Hinton to Dawson Creek
Boooooooooo. I was promised a caribou and all I got was this lousy 300-mile ride. That pretty much sums up the day. Oh, and it rained.
To be fair, there had to be some sort of let-down after the ridiculous string of spectacular riding days. This would be correct, and this must be the day. Hooray?
We rolled out of Hinton at 10 o’clock-ish. Surprise! Things started out nice: sunny, warm, etc. It was all a lie. Pretty soon the truth was revealed and the dark clouds moved in for the rest of the day. And at about the same time, we realized that we were riding through Wayerhouser’s croplands. Acre after acre after acre…. Actually, it’d be better to measure the vastness in square miles. It’s just staggering. And it’s all cultivated trees for logging, since the old growth is pretty much gone. While pretty, it quickly got boring. There was no wildness to it at all. But man do I now know where America gets its toilet paper. And building material. And toothpicks. It also looks like a large natural gas boom is in progress. Perhaps fracking? I don’t know.
But never fear, we were promised caribou! Sign after sign warned of IMMINENT CARIBOU! DRIVE SAFELY: CARIBOU! HIDE YOUR CHILDREN: CARIBOU. A special someone had even put out a special sign to announce “CARIBOU ON ROAD. PLEASE SLOW DOWN”. Oh yes, we slowed down. But to no avail, and certainly no caribou. But I get it; caribou are known for their dishonesty. Regardless, we saw zero caribou aside from the ones depicted on the various signs warning us of the inevitability of seeing caribou.
The first thing of interest came early in the ride. I spotted a roadside church and what appeared to be a cemetery next to it. But the cemetery looked odd (be patient, child, you’ll see why). So we circled back and tracked it down. After some looking we found a track through the grass of the church’s yard. The track disappeared around a corner and behind some trees. Cool! A creepy forest path! What could go wrong? Paul waited on the dirt road, because his bike would slide around on the grass track. I cruised down, just out of sight, and paul heard me exclaim “Holy Shit!” through the intercom just as it fuzzed out due to distance. Apparently he sat there envisioning me being attacked by the local Hill people (we were surrounded by double-wides out in the middle of nowhere). Nope! My kickstand had sunk into the grass and the bike nearly came over on top of me. Luckily all was well, and Paul bravely sat there in concerned silence until I finally returned from my trek to the Creepy Cemetery. What I found was this:
So I looked a little closer:
The house things all had been built over individual graves, like the ones above, outside the fence. The graves were all planted with flowers in the mounded earth, including the ones under the doghouse-things. It looked to me like the grave-houses could be lifted off and set aside, if need be. My only guess would be to protect the graves from the snow in winter, but who knows? In spite of the fact that we had driven all through the village and out to their cemetery, no one appeared to notice us, so there was no one to ask about their burial customs.
Just as I wrapped up at the cemetery, the rain started. And it never fucking stopped. And the ride sucked. Mile after mile of trees. Then slow for construction to build infrastructure for the natural gas ops, it seemed. Then trees, then slow, then trees and slow, etc. Booooring. If only the caribou had come through for us! At least it wasn’t cold at all. And this time we were smart enough to gear up the second the rain came. So we were dry and happy, apart from being bored.
We then passed through a town named Beaverlodge. The locals had a sense of humor about the name, as evidenced by a barber shop called “The Shaved Beaver.” They also had a statue of a Giant Beaver. It’s big. It’s brown. It’s a beaver. It’s clearly the statue of Wynona!
And that was it for interest. We rolled into Dawson Creek an eternity later and went straight to the hotel. It was a pleasant corporate place, and they had free pizza and beer for their guests. It was heavenly after that day, frankly.
Starting Odometer: 34,988
Ending Odometer: 35,283
Daily Total: 295
Running Total: 2,730