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Wilderness Adventures - January, Week 1/2008

This is about a remote area in west central British Columbia, Canada called the West Chilcotin. Surrounded by numerous glacial mountain ranges, alpine lakes teeming with wild Rainbow Trout, and full of wildlife. Living here goes from no running water or electricity to spacious log homes with all the conveniences and without the smog!
If you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes, exciting snowmobiling, events and more, and read stories like 'Lake Monsters' - just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

Rolling over an image will give you its description.
Check out the Picture of the Day.


06/01/2008 1:29 PM

Happy Ukrainian Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone. If you're Ukrainian, anyway. I'm not, but I have many friends in Saskatchewan and lived in a community predominated by Ukrainians and Russians when raising quarter horses just north of Saskatoon in the late 90's. I was not at all familiar with the Ukrainian culture but was really surprised to find that there are many traditions they hold sacred and follow today, and Ukrainian Christmas is one of them. Family, of course, is the most sacred of all but that's for later.
My first exposure to the Christmas meal was when we were invited to visit very good friends while she prepared the dinner for Christmas Eve. The menu for the "holy supper," or sviata vechera, of Christmas Eve does not contain any meat or dairy products. The meal centers instead around grains, fish, vegetables and fruits and vegetable fats or oils are used instead of butter. Of the traditional non meat dishes, dishes containing grains like wheat are of great importance, and one that became an all time favorite of mine is wheat salad. I don't know what the Ukrainian name for it is but I often make it during holidays for company, and those with a Ukrainian background recognize it immediately, even though most people have never had it before.
I'll put the following information from the "World-Wide Gourmet" that's on the Internet here because their author does a much better job of explaining the importance and age of this tradition than I.
-"The rich traditions of Ukraine, dating back through more than a millennium of Christianity to pagan times, have been carried throughout the world to wherever the Ukrainian people have settled. And there is probably no occasion when these ancient customs are held more dear than at Christmas, when families reenact age-old observances that symbolize their deep spirituality, love of family and attachment to the land.
Traditionally Ukrainians have followed the Julian calendar, in which Christmas falls on January 7. These days many Ukrainians in North America join in the holiday festivities surrounding December 25, but continue to place a special religious emphasis on the traditions that mark Ukrainian Christmas, thirteen days later. The days leading up to the celebration are marked by spiritual preparation and fasting.
Many of the rites observed during the Ukrainian Christmas Eve meal are very ancient, going back to the pre-Christian era. Early Christians adopted these customs for themselves and invested them with new religious significance. To prepare for the meal, some hay is placed on or under the dining table, representing the manger of the baby Jesus. The table is then laid with the family's finest embroidered tablecloth, or even two tablecloths: one to represent the living members of the family, and one the dead. An extra place is always set for the souls of deceased relatives. Given place of honour in the centre of the table is the Christmas bread or kolach, consisting of three stacked rings. The number represents the Holy Trinity, and the circular shape eternity. A candle is placed in the centre to symbolize Jesus, the light of the world." -

