Rhymes, Rants & Accolades from North Central BC

BUS DRIVERS (GREYHOUND)

circa 1976  Sense and Nonsense

Of all the job positions that I wouldn’t like to have, Bus Driver has to be near the top of the list. I have noticed cross-country bus drivers seem to be large or mean or sometimes both. Mean may be an occupational hazard but large is definitely an asset when it comes to dealing with some passengers.

From a passenger’s viewpoint of the back of his head and shoulders the driver may sometimes appear to be an easygoing little fellow. The sitting down position can be deceptive. On one bus trip two navy types sat a few seats behind me. I guessed that they were sailors partly from their loud, colourful reminiscences and partly because it was over-proof rum they were drinking.

Our driver ignored their sometimes abusive remarks. The only indication that he heard them at all was a slight reddening between cap and collar-line from time to time.

At our next scheduled stop, our driver slowly rose to his feet. He must have weighed 250 pounds! Like the Incredible Hulk he advanced down the aisle. I waited for the crash followed by at least one dull thud… instead I heard a polite voice suggesting that perhaps the “gentlemen” would prefer to patronize one of the town’s drinking establishments rather than continue their journey on the bus.

He departed with what was left of their bottle and the ensuing silence lasted for miles.

It is not always the rough, rowdy characters that aggravate the drivers. One southbound bus driver appeared to be extremely confused after leaving Quesnel, BC. In broken English he stubbornly insisted that “somebody” should have gotten off in that town. He interrogated those of us with children as to whether or not our “kid had a ticket.”

Finally, he stopped the bus and announced that he wanted to have a look at each and every ticket. The nice well-dressed young fellow up front was one of the first to present his. Our driver took one look and berated him with, “I don’t speak English that good but I sure as h….. can read it! This ticket says Quesnel – not Vancouver!”

His revenge was complete when after leaving the young man at a roadside service station, we met the northbound bus pulling in. “if that fellow wants a ride back to Quesnel. don’t give him one,” he growled at the other driver.

Riding a bus can be aggravating but between buses it can become downright boring. I recently spent two unscheduled hours wedged against the wall under the “No Loitering” sign in the Prince George depot. The place was a seething mass of humanity, suitcases, cardboard boxes and knapsacks awaiting mostly overdue buses to travel in all four directions.

Prince George is like a giant magnet. It attracts all manner of transportation but is often reluctant to let go. I have noticed Via Rail spends a lot of time in its tracks in that city as well.

No wonder the city is the fastest growing center in BC. No doubt some residents are still waiting for their bus or train to leave town!

To really appreciate buses one should ride the train from time to time.

On our last Via Rail experience from Edmonton I was unable to get reservations for sleeping accommodations and was told I was “lucky” to secure day coach seats. As it turned out, “lucky” was not an accurate description. I discovered that Day Coach is definitely a no-frills proposition. They wouldn’t even allow us to line up for the diner until 11o’clock that night.

The only luck we had was that we were travelling west rather than east. We passed the eastbound as it sad immobilized on a remote siding. Apparently, it had hit a bear and was six hours behind schedule. The children waved at us through the coach windows but their parents didn’t even smile. They eyed us wistfully as our train sped past in the direction from whence they had come.

Unlike bus drivers, trainmen seem to be a happy lot. I overheard some of them speculating about the damage the bear had done. One laughingly expressed amazement because as he said, there is no problem when you hit a moose. “There is just a thump and you are away!”

Perhaps, if they butchered out all the moose they hit, Via Rail could sell the meat in the dining cars and lessen their financial difficulties.

Meanwhile, I think I prefer to ride the buses. If the drivers are large and mean, at least I can understand why.

