears
05/01/2010 49 °F
Turning north on highway 97, the highway quickly leaves the arid region and enters the Interior Plateau region. This region was also a bit of a surprise to me, as it reminded me of the upper Midwest forests of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. There were large forests of trees, long prairies along the road where farms and ranches have made their home. The plateau was still several weeks behind the coastal areas in spring foliage. It was colder here. Spring seemed like it had just begun.
Barkerville is about an hour drive east of Quesnel. This small village has been refurbished into an authentic gold mining town. At one time, Barkerville was the second largest city on the west coast, boasting over 30,000 residents; second only to San Francisco. Who knew? Now days, the town is a cool example of a thriving town during the gold rush. During the summer (May 10-Oct), the town hires actors to come in to play the townsfolk in authentic period clothing and mannerisms. There are even vintage items for sale at the local stores. Sadly for us, our visit was too early in the year, and we only saw a ghost town. That was interesting in it’s own right, however, the complete stillness of winter (it had snowed the night before our visit). I’d like to go back and check it out while the actors are playing. I believe it would be well worth the visit.
The Couch Surfing network came through for me again, this time in Prince George. After running a few errands, we met up with our host at her comfortable home. She turned out to be a gracious, interesting, inspiring host. She was very excited about her traveling future, and life in general. We talked a lot about our travels, which usually re-inspires me to think about my own travel plans.
I found myself on my way to an African themed dance at the African Café. For company, I was with two vivacious fifty-somethings who loved to dance and my ex-girlfriend. What are the odds? Prince George is about as far away from Africa as you can get. We met some of our host’s friends, got in a few words of conversation before the rhythmic music began. I had a great time. I dance like a fish out of water, gasping and flopping around, trying to move to the beat. Picture Steve Martin’s character on the front porch of his cabin in the movie “The Jerk” and you’ll have me. I’m not all that comfortable on a dance floor, but I decided to stop being so self conscious and have fun. And I did.
Part of what I really like about traveling is being put into situations that completely get you out of your element. On the road, you never know what situation you may find yourself in, and in dealing with your circumstances you can learn a lot about yourself, often times improving yourself for the better.
The drive from PG to “The Rupe” is a long drive, but it’s one of my favorite in BC. Driving west, the landscape continues through the forested lands of the interior plateau until you reach the town of Smithers. From here on, the mountains return, offering amazing scenery the rest of the way to PR.
Do you think the BC Tourism Board approve this Billboard?
I was driving late into the evening, trying to get to Terrace before the sun went down. We were cagey, hungry, sick of being in the van, tired of movement. I had driven almost 300 miles that day. In spite of my weariness, I was loving the scenery. Spring had returned, and the young green foliage was lit up by the setting sun, glowing. The snow covered mountains were visible in all their majestic splendor, towering over all. The road ran along side the rushing Skeena River, shining and glittering. The river was full of long gravel islands, forever changing with the flowing water. Rivers are great metaphors for life. It was a gorgeous drive. We made it to Terrace in time to order a pizza, get a campsite at the municipal campground and relax for a few minutes before it grew dark. Most of the towns of BC have very nice municipal campgrounds to stop at along the way. Many of the provincial parks are still closed until May, so these are a nice option to have. Most are inexpensive, less than 20 dollars, so they are easy on the budget.
On the last drive day, we had only 90 miles to go to get to PR. It was a nice day for a drive, overcast, with a little mist. I was relaxed, the long journey was basically over. Along the way, I spied a Brown bear walking down to the Skeena river. I stopped and turned back around for a closer look and maybe a picture, but when we got close, it hid in the nearby trees. Ah well, at least I finally got to see a grizzly. Hopefully this summer, I’ll see more. We got to PR in the afternoon. We went for a hike to the Butze Rapids. The rapids are a reversing tidal rapid that occurs twice a day during the changing of tides. A large body of water rushes through a narrow body of water to fill or empty the Wainright Basin. Basically, the water is trying to level itself out. While we didn’t see the water rushing through, we did enjoy the three mile hike through the flourishing coastal forest and open grassy areas.
We had made it. All told, we drove 4,330 Miles since leaving Minnesota. We got a campsite at PR’s municipal campground for the night. It was close to the ferry terminal, so we could have an easy morning on the day of our departure. We packed our bags, prepared some food, and relaxed. The driving was done, all that was left were 2 days on the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry System, taking us from Prince Rupert to Sitka.