August 15: Hope to Boston Bar, British Columbia - The Great North American Sticky Bun Hunt - CycleBlaze

August 15: Hope to Boston Bar, British Columbia

Impressively honest about what he sells, this Barry chap.
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1: A cow could walk up a spiral staircase but it couldn't walk down again because it's front legs are too short.

2: A cow may not be an elegant swimmer but it floats better than you'd think.

This, then, is a tale of a swimming cow. Her name is, or was, Rosie. She led an unfortunate life, Rosie, because with cow-like sense she decided to chew on a battery found in a wood and she went blind. Before she went blind, she was harassed by dogs. So even when she couldn't see, she was wary of dogs and scurried off whenever they approached.

The trouble with being blind and prone to panic was that running away led Rosie straight into the Thompson river. It took her owners a couple of days to know she was missing and when they searched the meadow they knew where she had gone - because there were dog and cow marks leading to the water.

Rosie found herself in the water, a mysteriius experience for many a bovine. She was swept along by the current and battered by rocks and sandbanks. The moment she got to her unevenly shaped legs, another wave pushed her off again. And eventually she fell over Hell's Canyon, a waterfall fierce and deep enough that tourists are charged to see it.

The man who runs the crossing at Hell's Canyon, here at Boston Bar, saw Rosie go bobbing by but could do nothing about it. "I couldn't believe my eyes," he told reporters afterwards.

It took a week and the intervention of two government agencies to bring Rosie to safety. She had lost 45kg and much of her mental composure. The Mounties were used to always getting their man. Now they had their cow as well.

I've no idea if it's still the talk of Boston Bar. I didn't ask. We weren't in the mood. We got here in less than cheery circumstances after a miserable ride on Highway 1, up the Fraser Canyon. It is supposed to be less busy than the larger highway to the east but it's hard, on a sunny summer Sunday, to see how that could be.

What adds black humour to the day is that it had barely started when we passed a sign announcing this to be a Safety Corridor. At almost the same point, the shoulder disappeared. In fact, whenever drivers had the privilege of two lanes to go uphill, the shoulder vanished to make room for them. At the same time, the road became edged by a concrete wall which gave cyclists or walkers no escape.

The people who run the roads in British Columbia are called DRIVE.bc. They don't hide their bias, do they?

This is the "safety corridor" in British Columbia. Safety? As a cyclist, you have to cross the blind exit to this tunnel, then balance in the darkness on a narrow pathway. There is not only no ramp to the pathway but access to it is blocked by a sign. I think only the suicidal would press the button as invited and then ride through.
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There are also tunnels on the road. Each tunnel is fast and without a shoulder. Instead, there is a walkway along one side. A sign at the entrance to the tunnel tells northbound cyclists to cross the road, sometimes blind to traffic in one direction and in one case blind to both. Not only is there no ramp to the elevated walkway but, as a convenience to drivers, a pole with a reflective panel is placed just where a cyclist would need to get on or off the path.

This, Canada, is frankly a joke. And that was why we felt so unhappy. Fortunately we found a paradise campsite to the left just befopre Boston Bar (so named because many of the early prospectors on the river sandbank, or bar, were from the eastern states of the USA and therefore presumed to have come from Boston).

The campsite lies on a wooded, well kept slope to the river. The land is part of a small Indian reserve and it's been run for the last six years by a wiry New Zealander called Bernard. The first thing he did was offer us a bottle of Stella Artois, explaining that he didn't drink beer so he passed on bottles he was given to deserving cyclists.

I forget how long he said he has been in Canada but in all that time he has never become a Canadian.

"When I came to this country, the first newspaper I saw had a picture on the front page of a Canadian soldier and an Indian in warpaint, staring each other out, nose to nose. It was a demonstration. I saw then that this is a divided nation and I didn't want to be part of it."

His employers are Indians, the district council, and he gets on with them well.

"But there's so much hate."

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"Over what happened to them?"

"They're still hating because of the past."

"And how does that show?"

"The resentment, sometimes a refusal to work. They've never forgiven what happened to them. That said, there are some with more advanced attitudes. And I'm really impressed at their relationship with nature, the way they respect the world around them. If you live on the planet, you're going to touch it, change it. But they know how to live in harmony, to keep and save what's around them."

What's around us at the moment is a bear and her cubs. Steph came face to face with a bruin on the way to the showers. (It was she, not the bear, with soap and towel in hand.) They stared at each other and then walked on. Later this evening the bears were romping about in a fruit tree, enjoying themselves until some fools in a four-wheel drive car passed too fast and sent up a cloud of dust.

The bears seem uninterested in humans. But that hasn't stopped our hanging all our food and toiletry kit in bags from tree branches.

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