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“SENSUAL DRUGS”

When my son was diagnosed with schizophrenia after smoking marijuana heavily for some months, I began researching at our local library as to whether or not there could possibly be a link between the devastating disease and what is now being referred to as a “recreational” drug. I found an old copy of the book Sensual Drugs in the library which had been written by Dr Hardin Jones, a professor at Berkley University in California.
What lodged itself deeply into my psyche after reading Dr Jones’ book was a quote taken from research into the use of “hemp” way back in 1894 by the government of India. The research had concluded that a significantly higher proportion of those in asylums for the insane were users of hemp,  in proportion to those who were not.
KIRKUS REVIEW [of the book which has been reprinted in recent years]

Hardin Jones is Professor of Medical Physics and Physiology at UC, Berkeley, where for several years he has given a popular course in drug abuse. This volume, edited by his wife, is a distillation of the course with additional material based on interviews with 1,900 addicts, travel to drug-rich parts of the world, and a survey of rehabilitation centers. By the author’s definition, “”sensual”” drugs are “”those that the body has no need for, but that give the user a strong sense of pleasure.”” His position is that the more the individual is educated about the physiological effects of drugs, the less likely he or she will risk taking them. Recognizing the strong association between drugs and sexual pleasure, he points out that many drugs first titillate erotic sensations but eventually numb feelings. Indeed the drug abuser ultimately becomes sensually deprived–in all senses. Heroin, cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, LSD, and amphetamines are different in their effects, of course, and Hardin reviews current medical lore for each separately. In general, continued use of a sensual drug upsets hormone or enzyme balances at best and destroys tissue at worst. Hardin’s approach to withdrawal and rehabilitation is equally no-nonsense: the addict must be motivated. One way is to convince him that full sexual potency and pleasures as well as other bodily delights can be restored. Hardin advocates programs aimed at rendering the addict drug-free and operating at a better level on all fronts. HIS last chapter is a strong admonition against liberalizing marijuana use; along with other authorities, he feels that the drug’s effects are insidious and long-lasting. A sane and sensible book, full of information and free of preaching.

A “DRAINO” BABY ?

June 1979  Sense and Nonsense

Proud parents perusing through baby books searching for appropriate names for their offspring are often unaware of two things. No matter what label is attached to the child, he will probably hate it; and half the people he is destined to meet in later life will probably forget it!

A girl I knew, once answered very reluctantly to the Christian name of “Clara”. At a tender age she had learned to live with “Clara-belle, the cow” a nickname most Claras are undoubtedly familiar with.

Clara told me the story of an incident which had completely dispelled all vestiges of her childhood hang-up. It was at a social gathering where she had met a friendly, personable, young man. They exchanged amenities and he expressed a desire to see her again.

“I have a terrible memory.” he confessed. “I’m afraid I’ll forget your name before the evening is over.”

“Just think of the cow,” she answered helpfully. She wryly explained the connection between the comic book character and her given name. Later, at the close of the evening, she noticed her new friend waving at her amidst the departing crowd. “Good night!” he called. “See you again soon, Elsie!” [Elsie, the Borden Cow]

I am anxiously awaiting the birth of my newest grandchild. It was supposed to be a May baby but it is now too late for that. Statistics indicate that newborn babies are bigger than they used to be. Possibly that is because they are older than they used to be. The nine-month pregnancy may someday be a thing of the past!

I am curious as to whether or not my grandchild will pass the “Draino Test.”  The Draino “turned blue” which is supposed to indicate the baby will be a boy. My daughter’s doctor does not believe in Draino (except for unclogging kitchen sinks) His favourite line is, “Another Draino Baby – wrong again!”

The Draino test reminds me of the old “wedding ring on a thread” method of determining the sex of an unborn child. My pregnant daughter had failed that test miserably – she was supposed to be a boy!

Babies are usually surprises in one way or another. If you don’t like surprises it is apparently now scientifically possible to “Clone” yourself. The process involves using an egg from a woman’s ovary, but all the traits of the mother are removed. The egg is fertilized and contains only genes from the father.

There are rumours afloat that a baby boy has been born in the United States who is a clone of his millionaire father. The little guy, if he exists, cannot help but be a “chip off the old block”. One scientific theory suggests that the fertilization process can be skipped completely. All that is necessary is a single cell from the father, who can be either living or dead (but not too dead!)

I can almost see it all now:

“You have seen it on T.V.
How to build a family!
With matching eyes
And matching hair.
They even come
With underwear
The latest offer from K-Tel
Each kit complete
Just add a cell.
Guaranteed for 90 days.
Never ceases to amaze!
Only fourteen, ninety-four,
Available, now at this store!”

