The night in Vanderhoof was a disaster!
The guy in the room next to me, room 22, with the truck with the broken window, was going through a relationship crisis.
Important background info: he is mid sixties, can’t hear well therefore he yells when he talks, was (very) drunk and the room walls were thin like paper. The drama was going on from 8:00pm until midnight.
Despite my best effort not to listen (including having my headphones on with loud music) I was able to hear, unwillingly, all the details of several conversations with his wife and his best fiend. Going out wasn’t an option for me as it was raining heavily.
My favourite pick was his comment to his wife “yes, I had this woman in my motel room, but I was a gentleman, I booked a room with two separate beds”.
He woke up at 5:30am and the drama continued. Which means, I woke up at 5:30am and started packing.
I left the hotel around 6:30am with some 5 hours of on and off sleep. The temperature was only 8C, but I thought it would climb up real fast to 15-20C. Didn’t happen. The road and the scenery were very good but by the time I made it to Burns Lake I was feeling a mild hypothermia.
I was never happier to see the Subway sign on the top of one of the buildings – the only open food place at that time, plus it was warm.
After two sandwiches and two large coffees I was back to normal. The rain just started. I was thinking, if I was cold this morning without the rain now it’s just going to get even tougher. So I decided to add a couple more layers of clothing including the good old electric vest.
When I started riding again I felt so nice and cozy warm, and with some good music on, I completely forgot that it was raining. I really enjoyed the rest of the ride and the scenery.
Even though I was enjoying the ride, one thing was on my mind most of the time. Almost the entire distance form Vanderhoof to Hazelton I was seeing billboards alongside the road with pictures of missing women, often very young and mostly aboriginal. Very sad.
Just before, and for some time after Moricetown, I was riding alongside Bulkley River. Fascinating views!
Shortly after Moricetown, I arrived in New Hazelton.
It was my lucky day. On Sundays they have a Farmer’s Market. That’s were I noticed these three interesting sculptures:
As I was taking pictures an older gentleman approached me looking at my bike. He was wearing a Hawaiian shirt with a picture of a motorcycle on it. “It must be European” he said after looking at it for few seconds.
After a little chat, I learned that Roger used to ride a Honda Goldwing back in the day, which he replaced with a Harley later on. He must be still in love with his Harley because he took a fair bit of time to describe it. Recently, he sold his Harley to start his retirement plan. He used his money from the Harley, added $7,000 and bought this food truck. Now, he and his wife happily serve fish and chips.
From the Farmer’s Market in “New” Hazelton, I continued riding toward Hazelton. On the way there I had to cross the Hagwilget bridge. Fascinating structure! Going across the canyon over Bulkley River, 140 meters long, 4.9 meters wide (single lane) and 80 meters above the river.
Looks a bit more reliable then the original bridge in the same location in the 1900s.
Hazelton is the original town, mainly populated by very friendly aboriginal people.
As I was riding through Hazelton I had the opportunity to see two totem poles marking the entrance to a campsite. These totem poles are modern versions made recently following traditional aboriginal art and craft methods.
Also, there was an amazing view of the confluence of the Skeena and Bulkley rivers.
The real treat was taking one of the less traveled roads that leads to Kispiox, a Gitxsan (means “people of the Skeena”) village. Kispiox is a native community approximately half hour from Hazelton and is known for a field with a number of original totem poles. In order to get to Kispiox, I had to cross the Skeena River.
And Kispiox River, right where it merges with the Skeena River.
The ride through the native land was very enjoyable but I felt a bit uncomfortable. Lots of big forest and no cars or people in any direction. Not an ideal location to have mechanical or other issues. The good old bear spray was right next to my hand 🙂
I finally made it to Kispiox. After a few minutes of riding through the village I was able to see the totem field. What I saw totally blew my mind. I was fascinated with the details, expressions and quality of the craftsmanship. There were 24 totems dating between 1880 to 1995. I spent much more time than planned admiring this native art through different times.
I also learned that some of these totems were the subject of Emily Carr paintings.
Today was mentally and physically challenging but also a very rewarding day. Now I am in my motel, The Robbers Roost. It looked much more promising than the previous two 🙂 Not to mention that the bikers get free beer from the owner – nice touch.
Tomorrow is another promising day which includes Terrace and Prince Rupert.
ps. Well, after I wrote this blog I stepped out of my room to take a picture of the motel. While taking a picture I met Bill and Tobi sitting at the man entrance, chatting and enjoying the view. Bill along with his wife Linda are the owners of the Robbers Roost Motel and Tobi is an adventurer from Denmark, exploring western and northern Canada.
Linda gave me a quick history lesson about Hazelton and New Hazelton including the motel’s name, Robbers Roost. When the rail road was introduced in the area a long time ago, it attracted robbers. The “ Two Miles” community was established (2 miles from Hazelton) as the home of the lawless and luckless who were banned from Hazelton. They needed a place to stay – therefore Robbers Roost.
Linda and Bill came from Red Deer, Alberta. They bought this motel just over 2 years ago and they liked the Robbers Roost name so much that they decided to keep it. This is just one of many stories that the four of us exchanged in their lovely home over a couple of hours, a few beers and some of Bill’s favourite early morning drinks – coffee with rum.
They are especially proud of the wooden sculptures of the wildlife hanging in front of the Motel.
Linda and Bill’s stories are fascinating and engaging. Their motel is a great place to stay – so far the best accommodation on this trip. And it comes with a view of the mountains.
Now for real, stay tuned until tomorrow!