Wednesday, August 31, 2005

public service messages

1. The situation in the Gulf States after Katrina is almost indescribable. Please give what you can to help the hurricane victims. I suggest the Mennonite Disaster Services (more info about MDS here).

2. Spotlight on Darfur. Catez at Allthings2all is putting together a collection of posts on the present situation in Darfur. If you’ve written such a post, she’d gladly add it to her collection. Guidelines here. The first collection goes up September 5th.

3. Stacy Harp, our fearless Mind&Media pres also blogs at Persecution Blog. They are starting a VOM Persecution Blogosphere blogging program. Here, in Stacy’s own words, is the program’s purpose and how it works:

- PURPOSE OF PROGRAM The purpose of the blogosphere program is to encourage you to disseminate information about Voice of the Martyrs on your own blog.

- HOW THE PROGRAM WORKS To participate in the program we require you to do two things:

[1.] Place an banner on your site signifying that you blog for VOM.

[2.] Agree to do a minimum of two posts per month about Christian persecution mentioning Voice of the Martyrs with a link to the main website, the Persecution Blog, and/or the newsletter.

The form to sign up is on the Persecution Blog.

4. Finally, Stacy could use more Mind&Media book and other media reviewers. The responsibilities, benefits and how to sign up are explained here. I’ve been on board for months now and it’s been a totally positive experience – hot-off-the-press books - free! It’s great!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


It’s hard to write about anything else after seeing pictures of the devastation done by Katrina. Even though I’m sure the people affected won’t read this - probably couldn’t even if any ever came by here because of no electricity, computers, perhaps even homes - I just want to say how sorry I am for your incredible losses, and that we are praying for you.

Just now on the news I saw a grieving man talking to a reporter, describing how his wife said goodbye and let go of his hand after telling him to take care of the kids and grand-kids. The reporter was sobbing as she asked him questions, what was his name, his wife’s name... just in case. He looked stunned, seemed in shock.

WLOX TV has online videos taken by helicopter news crews of what Gulfport and Biloxi look like now.

coming close to home: In talking to my daughter last night, I discovered one of her good friends has gone to New Orleans for a holiday. She didn't use a travel agent, obviously hadn't been following the news, and was on the last flight in before the airport shut down. She's okay, but has been spending her holiday with thousands of others in that stadium!

Monday, August 29, 2005

veggie car -- it's no tale!

With the high price of gasoline these days, alternate fuels are looking better all the time. Have you ever considered, for instance, running your car on vegetable oil?

Apparently, diesel-burning cars can be modified to do just that. But it’s not a new idea.

When Rudolf Diesel introduced his signature engine at the 1900 Paris Exposition, he said two words as he started it: "Peanut oil." He’d designed his engine so farmers could grow their own fuel. Most diesel engines were indeed run on vegetable oil until the 1920s, when the petroleum industry promoted a gasoline byproduct as diesel fuel.... [read more]

Kits are available for the modification, the exhaust is supposed to smell like French fries but there is one main problem: where do you fill up? The man featured on last night’s TV Global news got his oil free from a local restaurant (as does this man). The restaurateurs were happy to give their used deep-fryer oil another lease on life instead of pouring it down the drain.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

a b.c. travelogue - 10

Mountains east of Pemberton

Porteau Cove

And that last trek takes us home.

a b.c. travelogue - 9

Lillooet - August 7,8

We drive east on Highway 16 from Prince Rupert to Prince George, then travel south on 97 making stops along the way Friday and Saturday. On Sunday (7th), we get to the junction of Hwy. 99. Here we turn west, a route we’ve never traveled.

Almost immediately the scenery changes. The hills grow higher, the valleys deeper and more precipitous. Soon we’re driving through scenes that remind us a lot of the badlands around Drumheller (Alberta). But it gets more drastic. On pull-off after pull-off we stop the car to snap pictures of amazing ravines with the muddy river below. I believe we are following the Fraser River.

We arrive in Lillooet in the sweltering mid-afternoon. We revel for a while in our cool air-conditioned room before scuttling off to find a store and food for dinner plus cinnamon roll biscuits for coffee time (ah the joys of air-conditioning that make even hot coffee perfectly comfortable on a scorching afternoon).