I don’t care whether or not my grandchild passes the “Draino Test.” He or she will be an original child. I believe babies are supposed to be surprise!

circa 1975 Sense and Nonsense

Tomorrow is the first day of hunting season. The rifles have been sighted in, the regulations deciphered and there is anticipation in the heart of the hunter.

There is anticipation in the heart of the hunter’s wife, too, as she cleans the home freezer of last year’s crop of Swiss chard and the freezer-burned bear ribs that someone told her make “wonderful sweet and sours”.

There are two schools of thought regarding bear meat. Some say, “Throw away the meat and keep the fat.” Others consider the fat superfluous and insist that the meat is a delicacy.

Someday (when I’m hungry enough) I may venture an unbiased opinion on the subject.

I read a very funny article in an Outdoor Life magazine entitled “Let’s go Deer Hunting, Honey.” It was written by a wife whose husband had magnanimously decided to invite her along on one of his hunting expeditions. It was her contention that some men (her husband included) “consider the days between Jan. 1st and Nov.1st as numbered squares put on the calendar solely for the purpose of separating one deer season from the next.”

No wonder the Ray family calendar has so few pages… and I thought September 15th was New Years Day!

Some hunters will swear on a stack of “Outdoor Life” magazines that moose and deer can read and write. I doubt very much if they can write, but have often wondered whether they can read. Before and after hunting season, these animals are often visible and flaunt themselves fearlessly near human habitation. At dawn on the morn of hunting season, they pull the disappearing act.

If these animals can read they must also possess superb eyesight and super-human deciphering abilities. Last year’s set of hunting regulations was so complicated as to discourage the most fervent hunter. In Region 7 moose hunters were restricted to antlered bulls with “two tines or less.” In other regions they were not.

A large well-antlered bull was spotted, browsing contentedly somewhere near an invisible dividing line separating Regions 6 and 7. Nearby, a hunter was seen scanning a copy of the hunting regulations and frantically peering at tiny maps. I wonder if the fellow ever determined whether the multi-antlered animal was legal or not!

Last fall my cousin, whose husband is a biologist, wrote that the college where he teaches was suffering from a severe shortage of “moose teeth” for studies. The only teeth in our house were firmly embedded in human jaws, so I contacted the local Fisheries and Wildlife office.

I received a gracious reply assuring me that they would send their surplus teeth to the college after they had enough for their “own aging.”

My mind travels in peculiar circles (so I’ve been told) An incongruous picture of a group of game biologists worrying about dental problems in their declining years flashed through my mind.

Our resident hunter filled me in. Moose teeth grow in layers similar to the way trees grow. “Aging” describes the process of cutting a tooth and counting these layers to determine the age of the animal.

I understand the BC Minister of the Environment had recently approved an 18,000 dollar programme to collect and study moose droppings. The government plans on asking help from the public and will pay for collected specimens.

Maybe I’ll accompany my husband on his hunting expeditions…. while he’s searching for a moose I’ll gather up some profitable evidence of where it’s been!

 

 

 

 

WOK WITH (STEVEN) YAN

1980  Sense and Nonsense

A few weeks ago I added a utensil to my collection of kitchen gizmos that has completely changed my way of life.

I allowed myself to be persuaded that “wokking” is the only way to cook. An Oriental “Galloping Gourmet” on television dazzled me with his one-liners (both on and off his apron) and his knack with chopsticks and cleaver.

He unleashed a primitive urge in me to buy everything in sight at the Chinese cuisine section in the grocery store. I bought a wok and all the utensils that slice, stir and strain. I also bought a colourful selection of sauces, oils and other “Chinesey” condiments.

I proudly brought my loot home and stacked it in the kitchen. First of all, the wok wouldn’t fit neatly in any of my cupboards. It was too big to fit in with the round pots and too round to fit in with the square pans. I ended up storing it in the oven.

My wok came unaccompanied by any instructions whatever. It did however come with a lid and what I assumed to be an added bonus – a stand for an electric stove. Since I have a gas stove I decided in my ignorance, that no stand at all was necessary.

