Sunday, July 1, 2012

Day Two Port Hardy

Following a non eventful ride from Woss throught Port McNeil, I arrived in Port Hardy in the late afternoon.  Took some rides around town, and arranged a campsite for the night.  Had lots of time to set up the tent and had an early night.

Day Three Port Hardy-waiting for the night Ferry

Broke camp fairly early and after an unsuccessful attempt to access the wi-fi at the campground, headed for town to scout out some coffee and internet services.  I found a great cafe for a solid breakfast, and right next door was a classy coffee shop, book nook, and free internet.  Spent the  day periodically touring the town, visiting the museum, chatting up the locals and learning to not get lost in blog land.

I went out to the reserve again, and took a slow turn about the village.  I found the local school, and photographed the totems and the interesting mural on the wall of the school.

I stopped by the park again, and a fellow was operating an radio controlled glider, and there were three eagles that were duellling with the glider.  They put on quite a show on the beach, and it was difficult to tell who won the dogfight

 I watched a big mature eagle land on the beach and pick away at some food.  He allowed me to approach quite closely to him as he picked away at his dinner.

Went for a another coffee at the local A&W and met this character riding a scooter with all sorts of decals and decorations.  Turns out that he had worked for Utaha mines for 25 years and that he had emigrated to Canada from Brazil.  He was originally from Greece, and told me quite candidly that you will find Greeks all over the place, if you look for them.  He told me some horror stories about Sao Paulo and emphasized that it is not good to go out at night in that city, although it was 25 years since he was there.  I found his comments about the "good old days of Port Hardy" when the mine was operating to roughly parallel the story of Tahsis, when the mill was working, and lots of families enjoyed good money and good times.  Now, the mines appear to be in Central and South America, and our logs are being processed offshore.

I have been to Port Hardy before, and definitely noticed the downsizing of the town, and a number of familiar buildings were boarded up and apparently closed.  I guess that is what happens when the jobs are shipped overseas.

I returned to the scene of the free wi-fi and the good coffee.  Believe it or not, another red-headed waitress, and this one had a wonderful Irish accent!   I tried to track down an old friend that I knew may still be in town, and engaged a couple of locals at the coffee shop.  They went out of their way to gather the information that I needed, and I had a name and address through local knowledge in short order.  I had tried through the magic of face book, but amazingly enough, all I had to do was ask a stranger or two for some help..

Parking my bike in front of the coffee shop brought out the old guys, and not so old too.  Interesting how a dirty bike will draw comments and conversations.  For me, the dirty bike from the road to Woss added to the stories, and enabled comments from observers.  Not one, but two old geezers told me to get my riding in while I could, before the arthritis set in.  Mind you, both were accompanied by their
wives and probably knew what to say and when to say it.

After a fish and chips dinner, I headed out to the ferry for the 9:30 sailing.  The ferry terminal is about 10k south of town.  I had lots of time, and once I arrived there wandered around a bit, as I had learned in the museum that the Bear Cove area, where the ferries launched, was also the site of an 8,000 year old First Nations site.  Apparently it was the oldest inhabited site on Vancouver Island.  

Chunk of Copper, I think, from the Utah mining operation
 Tourist Bear

Ferry to Bella Bella

I finally catch up with my friend and host from Bella Bella.  Mike has known me for 35 years, and we were both younger bucks when I first came to Waglisla, in 1977.  I was glad to meet him and his son at the ferry line up.  I have been thinking about returning to Waglisla for many years, and I was touched that when asked, Mike immediately invited me to visit with him.  I have many mixed feelings about
this round of my journey at a place where I began another cycle of life so many years and events before this particular round.

Clearing Port Harding and heading into the Sound...looking west

 Ferry from Prince Rupert making southward

 A clear night and flat water on the Sound

 Early the next morning, north of Namu, and south of Waglisla: my old stomping grounds
 Old Town: a couple of K south of town. A new (to me) ferry dock

At the other end of town, an airport with all sorts of action.  I think that my nephew flew for Pacific Coastal during his beginning years as a pilot.