We finally venture out around 6, when we hope the air will have begun cooling (it is still debilitatingly hot). We walk down main street, and find the Mile 0 cairn, the Miyazaki House ("Gingerbread look" says the guidebook) and the Camel Barn. Of the Mile 0 cairn, our glossy Lillooet mag explains:

The Mile 0 cairn was erected in 1939, marking Mile 0 of the old Cariboo Road. From this point in the early stage coach days, all road houses and stopping places from here to Barkerville were known by their mileage from Lillooet - 70 Mile, 100 Mile etc. In 1858 Governor James Douglas ordered the construction of a trail from Fort Douglas on Harrison Lake to Lillooet. The Royal Engineers supervised the construction and miners with picks and shovels contracted to build the road for the sum of five English pounds each, which they received upon arrival, by land and portage at Lillooet.

(I’m thinking the terrain around Lillooet in both directions is so incredibly mountainous, the valleys so steep, the rivers cutting those valleys so swift and treacherous, the feat of building a road through it with picks and shovels is almost unbelievable.)

At the end of main street, we come to a beautiful suspension bridge – called by locals "The Old Bridge." It was built in 1913. From the bridge we look down on fishing camps. From our guidebook:

"In August the banks of the Fraser are dotted with fish drying camps.Pole racks are roofed with boughs for circulation of the dry solar heat, driven at this time of the year by searing river winds. Salmon was the mainstay of the First Nations in the Lillooet area...."

On our walk back through town, we admire the jade sculptures which dot the main street, culminating in four large pieces outside the former St. Mary the Virgin Church (now the Visitor Center). Our guidebook tells us:

Lillooet’s past is forever linked to B.C.’s gold rush era but its future is definitely green – jade green.

[...]Tuemp’s (Erdmann Tuemp is one of the coordinators of Lillooet’s Jade Project) fascination with jade is in its intrinsic beauty. "If you love art, you’ll love jade." he says. "The beauty is so different from one piece to another. That’s why the theme for the park is 'The Many Faces of Jade.' Each stone is like an abstract painting, the colors, shapes and fractures all have different qualities.

(Other facts about jade: It’s B.C.’s official gemstone, the traditional gift for a 35th wedding anniversary, B.C. is considered to have the largest deposits of ‘nephrite’ – one of two types of stones called ‘jade’ – in the world, local First Nations made used jade to make tools and weapons, and is the most important gemstone in China).

I take this picture Monday morning, when the light is right, and just before we leave on the final leg of our journey – the Sky to Sea Highway (normally called ‘Sea to Sky’ - but we’re going the other way) and home.

Friday, August 26, 2005

look at the birds

Last night to get away from the paint fumes and muggy heat of our little house, we went for a walk to Mud Bay Park. As we strolled from the parking lot to the path on the dyke, we saw we weren’t alone. The sky all around was alive with swallows.

The tide was in and as we walked west on the path watching the sun, veiled by burnt pink clouds, slip out of sight against the tranquil bay, those swallows were zig-zagging around us, swooping up and down, skimming the water, just clearing the shrubs, and coming very close to our heads. I have never seen birds snap up bugs with such intensity and focus. It was as if some inner urge prodded them – eat, eat, eat!

The sun had altogether set by the time we got to the second gate where we turn around. As we began walking east, I realized that sometime in the last little while the sky had emptied. Where a few minutes before it had been a hive of activity, now all was still. There wasn’t a bird to be seen.

I suppose the birds know instinctively when it’s the perfect time to get their last snack of the day. Now, in the deepening darkness, that time had past. It was too late. The opportunity for harvesting those bugs was over.

Thinking about those swallows, so busy gathering food until the last possible minute, reminds me of another harvest. Jesus said, "I must work the works of Him who sent me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work "(John 9:4).

He also said "The harvest truly is plentiful but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."

What were those works Jesus felt impelled to do, and what was the harvest? His assignment, when he sent out His disciples on a mission trip was to spread the good news that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 10:7).

For us that involves telling others about how Jesus took the death penalty our sins deserve so we can go free, how He comes into our lives, takes them over and directs us by the Holy Spirit in living well and for His glory, and how we die secure in the knowledge we will live with Him forever. The harvest is all about helping others come to faith in Him by our lives and by our words. I remind myself that being a harvest worker is one of the reasons I’m still here on this earth.

