Sunday, March 22, 2009

The SpringBreak NorthernWorldTour.....End Times

The Mazda Not-Quite-Minivan with the viscious snow tires waiting for the Ice Cutter....

The Francois Lake Ice Cutter Ferry.....It's a 20 minute ride across.... And, get this BC Ferry riders...It's Free!!!

...The edge of the Cut Ice....Where it was undisturbed many of the houses had plowed-out hockey rinks near the Lake's edge that were still in use on Mar 19th!

....Rosey the Whack-A-Doodle, C., and the Two E's.....In the end, I had to have ice cream in 100 Mile House.....



Our final northern world tour stop was the Village of Burns Lake, which sits between Smithers and P.G. way, way up there on Highway 16.

Amongst the high plains...... drifting.

And the snow.

And the lakes that are everywhere.

Still frozen.

The lakes I mean.


I spent the afternoon at the local high school with a bunch of sharp young kids explaining that, if they wanted to, they could become science geeks too.

Of course, almost all of them were, needless to say, skeptical in the extreme.

But more than a few seemed to like the travelling gadfly-geek stories, especially the one about the crazy old Lon Chaneyesque guy in Shreveport Louisiana who once took me down a long, winding cement staircase to show me the mouse milking machine he'd built in his dark, dingy basement lab-lair.

And then, suddenly, at 3:08pm, all the kids were all gone like a flash.

And the next morning I found out why

It was because of the "Ferry That Cuts Through Ice".


Just south of Burns is Francois Lake - which is apparently the second largest body of freshwater in British Columbia.

And scattered around the giant Francois are rural homesteads, filled to bursting with kids; more than there are in the actual town.

And to get to those homesteads, most of those kids have to catch the Ice Ferry from and to Francois Lake's south shore every day.

Which explains why they vanished in a flash and left me standing babbling to teacher Dave when the 3:08pm buzzer went off.

We took the ferry the morning after the night before when Bigger E. sang with me after I'd done my second stint of science-geeking that day.

Sounds crazy, sure.

But it's something we've done before, for the classes I teach.

And it works.

Mostly because E. can really sing.

And because I can make stuff up/change lyrics to fit the setting.

This time around, we turned the 'I will buy you a house' part of that now Stephen Pageless Group's anthem into an ode to bringing back the town's 'Bucket of Blood'.

Or some such thing.


The reason we took the icebreaker across Francois was so that we could drive to another lake, called Takyzie.


Well, I'm not entirely sure, except I do know that we had to see the Grassy Plains little-house-on-the-prairie-type schoolhouse, and we also had to go to the off-the-grid Takyzie Cafe to eat pie and re-start the 'International Rummy Conspiracy'.

Littler e. said that it reminded her of Hollings' bar and grill in Northern Exposure.

When it started snowing again we knew it was time to go.


Just 24 hours later the Tour was almost done.

And on the last leg we tried to push it all the way home from 100 Mile House/Dairy Queen to Vancouver but I couldn't quite make it.

As a result, we ended up stopping for dinner in Abbotsford.

And I'm telling you, that Sumas Way is almost as bad as the stinkin' Kingsway for getting me discombobulated.

Either that or watching Shane O'Brien's own goal caused me to completely lose my mind and/or sense of direction.

Because when we came out of the big-box Boston Pizza I got so mixed-up that we ended up heading straight for Bellingham.

I mean, we'd been 2500 kilometers in six days to all kinds of places I'd never been to before, and the first time I get lost is in Abbotsford..... 60 feet from the TransCanada?!

Luckily, C.'s ability to orient under even the most brutal conditions finally prevailed (ie. I finally started listening to her) and we got turned around the right way 20 or so minutes later.

But not before I had let go with a long, mauve streak of continuous quasi-cursing that included littler e.'s latest favorite:

"Oh, For Crying Out Sakes!"

Which pretty much fit the bill, exactly.

And was something her Great-Grandfather, who liked to call America the 'Excited States', probably would have have gotten a pretty good chuckle or ten out of.


The 'International Rummy Conspiracy' is a game of rummy for points (two's are wild; discard pile pick-ups are encouraged and/or cheered at all times) that we have been playing, off and on, for about three years now; littler e. is currently in the lead by about 2400 points as Bigger E. now spends a whole heckuva lot of time reading (imagine that!).


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