When I placed my shiny new wok on the naked flame, an ugly blue discoloration resulted, which neither Mr. Clean nor Mrs. Ray could remove. My first wokful of stir-fried spinach removed the stain in less than five minutes. My mother and Popeye the sailor-man would have been proud of the power in that placid looking vegetable!

Luckily I have always hated spinach – stir fried or otherwise!

My recipe book with the smiling face of our television host on the cover has helped me become a semi-expert on the art of preparing Chinese food. Now, instead of opening a can or defrosting a package of frozen vegetables, I prepare them the nutritious way

I rise early, before dawn, and raid the garden. I drive miles to buy goodies such as mushrooms, bean sprouts and bok choy. I wash, chop, stir-fry and strain. Sometimes I package the fourteen vegetables and meats in neat little wrappers and deep-fry them.

I grate, marinate and wait, and if I’m lucky my concoctions are ready to serve for the big meal of the day.

I originally bought the wok with the thought in mind that I could con our youngest child into “liking vegetables.” Deep down I knew that there was no way this could happen. I have a theory that there are only two kinds of people in this world – those who love vegetables and those who don’t.

Most of the children I have known were in the latter category.

I used to bribe, cajole and sometimes threaten my older children into eating their vegetables. To this day they distrust anything that is green (unless it is money) I scored 100% wipe-out in past parental nutrition.

Therefore, with our youngest child I am experimenting with a totally different technique. Trickery! I sneak vegetables into cookies and chop them up so fine they are almost invisible into soups and stews. I lie a lot. When she asks,“Are there any onions in this?” I hem and haw and make noises that sound like “no.”

Last year I had the help of her kindergarten teacher. Our daughter would come home on “snack day” extolling the virtues of celery sticks and alfalfa sprouts. However, Kindergarten only last for one year and the latest bag of alfalfa sprouts is growing a wonderful crop of cattle fodder in the refrigerator.

There is no way our daughter will eat Chinese food, with or without plum sauce. The vegetables are plainly visible – big, healthy looking and green! When I wok it is also necessary to whip up something “western” for her – such as a peanut butter sandwich.

Actually I do enjoy cooking the Chinese way and I have discovered a bonus use for my wok. It is the greatest thing for rising bread dough! I place the rounded bottom on a stove burner and the heat from the pilot light is enough to warm the dough easily and quickly.

Steven Yan, do you “wok” your bread? How about putting that on your apron!!

SEE THE PRETTY LADY!

(August 1979) Sense and Nonsense

See the pretty lady. She is immaculate as she rests in her cool, spotless home. The pretty lady is very frail. She does not walk her block a day as they tell her to do on television. She is too tired.

Her phone rings. It is the blue phone and it only rings once a year. It is the Huckleberry Hotline! The pretty lady’s eyes light up. They gleam with maniacal delight. See her frenzied movements when she hangs up the phone,

Can you spot the pretty lady? She is the one climbing out of the dusty blue pick-up truck. It is a very good truck. It must be because it has just forded streams, bounced over boulders and climbed steep inclines. It is now parked below the huckleberry hill.

See all the people climbing up the hill. A fat lady has a preschooler under one arm and an ice-cream pail hooked over the other. She is good at climbing over windfalls. The pretty lady is faster though. She has just knocked over a hornet’s nest. The pretty lady is the first to reach the top of the hill.

Can you feel the heat? It is hot on the huckleberry hill! Everyone is perspiring except the fat lady’s little boy. He is busy eating huckleberries, leaves and all. His hands, face, ears and hair are blue. His mother has just tripped over a log and spilled all her huckleberries. The fat lady says a word that her little boy is not allowed to say,

See the pretty lady pick huckleberries! She is the fasted picker on the hill. Watch her crawl over and under windfalls. See her reach for a branch as she stumbles. The branch is part of a thorn bush. The pretty lady does not spill her berries when she falls. She is holding the handle of the ice-cream pail between her teeth. The pretty lady is smart!

The hackberry pickers are thirsty. Someone has carted a gallon of water up the hill. He is very popular! The pretty lady does not drink any water. She has just discovered a super patch of huckleberries!