Those swallows brought home the fact that the time of harvest will not be forever. I don’t want be like the son in Proverbs: "He who gathers in summer is a wise son; He who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame" (Proverbs 10:5). I don’t want to feel I’m partly to blame when someday, people call out in anguish, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended and we are not saved" (Jeremiah 8:20).

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

home improvement - on a channel near you!

We’re having fun this week. At least I am – not so sure about hubby. My doc client is on holidays, which means I get a holiday (from typing) as well. We’ve already had our official vacation, so this week the decks have been cleared for some interior decorating. These thoughts to the contrary notwithstanding, I have caved in to trendiness, and we’re presently up to our elbows in a house project.

It’s nothing startling. I’m not doing anything brave like knocking out walls or painting them red. I’m simply getting our house into the 90s, or maybe it is only even the 80s, by painting all the dark wood doors and baseboards, white.

Now all my home-owning life I’ve been laissez faire in the decorating department. This is due to several things. For one, I never learned to hang wallpaper – only listened to the tales of how horrendous an experience it could be and decided, all those years when wallpaper was the rage, I didn’t need that.

For another, I married a man who doesn’t like doing handyman projects or having the peace of his home disturbed by others doing them. In the past whenever I made noises about wanting to make changes, he’d always convince me things were fine the way they were.

However, even the most lackadaisical of women can tolerate builder-beige and wood paneling from the 70s only so long. A few years ago I surprised even myself by tackling the dining room. In one determined week I painted walls that had been a yellowy cream since 1984, a soft clay color.

The result so inspired me I spent a week last summer covering the faux-wood paneling in my back room office with the same color, and painting all the trim white. To give him credit, hubby got right into the spirit of things. The week it took me to paint that room last year would surely have stretched to two or three if he hadn’t tackled all the bookshelves and doors.

This year it’s the turn of the upstairs doors and closet bifolds. I’ve already put primer and one coat of semi-gloss on four door frames, while hubby (who thankfully has been talked onside again this year) is one coat away from finishing the doors in Sonia’s old room. Even with the smudgy green masking tape still in place, it’s looking much better. Hubby’s "It really was fine just the way it was" will soon be silenced. He’ll see!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

a b.c. travelogue - 8

Prince Rupert

We awake to the smell of damp earth and the patter of raindrops Thursday morning (August 4th). The rain that has been threatening all week, has arrived – just in time for our trip to Prince Rupert.

We are barely finished loading the car when the van drives up with Charlie, Leslie and Skipper inside, exactly at the agreed-on time.

The drive from Hazelton to Prince Rupert is beautiful. For much of the way, the road follows the Skeena River. As you near the coast, the mountains grow steeper. At one place, I lose count of the number of water falls, coming down the rock face. It is as if the whole mountain is weeping.

We arrive in Prince Rupert near noon, check into the motel, and then Charlie and Leslie (who know Rupert well), pilot us to Cow Bay – called that apparently because cows grazing on the hillside were the sight that first greeted boats coming into the harbor when it was a new settlement.

We start off the afternoon with clam chowder at Smiles CafĂ© - yum! Then it’s time to explore and browse. Here Ernie and Charlie are parked in front of a bed and breakfast right on the waterfront.

We go down to the marina to look at the boats. These are fishing boats – it’s thick with them, rusting and unused, docked and double-docked. Fishing, Rupert’s main industry ever since it was founded in the early 1900s, is now in a slump.

Shops have opened seemingly everywhere since C&L were last here. There is a market with table upon table of local and native art work, lots of shops selling imported clothes and souvenir-type things, even a trendy furniture and kitchenware shop.

Soon it becomes apparent why. For sometime while we’ve been ducking in and out of shops, a cruise ship has arrived.

Soon the town is overrun with cruisers of every shape and size, swarming the craft tables, snapping pictures against the backdrop of the boats and ambling through town protected from the rain by plastic ponchos.

Lucky for us we still get a table at Cowpaccino’s – the best coffee in town, Leslie insists. There we shed our damp outer things and enjoy more wonderful conversation as we sip our java and share golden pumpkin scones (and something else – I don’t remember what. But I can’t forget the pumpkin scones – delicately tasty and such a fabulous color!) (Cowpaccinos photo courtesy Charlie VanGorkom)

After more browsing in shops downtown, we head to our motel to make dinner. In the space next to ours, now there is a truck with Alberta plates, and soon we detect a fishy smell coming through the stove vent in the kitchen. On looking outside, a man is cooking a wok-full of some kind of fish and it’s obvious more is cooking /steaming/ frying/whatever, inside. This fish cookout goes on for quite some time. We figure either they’re having a real banquet of a fish feed or they’re canning their catch.

