Ain't Got No Wine
I left Prince George today...
If, at any time in the future, anyone ever inquires as to whether I have been to Prince George or not, I will feel it mandatory to say yes... due to the fact that my actual, physical body was in that location for more than a 24 hour period. But on the other hand, I will also feel an obligation to say no. I drove straight to Shelley's house, spent the night and drove away.
I arrived and left Prince George without accumulating any familiarity or expertise of the city, it's surroundings, it's resources... offerings, tourism, people... nada.
It was great to reconnect with Brooke again - Shelley's daughter. We ordered in Thai food, watched movies and lazed about... which absolutely hit the spot after a full day of driving.
For the entire duration of my staycation, I feel that I have been chasing the sunshine.
Each day I open up my Weather Network app on my phone and I'm disappointed.
It doesn't matter to which direction I plan to head... it doesn't matter which town I program in... or which day I go... rain, rain, clouds, storm, thunder, lightning...
All it predicts is gruesome weather. Two weeks straight, so far.
In fact, the only day that sunshine is forecasted is my first day at work.
Yes... I have been chasing then sunshine...
... and so far... knock on wood... I have been winning.
Despite a few clouds and scatterings of sprinklings, the weather has treated me well.
But... I had a funny feeling that my luck was running out.
I was having a hard time deciding if I was going to;
1. Continue along the #16, hitting McBride and then continue down the #5 to Kamloops... (including a potential waterfall exploration stop in Wells Grey)...
2. Follow the #97 down to Cache Creek and then cut across to Kamloops.
Viewing waterfalls tempted me as an attractive option... but I considered how much I would appreciate them in torrential downpour.
Not at all.
I didn't care enough about waterfalls to appreciate their beauty while saturated and cold.
Taking the #97 seemed an easier and more direct route, in case the weather didn't play out according to my staycation sunshine plan. I would also have the opportunity to explore the Gold Rush trail and parts of the Caribou, which before now, were unfamiliar to me.
So it was decided... and I hit the #97, with no real plans for the day. Destination determined, but stops along the way, negotiable.
It was raining when I pulled out of Prince George... but almost as soon as I left the city parameters, the sun began to shine through.
As usual for me, I almost ran out of gas and my phone died. Two things I struggle with. For some odd reason, I get it in my head that the moment I fill up my tank, I never have to look at it again. After time, I will happen to glance that way, and it's usually when there isn't another petrol station for 50km. It's a toxic trait.
When I arrived in Quesnel, I filled my tank and took a left hand turn to follow the road that led to Wells and Barkerville.
I was thoroughly impressed by Wells... though I wish more was open.
Once again, I encountered a historic, remote, colourful little village, chocker block full of charisma. I am loving these enthusiastic little old mining towns!
For back 40, they lead the way in illuminating every fragment of their heritage, their individuality and their community spirit - and captivating tourists (me) with their liveliness & delightful personality.
I was hesitant about going further in to Barkerville, as there were numerous signs along the long stretch of road, warning tourists that we were required to have a pre-paid ticket in order to gain entrance to this Gold Rush town.
I did not have this...
A lady in Wells told me assured me that I should finish the journey to the historic town at the end
of the road. "They only had 64 people there yesterday," she told me. "They'll let you in!"
That was all I needed... and I was on my way.
Barkerville or Bust.
I parked my car, grabbed my camera & purse, paid my $16 entrance fee, sanitized my hands and headed in... not without making mention about how lovely it was for the sun to come out, to the lady behind the counter. She agreed.
That must have been the jinxing point... because not 5 minutes later, the rain came.
I had only just ventured up the first block of this eerie & deserted streetscape, when I decided it might be time to take refuge in the Wake up Jake Restaurant.
As I walked through the front doors, I noticed that I was the ONLY person in there... apart from the cook & the waiter, fervently gossiping at the back of the room. I must have interrupted something paramount or trivial, because they both seemed irritated at the interruption. This should have been my first clue to depart...
...but I ignored it... famished, cold, wet...
I sought immediate shelter.
The waiter didn't stop being a jerk from the moment I darkened their doors.
I made a couple menu inquiries, attempted at polite small talk, requested ketchup - each time, I was met with ignorant responses, scowls and indifference.
I finally conceded to leave.
"I'm feeling like I'm really not wanted here, so I'm going to get going."
