Day 14: Burns Lake to Vanderhoof

Distance: 132 km

Elevation: 727 m

Date: August 15, 2022

It looks like I have my Moyo back. Although the campground was next to a well traveled road, I slept much better than in the motel the other night.

In the morning it rained so I found myself a breakfast place with a roof and a nice view. My campsite neighbor Dave came over and wanted to invite me for breakfast into their trailer. I thanked him but I had already made breakfast myself. He wanted to know more about my cycling project and we chatted a bit.

Breakfast with a view

Around 9:30 am I was back in the saddle. Meanwhile it had stopped raining and the temperature was ok for cycling. I knew that tonight I had an appointment with Jolinka and John, a Warmshowers host couple in Vanderhoof. That would be my longest ride on this tour so far.

Today the road itself was mostly flat with some climbing every now and then. I was still crossing the flat interior plateau in between the coastal mountains and the Rockies.

There was a lot of farmland, some cattle and many lakes. It would have been boring but thankfully the truck drivers and the condition of the shoulder provided some “entertainment” during the day.

Mostly the shoulders (German “Seitenstreifen”) are good and about 1.50 m wide. But there are exceptions. Sometimes the shoulder is only 0.5 m and full of gravel. Sometimes there are potholes the size of my bike. And sometimes there is no shoulder at all.

That does not disturb the truck drivers. They pass you at 100km/h with 50 cm distance no matter if the cyclists have leeway or not. The logging trucks are the worst. They feel like the cowboys of the road. And there are some pickup drivers who feel so, too.

Anyways, it is very helpful here to constantly have an eye at the rear mirror and to be ready to leave the road at any time to avoid a passing truck.

In the afternoon, a thunderstorm was building up and I got wet again. But now I was prepared so it was not a big issue mentally.

By 6 pm, I met John in his home which he had build with his own hands. Two meters tall and today 66 years old, he has been a builder and wood worker his entire life. I shared with him that I was a cabinetmaker by training and hence we talked a lot about wood, timber and houses.

As a young man he had worked and lived in South Sudan and in Ethiopia building houses for a missionary organization. He and his wife had also worked in Connecticut and many other places.

John and Jolinka, who was not there unfortunately, were both of Dutch decent. John’s father was in the underground movement against the Germans in World War II. After the war, he was unhappy with how collaborators of the Nazis moved into positions of power. So, he emigrated to Canada.

The traumas of the war had left him struggling with PTSD (German “PTBS”) his entire life. John said that the war had been a big topic in his family. Without the war, he would have simply been a Dutch boy.

John and Jolinka originally lived in Vancouver but disliked the increasing rat race there. So they decided to move up north and bought a property near Vanderhoof with lots of plain space around them.

Wide land

John was a Christian and an anti-vaxer. He red and quoted the same websites as Hugh did plus the Bible but he did this without being imposing on there. He had been a supporter of the freedom convoy although he did not participate himself. He did not have to face major repercussions but his wife had lost her job as a nurse because like him she did not want to get vaccinated.

Different from Hugh, John did not want to tear down the entire system but he wanted to improve things from within. Hence he was running to get elected into the regional council. His campaign slogan was “I will listen”.

The conflict around vaccinations ran directly through their family. He had not spoken to his daughter in a while and he had not held his little grandchildren since the pandemic had hit. The positions were to different and nobody wanted to back down.

John made me dinner which Jolinka had prepared. Pork ribs, mashed potatoes and salad. After a long day in the saddle this was like paradise. We drank tea and chatted about all sorts of things.

I also had the chance to wash and dry my clothes so that I would no longer smell like a wet beaver. I love Warmshowers.

Around 10 pm I went into my wooden cabin which John had made of massive timber. The stars were amazing.

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