Recognize any of the traditions above? It amazes me that the Ukrainian people managed to keep traditions that would have been considered pagan by the church and would normally have been completely wiped out as were many Mediterranean and Greek traditions with the rise of the Catholic church. Instead, many were adapted by Christians and like the manger, Christmas tablecloth, candle centerpiece and more, have become a significant part of our Christmas celebrations with most of us unaware of where they come from.
The Ukrainians are smart too because they've got a great gig going. We only get to celebrate one Christmas and one New Year's. Not so in Saskatchewan in Ukrainian communities where they celebrate both holidays twice and as a friend told me this afternoon when I spoke to her, "Sure, and why not? You can too, you know. Why not? Just do it!" I think that's what I love about them as a people and culture the most. Nothing's impossible. Of course it isn't. Just do it!
I should actually include Russians here as well since the community I lived in had a pretty good mix of Orthodox Russians and Ukrainians but it was also said to be the original landing of the Doukhobors or Doukabour settlers, fleeing religious persecution in Czarist Russia, who made temporary homes in caves cut out of the river bank south of where I lived. Most of that sect eventually ended up in the Kootenays in BC and they never seemed to get along very well with the other settlers in Saskatchewan.
Family is very important to the folks in Saskatchewan from little kids right up to Baba, Babusia, Gido, Gida, Gigi, or Gigo Babchi (bop-chee) Dadju (Dah-jooh) Babci & Dziadzio and Babushka or Dido. Please don't ask me for the correct spellings for the words for Grandmother and Grandmother. I heard so many variations while I lived on the farm in Saskatchewan that I have no idea what were correct Ukrainian and Russian terms, and what were simply family nicknames. All I know is that one of the finest old gentlemen I have ever met, full of history and laughter, was always Gigo (Jee-jo) to me. Another, Gido (Gee-doe). While I heard Babchi and Babusia on occasion, the most common name for Grandmother seemed to be Baba. This was all fascinating to me of course, who came from a family that simply called its Grandmothers.....Grandma. Seems pretty boring now when I think about it.
Fascinating too was the richness of the Ukrainian and Russian cultures and traditions still passed on from generation to generation. Traditions that have long since been lost elsewhere are still practiced daily and weekly and yearly by the folks in Saskatchewan, most of whom have a farming background. Perhaps that's why they are able to hang on to their traditions. A people steeped in the tradition of farming needed a lot of steadfast determination to make the unfriendly prairies of 100 years ago bear fruit. Perhaps it's that same determination that keeps their traditions alive and well and the envy of all the rest of us.
You haven't seen anything until you have seen the traditional dances performed in colorful sashes and finely embroidered blouses, the amazing artwork made from wheat and bread and extraordinarily painted egg shells, and gardens you would not believe. I swear, Ukrainians could drop a wheat seed on the surface of the moon and make it grow.
In the end though, it's probably their strong belief in their children that make the folks back there stand out for me. I've mentioned before that if there was a party or an event, a wedding or a funeral, the children always came, with or without their parents. They started as babies that were tucked away on beds or in closets as the night wore on, or found a cozy spot under a pile of coats on a bed. As they grew older they played games, sat around bonfires, and then inevitably crashed before daylight, long before their parents. And then at driving age they might arrive at a party with their parents but then as a group would often go off to another party happening elsewhere, whether grad or otherwise. They might check in a little later to see if their parents wanted to hitch a ride home. I don't think I ever saw a group of local teens going out for the night that hadn't already chosen their designated driver. Of course many of them didn't even get ready to go out until after 10 or 11 at night. Chores had to be done first and if that was at seeding or harvest, then chances were pretty good those kids were on combines or grain trucks and they might not be done until after dark.
I remember being very surprised at how things were done when I first moved to the prairie province, but it didn't take me long to realize that some of the best bunch of youngsters I've ever met in my life were those hardworking farm kids. Our BC city kids could take a few lessons from them about work ethic and plain old common decency.
To other subjects.
I have someone that would like to know if Rimarko Ranch and the runway there at Charlotte Lake is for sale and I said I would post the question here simply because I don't know the answer. However, I figure Frank, one of the attendees at the New Year's dance would know and could perhaps let me know. I can be reached via the contact page.
Finally, that doozy of a story about the local RCMP is going to have to wait for awhile. The person victimized doesn't want anything to go into writing until he has had the opportunity to deal directly with the RCMP himself. Interjecting my personal opinion, I have to assume that's because there is going to be legal action of some sort involved and so there should be. However, I will honor the request and leave it alone for now. To which I imagine the local gendarme are breathing a tiny sigh of relief. It's only for the moment people. Only for the moment.
Today was a really nice day going a little above freezing in the sunshine, a little below in the shade. But it's still getting pretty chilly at night. It's -15C or about 5F right now and dropping steadily. It sure would be nice if it warmed up sometime in the near future but I don't know if that's going to happen anytime soon. They're probably hoping for the same down in California and Nevada as well. I flew down to Reno last February to help my brother look at houses to buy in the Fernley area. Since we felt (correctly) that the American economy was going to take a dive my partner and I cautioned my brother against buying a house at that time. When I called him tonight we laughingly patted ourselves on the back for the good decision. Two of the houses we looked at are now under water. You gotta love those gophers!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my prairie friends.
05/01/2008 10:39 PM