The next morning, though it’s still cloudy, the rain has stopped. C&L take us to see a few more sights. Then it’s back to Cowpaccino’s for one more coffee before we must leave our friends and this fascinating town (too soon) to turn around and start the trek toward home.

Monday, August 22, 2005

good news!

The article "Puzzle Your Way to Publication" which I submitted to the Institute of Children’s Literature web site was accepted and published on Friday!

If you aspire to write for kids, you’ll want to check out this helpful and informative site. On top of plugging their excellent writing course (I took it and had several stories and an article accepted before I was through), they offer over 100 pieces on everything from "Getting Started" to "Writer’s Guidelines" for the time when you want to try your hand at writing for them.

To find all these articles, from the home page, click on "RX for Writers," then choose "Writer’s Support" or "Writing Tips" and presto – enough writing about writing to make your eyes go buggy!

This site also features biweekly interviews with published children’s writers. Those transcribed interviews are available too, as is a "Writer's Retreat" which includes a message board and a chat room where you can meet and hang out with writers of similar interest.

Selecting "Writing For Adults"(from the home page) will take you to the Longridge Writer’s Group site, which offers similar riches.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

sunday potpourri

I haven’t blogged on Sundays lately. But in the last few days I’ve read some wonderful posts and have a feeling your Sunday will be enhanced by them.

These awakened-in-the-night stories by Shannon at Wind Scraps (here and here) surely put a new face on insomnia. Oh that I would be so sensitive to Holy Spirit’s whispers.

Jan at The Happy Homemaker focuses our attention forward and upward in her post which begins,

As I drifted off to sleep last night I tried to imagine my new body in heaven [read more ]

Finally, a little something to help you preserve your sanctification here on earth

If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone on your cell phone. Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the other person at your home press the unlock button of your key fob (clicker), holding it near the phone on their end. Your car doors will unlock. Saves someone from having to drive your keys to you.

Distance is no object; you could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other "remote" for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk!).

I haven't tried this. But several testimonials in the forwarded email insisted it really did work.

(Later - checked this out with snopes. It's an urban legend -- in plain words, false. Moral of the story -you still can't get away with locking your keys or your remote in your car -- unless you have OnStar).

(Thanks [a lot] Barb!)

Friday, August 19, 2005

a b.c. travelogue - 7


When I lived in this area before, I never visited Kitimat. In my mind, it was synonymous with two things: a lot of precipitation (rain and snow), and aluminum.

On Wednesday morning after visiting Ksan, we made the several-hour drive to see this off-the- beaten-track city. We stopped for lunch at Lakelse Lake, and got to the Kitimat’s city limits about an hour later. On this day it wasn't raining - though it was overcast.

Our first stop was at tourist information to pick up a map and some brochures of things to see, and then we drove into the lovely pullout where you could look out over the town and glimpse the ocean, as Kitimat is actually on the Douglas Channel of the Pacific.

The drive through town didn’t take us long; it isn’t a big city. Ernie also wanted to see the Alcan plant. With map in hand, we soon found the right road and in due course there appeared to our left a huge and sprawling jumble of buildings, towers, connecting walkways or tunnels, and odd-shaped appendages. We drove into the parking lot and found a visitor’s center thinking, as long as we were here we might as well find out a bit about this monstrosity (they’d already told us at the information center we were too late to catch the daily tour).

The visitor building was manned by a young employee, who let us browse the information posters on the walls. In the next 30 minutes, I learned more about aluminum and this mega-project built to process it than I ever knew before.

Kitimat was actually a planned city, built in 1950-51 to accommodate the people who worked in the Alcan plant. This site was chosen because of the availability of hydroelectric power and the fact it was a deep sea port.

Here is how one of the tourist brochures describes how Kitimat and the Alcan project came into being:

Invited by the B.C. Government, Alcan established the Nechako Reservoir in central B.C. behind the massive Kenney Dam, south of Vanderhoof. Water was carried through a 16 km. tunnel through the Costal Mountains to a hydro generating station built at Kemano.

