The mountains are not so high and the snow has mostly gone, but it is a pretty view, nonetheless. I am not used to seeing the Chilcotin in August when the trees are in full leaf.
The pond, which is actually by the band of willows in the left of the picture, is often dry by September, but this year it still has quite a bit of water in it.
There are flowers scattered in their various econiches, but nothing like the masses that occur in the mountains, and the only way to enjoy their colours together is to put them in a pot.
The buttercup-like thing is a cinquefoil (a much leggier species than those which grow in the mountains), goldenrod, fireweed, yarrow, three kinds of aster, a common gentian species (G. amarella), and yellow rattle.
The first major thing I usually do when coming out of the mountains is to go shopping at Williams Lake. I waited until a Tuesday as that is when the farmer’s coop is open in town. I drooled at the thought of fresh, late summer fruit and vegetables.
I set off around 5.00:am – it is still dark then at this time of year. I dropped my dogs off at the Paradise Resort so they would not have to endure the hot van in town all day. Half an hour later I needed to pee and pulled off Highway 20 onto the Pinto Lake Road.
I sing to keep awake while driving (as long as I have no passengers!) and an hour or so later, I bumped onto a new, smooth piece of highway, and noticed a vibration in my voice. Soon I could feel it in the vehicle. I was a few miles west of Alexis Creek. Through the village it rapidly got worse and I stopped to use the phone at the gas station on the Anaham Indian reserve (not to be confused with Anahim Lake). There are no cell phone frequencies on the Chilcotin and I did not want to be stuck somewhere on the highway and have to wait for someone to come along and take me to a phone.
Does this look familiar?
It took the lady at the gas station about 20 minutes to convince the BCAA rep in the lower mainland that the nearest BCAA towtruck was at Riske Creek and that the driver would know exactly where the Alexis Creek gas station was. The rep kept wanting to know a specific address. He even volunteered the Hagensborg tow service – which is near Bella Coola, about 6 hours west! The towtruck was based between Williams Lake and Alexis Creek so it took only about an hour to come.
A few years ago, Pioneer Log Homes, a huge log-building company in Williams Lake, built a church for the reserve. You can see it on a hill between the brown band office on the left and the apricot gas station on the right. While I was waiting, I walked up for a closer look.
Another hour and we were in Williams Lake – about 3 hours later than I had planned. The garage looked quickly at my vehicle. Both front tires were worn to the steel. Obviously, during the impact with the tree in the spring, there was other damage they had not found before – the wheels were not properly aligned. It was the bulge in the tire that had cause the vibration (and a looseness in the steering I had not liked) and if I had driven it much longer, the tire would have blown. I already spent 3,000 on the vehicle in the spring so this was somewhat alarming. The garage was not 100% sure of the cause and it would take a long time to take it apart. They were very busy (as usual) so could not fit it in for a day or two. If it had been an overnight job, I would have stayed in town, but I wanted to be back on the Chilcotin for a 90th birthday party in 2 days’ time. Besides, I did not even have a toothbrush with me.
I had my pickup at home – the trouble was getting to it: there is no public transport on Highway 20. The towtruck driver was heading back home – about 40 minutes west. Thinking longingly of the fresh produce waiting for me, I decided to get a ride back with him and hitch hike the rest of the way. I had a bit of bread and cheese and water, and a couple of thick sweaters in case of having to spend the night somewhere. (Although it is hot during the day, it is already touching freezing before the sun comes up.)
First I made a hitch-hiking sign.
I put Tatla as a destination as my dogs were near there. I figured the dog-sitters would be kind enough to drive me and the animals the remaining hour home. (They had no phone and away from my computer I did not know the email address.)
Things could have been worse. I did not blow a tire and crash. It was hot and windy with no bugs and no rain. But Highway 20 in front of the towtruck driver’s driveway looked awfully empty.
I used to hitch-hike a great deal when I was young but, because of dogs, had not done it for over 20 years. The first 6 vehicles roared on by, but after about half an hour a pickup containing 3 young people stopped and took me to Alexis Creek. Almost right away I got another ride going to Tatla. The driver was looking for a place to retire. He was keen on hunting and fishing. He had never been to the Chilcotin and asked me what life was like. I told him it was great – as long as you did not want easy amenities. He rapidly and rather sadly came to the conclusion that his wife would not be able to tolerate it.
He dropped me off at the Eagle Lake turnoff. I fully expected that someone would come along but ended up walking the whole 5 kms.
I often do not manage to do everything I have planned when I go to town, but this trip was an absolute bust so that has to be some kind of record. I do not have a single vegetable in the house! (and my sprouts are not quite big enough to eat.) However, I had no desperate schedule to worry about, had money to pay for repairs, and met kindness and friendliness from everyone who helped along the way.
And so, the “rest of my life” has begun!