Correction

It was pointed out to me that I indicated yesterday that a web cam had been set up on the highway just outside of Williams Lake. In fact, that's completely incorrect. The web cam is located near the highways maintenance yard just outside of Anahim Lake and is pointing right at the closure warning sign to the west. That's the one that has a little flashing orange light if Heckman Pass on the way to Bella Coola is closed due to snow, avalanche, poor road condition, mudslides or other closures. You can't see much on the web cam but you can see what our weather is like.
Today the sun made it through and it actually crept above freezing this afternoon. It made for nice walking in the woods anyway, and our weather definitely beats the wind they're getting in Vancouver, the wind, rain and snow they're getting in Washington State, and the wind, rain, power outages, mudslides they're getting in California as well as the 10 feet of snow they're supposed to get in the Sierras over the weekend.
I won't make this any longer today. I'm in the process of dealing with an extremely frustrating bit of software that I downloaded and paid for today but which can't be used to its full capability until the order is processed through the ding dongs that happily took my money online, but which apparently have no actual people doing anything on the weekends. Well, except taking my money. So I'm back to that. But I will upload the close up on Picture of the Day that I mentioned in yesterday's article. It's just the plane because the animals still won't cooperate by giving me something good to take a picture of, other than the woodpecker arrived again at the suet today. He spent quite awhile playing peek-a-boo around the post this afternoon because he could see me in the window, but I already have a picture of him.

04/01/2008 8:00 PM

The Clean Air Plan

The General Manager of the local mill sent me a document just prior to Christmas outlining an agreement between West Chilcotin Forest Products and Pristine Power to form a renewable power partnership. Now how's that for a tongue twister? Beetle-damaged wood, mill residue and wood waste are to be converted into local source of clean, renewable electricity. I'll just insert the whole document here and you can check it out for yourself.
-"Anahim Lake, BC - West Chilcotin Forest Products and Pristine Power today announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to develop an innovative biomass facility. The project will generate clean and renewable power for the communities of Anahim and Nimpo Lakes and new social, economic and environmental benefits for the Ulkatcho First Nation.
Under the MOU, the partnership will use gasification technology to generate up to 10 megawatts of clean and renewable power at the West Chilcotin Forest Products mill, approximately 300 kilometres west of Williams Lake, B.C.
The mill will receive approximately 3.5 megawatts of power while the communities of Anahim and Nimpo Lakes will receive roughly 2 megawatts, eliminating their reliance on diesel-based power. The remaining electricity would be sold into the BC Hydro grid. The gasifier will use wood waste, mountain pine beetle timber and mill residue as fuel.
The project will improve local air quality by facilitating the shut down of the mill's two beehive burners and eliminate a diesel generation set and the consumption of more than 3.5 million litres of diesel fuel annually, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by over 10 thousand tonnes per year.
The MOU has the support of the Ulkatcho First Nation. "In light of the mountain pine beetle epidemic, the elimination of 2 beehive burners, the diesel gensets and the consumption of 3.5 million litres of diesel, this is a very important initiative" said Chief Lynda Price of the Ulkatcho First Nation. "Given the fact we are surrounded by dead trees that are ready to fall over, this is an extremely positive step within our traditional territory."
"Pristine Power is very pleased to be partnering with the Ulkatcho First Nation and West Chilcotin Forest Products," said Harvie Campbell, Executive Vice President of Pristine Power. "This community-based biomass facility will provide the communities of Anahim and Nimpo Lakes with a new source of clean and dependable power while furthering electricity self-sufficiency in British Columbia." -

