Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Child Angels

After the walkabout at the Williams' Lake car show, I headed north, through Quesnel, and then on to Prince George, where I headed west on the infamous Highway 16.

I thought that the last time I had travelled on the Highway of Tears  was many years ago.  I remembered that long drive from Prince Rupert to Prince George. My two sons were with me, and the old Suburban was colder than an iceberg, with a non-functional heater and a soon to be discovered rotting floor board which was letting the December air in.

 We had visited a friend from Grad school in Rupert, and we were was on the way to Chetwynd to celebrate Christmas with my sister and her family, as well as my Mom and Dad.   I recalled seeing these huge black shapes  in the snowbanks as we rattled through the snowy night.  It wasn't until later that I realized that we were seeing moose far too close to the highway. At that time, I did not understand that  moose eyes do not reflect light as deer eyes do.

After my mishap with a couple of deer a few years ago I am pretty strict with myself  regarding night riding.  There are far too many critters in this neck of the woods, and I did not want to tangle with a moose, deer, or  a drunken and distracted driver.

As is the tendency when one is riding, I soon realized that I had been in this area many years before, and in fact, I had ended up in my  early twenties working for a variety of pipeline companies as a consequence of a hitchhiking trip on Highway 16.  I recalled  working on a crossing of the mighty Skeena River, and living in a Salvation Army hostel in Terrace until I had made my bones with the company.  I mused how differently my life path had shifted and been shaped by my experiences in this part of the world.

My self-reflections when I am riding invariably bisects  my life path into two distinct and very different arenas of thought and reminiscence.   There was the period of my self-proclaimed misspent youth, that time of rowdy wandering and far too much self-indulgent behaviours. And then,  the miracle of becoming a parent which began to bring out the burgeoning adult from that aimlessness of a prolonged adolescence. In an ideal relationship, the adult is fully developed prior to the responsibilities of parenting.

After that mental sigh, I marvelled how my wonderful daughter, conceived on a roadtrip to Alaska so many years ago, would end up with me and the Mother of my sons  on another summer roadtrip through this very same neck of the woods seven years later. Now,  thirty-five years after that summer, she is now  a mother herself and I was riding back over my life traces.   My Grampa mind took over and speculated on the ebb and flow of a life path that guides or channels this particular journey westward and northward towards Alaska.

Out of Burns Lake, a young Grizzly ambled across the road. I thought that this sighting bode well for  a good trip, and I wondered about a conversation with a friend about the quality of Canadian versus American bear spray.  He claimed that American bear spray has much more clout than ours.  Having neither brand, I was just as glad that Mr. Griz was simply passing through.  I decided to call it a day at Vanderhoof, where I managed to catch a bit of the local history.

      In any community there are always a few folks who appreciate and value the artifacts of history, the remains of the endeavours of those who came before them and who built the towns, villages and cities  which we now have.  I respect  those folks who recognize the value of documenting and displaying slices of history for those of us who follow, and I make no apology for attempting to appreciate  the present by understanding and honouring the past.

Following along Highway 16, I passed through Smithers and eventually arrived at Hazelton.  After wandering around there for awhile, and revisiting K'san,  I headed for Kitwanga, and the turnoff for the Cassiar highway 37.  A few kilometers north, I began to sense memory traces leading me off the highway to the small village of Gitanyow...

The Four directions one can travel...

The Cross and the Totem...

I wondered for whom the tears were shed....

Perhaps the tears were for all the Angels....

I was retracing my steps of so many years ago.  Thirty-five years of living had blurred some of the memory movies, although the essence of this Angel was clearly embedded.  I am so proud of the wonderful, caring person my daughter has become.