The pretty lady realises someone else is sharing her patch. He is overdressed for such a hot day. He is wearing a fur coat! He is a sloppy eater and a poor conversationalist. All he does is growl.

See all the people hurry down the hill. Soon there is no one left up there except the sloppy picker in the fur coat. The pretty lady is upset – that patch would have filled her ice-cream pail to overflowing!

The pretty lady is no longer pretty as she enters her immaculate home. She is dirty and covered with fireweed fuzz. She has insect bites and scratches. Her nose is sunburnt. She is limping and her deodorant has let her down….

She is happy. Tomorrow she will pick more huckleberries!

October 9/80 Sense and Nonsense

I wonder if other people can promptly answer as to whether or not they had a good time on holidays? I never can. At least not until months after we have returned home. I am noncommittal until all real and imagined injuries to my nerves, to our vehicle and to our bank account are completely healed. By that time nobody seems to be interested anymore.

For some reason we always seem to be heading north on holidays. (Surely the spell of the Yukon cannot be that strong?) Last time Leon and I were accompanied only by Fern, our small daughter. This time teenage son, Bruce, was also able to come with us. Son-in-law Darwin, daughter Cathy and their two little ones would follow along in their new pick-up truck and camper.

We decided to accept an invitation to visit some cousins and Grampa L. who were camping and fishing at Stewart, B.C. during the long Canada Day week-end. The gorgeous scenery, including a huge blue glacier close to the road, would be well worth the extra miles. Perhaps after reading my journal someone will answer the question that is still haunting me. Did I have a good time on holidays?

Saturday: (June 28) Big rush to get going. Leon had completed building the camper. Bruce, Fern and I painted it. I finished painting the bottom bunk quite late last night and this morning it was still tacky. (Had to hurriedly Mactac over it!) First wildlife – a baby groundhog two miles from home. Leon had to boot it off the pavement to discourage its suicidal tendencies. (It lacked gratitude and tried to bite the boot that may have saved it’s life).

Stopped at a high point above the Bulkley where the gray water flowed far below. Cathy, with Leon’s support, leaned over and took a picture of the dizzying depths below.

We finally found the Kitwanga turn-off after I had almost given up on it. Lo and behold, a beautiful stretch of pavement greeted us; but not for long. The road rapidly deteriorated into a rough, winding, and in some places newly-constructed path. We finally decided to camp at a creek at Mile 34. Second wildlife – a porcupine slowly ambled up the creek away from us.

Sunday – Friday: This morning (Friday) we finally left Stewart, B.C. (Note: On Monday, June 30, 1980 the bridge over the wide, swift-rolling Bear River – the only land route out of Stewart, was totally destroyed by fire.)  Arson was suspected. Around 2,000 tourists were in town that week-end celebrating Canada Day, American Independence Day, and Stewart’s Golden Anniversary. Hyder, Alaska was also isolated by the fire. (“Downtown” Hyder consists of three saloons and a souvenir shop.) The Bailey bridge completion was delayed by the hour from noon yesterday to midnight last night. Impatient tourists were lined up on the road at nine last night – when last we checked. Others were in formation at the campgrounds.

We had arrived in Stewart on Sunday, intending on camping overnight, visiting and partaking of the “crab sandwiches” Grampa L. had insisted he would serve us. We planned on leaving Monday morning but got a late start because Cathy and I insisted on being “Hyderized” (On a glass of Molson’s Canadian – orange juice for the kids). As it was, we were too late.

Comments on our five days in Stewart: One member of our party found herself paying double-digit duty on a few souvenir items from Hyder. (It is easy to forget that Hyder is in a foreign country.) The killer whales had frightened the salmon away and the red tide rendered the mussels poisonous. The ugly fish someone caught was well photographed. (Could his relatives have picked Grampa’s soup-bone crab bait clean – even to the marrow?)

Darwin after bridge burning: “Now I know how an animal on a game farm feels – there’s room to run around, but no place to go!”