The narrow Kemano Valley could not accommodate an aluminum smelter so Alcan built its plant and its deep-sea port facility in Kitimat, at the head of the Kitimat Arm. Power to supply the community and the smelter was carried over a 60 km. transmission line built through some of the most rugged mountain territory in B.C.
Here are some things I learned about aluminum.

1. The actual ore that contains the unrefined aluminum (bauxite) comes from mainly tropical countries – Australia, South America, Guinea, Ghana, India.

2. The Alcan plant in Kitimat refines the raw bauxite into pure aluminum. This happens in several-stage process which includes adding chemicals, crushing and filtering to get a product called alumina.

3. This alumina is dissolved in a material that conducts electricity, after which it is placed in special pots where an electric current passes through it. This causes the alumina to separate into oxygen and hot aluminum which is poured into molds and cooled. This process is what's happening in the building complex above.

4. Of course aluminum is not used in its pure form, but combined with other elements (like copper, magnesium, manganese, silicon, zinc etc.) to make alloys. Then it’s processed by rolling (beverage cans, aluminum foil) or extruding (squeezed under pressure through a mold to make different shapes like window frames, light poles) or casting (melted and formed into molds).

(Weren’t you just dying to know all that!?)

Time for recess! We found Hospital Beach from where we saw the ocean liners. Then it was back in the car for a circuitous drive through town past several more Kitimat projects: Methanex - a methanol plant and Eurocan, a pulp and paper mill (so that’s what we were smelling!)

A final stop at Robin’s Donuts for a muffin (he) and a sticky bun (she) with coffee, fortified us for the drive back, first to the village of Kitamaat (the original aboriginal settlement in this area) and on to Terrace (which, when we got there we were too tired to explore – just enough energy for dinner at Denny’s). The hour-long drive back to our motel in Hazelton finished us off for that day!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

a b.c. travelogue - 6

Hazelton (2)
August 2

This is the day I’ve been looking forward to since we started planning this trip. It’s the day I get to re-explore and show Ernie the countryside and the surrounding Indian villages of Kispiox, Kitwancool and Kitwanga.

Last night on our way home we picked up a self-directed "Tour of the Totems" at the information center. We head out of town on the Kispiox Road around 9:30 toward Kispiox to do this tour.

The biggest attraction in the Indian villages is the old totem poles. The sign board above explains the significance of totem poles to the Indians.

Most villages also have a church. This is all the more meaningful to me now that I’ve read the story of Dr. George Tomlinson and his son George Jr. in Challenge the Wilderness. George Jr. actually worked in Kispiox for several years.

I tried to capture the cross and a Kispiox totem pole here, but the white cross hardly shows up against the cloudy sky.

We drive from Kispiox village, past Sportsman’s Lodge – which is closed and is for sale– down to the rodeo grounds and community hall. Yes, I’ve been here before too. In my Hazelton days, I spent more than one evening dancing the night away in this place...don’t tell my pastor!

Just past the rodeo grounds we turn around, and retrace our steps until we get to the Kitwanga back road where we turn right and follow the Skeena River. From here we get a good view of Rocher de Boule, the mountain for which Hazelton is famous.

Further along we come to an area of meadowy grasslands the Indians called Temlaham, which also figures large in their legends.

We come at last to another paved road, the Stewart Cassiar Highway. Here we turn right and drive to Kitwancool Village.

The totem poles here are some of the oldest and most interesting. The pole I'm looking through is called "Hole in the Sky" and has been reinforced with metal rods, and a step up so visitors can pose inside it.

We return on the road we’ve just taken until we come to the "Battle Hill" stop and a legendary Indian fortress called Nekt. Then we carry on the Highway to the village of Kitwanga. This is Kitwanga’s St. Paul’s Anglican Church and bell tower.

While there, we see the carvers at work in the carving shed. They invite us to have a look. Here is Sonny hard at work.

This future information building is being painted in traditional Indian designs and colors. Cute little Deanne poses for me just below the killer whale’s tail.

Then next morning (August 3) we finish our Hazelton experience by taking a Ksan tour. Ksan is an Indian museum which features Gitksan (people of the river mist) and Wet’suwet’en Indian cultures. It sits on a lovely beach meadow just out of town where the Bulkley and Skeena rivers join.

