This is as close as I will be getting to the United States of America for quite a while...
They are predicting that International travel will not open up again until 2023.
Grant me patience to endure this time...
On my way in to Stewart, it was starting to get darker, the rain had started and the mountains almost seemed to be closing in on me. Glimpses of light would shimmer through the gloomy, looming clouds.
I passed quite a few glaciers on my way in to Stewart... and I tried to appreciate them to the best of my ability, despite the current wet weather conditions. I knew that unless something drastic changed in the world within the next 24 hours, I would not be able to cross the border and make my way in to Hyder, which was a necessary part of the journey required to see the famous Salmon Glacier.
No getting Hydarized for me.
I'll have to settle for 2020 Sanitized instead.
Defence could argue that most hand sanitizers could easily pass for moonshine.
If the rain was a major concern at all... it ceased to be almost as soon as I pulled in to town.
I had a reservation at the Historic Bay View Hotel.
Historic - yes.
Bay View - not really...
The hotel was deserted upon arrival (probably due to COVID) and I had been given email instructions on how to open the front door... as well as directions to my room.
I dragged my crap up two long flights of stairs to my room...
***Insert: WHY did I bring so much crap?
... dumped all my heavy belongings on the floor and headed out to take in the sights of this one horse, one block town... and get myself some Stewart supper.
After a feast of margarine drenched pizza dough dipped in marinara sauce, delivered to me by a rough & toughened waitress with an 80's perm and bedazzled, bling-pocket jeans, I got myself a bottle of wine and headed back to my bay view hotel.
Driving exhausts me...
My leg is killing me and all I want to do is stand up.
I poured myself one glass of wine in to my complimentary Dixie cup... took one sip... and crashed.
In the morning, I took myself for a stroll along the estuary boardwalk, explored the entire town once again (got a photo of the old brothel), wandered through the gift shop... and then left Stewart.
... not without driving to the US border though... just in case...
Making my way back down the #37, this time I opted NOT to turn on to the 50 kilometre forest service road, but chose to stay on pavement all the way until it met up with the Yellowhead Highway.
Probably safer this way.
I was still flabbergasted at my decision to take that particular route yesterday.
I have to say, despite the miserable weather warnings, I was met with sunshine wherever I went.
OK... full disclosure time...
The route between Prince Rupert and Prince George (otherwise known as the Yellowhead Highway, Highway #16 or the Highway of Tears) is absolutely one of the most impressive displays of beauty and panoramic landscape that I have ever seen.
If that isn't enough - mix the sunshine & the bright blue sky with the colourful celebration of fall foliage... and the entire drive becomes simply majestic.
So many times I pulled over and took photos. I could NOT help myself.
There were even a few occasions that I did u-turns on the highway because the allure of dramatic farmland struck me with such intensity, that I could not simply drive by without attempting to capture the moment.
Throughout the drive, I passed through a series of villages and towns... many too tiny to mention, but I did manage to pull in an experience a few of the considerable communities.
One stop was a slight venture off the main highway, bypassing New Hazelton. Crossing the single lane Hagwilget Canyon bridge across the Bulkley River, I followed Churchill Road right in to Hazelton... the old version of the current town.
It was very unique... very remote... and a small town that prides themselves on carrying that feeling of being "in another world". Definitely like being in another world... but maybe not in the way they originally intended the slogan.
Historic colourful buildings lined the streets - much like a larger version of Stewart.
Full of character.
Unfortunately, I have chosen to visit this touristy location during a global pandemic and it was essentially a living, breathing town that was completely shut off.
A little research in to their tourism - I found this;
When you visit the Village of Hazelton you will be met by open friendliness and a warm welcome wherever you go...
Everything was shut.
It was almost eerie.
I want to go back when a global pandemic is behind us all.
If there was one location up North that would ever tempt me in to relocating, it would have to be Smithers.
I was smitten with it.
The entire community oozed charm and vibrancy. Nestled in the Bulkley Valley, surrounded by three mountain ranges- Smithers is a small mountain town that embodies the word 'cool.'