As the manager suggested in our email discussions, this is an added benefit to anyone that may be considering purchasing property out here and as Don said, - "It is a Nexterra gasifier that we have planned. It is super technology and a great boost for the environment.... With proper reforestation, this is one of the very few forms of truly green power. In addition to those very fundamental benefits, the installation will extend the life of this mill and accelerate the rehabilitation of our local forests. It gets to a point where you cannot count all the wins the project creates.
Yet another advantage is not only the burners will be eliminated, which I believe are running cleaner than they used to, but the bush waste piles that have been burned in the bush will be brought in to make power. The emissions from gasification is 0. We hope to use the flue gas to fire a dry kiln for our lumber, the excess heat from steam condensing will heat our buildings. The green house gas is 0 because the CO2 emitted is surface carbon. The fibre that is burned if left in the bush as a tree, would die, fall and rot thus giving off the same amount of CO2. In our case some of that CO2 is sequestered in lumber and stored in the form of houses. The new trees planted will absorb more CO2 and start the cycle again."
-
An aggressive plan pushes for cement to be poured this spring with the plant producing power by spring of 2009. Hopefully that timetable will work out. I think we'll all be happy to see the end of the beehive burners over at the mill, although personally I don't mind the slash burning out in the cut blocks because you can let your imagination run wild and imagine a holocaust. But then I like fire. However, forestry does not, and I expect they'll be very happy to see the end of slash burning if the plant comes to pass.
On another note. A reader of the blog was kind enough to bring up the fact that we have a web cam on Highway 20 just outside of Anahim Lake and that she often refers to it to see what our real time weather is like. So I'll put the link up here at Web Cam
and perhaps on the weather page of this site as well. Maybe if enough people get used to using it, I won't have to list the weather and temperatures anymore. Naw, on second look, their weather information isn't accurate at all. It's more for Williams Lake. Since we're on the subject, the temperature stayed a little below freezing today with heavy cloud and it's -10.8C or or 12F right now. The weather doesn't look particularly great around the province for the next few days and for Vancouver, it's been a very soggy start to the new year.
03/01/2008 7:45 PM

