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Published: June 23rd 2017
Christina Pines Campground
Paul, Mariette, Doris, Mike
Christina Lake to Balfour
The drivers license belonged to a certain Ingrid H. from Homer Alaska. We looked through the other stuff in the baggie: two credit cards, some camping brochures, and some receipts, one of which was from the same campground in Osoyoos where we had stayed, but 2 days earlier than us. Wouldn't it be fine if she was at the Christina Pines Campground where we now had set up our tents. We imagined walking up to her at her campsite and saying "Hey are you Ingrid and did you lose something on the #3 highway between Greenwood and Grand Forks?" It would bring sunshine back to her vacation! We would be heroes! With this exciting thought in mind I marched over to the campground office to ask my stupid question. The campground is run by a lovely lady named Elvira and she said she had no problem with stupid questions - got them all the time. I had hardly finished telling my story when she exclaimed, "They were here 2 days ago!" Two women cyclists had checked in 2 days before, one of whom was our mystery lady, Ingrid. Elvira looked in her files for a phone
number, which she usually gets from all her guests but, alas, not in the case of Ingrid. "I think they were headed for Creston," she said, "and that would be about 2 or 3 days from here by bicycle - I'll phone around to some of the campgrounds I know there." Later in the evening she came down to our campsite with the news that she had been unsuccessful - "But I have another idea - come see me in the office before you leave in the morning."
Michele packed up the next morning and stopped to see Elvira on the way out. "I'm going to phone the Homer Alaska town hall - I bet somebody there will know her - it can't be that big a place." She put it on speaker so Michele could hear too, and eventually got through to the town clerk. The clerk said that she sure did know Ingrid and that she would be more than happy to get a message to her about her missing property. Elvira gave her Michele's cell number so that Ingrid could phone her and perhaps meet us if she was close enough. It's a waiting game now
- everytime Michele's phone rings we think it might be Ingrid. We will give her until we are out of BC, then I guess we will just mail her stuff to the address on her driver's license. Come on Ingrid, we want to meet you!
So I rode out of camp about 6 AM and made my way along the beautiful and reputedly, warm, Christina Lake. The highway turns away to the west and immediately the grade steepens on the way up the dreaded Paulson Pass. I climbed steadily for an hour or two (or maybe it was a year or two) and amazingly I felt a tiny bit of improvement. I had installed my new pedals and the cleats on my shoes so that my feet were locked to the cranks. This made a small but important difference to my pedalling efficiency, for now I was not only pushing down on the pedals, I was also pulling them up. I reached the point where road construction to fix the aftermath of a rock slide was occurring, and was told my bike and I would have to ride in the pilot vehicle through the active zone. Ah Darn. Allan and
I hopped in and went for one of the sweetest uphill rides ever. It was only a couple of kilometers, but it saved me a lot of time and sweat. And suffering. It was not long after that I reached the Paulson summit - something over 1500 metres above sea level with an elevation gain of about 1000 metres above Christina Lake. It was easy riding then- almost all downhill to Castlegar. I swept past Nancy Greene Provincial Park and coasted close to 15 kilometres without having to pedal once.
Michele booked us in to Castlegar Cabins and campground where she was told by owners Kim and Wylie that a 3 year old grizzly bear had been through 2 days before - Did she still want to pitch the tent? Michele figured as long as the grizzly was gone we might was well stay where it wasn't. No grizzlies interrupted our sleep, and I was up and away at my usual ungodly hour. It amazed me how much more downhill there was to Castlegar. No wonder I had been hearing the trucks gearing down all night long. After negotiating some confusing intersections and crossing a scary bridge over the fast
moving and turbulent Columbia river and then another over the Kootenay where it boiled out from the outflow of a hydroelectic dam, I headed up the valley towards Nelson. It was a nice ride with not too many hills and many spectacular views of the raging Kootenay. Michele caught up with me just as I was entering Nelson and we went to the Farm Fresh Cafe for lunch. There are many cool and hip shops on Baker street. Many free spirits wandering about. It reminds me of Banff in the 70's when I lived there. I tried to find a house my friend Todd Evans said I should see, but I must have been looking the wrong way when I went by it. Traffic was hectic and I was intent on not getting run down. Michele said she saw it when she drove by. I rode over the great iron bridge that spans the Kootenay, thinking that was the last I would see of Nelson. It was a lovely ride up the west arm of Kootenay Lake, which displays all the same wicked currents and whirlpools of the river becomes below Nelson. Michele had checked us in at the Birch
Grove campground just before the Balfour ferry landing. She pitched the tent on the grass beside the jetty to the marina docks. The sound of boats shifting and jostling in their marina berths was soothing to a nautical girl like Michele. Raja said he wanted to make supper that night, so while he was preparing an egg curry, I walked out on the dock to look at the boats. I stupidly wore no shoes and almost immediately got a gigantic sliver in my foot. The pain of it shocked me - I was immediately sure I had driven it in deep. Both Michele and I had a go at trying to dig it out but it wouldn't budge. I could feel the lump where it was buried in the sole of my foot. The group consensus was that it required professional removal, so Michele and I had to abandon Raja and his egg curry to rush back to Nelson.
My experience with emergency rooms led me to believe this could quite easily turn into an all night ordeal. I was worried I would screw up the trip for not only myself, but for Michele and Raja - there was no
way I could pedal a bike with this piece of lumber in my foot. It seemed to take a long time to cover the 30 k back to Nelson and then we had to find the hospital which is perched high up on the mountain side above the town. The streets are so crazy steep, you wouldn't want to walk to the hospital. Wheelchair patients must have to be careful not to stray far from the hospital. We found several people sitting in the emergency waiting room and at the unmanned check in desk there was a sign that said "ON BREAK". My heart sank. We made friends with everyone there - all of us taking turns bad mouthing the health care system, but when the reception nurse showed up we all shut up and went up to her one at a time in the order in which we arrived. Before long a nurse called my name and I was in! I couldn't believe my luck. He took my information and blood pressure and sat me in curtained off area to wait for the doctor. Here's where it slows down, I said to myself, Here's where I will spend the
night. But voila, a 15 year old girl appeared and told me she was my doctor. I said great, go nuts - dig, cut do whatever it takes to get that thing out so I can ride my bike again. She did a great job and after a tetanus shot, we were on our way - it took only about an hour! Thankyou Linda (receptionist), Paul (nurse) and Gretchen (doctor). We got back in time to enjoy Raja's curry which was delicious and even still warm.
The next day we would take the ferry across Kootenay Lake - but that is for the next post.
If you see Ingrid, tell her to phone!
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