Northern British Columbia is cool because of the character of Smithers.
After finding a small motel (The Stork Inn), I headed in to the historical downtown, craving sushi, but was too late for early evening COVI,D closures.
I ended up at The Alphenhorn Bistro + Bar, a Bavarian style restaurant. For some odd reason, still unbeknownst to me, I ordered some kind of guacamole sandwich, which caused more stomach issues the following day than it was worth. Funny thing is that I don't even LIKE guacamole... No idea why I ordered it... or ate it???
Why is everything Bavarian?
In the morning, I was surprised to see sunshine, considering that the weather network had, once again, predicted nothing but doom, gloom and terential downpour. Relishing in my unexpected sunshine, I did a brief stroll along the Bulkley River and then headed out of dodge...
But Smithers... I will be back!
Danica had filled me full of tales of her days growing up in the village of Burns Lake and all of it sounded enchanting, but as a tourist, merely passing through during a pandemic, a lot of the summer resources were not available to me.
Mental note - go back to Burns Lake.
Burns Lake is at the heart of the Lake District, and that alone sounds like a good enough reason to want to venture back during warm summer weather months.
She had asked me to pop in to Superstore to pick her up a particular type of salad dressing that she was unable to find back home. After much searching up & down the aisle and eventually succumbing to asking a staff member... I found it! Mission accomplished..
While I was there, I also picked myself up a couple new pairs of socks.
That was another faux pas of my packing.
Three bathing suits... no socks.
How I have made it around the world relying on my own self to pack, baffles me.
Next mission? Lunch.
Across the street was the Office Pub & Grill.
Once in, I had a quick look over the menu and noticed nachos.
Over the past few years, most people know, I have literally been addicted to nachos. I am very specific about how I like them, how I want them... and there is really not much wiggle room when it comes to satisfying me in the category of chips & cheese.
I haven't had nachos in quite a while... perhaps I'm getting sick of them?
But... holiday nachos were hollering and I answered the call.
I asked the first initial, crucial question, "Are your nachos microwaved or cooked in the oven?"
The answer? ... "We put them in the oven."
I'll have them.
I even finished by saying, "I won't eat nachos that have been done in the microwave."
As I waited, I looked around and realized that every single TV in the place was set to the poker channel... and the volume on one particular TV was turned up.
No music... no atmosphere at all... just the faint mumblings of poker players, commenting on the moves of their opponents.
Less than 5 minutes later, my nachos showed up in a bowl, carried by the young girl.
It seemed odd to me that; 1. they were arriving at my table so quickly and 2. the girl was carrying something that obviously had just come out of the oven.
They were microwaved.
Had we not covered this?
I tried to eat them... but I couldn't.
I COULD have... but I couldn't.
I sent them back.
I didn't get it.
They told me that they could make me new nachos and this time, put them in the oven, if I WANTED... but I was already annoyed and turned off.
I'm an ass... I admit it.
But in my defence... I did ask before I ordered.
This was merely lunch stop #2 because lunch stop #1 had failed me miserable.
I did pull over when I got in to town and Google'd "cool pubs in Vanderhoof" and "great food in Vanderhoof"... but every selection that the search provided was either closed due to COVID or had a late start opening.
Once again, I ended up in a Bavarian-style restaurant, boasting their schnitzel and bratwurst.
Not quite in the mood for schnitzel or bratwurst, I ordered the grilled ham & cheese with soup. They had their own little spin on the simple sandwich and it showed up in front of me made much like a clubhouse... with three pieces of bread.
Strange, but true.
My final destination for the day.
The sky turned dark & stormy as I approached. I could see the strikes of lightning in the distance,.
Rain.. here we go...
I couldn't outrun the weather network predictions anymore.
But then I did...
About 5 kilometres outside the city, the clouds opened up, the rain stopped and a double rainbow appeared...
... and then the sun came out!
**On a side note... I have not put on a bathing suit once yet.
Much to the delight of Northern BC...