The museum is made up of cedar longhouses. Our guide takes us first to the Frog House, where, by the warmth and light of a fire that burns in the middle of the floor (no chimney either, just a hole in the roof), he tells us about the past lifestyle of these people. All around are cedar canoes and carved tools and utensils. We learn about bentwood boxes - boxes made out of one piece of cedar, notched, steamed and bent into a square shape and used for many things, from transporting oolichan grease for trading to partitioning the longhouse. In the winter, up to 60 people actually live in a house the size we are in.

Next we go to the Wolf (or feast) House. Here we were told about the way disputes were settled and how the people celebrated.

Finally we enter into the Fireweed (or treasure) House. This building houses the costumes of the Ksan dancers - as well as the masks, robes, headdresses, aprons, leggings, rattles and drums. Many of these things were worn by the shaman or medicine man.

I think again of the book I am reading and how the missionaries sacrificed everything to tell these people how they could be free of the spirits the shaman encouraged. (The tone of our guide and the pamphlets he leaves with us, tell us the white man’s coming was not considered a good thing: "Good fortune placed the vast territories of our chiefs out of the mainstream of traders, officials and missionaries until well into the 19th Century....")

Monday, August 15, 2005

win! win! win!

Tim Challies at has another giveaway going.

August Giveaway

Looks like an interesting duo...

sent before

Nancy invites us in this week’s Sabbath Journal to reflect on the passage from Genesis 45:1-15 (the story of Joseph, revealing himself to his brothers and giving them his perspective on what has happened to him). Nancy asks: "From the Genesis passage: Who has been ‘sent before’ in your life?"

My ‘sent before’ person was Elsie. This was back in university days. After I’d completed three years of Bible school and one year of Arts at the University of Saskatchewan and still didn’t know what I wanted to be, I decided to take a year off to work. But I didn’t want to stay in familiar and humdrum Saskatoon. So I decided to try to get a job in Vancouver. I made arrangements to stay with the family where my brother was living, packed up my stuff and took the train west.

In due course I arrived and after a few days of settling in, I began to look for work. I remember the first day of job hunting. I took the bus on Fraser Street in South Vancouver all the way downtown, where I planned to leave some resumes at bank head offices. Not being familiar with the area and afraid that I’d go too far, I got off the bus at Main and Hastings. As I started down the street, I noticed derelicts lounging in doorways, hobos sleeping in Pigeon Park and no other women in sight. Yikes - spooky for a naive prairie girl who had never even seen a drunkard in her life! I clutched my bag and hurried through this part of town to the tall buildings which were my destination.

That first day of job hunting was repeated over the following days as I made the rounds, filling out applications at private offices, insurance companies – wherever there were openings. Nothing seemed to come of these efforts, though. No phone calls or requests for interviews. In fact, they even felt wrong to me.

Finally one day I decided to try the hospital. In the maze of the Vancouver General Hospital campus I found the personnel office, filled out an application and went home as usual. But this time was different. That very afternoon I got a phone call from a Mrs. Wolfe in Medical Records. Could I come for an interview.

The next morning, after quizzing me about my former summer jobs at Saskatoon City Hospital, she asked me about this Bible School on my resume, and did I know Elsie D.

Yes, I did. Elsie and I had indeed been classmates at the same school.

As it happened she had hired Elsie a few weeks earlier, was very happy with how she’d turned out and Mrs. Wolfe was herself a Christian. Without more ado, I was hired and started work as a medical records clerk on the afternoon shift the next day. I worked there full-time for a year, and weekends, Christmases and summers during the three years I took Education at UBC.

(Oh yes, and later, Elsie, another friend and I moved into a basement suite in the Kitsilano area of Vancouver, about 5 minutes from the beach!)

Do you have a ‘sent before’ story? I'd love to hear it! If you like, post it in comments here, or in the comment section of Nancy’s Sabbath Journal.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

a b.c. travelogue - 5

Hazelton (1)
August 1

On the drive from Smithers to Hazelton, Monday morning, I keep looking for familiar landmarks. Moricetown, is one of those. There’s a viewpoint pull-off here, so we stop to take in the majestic canyon and traditional fishing site. Sure enough, far below on this overcast Monday morning, fishermen are hard at work. With binoculars we see one of them pull a fish from a net and put it in a cooler. On the opposite shore, someone is poised at the rapids with a long spear-type thing (gaffe I think it’s called). Suddenly he plunges his gaffe into the water, but comes up empty. It reminds me of the herons fishing in our waters.

