Just before reaching Watson Lake, we arrived at the turnoff for the Stewart-Cassair Highway, and this is where we found an establishment for fuel, food, lodging and alcohol. Now before you come to the conclusion that we drank our way across Alaska, the Yukon and British Columbia, I should explain that the alcohol as a frequent coping mechanism — why after a drink that 8 foot wide room with no bathroom and full of mosquitoes looked quite adequate for a night’s lodging. The community bathroom full of mosquitoes look OK too!
Now a little about mosquitoes. We went prepared for the great mosquito invasion, and therefore, when we arrived at this lodging we were prepared. A friend had told me to purchase a fly and mosquito spray that is used in commercial spray machines located in restaurants and food preparation establishments. Now this stuff is not your ordinary home owner bug spray, it is kind of like calling in a nuclear strike for a bug problem. We liberally sprayed our room and went to dinner, but not before also giving the communal bathroom a healthy dosing of the spray. I am sure the owners are still wondering why there are no mosquitoes in the bathroom and one of the rooms.
One humorous digression about this particular lodging establishment. When we asked for water at dinner, we had to buy a $2.50 bottle of water. The showers were pay showers that used Loonies (Canadian dollars) and I believe by now, Bill and I had come to the conclusion the establishment had a water supply/quality problem or both. This became quite clear at breakfast as the owner and his mechanic, sitting at the neighboring table, discussed what appeared to be a water testing kit and how to use it. We lingered no longer and were quickly on our way.
The ride down the Cassiar (usual reference to the route) is quite scenic as the road weaves its way amongst the mountains, many of which were snow covered. We thoroughly enjoyed the ride down the Cassiar and stopped at a lodging primarily for a winter helicopter-ski operation called Bell 2. This and the Talbot Arm had been recommended by Bill’s friend Peggy. Let’s suffice to say, the lodging here, although pricy, was a much better return for lodging quality than the previous evening. We stayed in a chalet with excellent amenities. The food was good and the water did not cost extra. This lodging along with much better weather, turned out to be the right place at the right time and raised our spirits considerably.
We rode off towards Prince George, for another overnight stay. Prince George is a large regional center for this portion of British Columbia. This portion of British Columbia and north appear to be resource based economies whether it be energy, forest products or mining. From Prince George we rode on to Vernon, BC for the evening. Vernon is a very pleasant town just north of Kelowna, BC. We were taking this route since it afforded us the opportunity to ride down to the border on highway 33. This route has few if any amenities, is heavily forested, and runs along a river. It is a much more pleasant route than traffic filled highway 97. At the end of the route as we neared the border, we climbed up over the mountains and seemingly dropped into Osoyoos. BC, the Canadian border town with its twin, Oroville, WA.
The reminder of the ride was “home” turf and thankfully uneventful. We were thankful for having made a 6,000 mile ride relatively safely, had met some wonderful people who lent us a hand when we were in need, and saw some of the most beautiful country anywhere on this earth.