Me: “We should write ‘Help’ on one of those balloons that sailed over the mountains.” (From float in Canada Day parade)

Cathy: “How about S.O.S. for Stranded On Stewart!”

Sign on Dease Lake’s float in parade: “Arctic – Pacific Divide” (in part) “…where the waters were undecided whether to flow DEASE way or DAT way…”

It was nice to see Cousin M’s brother and family who flew in from “the outside world.”

Woman on phone in hotel lobby: “Mother – don’t laugh. Mother please stop laughing … It’s not funny! Just feed my fish at home and I’ll drown my sorrows to-night in Hyder!”

Cousin M. overheard a young fellow on phone in the bar. “I’m not sh____ you, boss! I really can’t get back to work. You’re going to pay me for my Stat. aren’t you? Why not? It’s a… It’s an Act of God… Isn’t it?”

Cousin R’s song: (Sung alongside campfire in a plaintive, bluesy, tone of voice) “Build another bridge ‘cross the river, ‘Cause the old one ain’t no good at all! If they don’t build a bridge across the river, Oh Lord, we could all be here ’til Fall!…”

The biggest beef, especially among the locals, seemed to be the lack of fresh milk in town. Apparently even the cafes were dry. Everyone’s spirits held up well until the morning after it rained (Wednesday morning?) The two happy guys in the brown pickup near the popular “rest room” spot were the picture of utter desolation that morn. Side by side, arms folded, leaning against the wet railing, they silently contemplated the wet grass.

We women re-ally “swung” in Stewart one afternoon – on the playground swings. Even Grampa “swung” that day. We also spent a lot of time visiting the museum, browsing through some interesting shops and peering at old buildings. Stewart has some dandy old buildings. Every day we walked down to the hotel to check the bulletin board for progress reports on putting in a new bridge across the river.

Saturday (July 5) Attempting to write from back of camper on bumpy road. (Near Cassiar junction on Highway 37) It’s pouring rain and we just finished lunch near a sparkling river before it started in. We got groceries etc. at Dease Lake this morning after camping last night by the Stikine river. Ugly water but beautiful sand alongside for the kids to play. Lots of interesting rocks. Wish I knew what jade looks like for sure? Cathy and Bruce collected rocks and Cathy found some heavy black sand that sparkled. Later they explored the old house across the river that turned out to be inhabitated – by a rabbit. (Two eyes glowed mysteriously in the dark!)

This morning the kids picked wild strawberries to eat with their pancakes for breakfast. Later we stopped at Rabid Grizzly campgrounds and were intimidated – not by the name, but by the bugs! After that the road gradually deteriorated. We went through a section of heavy oil that splattered the trucks badly. Road was rough past Good Hope until the Yukon border, where it instantly took a turn for the better. Saw a bear beetling off into the toolies after a car passed us at an unsafe speed just outside of Upper Liard. We ended up camping at a commercial spot 2 miles south of Watson Lake, which was well worth the four dollars. Showers, food, gas, fishing licences, laundromat and Varsol.

We promptly used the latter on the trucks, and with soap and water managed to remove most of the black oil. It had poured rain up the Cassiar (our truck had a wake behind it!) but in the evening at camp it suddenly cleared up and was nice. Can’t get over all that daylight – at 11 o’clock it seemed like eight at home. Forced myself to go to bed at eleven. Earlier, Cathy had found herself “misunderstood” by a young fellow who works in the store. “Mosquito dope” must be strictly a B.C. colloquialism – at least he had never heard of it in reference to bug repellant. He thought she wanted some new kind of marijuana!

Sunday: Did laundry and headed up the Robert Campbell Highway. Stopped at Lucky Creek. No fish would bite (seriously). Had lunch at Frances Lake. Country is swamp spruce and tamarack bordered by fireweed (a redder colour than ours.) Camped at Finlayson River where Leon caught two baby grayling. Tyler (small grandson) fell in the river and hurt his feelings (mostly.) He had been indulging in his favourite pastime – throwing rocks into the river, and he forgot to let go!

Monday: Raining. Ate breakfast under tarp. Coffee for us. Kids ate cereal in camper. The Robert Campbell highway must have been a chore to build. It is straight as a die much of the way, and all fill through the two hundred miles or so of swamp country, broken only by some beautiful lakes and rivers.