As we near Hazelton, I look for the raw cliff face I remember – but like so many things, either my memory is faulty, or the landscape has changed, for I never spot it and soon we are in the town of New Hazelton. We check into our motel, get a few groceries, have lunch, then go find the home of my former roommate Pauline.

Pauline is a nurse. She has lived in the north (with a little time spent in Nova Scotia) since she first got out of nursing school. I remember, when we shared an apartment one year in Old Town, her stories on coming back from visiting the villages as a public health nurse.

Her job has changed since then, but on talking to this lovely and compassionate lady, I see her heart is as soft as ever. She also seems sad about conditions here. Things aren’t good. Many of the lucrative jobs are gone. The wood mills have closed. Tourism is down. Lots of people have moved away. There’s much despair and suicide. Part of her job is doing assessments of elderly people to see what kind of care they need (home care, assisted living etc.). Mutterings we’ve heard in the south about government down-sizing of staff and beds (hospital and assisted living etc.) are reiterated by her. One wonders, is there ever not a gap between the idealistic cutbacks in funding (the books are balanced, there’s a plan and everything is good) and the hard reality cutbacks cause as seen by those who work in the trenches.

After a spaghetti supper with Pauline, Steve and their lively granddaughter Valerie, Ernie and I do a little exploring of the area on our own.

We drive to Old Town and I look for the apartment building in which Pauline and I used to live. Though I recognize downtown’s three corners well enough, I can’t spot our building, which was very nearby. Either it has been torn down or refaced. Another change is that the Hudson’s Bay Store has become the Northern Store. But one thing hasn't changed. John Field school, where I taught when I lived here before, is still standing and apparently going strong.

We also find St. Peter’s Anglican Church, a building that’s been in constant use since 1900. It was built by Bishop Ridley – and here is a neat thing. Leslie lent me a book (Challenge the Wilderness), which tells of an amazing pioneer missionary to the area, Dr. Robert Tomlinson and his son Robert Jr. The Tomlinson family started a Christian village at Meanskinisht (near present Kitwanga) and part of that village was a sawmill. I just read yesterday, Bishop Ridley contracted with George Tomlinson Jr. to supply the wood for this church from that sawmill!

At Skeena Landing we see the SS Hazelton, a 90 foot paddlewheel steamer replica of the boat that used to navigate the rapids of the Skeena River to get people and supplies up to this point. Here is Robert Tomlinson Jr.’s recollection of the first trip that steamboat made down the river:

We who lived along the river never believed such a huge boat could climb up the wild Skeena, but one day while we were planting potatoes, we heard a strange, deep booming resonance echoing through the forests. We soon learned that it was the exhaust from the steamboat’s engine. In a riverboat the exhaust steam is turned into the funnel and in this way it increases the draft, but it makes a lot of noise, and this is what we were hearing. It seemed to be getting louder so we dropped our tools and ran down to the river’s edge to see what was coming.

It turned out to be still a long way off. At last there she came around the bed, the first steamboat ever to navigate the Skeena River. She stopped at our mission village for a while and then she went on....

On our way back to New Town, we stop at the Hagwilget Canyon to walk over the suspension bridge.

Views of the canyon looking down from the bridge...

Thursday, August 11, 2005

a b.c. travelogue - 4

July 31 - Telkwa

Ernie first saw the George Frontage Road sign, and I spotted the flags, one Canadian and one U.S. on either side of the "Bulkley Field And Stream RV." All was exactly as Charlie had described it and we easily found Charlie and Leslie’s home a few minutes out of Telkwa. We got there right on schedule 11:45 Sunday morning.

It was great to see Charlie again. We’d met in person only one other time, at the Edmonton Gathering of poets in 2003. He hasn’t changed, and the little spot of paradise they inhabit is every bit as lovely as one would think from reading his poems.

We met Leslie, who was still in the middle of lunch preparations. So Charlie took us to the back to see her garden. Oh my. That meticulous and flourishing plot sure puts mine to shame! I also saw the raspberry patch – the one that appears in this poem. And Charlie pointed out the trees he wrote about in another.

Lunch was a tableful of delights - homemade cream of spinach soup, whole wheat biscuits still hot from the oven, several cheeses, salami, pickles and for desert, Saskatoon berry pie, ice cream. and we finished it off with Starbucks French roast. Of course, all this was accompanied by good conversation about writing and poetry and bootmaking and Leslie’s avocation, genealogy.