Phone Call From The Past

I got a phone call from a very interesting fellow today who read Floyd's story about the burned airplane in the blog and wanted to add a few details about Charley Morse of Rimarko Ranch.
Tom Walker was the head Forest Ranger in Tatla Lake for three years and got to know several people in the area. He had Willie Sulin build a small log cabin on Charlotte Lake in 1973 just before he was transferred out, and returns to it nearly every year in the summer.
He said it was the third week of August in 1970, late in the day and he was actually in the bathtub when the call came in of a plane down and a forest fire started in the vicinity. He sent the bombers in and everyone scrambled to get to the fire, many firefighters riding with Floyd Vaughan, and he said the downed plane is still there to this day.
Tom said one of his first run ins with Charley Morse was when one of his employee's at the lodge lit their garbage dump on fire. This is common practice where you have your own dump, usually a pit, and you light it up on a regular basis to keep the bears down. We did that often on the ranch where I was raised but you tried never to do it during fire season. Apparently Charley Morse broke that rule. In his case, since he ran a fishing lodge, the dump was probably loaded with fish guts, a real attraction for bears. Tom said a pretty big smoke went up and he scrambled into a helicopter and got over to Rimarko Ranch. Before landing he noted at least five twin engine aircraft lined up on the runway, all owned by guests of Charley's. If I recall, Tom said he commented to the pilot that it wasn't all fish that brought those planes in. Well, they landed and he raised hell with Charley about the fire danger and Charley tried to placate them first with food and then with good scotch. Since they had already attended several smokes that day and were tired and hungry, they accepted the food but refused the scotch. Tom said that was a mighty tough thing to do but he didn't want to be beholden to Charley in any way, especially since he had to get out there again when the dump was lit up at least once more during fire season.
Since Morse seemed determined to keep Charlotte Lake designated as a 'remote fly in lake' and didn't want anyone to be able to easily drive into the lake, Tom threatened him with exactly that. He told Charley that if he lit the dump up one more time when there was a danger of fire, he would have bulldozers push a road in so that it was easier for firefighters to get in there quickly. The threat worked and it didn't happen again.
Tom said Charley was known far and wide for serving very good food and drink and there was no doubt he had been born with a silver spoon in his mouth.
We actually got to talking about the articles I have been writing about the local RCMP and Tom mentioned knowing Larry Hein who single-handedly set up the first detachment in Anahim Lake. In fact, Larry's words in an email to me this spring were, " I still have a soft spot for Anahim Lake and Nimpo Lake as I opened up the Police Office in Anahim Lake in 1970. If I had my way, Anahim Lake and Nimpo Lake would be the place I would spend the rest of my life." Since Larry was by himself, Tom said he would call on him as about the only other official in the country to back him up if there was a problem. Back then all you had was hand cranked phones and everyone could listen in on your conversation so Larry would call down to Tatla Lake and say, "Tom, come on up for coffee." Tom would know to take the plug out of the shotgun he used for bird hunting and load it up. But invariably by the time he made the hour's drive from Tatla Lake over the dirt road to Anahim Lake, Larry had taken care of whatever problem had come up.
That's how we got around to the subject of roadblocks. Tom mentioned that when he was out a couple of years ago he was surprised to get stopped in a roadblock in Anahim Lake. He figured that there must be something pretty serious going down or the police were looking for someone because the officer seemed so grim. As he presented his documents he tried engaging the police officer in some lighthearted conversation joking that in all the years he had been over the road he had never seen a roadblock, but he said the Member remained tight lipped and unfriendly. That's when Tom figured for sure that they must be about some serious business. "No," I told him, "That's the way they are all the time. They take themselves pretty seriously."
We went on to talk about Alex Fraser whom I had only met a few times socially in Williams Lake when I was young. He was Minister of Highways back then and had a soft spot for the interior. Were it not for him, we would still have a goat trail from Williams Lake to Anahim Lake since most of the Ministers have no idea we exist out here, and could care less even if they do know. In fact, in a meeting in the Legislature in 1980, Alex Fraser as representing his riding of Cariboo, was defending road expenditures as follows.
- "While we are on expenditures by electoral areas, I want to provide a little information for the committee on that, and also on the inventory of the road system in the province. The Cariboo riding (which includes the Chilcotin) has almost 7, 000 kilometres, by far the most publicly gazetted roads of all different types. The next closest riding is Omineca, with 2, 495 kilometres of roads. In the case of the Cariboo riding, which everybody seems so concerned with, 17 percent of our roads are paved and 83 percent are gravel or potholes filled with car parts. Of Omineca's 2, 495 kilometres of roads, 21 percent are paved. Those two findings alone have by far the lowest percentage of paved surface roads in the whole of the province, but the largest mileage, in some cases arterial, in some cases secondary, and so on. To deal with it in another way, expenditures per kilometre, they are way down the line as compared with some ridings that have been mentioned." - That still holds today, by the way.
I agree with Tom, I think Alex was the reason we have a paved runway allowing for much larger planes to land here than you might normally expect. Tom commented on how down to earth Alex was. That the first time he met him in Victoria Alex was wearing a three piece business suit. Around Williams Lake he would wear a sport jacket with no tie, and out in Anahim Lake at the Stampede he wore jeans, a red shirt and a flask in his back pocket. Seems to me I remember the red shirt.
In any case, it was a real joy to get to meet and talk with Tom over the phone today and I look forward to any emails he sends with more stories. He agrees with Floyd, that I need to get something about Thomas Squinas going, but it's a matter of getting out there and talking to people and easier said than done since I always seem to have alligators snapping at my heels.
I'll reiterate here. It's remarkable the neat stories that people have about the West Chilcotin and I always appreciate anything you folks want to send me that helps to keep a record and round out the kind of people that have helped to settle the country, or simply stopped for a spell.
I went out for another walk today because even though the sun couldn't quite break through the clouds, it was only just below freezing and I wasn't going to waste a rare warm day.
I was walking along the back trail in the woods when Mocha had her nose up and started plowing through snow chest deep on her. Suddenly, there was a loud cracking and twigs snapping and I tried peering through the saplings for a running moose or caribou. A large pale shape flew across the trail over me to a thicket of saplings on the other side. I couldn't see whether it was an owl or a hawk, only that the one sapling was swaying under the weight of the bird. Suddenly, more cracking and snapping twigs, the sapling whipped as the bird's weight left it and I could only catch a shadow before the bird disappeared. It seemed like an awful lot of noise for a bird and I kept looking around in the snow for animal tracks as I called the dogs and prepared to leave. Mocha returned but River refused to and I finally had to wade into the thicket through knee deep snow to pull him out of there. Once there, I understood why he wouldn't leave. Scattered under low twigs was lots of rabbit fur and blood from a fresh kill and you could see the wing beats in the snow where the bird had to take a running start to get aloft carrying the weight of therabbit in addition to its own. That's when it was cracking twigs low to the ground as it came out of the thicket. It also explained why the sapling bent so much under the weight of the bird. I sure wish I had seen what it was. A picture would have been pretty cool too since it flew over me less than twenty feet away.
Our temperature had dropped to -6.9C or about 20F by early evening and then a wind came up. In less than an hour it has climbed to above freezing as the wind whips in some warm air bringing snow with it. It'll soon be rain if it warms up much more. That would be very, very bad. It's a nice change to not have to deal with ice everywhere the way we have in past winters that have been too warm.
02/01/2008 3:16 PM

