Week 2 Review from Janine
Written by Janine Marek, the Ignite Possibilities Tour Bus Driver
Last you heard from me, we were in Grand Prairie. Since then we’ve had a sleep over at the Demmitt Hall, July 3. This beautiful hall is located close to the Alberta/B.C. border and was a serendipitous result of random stops, local visits and failed attempts at door knocking. The Demmitt Hall was beautiful and literally in the middle of nowhere, which comes as no surprise because so are we. The hall hosts weddings, reunions and a ton of live music festivals and came with a parking lot perfect for a sleep over, with borrowed power, which really excited us in this heat wave. It was late by the time we were set up but in the morning we found THE BEST PLAY GROUND EVER! Jorja and I got in a game of 21 right after the long extended morning coffee on the “to die for” deck overlooking a lush green meadow. What a sweet random discovery!
We crossed the border into B.C. early July 4, and spent the day in Dawson Creek, because “This rig stops for Tim’s!” No seriously it does, the cell service is limited so whenever a Tim Horton’s comes into view off we go to enjoy free WiFi. The Ignite team has a ton of business to deal with and this allows them to catch up in small increments along the way before the Friday business marathon of zoom and conference calls. Dawson Creek was fun because it is Mile “0” of the Alaska Highway, the place where the U.S. Army surveyors designated the beginning of the Alaskan Highway. Lots of hoots, hollers and pictures were taken here. It was Sunday and nothing, not even my favorite place – the “Visitors Center, was open, so a couple of unsuspecting locals got interrogated instead. We were leaving Dawson Creek and the chain broke, “oh no!” Being late Sunday there was nothing open and no help to be found. Peter managed to “Jimmy Rig” the situation and off they cycled. They had to shut down early and we drove the rest of the way into Fort St. John. This section of the drive was beautiful and mountainous. We went through the town of Taylor going over the magnificent Peace River Suspension bridge, the longest bridge on the Alaska Hwy at 2130 feet – impressive but what took me by surprise, running right alongside of it held up by cables was the suspension “pipeline” also crossing the mighty Peace. Once in FSJ, we spent the night sleeping neatly tucked inside an unsuspecting Denny’s parking lot haha, “never have I ever”. Ft. St.John was fun though as I got to meet up with a friend and while I coffee’d and dined the others hung out at a bike shop and got a totally rad MacGyver fix from an employee that just happened to be a Professional competitive champion mountain biker (What are the chances?) AND he sent extra parts to boot. Holy Sweetness!
July 5, was spent cycling issue free along the Alaskan Highway. It’s beautiful, roomy with wide shoulders and long vistas to watch for oncoming traffic and cyclists. On a waiting stop I pull out the travel guide and read that the Alaskan Highway was the engineering marvel of World War II, described as the largest and most difficult construction project since the Panama Canal. I can’t imagine being out here 75 years ago. It would have basically been a wilderness trail with gravel roads, steep grades, bugs and muskeg, lots of muskeg (but we’ve seen no moose yet). At days end we camp in a lovely large pull out close to the Pink Mountain turn off, you could see the mountain but it was too far to drive to.
July 6, off we go for another beautiful blue sky issue free day of cycling. We are happy that the road is open as this section had been closed and evacuated the week prior due to a forest fire. I stopped to get gas (gassing up at every station I see) and found out that this area had just regained power, it had been hit by a tornado taking out the power for the area. You’ve got to be kidding me!? Forest fires AND tornados – what a scary combination. It was sad to see so many charred trees and as I drove I offered up thanks for all the firemen in the world.
Further down the road I saw my first Grizzly rooting in the ditch – it’s exciting to see them. I’d lived two years in Banff and never saw a bear the entire time I was there. Always nice to see these majestic animals from the comfort and safety of the motorhome. This night was spent in a comfy staging area for road crews somewhere between Buckinghorse River and Prophet River.
July 7,8,9 we end up in Fort Nelson a day early due to the chain episode. so we start right away looking for tonight’s “home”. The Alaska Highway also doubles as main street so it’s easy to see our options. I drop the family off at the rec center and although I’m invited to join them I’m on a mission. I’d noticed a beautiful “free” RV dumping station so I’m now excited about spending time there instead. Having to be a responsible motor home driver has brought a whole new meaning to “taking a dump”- funny what excites me now. After I empty and fill, I set my sights on the information center. This is where I ask a million questions figuring out what to do while we’re here. I inquire about Marl Brown, a Delburneite living here for 60 plus years. I’m friends with many of his family so I knew he had recently passed away, and I literally missed being able to attend his celebration of life by two hours.
I spend the extra day in Fort Nelson. Putzing in the motorhome, doing laundry, visiting with locals and excitedly searching for Delburne peeps, (which I struck out on). I spent hours in Marl’s beloved Historical Museum, anyone I asked about Marl knew him regardless of how short of time they’d lived here. It was nice to see that he had made such a positive difference in many lives. I’ve noticed over the years that Delburne has a way of doing that with its people, sending out precious gems all over the world.
The Boston Pizza parking lot was home for 3 nights and the family in the Super 8 tending to business. I’ve noticed my employers to be very driven, organized and focused. I’ve come to realize that the jest of the “Ignite Possibilities” concept is that you can have your bike and ride it too. Planting seeds amongst the professionals around the world, showing them that they don’t need to be locked in an office to run a successful enterprise. Covid certainly helped enforce that concept as well – home based business is on the rise. I smile as I drive by and see Jb on the phone doing business and peddling her heart out, this brings a whole new meaning to healthy multi-tasking.
Ok. I need to make this a wrap as I’m out of time but I’ve so much more to talk about like the time I shared a moment with a black bear on my bike, or the time we met “Ross” the solo adventure cyclist from Toronto who left his home in May to cycle to Alaska and back – he camps in a tent or sleeps in a hammock and figures he might get back home by Thanksgiving. An awesomely interesting, intelligent and eccentric person to visit with. Or the time I met “Joe” the trucker from Chicago while I was out for a walk. He had been held up at the Buckinghorse River fire on evacuation alert mere days before we went through. He was funny and super interesting as he was driving supplies from Vegas to the military base in Alaska. Oh my gosh…so many interesting people to meet…so little time.
Week three – here we come – I can’t wait to see what you have in store! Stay tuned and follow along with the adventure