The name of the game in Grande Prairie was laziness: not good for me to have a big TV in front of my bed, I get distracted. In my defense I was fighting off a bit of a cold, with a nasty cough, and Myles and Esther were complicit in my lethargy with their “you can stay as long as you like” and “if you stay, we are having X for dinner”. Then the day I was packing up to go, it was raining, and just could not do it. I convinced myself it was OK as the next day I would go directly to Dawson Creek (originally I had planned to split it in two days). My laziness was rewarded once again with a great day of cycling under a big blue prairie sky. I was a little sad that this will be the only day of prairie riding this trip.
For the first time in weeks I had some towns between my start and end points. I took full advantage, stopping for some hot chocolate and French fries in Beaverlodge. On the way out of town I encountered a big scary beaver that must be their mascot. I never did find out his name, if he has one.
When I reached Dawson Creek, the pizza was almost ready at my Couch Surfing hosts Jen and Dan’s place. They have hosted a number of touring cyclists, including a French guy who was circumnavigating the globe completely on his own power: pedalling the Atlantic and paddling the Pacific.
The next day started with a strong headwind, knee pain and a cough. The latter two left early while the former eventually morphed into a cross wind. Dawson Creek is Mile zero on the Alaska Highway and looking at the sign with its big “0”, I couldn’t help feeling like I was just getting started. It is the sign post of a new beginning I suppose, as the trip gets more adventurous and I leave “civilization” behind and enter the true north where people carry extra jerrycans of fuel and winter survival gear in their vehicles; where I have to carry 4-5 days of food on the bike and enough gasoline to cook it and melt snow for water (it has never been heavier).
As the day wore on the landscape and rivers provided a nice distraction from the relentless wind. I got to see the mighty Peace River, something I had been looking forward to for a long time. All of these big northern rivers eventually feed the Mackenzie, which I will cross as I approach Inuvik. As I watched the water under the bridge I threw in a little twig I had in my pocket and thought “you will get to Inuvik before I do”.
I arrived in Fort St. John early as the distance was short this day. My hosts Lyall and Sheila had dinner plans at Sheila’s cousins and I was invited along. And what a dinner it was. I am not sure if they were impressed or horrified at my ability to put away food (the roast was cooked to perfection), but I think I managed to eat as much as everyone else at the table, put together. I even managed to get full for a few hours, no easy task when I am cycle-touring.
I would like to give a special thanks to Lyall and Sheila Insull, and Lori and Steven Petrucci for their extremely generous donations to my trip.
Today I leave for Fort Nelson, I might have less access to the internet and will most probably be updating by SPOT and phone calls as I will be mostly camping from now on.