I especially liked the Pelly River, our lunch stop. Saw elderly couple there who had followed us up from Frances Lake and recognized us. They had a nicely kept up, older, camperized International truck. The river was icy but Jennel (small granddaughter), Fern and I found warm puddles in the rocks to wade in. We passed Beautiful creek (the cruddiest looking of all the many creeks in the area). Also Bruce creek. (Fern giggled for miles over that name.)

As we neared Faro we entered gopher country! Bare hills pitted with gopher-holes everywhere. Faro would be prettier with the mountains surrounding it and the Pelly River flowing through it, if it wasn’t for the burn on the hills directly above town. Apparently, it happened the year the town was first built; 1969, and the fire took 70 new houses with it.

After leaving Faro we checked various campsites. One on the outskirts of Faro on a lake, (swampy) stocked with rainbow trout. Decided to go 20 miles down the road to Drury Creek. Remembered we needed milk. Forgot to buy it in little trailer court store in Faro.

We stopped at Little Salmon Cafe for coffee and got “coffee cream” to go. Drove through a lot of smoke along Little Salmon Lake to the campground at west end of lake. The forest fire was across the lake, directly behind a hill. (Had been burning since a week Saturday. It was not being fought as it was not considered a “priority fire”)

Leon and Darwin put boat in the lake, but no fish. The elderly campground attendant told us later (over coffee) that there were grayling in the creek but few in the lake. He said the R.C. highway had been bad until last week when they had fixed it for a big derby on Frances Lake. His lady friend had won the prize for the biggest fish – a mere twenty-seven pounder. He said that was surprising as they usually are much bigger. (Thirty to forty pound lake trout.) Chinook salmon spawn up the Yukon rivers and there are pike and grayling in most of the lakes and rivers. (Our friendly campground attendant wondered how Leon managed to catch such small grayling as he did in the Finlayson yesterday.)

The old guy zipped home on his motorbike and as we were heading for bed he brought back a bag of frozen grayling. Our friends in the International camper are also camped here. Tuesday: Beautiful day. Ate pancakes and grayling for breakfast. The road is good below Faro – much better than the narrow gravel road we were on yesterday. Stopped at a high point above our first glimpse of the Yukon River. We took photographs while Leon rolled rocks down into Pierre Burton’s favourite river. Stopped at a store near Carmacks and bought groceries for to-day. Some things are cheaper than back home. (Large plastic tarp – 22 dollars, no tax)

Had lunch at Lake Labarge. It is a beautiful lake surrounded by storybook – pastel coloured hills and mountains, with sandy beaches between the huge rocks. We passed many beautiful lakes, such as Fox Lake. The country is prettier above Whitehorse than around Faro. Still plenty of gophers (ground squirrels). Also seagulls everywhere, cleaning up on the highway casualties.

Cathy and Darwin have lost another headlight, so now they have none. Takinni Hotsprings was disappointing. Should have realized it would be commercialized and crowded so close to Whitehorse. Problem of where to camp? We had paid our 10 dollars for access to all the nicely-maintained Yukon government campgrounds. There were two, but they were 10 and 11 miles from Whitehorse. We decided on a commercial one.

Robert Service Campground is located on the south access road to Whitehorse – A real rip-off, no table, no firewood and crowded, not-that-clean facilities. The large campground was packed solid. Some vehicles had been “Cassiarized” with thick black oil. After 10 at night, I walked down the river with Cathy and Bruce (and cameras). Then, back and up the Yukon looking for places to take pictures. Ended up walking all the way to Whitehorse and downtown. (Not that big a town) Bruce and Cathy took pictures of a sternwheeler at 11:15 at night. (Sun went down at 11) Still lots of daylight. People wandering around – kids on bikes etc. Bought a “Whitehorse Star” and read it on the way back to camp at midnight.

We peered at an old log building which was referred to as a “log skyscraper”. The two storeys were small and appeared to be “built up on stilts,” as Cathy described the odd architecture. Somebody was obviously living downstairs but the building was a public attraction anyway. A nearby sign read “Drinking Not Permitted On Premises – Drink At Own Risk” (A recent law had enforced the curtailment of public drinking on the streets of Whitehorse.)