Later they took us to walk beside the Bulkley River, which flows just behind the trailer park, and Charlie showed us his bootmaking shop. Then we went into town, checked into our motel, and the four of us walked the riverbank there.

We ended the evening with another great meal, this time at Three Bridges Restaurant. And the best part is, we’ve made plans to see Leslie and Charlie again on this trip. We’ll be traveling to Prince Rupert in convoy with them later in the week.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

a b.c. travelogue - 3


Friday - 3:00 p.m. We’ve checked into Hubs Motel in Wells, and are paying our admission into Barkerville, ready to take a trip back about 150 years.

Barkerville is named after Billy Barker, whose discovery of gold on Williams Creek in 1862 started a stampede of 100,000 prospectors over the next eight years. They traveled there on the road we’ve just driven, called the Cariboo Wagon Road. Some of the towns along the highway we’ve just passed (100 Mile House for example) were named for their distance from Lillooet, where a cairn marks Mile 0 of the Cariboo Wagon Road.

Barkerville is a town that is laid out along two main streets. Building after old building is set up in the old way for visitors to peek into through a grill or through glass panes.

The rooms have been intentionally casualized with things not totally tidy ... clothes draped on beds, kids’ puzzles partly put together, laundry hanging on clothes horses or lines (especially in the Sporting House, where it’s lingerie that’s drying beside the stove), to give the impression someone was momentarily called away (little vignettes, frozen in time for future generations to come and gawk).

Especially touching is the Chinese section of the town with its crowded bunkhouses and wok kitchens. Of course there is also the Chinese laundry and restaurant. There is a whole building devoted to Chinese heritage with, as you come in, whining Chinese zither music playing in the background.

We go to two live presentations. At 3:15 we celebrate Evening Prayer in the Anglican Church (St. Saviour’s - #11 on our map) where the 1962 edition Prayer Book is used and the bearded but young rector follows the Service for Young People. He hands out songbooks, but then forgets to get us to use them. I think he was in a rush, because he sensed some of the kids were antsy to be at the schoolhouse presentation by 3:30.

Then at 4 p.m. we watched a one-hour live theater presentation, "Drovers and Dust" – very funny and lively and the actors are all fine singers, musicians and dancers.

We wander around Barkerville some more after the show gets out, though I’m tempted to go back to the car to get my sweater. It has become overcast and quite chilly.

We leave Barkerville around 6, after exploring only one street. But we’re hungry, so it’s back to Wells for dinner at the Northwood Restaurant – a spacious place, old, formica-ish, where the waitress (an incredibly thin middle-aged woman with a skinny pony tail banded in three places so it hangs like a braid) handles the waitressing of the entire place efficiently, cheerfully, and all by herself. We have burgers with cheese and mushrooms and a heap of crispy fries full of fat and carbs and very comforting and stick-to-the-ribs.

Later we tour the town of Wells. It looks like the real ghost town with its collection of run-down shacks and buildings with pastel square fronts in the old frontier town style. All have seen better days with their peeling paint and sagging or missing boards.

Next morning, we go back to Barkerville to tour the street we missed yesterday.

We come upon the elaborate Cornish waterwheel contraption the miners erected to help wash the gold (I think – we don’t stick around for the demo).

Before we leave the Barkerville, we discover a vibrant and very alive community in this town that celebrates the dead past. In the embankment next to the picnic tables there is a veritable gopher city (or some sort of ground squirrel).

We also visit the cemetery on the hill.

We leave Barkerville, to do a little local exploring. Twenty-eight km. down a gravel road, we come to a lake – the first in a chain, called the Bowron Lakes and well known for their canoeing.

We turn around here, and retrace our steps down Hwy 26. Near the junction to Hwy. 97 we also drive in to Cottonwood House (the last rest stop for gold rush miners before they traveled the final two days into Barkerville, and where today, a wedding is in progress!) The kitchen of CH is especially interesting, with its tin walls and ceiling (to help guard against fires). Here is the dining room’s tin ceiling.

At the junction we continue north down Highway 97 to Prince George, where we turn west onto Highway 16. A few hours later we get to Vanderhoof where we’re most grateful for our cozy room at the Siesta Motel.

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