British Columbia – “The Best Place on Earth?”
During the last few days, Blaise and I have been steadily making progress across British Columbia, Canada. Since we’re on somewhat of a timeline to get to Alaska (before it gets cold and dark), we haven’t stayed in one place more than one night thus far. The forest fires have also been really bad in the southern part of British Columbia, covering the landscape with a thick, smoky haze.
Due to the forest fires, we had to make a last minute change of plans when the gate to our planned camping spot was shut off by forest rangers during our first night. With the sunset looming, we drove back the way we came and pulled off in to a small camping spot off the road, set up camp, made dinner in the dark and went to sleep.
The next day we drove several hundred kilometers and stopped at the Beaverdam Lake campsite around 70 mile house on Highway 97. When we pulled in, we were pleasantly surprised that the entire campsite was empty and even had pit toilets (a luxury when you’re mostly camping for free). Several hours later, however, we realized why the campsite was empty; it was MOSQUITO HELL. Since we were by a still and swampy lake, the mosquitos were abundant and vicious. Although we took extra precautions when we got out of the car, they were worthless; we sprayed our body with 40 deet bug spray, our clothes with 100 deet, wore long pants, jackets and headnets, AND had several citronella candles lit. The mosquitos did NOT care; they swarmed around us like loud, angry bees and bit me right through my pants. We counted something like 30+ bites on one leg alone! Needless to say, the next morning we threw everything in the car and rushed out of that campsite in record time.
After leaving the mosquito infected campsite, we drove for an hour or two until we spotted a small town where we could run a few errands. We also found a local gym where we were able to take a shower. My first thought when we see a gym now isn’t, “Hey, let’s workout!”; it’s, “Hmm, I wonder if they have a shower I can use.” When you douse yourself in sunscreen in the morning, sweat during the day and cover yourself with bug spray at night for several days in a row, all you want is a shower to wash everything off. Unfortunately, we no longer have the luxury of being able to shower every day (gross, I know), so we have to bum showers off of nice people or use our portable 5 gallon shower bag when have some privacy on campsites. The downside to showering outdoors isn’t really the fact that you may have a cold shower or that you have a limited water supply – it’s more that you have to worry about bugs. With all of that said, the woman who was working at the gym that day was nice enough to let us shower for free. God bless that woman.
Since we didn’t have time to make breakfast or pack our lunches, we stopped at a local park to use their picnic tables and make some food for the day, while chatting up some local volunteer firefighters. I love that our time is abundant and that we can afford to just pull off to cook some food vs being pressed for time and having to stop at some restaurant on the side of the road that may or may not be good (and expensive).
After driving for a few more hours, we stopped into Peterson’s Beach Campground off of Highway 16 and found a spot right on the water! Unlike our last camp sites, this was a paying campsite ($12/night), but well worth it. As we were setting up camp, an older gentleman hollered at us and asked us if we wanted some fresh trout. My ears immediately perked up and Blaise and I practically ran over to him to introduce ourselves. Mike, the older gentleman, had gone fishing that day (and the day before) and had an abundance of trout to share. Amazing. He then taught me how to gut and filet a fish, which was surprisingly a lot easier than I imagined.
Gutting and filleting a fish was definitely on my “to-learn” list for this trip, so I was ecstatic that the opportunity practically fell in my lap. Hopefully, I’ll learn how to catch my own fish soon and practice my newly acquired skills! After we filleted the fish, I immediately fried it up on my cast iron pan and served it with some lemon and brussels sprouts. We ate dinner with our new friend and asked him some questions about himself and live in British Columbia.
Before we left this morning, I asked Mike about the berries we had all around our camp site. Apparently they’re called saskatoons and they taste somewhat like blueberries – I picked quite a few to take on the road with us and to put in our oatmeal in the morning 🙂