Friday, May 27, 2005

Whidbey Island, Washington to Lac Le Hache, British Columbia

5:30 p.m.

I am at a great roadside spot called "Cayoosh Creek Recreation Area," up the canyon to the west of Lilloet, BC. The "creek" is more a tumbling river now, filled with fresh, cold snowmelt. I took the opportunity to wash my motorcycle, using the handy, Ortlieb folding bucket.

Just over 1,200 miles traveled thus far. The pace has been far too rushed, "deadlines" (e.g. Prince Rupert by Monday morning) pushing me on.

Just came over the mountains from Whistler, BC, the almost antiseptic playground for the well-to-do. Cluttered with estates, chalets, condos, hotels and malls, and lots of young people looking for a "good time". The mountain rising to the south is scarred with ski runs. It's an amazingly dramatic setting, but one senses the developers and timber companies work hand-in-hand to maximize profits from this national treasure.

A typical view east of Whistler, BC

Stopped in Whistler only long enough to use an ATM, withdrawing $200CAD. I was drawn to move on to a, hopefully, more tranquil town, Pemberton. In the mid- to upper-80s, even at higher elevations, wearing the Aerostich riding suit seemed nearly insane. Pemberton felt a bit more "organic", "down to earth" than Whistler. Fueled up, drank part of a Coke, then visited with a young lady at the town's Information Office. She recommended a couple nearby restaurants.

Outside her office was a caravan of new, what appeared to be SUV-station wagon hybrids; well-dressed business people milling about. I wandered over to see what this was all about. They were car dealers test-driving the new Subaru "Tribeca".

Went to the "Pony Expresso" for lunch. A very organic-looking little old building. They made a great chicken and Gruyere sandwich on thick, freshly-baked bread. Outstanding. That and a dark beer brought a sigh of contentment. Sad to learn that this little gem would soon be closing its doors. The owner sold the land.


The town of Lillooet, whose name from previous reading had evoked mysterious imagery, turned out to be a rugged, blue-collar mill town, and rail center. On a plateau overlooking the mighty Fraser River, with the Coast Range as a backdrop, it occupies an awesome setting.

Lillooet, British Columbia

Continuing east toward Highway 97, I had the road almost to myself; maybe there was a passing car every five minutes. 100-Mile House became my goal for the day. It's funny, because I had not thought of stopping there, but Drew mentioned he had a friend in 100-Mile House, and planted the seed.

Reached 97 around sunset, surprised to find it a major north-south supply corridor; heavy truck traffic. With evening, and the damp lowlands, came the mosquitoes. Stopping for gas, I was introduced to a whole new breed of mosquito. The police, who were also taking a break at the station, appeared amused by my shock at the sheer numbers of insects. I talked with a "big boy" driving a four-by-four. He's in the oil well drilling business and has worked all over the North Slope, Yukon and Northwest Territories.

"This MUST be like Alaska!" I exclaimed.

"Oh, no. They're much worse up there."

Then he started to talk about the bears. He left me with the warning to "be bear aware."

Passed the Timothy Lake turn-off. Tempted to stop and look for a camp there, just for the photo op, but kept on.

Reaching 100-Mile House, I was pretty hungry, and chilled. Stopped at "Tim Horton's". This felt like a cowboy town, with big trucks and hot rods. Not an area I would be too comfortable camping.

Up the road 20 or 30 miles was my best prospect for the night: Lac Le Hache. Reaching the lake, I came upon a highway construction zone. The pavement ended and I had to negotiate five miles of gravel in the dark. "Oh, no!" I was fatigued and not quite ready for this stuff.

The campground was in the construction zone. I missed it the first time and had to back-track on the gravel again.

It looked nearly empty. Mosquitoes all over me, I raced to set up the tent and zip myself inside. Got the computer out to record some notes. It was after 11:00.

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