We (refers to Mabel, Alice & Lisa) drove down one the ten most dangerous roads in the world, according to National Geographic, to Bella Coola, BC — I have to say, this road was no different than driving from the ranch over and down a mountain road to Nogales, AZ…all is relative!
We stayed at a great RV campground (Rip-Rap!) Bella Coola is a little microcosm of farm land, ferns, old growth Cedar trees and lush river land. First Nations have a a few settlements, and the offspring of Norwegian settlers who settled here in the late 1800’s share this little harbor town. Beautiful balmy summers and colder than hell dark winters make up the calendar.
The BC Ferry system took us to Bella Bella—
Alice and I kept company with the vehicles since dogs couldn’t go upstairs. A passenger brought us a camp chair, I chatted with crew members and the 5 hour trip went by quickly! We docked at Ocean Falls, an abandoned paper-pulp town which had had a population of 1500 until the 1980s when the mill shut down. One of thepassengers had a summer cabin in this town of 22 people. These weather-beaten structures, mill buildings, houses, boarding rooms, and post office stared at us as the ferry floated to the dock. It was more than a ghost town; it was a town frozen with dishes still on tables, silverware still in the drawers, furniture in the living areas. The former inhabitants left all behind since the cost of moving outweighed the value of the goods. I had visions of a withered Stephen King writing a novel inside a room and Jack Nicholson had gone totally psycho living his old age as one of the author’s characters behind another door…I stayed on board with Alice.
We docked in Bella Bella, a First Nation island only accessible by boat or small plane, and spent the night at the ferry maintenance parking lot. The other few passengers had rooms in the town’s only 6 room guest house. The next morning, I thought I would see the town which consisted of one road going from the harbor to the air strip. Quick trip.
The 8 hour trip to Prince Rupert was more formal. Alice stayed in the van, and I sat on the viewing deck getting more wrinkles on this weathered face! Every 2 hours, animal owners had visitation rights to walk their dogs etc. I could only imagine to cost of transporting the huge diesel powered bus/RVs on this ferry as Alice and I walked up and down the aisles of vehicles.
After staying at a rest stop that night (I love traveling like this!!), we followed the Skeena River on the way to the Cassier Highway, Hwy. 37, an alternative to the AlCan Highway. We stopped at Gitanyow, BC which has one of the largest concentrations of standing totem poles, some of them more than 100 years old. I always thought they had a religious or spiritual meaning, but not the case.
The elders know the full meaning of each pole, the family history, the reasons why certain designs are done and that history is passed on father to son.
“Uh, excuse me..my turn. Mabel here.” First of all, I have to say one thing…must this dog be so perky all the time? Whether it is 5:00am, which by the way, one never knows because it is now light from 5:00am to 11:00pm so the circadian rhythm (just googled that!) is completely out of sync. I have no idea when the key will be hitting the ignition and I have to wake up. But Alice, good God! – “wanna play, wanna play.” She exhausts me. She has learned though how not to fall off the seat when she hears “oops, should have turned there” happens, slight braking, a James Bond turn takes place: she stands, front feet apart bracing for the swerve. “What did I miss?” thoughts fly everywhere as her head moves. I think you didn’t miss a thing – just another gorgeous view and our driver wasn’t looking at the navigation screen and screwed up.
And BTW, we still haven’t even gotten out of BC. Roads are long, two lane, some with lines, some I use my imagination. I have learned to squint some when I see logging trucks so flecks of wood and gravel don’t hit the contact lenses. The tires are getting their work out especially when you-know-who is not focused and “oops, sorry about that” MAJOR POTHOLE appears, swallows us and spits us out. Gas runs around $5.00 a gallon so we have learned not to go above 55, always fill the gas tank when it is down to half full since “GAS AHEAD” means nothing – station may be closed or abandoned. Side roads seem to be a must, we go to Stewart, a 50-mile detour. Small little town, gateway to Hyder, AK which we did not get to.
Long drive this day. Stopped in Jade City and parked by the store.
“Alice, GO TO SLEEP. I don’t care if it is light outside.” Friggin’ pretend.
We will be in the Yukon soon. Who remembers Sargent Preston and his dog, King?