I noticed one good vegetable garden with very healthy vegetables. Wonder where they found the topsoil? In Faro, apparently, it costs 40 dollars to plant a tree. At midnight at the campgrounds, there was still a lineup at the ladies’ showers and also at the mens’ restroom. Cathy said one impatient mother let her 12 year old son into the ladies room.

Bruce rolled up in Darwin’s tarp and a blanket to sleep under the stars.

Wednesday: Bruce woke us up early in the morning. It was raining and he had been sleeping in a puddle of water. Drove to shopping centre in Whitehorse – and first to the Laundromat. It was filled with tourists and the place was big and buzzing. I managed to warm up our wet clothes before all the dryers went on the blink. Packed up wet clothes and bought groceries, clothesline and clothespins. Prices not too bad (cheaper than Stewart) except for fruit and vegetables. (Fresh Mac. apples 1.19 a pound)

Up the road we passed a narrow creek bed entitled “George’s Gorge”. (Is there a name for word phrases that contain sounds which are interchangeable? That is, and still make sense?) George’s Gorge – Gorgeous George. I remember Ted Baxter’s goof on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. He began his newscast with, “…a whitehouse source revealed”; tripped over his tongue and the crucial words came out as ”Whitehorse souse ” instead!)

A few miles past Teslin, Darwin abruptly pulled off the road. When we stopped beside him, he touched his side window and his hand went right through it. A jeep had passed him and flung a rock. The glass was completely cobwebbed and fell off like ice crystals. He already had a cracked windshield and this morning, in Whitehorse, had paid 27 dollars for a new headlight. We found some plastic and tape. Leon and Darwin patched up the window as best as they could. We ended up camping at our old stamping grounds (in 1977) – Rancheria. The wind was still blowing as it did back then. (I asked the manager of the road stop next door if the wind “always” blew up there. He said “No!” – a trifle too defiantly – didn’t recognize us naturally and I didn’t press the issue)

We built a roaring campfire and the kids played down in the sand. Fern discovered some gopher holes and spotted a rabbit almost in camp. She put out some lettuce leaves for him and watched closely before having to go to bed. In the morning the lettuce was gone. We strung up the clothesline and dried some clothes in the wind despite the fact that it spitted rain at times and was cold.

Thursday: Darwin paid 1.98 a gallon for gas at Rancheria. I bought one case of beer and one case of pop and received 40 cents back from a 20 dollar bill. Had lunch at Boya Lake campground. (Seemed like miles from the road – one of these days I will stop having ideas!) Darwin carved small white masks for the little girls and left a large ugly one on tree to guard our old picnic table. (Made them from Bruce’s second foam plastic cooler casualty of trip. He had stood up in back of camper as Leon made a sharp turn into campsite and fell on the fragile thing!)

The oiled stretch of road near Cassiar wasn’t that ugly this time. Leon caught his limit in grayling right away – lots of pictures. Camped 4 miles south of Dease Lake. Had a heck of a time finding a place to camp. Cooked Leon’s fish and Whitehorse chicken. At present Cathy is trying to make coffee at 11p.m. over few remaining hibachi coals.

Leon, Darwin, Cathy and Bruce made willow whistles. Bruce’s didn’t work. Darwin made bow and arrow – didn’t work.

Friday night: We are definitely becoming bushed. As Leon said, “Last night it was willow whistles, tonight its rocks!” Darwin hurled at least four rocks at a bug before he decided that it was definitely dead. Then he and Bruce threw rocks at a huge culvert across the road. Sounded like cannons going off! To-night I immersed the Freshie jug full of “good old-fashioned oatmeal” that I bought in Stewart, in the dishwater. It immediately turned into “good old-fashioned soap paste.” Mystery: who took it out of Cathy’s camper and put it with the dirty dishes?

It was hot to-day- first time for days. Too hot and dusty really. Everyone giggled when we bypassed the Stewart road and for some reason no one wanted to go there

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