We’re on our way by nine in the morning, anticipating the longest leg of our journey yet. Somehow, we end up on a 100-kilometre one-lane winding gravel mountain road in the shadow of the 3,000-metre Mount Templeton. As we travel deeper and deeper into the heart of British Columbian woods, and pass thousands of years old creeks, my daughter begins to feel uneasy. After miles and miles of uncivilized forest, we suddenly pass a lone woman, walking meditatively along the roadside beside a bubbling stream. There is no sign of any other life. She doesn’t turn to look at us as we pass. A little further along, a wild-eyed black and copper dog stands purposefully in the middle of the dirt road. And just beyond, in the middle of a clearing strewn with junk sits a man in a red-and-black flannel shirt, a cigarette dangling from his lips.

“Cree-ee-py,” says my daughter. “What was all that!”

Two and a half hours into our journey, we reach Galena on the eastern shore of Upper Arrow Lake and wait for the ferry to take us to Shelter Bay.

“Did you drive all night?” asks the ferryman as we cross the still deep sparkling water. He’s seen my Ontario licence plates.

“No,” I answer, “we left Saturday.”

“There’s blue skies over there,” he says, pointing through the billowing grey clouds in the west. “The fine weather is coming and I’ll be able to finally take off my long underwear.”

“How long’s the trip across,” I respond, not wanting to discuss his underwear.

“We’ll be there in 20 minutes and I’ll never see you again,” he ventures.

My daughter, who is filing her nails in the passenger seat, mumbles, “A pick up, Mum, a pick up!”

The ferryman continues to converse with me and rain is splattering in through the open driver’s side window. He grabs a cloth, reaches in and wipes the inside of my door, which is getting soaked. Oops, all my maps are getting wet too.

We’ve had no cell phone signal since we left the Kootenays and I cannot phone or text the Vancouver woman whose cat I will be looking after when we arrive in the city. She’s Calgary bound and I’m westward bound and we’ve decided we’ll meet on the highway, maybe around Salmon Arm, so she can give me the keys to her apartment.

It seems a little risky that two strangers should meet as they pass on the road and one should give the other the keys to her home. But we’ve “met” online to discuss a cat-sitting arrangement and we both sense the situation is trustworthy.

Once I reach Revelstoke, the cutest little Rockies town ever, I have a cell phone signal and the cat woman and I begin texting our locations, as well as the price of gas along the route. We meet in a small town called Chase in the parking lot of a PetroCanada and A&W.

Advertisements