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  • Writer's pictureRobert Gidley

Washboards and bears

July 29, 2022 (Thu)

We wish our abs had washboards like this road.

9:00 am Quesnel

The man camping next door warns us that he’s about to empty his black water tank, “and there’s been three boys in there for four days, so it might be a bit much, eh?”

We tell him that nothing compares to Robert’s foot bath of yesterday and then he regales us with a story of how he had almost exactly the same thing happen to him (“Somehow, one of the valves was open when I removed the cap!”).

We feel better knowing that we’re not the only ones. He also tells us not to expect a change in the weather, “Oh, not this time of year, eh? It’ll be hot all the way!”


11:30 am Quesnel

Gini has learned how to pronounce the city we’re in. “Kwe-nell, you don’t pronounce the S.” Just in case you ever have need.

On to Prince George, which we do know how to pronounce!

11:45 am Northwest of Quesnel

Siri seems to be having a bit of fun at our expense (or “taking the piss” as the Brits would say). We asked for directions to the RV camp we have reservations at (“They have a pool!” exclaims Gini) and we’re routed on a side road. On the map, it looks shorter, so it makes sense to use this road rather than Highway 97.

12:00 pm Deserted road

“There’s hardly anybody on this road,” observes Robert. Sure is pretty, though. The road is that composite gravel that’s pretty smooth and sturdy.

12:10 pm Gravel road

Well, now it’s a gravel road. “It’s gonna turn into blacktop real soon,” says Robert.

12:20 pm Dirt road

“This is just the unimproved part of the road. There’s probably a shopping mall ahead and it’ll turn back to blacktop soon.”

Real soon now, it'll get better

12:30 pm Rutted dirt road

We’ve seen better roads in the back woods of National Forests! This is all washboard and our teeth are rattling so hard, we’re sure we’ve lost a couple of fillings. We’re swerving side to side as Robert tries to find the “smooth” part of the road between the washboard and rutted parts. Surely this can’t go on much longer, right?

We’re on Blackwater Road listening to the Doobie Brothers sing their song, “Old Blackwater” and singing along with the part:

“Oh I ain’t got no worries, ‘cause I ain’t in no hurry at all!”

You don't get no view like this from your fancy pants paved roads!

1:00 pm Extreme caution

After 30 miles on this road, we come to a sign. The sign says, “Extreme Caution Narrow Winding Road.” So it gets worse!?!

Oh wait, it gets worse??

We know what the road looks like behind us. Siri claims we’ve got about another 30 miles of this, so it’s a coin toss as to whether we turn back and for sure get 30 miles of loose teeth or go ahead.

“You just wait, it’s going to be a paved four-lane highway any mile now,” says Mr. Optimism.

We will also note that we have had zero cell phone coverage for most of the last 30 miles. And we’ve seen five cars total (“They gave up and turned around!” offers Gini helpfully). If Harvey fails us…

1:45 pm Dusty dirt road God knows where because we have no cell coverage

An alarm periodically goes off in the back of Harvey. By the time we stop and get back to check on it, it has stopped.

“Hope it’s nothing real important,” says Robert.

“We’ll find out if it is!” replies Gini.

The first road sign in 20 miles and that's what you want to tell us??

The road has actually gotten better—less washboardy and more gravelly. We actually have some trucks pass us, and boy is there ever a lot of dust!

2:00 pm Southwest of Prince George

A speed limit sign! Actual blacktop! After two hours of rutted dirt road, we have found civilization again!

2:20 pm Near Prince George

We stop for gas (that was another thing that was weighing on our nerves—our gas level had dropped below half). We are now fully bonded with Harvey.

“Me and Harvey,” says Robert, “We’ve been through it.”

3:30 pm Southwest of Prince George

We arrive at the Blue Cedars Campground and the cedars are not blue. Also, the pool is not open as it’s full of green stuff and they haven’t had it cleaned yet. It’s so hot (90° but what else is new?) we don’t have the energy to move on.

Ah, time to relax!

We set up our awning for shade, get out the folding chairs, sit down with our ice tea and…

A man walks by and says, “Just so you know, there’s a bear over there!”

We rapidly decamp, and watch (from inside Harvey) as a couple of campers, Bear Guy and Bear Gal holler at a bear we can’t see. We take their word that there’s a bear over there, because it looks like they could both run faster than we could.

They start throwing rocks at the bear. We think a better idea would be to throw steaks at the bear so it would get full and go away. This is about when we notice that our camp site is right up against the same woods that the bear is in.

Sure enough, a few minutes later, Bear Guy comes by hollering and rock throwing at the woods behind us. We’re trying to remember the advice from the bear pamphlet we got back in Hope: “Don’t move towards the bear. Don’t run from the bear.”

5:00 pm Blue Cedars with no pool, BC

We have been huddled in Harvey for the last 90 minutes and have discovered that our air conditioning no longer works. We are hot and sweaty, and not the good kind. (We think the dust must have clogged the A/C unit on the roof.)

Finally we notice that enough bear snacks (kids) are wandering around that it’s safe for us slower moving snacks to emerge.

7:45 pm Dinner

We are so hot and tired and jiggled and beared that we make reservations at a hotel in Dawson Creek (Mile 0 of the Alaska-Canada highway!). We think Harvey might need a break, too (one of the refrigerator door shelves broke with all the shaking).

By the numbers

Numbers tell you what’s going on.

Miles traveled so far: 654 (only a 100 miles all day???)

Estimated Percentage of total road miles: 19%

Days so far: 5 days

Estimated Percentage of total road days: 16%

Gini & Robert

Harvey Staff

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