More on Morse

Floyd has sent more information on Chalmers or Charley Morse, the playboy resort owner who owned and operated Rimarko Ranch in its heyday.
- "I did do a lot of flying for Charley Morris, but never knew him that well. He wasn't the kind of guy you got to know if you just worked for him. One of his friends that came up to Charlotte lots in a Howard float plane was taking off of Little Charlotte Lake with three passengers, and tried a downwind turn after takeoff that didn't turn out too well. They ended up just off the shore line in the trees with their plane all smashed up. All were OK except one woman had a broken nose. They hiked to the outlet of Big Charlotte where there was a boat, and took it back to the lodge. After thinking about it for a while they went back to recover some of their things, and somehow the airplane caught on fire. I was called to take the fire fighters into the lake, but when we got there all we saw was the burnt airplane and spent hours looking for survivors which were back at the lodge by that time. The whole thing was kind of hushed up after that, but the burnt out airplane is still there on Little Charlotte. This is a picture of it. If you want to write about someone who really helped the country around Anahim and Nimpo, write about Thomas Squinas." -
You can see a picture of the burnt out plane up on the right.
The whole thing was most likely hushed up because the Transport Safety Board tends to get a little hyped up about stuff like that. In addition to that, I know how concerned people get around here if a plane hasn't called in or an ELT has gone off. It would be really bad if you got called in to a burning plane, probably by the fire lookout station, and couldn't find the passengers anywhere.
Floyd is very right about Thomas Squinas. He was the Band Chief at one time, but all of his life right from a very young age, he had a profound effect on this country and the stories about him are long and varied. I really do need to sit down and talk to his family and people that knew him.
I finally got out for a walk today for the first time in weeks. Aside from right around Christmas when things were too hectic for a walk, this is the first time that I can think of where the temperature has been up around freezing and the sun shining. A low coming in from the Pacific is bringing warm winds from the south, so although it was pretty breezy today, it was still really nice to be out. The sun is still pretty low on the horizon so while walking in the woods protects you from the wind, you don't see a lot of sun through the trees. Still, it was nice to be out and see what's been around. Lots of coyote tracks and loads of rabbit. They're sinking in the snow a bit but still staying up on top enough to outrun the coyotes I expect. I didn't see a single moose track, nor caribou, but they may not move down until later in the season when the wolf packs get bad farther out.
A couple of people went by on snowmobiles when I turned off the trail to come back out on the road. There was a couple out cross country skiing on the lake today and you could hear a neighbour down the way using his chainsaw this afternoon. All signs that the weather has warmed up enough for people to want to be outside all of a sudden.
I had to laugh at a fellow that called this morning to follow up on a hosting plan I had purchased from him. He was talking about how cold it suddenly was now in Toronto where he's based, (still warmer than we have been) and when I told him those were the kind of temperatures we've been seeing for two months straight, he said, "But you're in B.C.!" Yes, but we're in the interior at the base of a monster mountain range at nearly 3,700 feet. Victoria we're not!
Andy got the same laugh with someone he had to talk to in Newfoundland this morning about our telephone plan. She was complaining that the snow was so high she couldn't see out the call center's windows and it was snowing yet again! You can sure tell what the main subject is on the minds of most Canadians!
Actually, when we finished up with our calls we both commented on how extraordinary the service was that we had each received from our respective salesperson. That's one thing Canada needs to work on. I have to admit, and most people that have been to the States say the same, that Americans in the sales and service industry bend over backwards when serving you. Although Canadians are generally pleasant enough, they really need to pick it up on the world market, especially in view of how high our dollar has climbed. Canadian business is now competing directly against American business, particularly over the Internet. Obviously, if there is no difference in price, then I'm going to go where the service is best and I think most people feel the same.
01/01/2008 1:08 PM

Happy New Year Everyone!

