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The Yellowhead

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The Yellowhead Highway of British Columbia and Alberta almost defies categorization.  Between the world’s largest fly fishing rod and a children’s costumed bike parade, the Yellowhead brought us a puzzling array of memories.  We left snow-capped mountains at the beginning of Highway #16 in British Columbia, sped across rolling pastures and farmland, were beset by heavy logging trucks on the highway’s narrow or non-existent shoulder, mowed lawns and picked apples on our days off in Prince George, and now leave the Yellowhead amidst glacial lakes and vast mountain ranges in Jasper National Park.

Mount Robson

Picking apples in Prince George

Every day is an adventure. We start some days with a destination in mind and others with nothing more than a direction (South, perhaps?).  The concerns of time and distance dissipate throughout the day as we meet friendly tourists and locals. Setting aside the time to talk is one of the most important lessons that I have learned thus far.

One of our hosts, Johnny, puts us down in his "black book"

From mushroom pickers to Mounties, we have met some fascinating people on the road with valuable knowledge to share.  Our conversations led to an powerful phenomenon on the Yellowhead: referrals. For a period between Smithers and Prince George, we had several home stays. Church congregations and folks we met would refer us to their friends and family down the road, which led to a cycle of home stays.  After returning to the usual routine of a small camp stove and tent, I know firsthand how magical a family’s dining table and guest bedroom can be. To all who have fed, hosted, or helped us in any way, thank you.

huckleberry "bear" pancakes!

Seven-Eleven's two-for-one dollar doughnuts + peanut butter + honey + granola = joy

Enduring the rain has been a challenge for us all, but we continually attempt to improve our waterproofing methods. We have begun to tie plastic bags over our boots and wear dishwashing gloves to keep our hands and feet dry. We certainly do not look “pro” with our new accessories (you would probably laugh if you encountered us on the road), but it sure beats being wet at the end of the day. After days of rain, days like today (the forecast calls for “abundant sun”) are uplifting.

As we ride closer to the U.S. border, I reflect over all that Canada has meant to us – the kindness and generosity of those we have met, the harsh weather, and spectacular scenery – and know that it will be missed.

I wanted to share one highlight from the Yellowhead.  After a grueling 150 km day to McBride, where we camped in the city park, we were surprised to learn that the town had planned a fall fair for the next day. At the time, we were particularly interested in the costumed kids bike parade so rather than leaving that morning, we delayed our departure so that we could take part in the festivities. Although we didn’t decorate our bikes, wear costumes, and ride through the parade, we thoroughly enjoyed the day’s activities. Conversations over coffee and doughnuts, singing for the fair, cheering on the young bicyclists, and watching a horseshoe tournament made for an memorable day and capstone for our time in British Columbia.

Our new friend, Pete "the Heat"

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jen #

    Jasper National Park is one of my favorite spots; hope you enjoy the mountains!

    September 27, 2011
  2. sarah daeuber #

    This is my favorite post so far.
    1. That is Nathan helping some kid with his bike.🙂
    2. My logic says that a donut with peanut butter on it is soooo wrong but the other part of my brain says YAY!
    3. David, where are you going to put a bag of apples on a bicylce?
    Stay safe and warm!
    Sarah

    September 28, 2011
  3. jb #

    We miss you guys ! Have fun in Jasper NP !

    JB & Vanessa

    September 28, 2011
  4. Janene & Joe Spratt #

    Finally reached an area with a reliable enough phone signal to post (north of Fargo, ND – didn’t have time to stop and meet the rest of your family, but Joe did give them a call yesterday).

    We so enjoyed our visit with you at Tete Jaune Cache, and we were more than happy to share our RV as a refuge from the cold, wet, and bugs. We were selfishly glad it was raining heavily the next morning, as it let us have several more hours to visit before it let up enough for you to pack up and be on your way. We hope we didn’t bore you too much with our photos of Europe. Did you get a chance to stop at Mistaya Canyon?

    As you meet others in your travels, know that they are probably benefiting as much as you are in the brief, but lasting encounters. It is such a pleasure to meet such inspiring young men. We will be following your continuing journey, and hope to keep in touch.

    Janene & Joe from Sanger, TX

    September 29, 2011
    • Thank you Janene and Joe! It was a pleasure meeting you, and thank you again for your graciousness. We didn’t get to see Mistaya (we were rushing to make camp before cold & nightfall & rain!) but the ride from Jasper has been spectacular. We took a rest day during a rainy day here in Lake Louise!

      October 1, 2011

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