Monday, April 20, 2009

Off to the high desert and the coast

Hyder, AK, pop. 30, was pretty much closed. But we took a few photos of the ghost town ambiance. We actually didn't get Hyderized because it was just after breakfast. Next time around. Nice fire hydrants in Stewart. I wonder if during a fire, the fire department knows to rush to the 'inmate dog' hydrant.

Though we didn't get photos, the robin flocks were really something of a spectacle. Folks in town were talking of the 'suicide birds'. They were gathered by the highway edge in large flocks of 50 or more and would fly up in a scatter when a car got near. Never have I seen so many. Thousands. Along the road to Stewart. Who knew?

The Lillooet (tried to figured out how to say it all day) Valley was phenomenal. Sagebrush and ponderosa pines, we camped under limestone crags and dreamed to coyote howls and owl hoots. Even meadowlarks on the fence posts. We felt like we were back in Colorado. It's in the rain shadow of the Coast Mountains, and would make a darn fine place to raise a few goats.

In the morning we woke to song sparrows and red-breasted sapsuckers. Some small-horned bighorn sheep along the roadside said hello, and we drove our poor Bluebaru Superu through the Highway 99 switchbacks and over the pass to Whistler.
The Skeena and Fraser River valleys are full of history and we pulled into a few of the towns along the way to get a sense of it. Most of the villages are First Nations communities and many still have totem poles erected in front of houses commemorating events or people's passing. Didn't know inland native groups also carved them. We loved the kid's bike leaning against this one. They are powerful, beautiful, and mysterious, and make a pretty solid bike rack. Otherwise they just lay about when they fall and become tripping hazards.

Here's Mo and Chance atop a Kitwanga area fort from the 1700s. They rolled huge spikey logs up the flanks of this bluff and cut them loose on the poor attacking tribes below. Here's the link. It's always impressive to see the creativity and ingenuity humans have used to kill each other throughout history.

It was raining at Whistler and chairlifts were shutting down daily, but we were tempted to try for one last day of skiing before going sailing for the summer. But they still wanted $72 for a half-day ticket. Outrageous. So we passed it up. Besides, they'd all just gawk and point at us on our telemark skis anyway, and fall down when we scorched past. Who needs that? So we drove to the coast - so good to see an oystercatcher greeting us - and in to Seattle. Quite a huge change from coyotes and owls outside the tent in the morning to seals and surf scoters. Quite a land of contrasts, beautiful British Columbia. We will be back for more. This morning we finish the drive and get to see Oystercatcher again. Our new home for the next two (or more) years. It was hard to sleep last night...

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