To that, he brought me a bag for the remainder of my food and my bill.
From years in the hospitality industry, I am fully aware of when I do and when I don't deserve a tip... and he did NOT on this occasion.
Nor did he get one.
I think that the hardships of COVID, the long summer months, the unpredictable weather, the constant public persona, the perpetual smiles... all of this and more had probably taken their toll on some of the Barkerville employees.
As I was one of the only people present in a location that is usually brimming with fanatical tourists, it all seemed quite odd to me.
I am not one to be roped in to the ridiculous... unless, of course, I initiate the ridiculous. I tend to veer away from the interactive programming, the active role playing and live historical experiences.
I couldn't help but feel uncomfortable when these people were approaching me to show off their latest crochet projects, invite me to come bask by the fire or inquire after my health in an appalling excuse for a Scottish accent.
It was Twilight Zone.
I needed out.
I will admit, that both my approach and perspective would have been drastically different, had I been surrounded by hundreds of enthusiastic participants.
But, as I previously mentioned, summer had presumably taken its toll and I noticed that a lot of the employees had become lax in their time-piece appearance. One gentleman was sporting a new pair of Mark's Work Wearhouse blue jeans... and another guy working in the General store was wearing a bright blue polo top.
I was expelled prematurely... and contentedly... from Bakerville, due to the torrential downpour.
In my defence, I only truly consented to finally leave when I was so soaked to the bone and could literally feel the outside of my jacket stuck to my skin.
The rain finally caught up with me.
**noting location... because as soon as I drove away from Barkerville, the sun came back out!
On the road again...
The night before, I had downloaded a few audio books in an attempt to make my road trip more cultural. My choice of book was interesting and educational... though not the beach read that once would normally expect for a vacation read.
Here I am... heading down the Caribou Highway, high on the stunning autumn landscape, and sobbing uncontrollably, as I take in one man's memoirs of the horrors of the Holocaust.
Book highly recommend.
On holiday? Not so much.
Reaching Quesnel, I did a short stroll along the river... which I have only JUST discovered (writing this) that it's the Fraser River! The fall colours... predominantly yellows... words cannot express how gorgeous they are up North at the moment.
My original intention was to find a place to say in Williams Lake, but I changed my mind as I drove thorough and kept going.
With a couple small stops along the way, I decided to end my journey for the day in 100 Mile House. What I should have done, was seek out a lake-side motel and make use of one of these damn bathing suits.
Too late smart.
Pulling in to 100 Mile House, this was my list of things to find...
**Not necessarily in that order...
Much to my shock and surprise - on the left hand side of the road, there it was!
The Lakewood Inn.
Attached to it was a liquor store and adjacent, was a Sushi & Noodle House.
Sunshine. Sushi. Motel. Liquor Store.
All in one... could my luck get any better?
Turns out, it could.
I parked my car out front and wandered in...
Two men of questionable character and fashion, stood outside smoking, watching my every move.
Patches of different pieces of cut & glued carpet met me as I walked through the front doors and in to the lobby.
The entire front desk & all equipment was covered in a thick layer of dust.
No one was at the front desk to greet me, but there was a note instructing guests to phone for assistance... which I did.
I stood there for a couple minutes, while the desk phone (a mere 1 metre from where I was standing) rang a few tines. No one answered and that was my cue to leave.
BUT... not without popping in to the liquor store first.
Figured I would pick up a bottle of wine before I tried to find a reputable motel for the evening.
I walked in and almost immediately noticed that there was no wine. The shelves that sat in the middle of the small retail space was completely empty.
A broad and rough looking women came out of the cooler and I made my inquiry.
"Do you have any wine?"
Reasonable question to ask in a liquor store.
Actually... to be honest, and come to think of it, it's not a question that I have ever needed to ask in a liquor store.
"We ain't got no wine," she replied, gruffly... but then went on to suggest that I hit the BC Liquor Store, located down the street, next to the Save On.
Ok... don't need to tell me twice.
Off I went,
As I walked back towards my vehicle, I noticed at all of the outdoor entrance motel room doors had their handles covered with duct tape.
I think it was a good idea to not stay at this place...
Nothing says WELCOME like some dust and a good piece of duct tape over your door.
Plus... they ain't got no wine... so I probably wouldn't have been happy here.