Day 26. Tuesday 13 September.
A few observations, based on an admittedly limited experience/exposure:
- People in Northern America have been unfailingly polite; they’re not always effusive, but we have not really encountered anything but civility (we have observed some vey few aggro instances, but relatively minor in nature);
- Drivers have been tolerant, patient and safe. One exception was a driver travelling behind one of our group on a dusty road for a long time, unable to pass (our driver couldn’t see him in the rear vision mirrors because he was too close). The driver gave the ‘bird’ as he passed, but that was all (and D reckons he would have done at least as much).
- The reliance on boom industries – gas in particular – has had the same consequences as in Australia as the bottom has dropped out of the prices;
- The cities (or the parts we’ve visited anyway) seem to be architecturally dead. A few new buildings (pretty much all government of some sort) are interesting, but most others are functional or utilitarian. There don’t seem to be any of the fine colonial or period structures found elsewhere.
- Prices are comparable with Australian, although so far, fresh produce is cheaper.
As we travel along, complaints about the motorhomes are surfacing, perhaps inevitably. They include, just to mention a few, leaking seals, lumpy or collapsed mattresses, tired pillows, non-charging house batteries, wobbly steering, defective oven switches, ineffective water heaters, collapsing camp chairs, acrylic blankets not up to the task and self locking doors (three occupants have been inadvertently locked out, requiring break in!) Notwithstanding, everyone has retained a sense of humour with only occasional and very, very brief lapses. Our tour leaders are doing a good job of keeping us informed with just the right amount of information and suggestion.
We made it out second last this morning, something of an achievement. En route to Prince George we stopped at a service centre to top up on propane. As a certified attendant wasn’t available there was a short wait for the only available one to drive in: he gaily informed us that ten minutes later he wouldn’t be available as he was taking his daughter to the midwife to prepare for the home birth of her second child. The front of the bowser wasn’t registering the amount or cost of the gas going in, so he said he’d estimate it. D noticed that the back of the machine was working and advised him of this, plus the final amount. He preferred to use his estimate, which was several dollars less than the bowser amount. We left him under the counter starting and restarting the computer, as the screen had gone blank.
Prince George at least had a good coffee shop – Zoe’s was buzzing, and although a double shot espresso order came as two espressos, it was very drinkable. T wandered off to a quilt shop and D just wandered. As in many places the Visitors Centre, (like Libraries) provided excellent, fast, free wifi. The town, a business hub for Northern BC had no aesthetic appeal…wide streets, tired mall constructions intermixed with industrial facilities and lots of social service shopfronts.
The drive down to McBride was adorned with signs warning of wildlife: moose, deer and bear. Not one of any of those sighted. The road, forested on both sides stretched toward mountains. Lakes, rivers and trails made up the drive, but the horizon was generally out of sight. If there were any residences, they were not visible from the road.
The very hospitable hosts at the RV Camp provided a free sausage BBQ, as they do twice a year for these tours. T was initially reluctant but the sausages were quite tasty with a nice smoky flavor. The hosts are Brits – been here for about 9 years. He was a British Army pilot until 1982, and has flown extensively here.
Is this Paddington in disguise?