Welcome to 2008. I hope everyone enjoyed whatever manner they chose to ring in the New Year. We had the dance up at the community hall with a pretty darn good turn out and I think everyone had a great time.
The police presence was an annoyance to say the least, and by presence, I mean full time presence parked outside our gates stopping everyone whenever they left the hall, even if it was to run up to the shop to get a forgotten item for the dance. However, I'm sure they had a far more miserable time of it stuffed into an overheated police vehicle on the side of the road all night than we all did laughing about it. We did invite them in for eats and coffee or pop but it was a no go. It doesn't really matter to any of us. For years pretty much everyone that attends an event at the Hall has a mate that doesn't drink, or two couples will ride together and one person is the designated driver. In addition to that, we had three designated drivers last night including myself and all three of us worked the bar, so there was absolutely no chance that anyone that had been drinking was going to be driving. Actually, we probably went through as much coffee last night as we did liquor, which is often the case.
We just don't have that many young people around Nimpo Lake anymore, and certainly not in winter. So most of the people that attend an event at the Hall have been around for a few years, and from my age up, know how to have a great time without drinking liquor. People are there to dance and visit and ring in the New Year with good company, not for the hard partying. Since there wasn't anything official going on in Anahim Lake last night we actually expected to be targeted by the police. Which is fine with us. We didn't mind playing decoy. It means the people in Anahim weren't going to be hassled as much at their private party and I understand it was set up so most people were getting there via off road. Which is the main point isn't it? If you aren't on public roads creating a danger to others if you drink and drive, it shouldn't be a problem.
I think most people in British Columbia are entirely in favour of the Counter Attack campaign against drinking and driving, particularly during the holiday season when you might expect more than the normal number of people to drink. Too many people have been killed by impaired drivers on our roads during the holiday season in the past, and although I haven't seen the numbers, I think that the roadblocks over the years have probably had a profound effect on the number of drinking related auto deaths over the holidays. On the other hand, I have seen the numbers on repeat offenders. Time after time after time the same small percentage of people are being stopped for impaired and their license yanked after conviction. Those are people that are driving impaired a lot of the time, not just through the holiday season. Often when you hear of someone being killed by a drunk driver, that driver has either had previous convictions for that offense, or 24 hour warnings. I can certainly understand the police wanting to find those drivers but in a small community like ours, you probably don't need to be stopping everyone, sometimes the same person two or three times in the same day just because they live near where a road block is always set up. We don't have a very big population and it doesn't take long to learn what people are driving. So if you are a part of the community at all, you should know the drinkers and non drinkers or social drinkers. If you have a person who's vehicle is legal, they have a license, they are a nondrinker and always wear their seatbelt, why aren't they being waved through the roadblock? Why is that person being stopped in daylight hours, day after day, after day? I've spoken to a few such people now including one last night that has been putting up with the harassment and I don't get it. As I've said before, what we have happening out here is not protection of a community from bad drivers, it's out and out harassment. There is just no other word to describe it. And the more I hear from people, the more apparent that becomes.
Roadblocks to target drinking drivers, okay cool. I have no problem with that and I don't think anyone else does either. But that's not what we're seeing here at all.
On the other hand, as I mentioned before, the business owners are delighted with the response time of local police when they have a problem or a break in. One business owner told me last night that when the alarm went off in his store after a break in, police were there in three minutes. Pretty impressive when you consider that the owner used to drive from his home in Nimpo, about 15 minutes from Anahim, and still get to his business 20 minutes before the police did after the alarm went off. And the police station and their homes are only located about a minute from the business. So there has been a vast improvement on that score.
Probably where the local RCMP need the most improvement is on their PR. Last night, a long standing citizen of Nimpo Lake and resort owner chose to walk home from the hall rather than drive. A nod of respect to the police. When he walked past the silent police vehicle with the two Members inside he looked straight at them. There was nothing. All they would have to have done is roll down their windows and greet him with a "Happy New Year" or "Have a good evening." It would have gone a long way to improving their image locally and I can't imagine ever having been in the same circumstance wherever I have lived, and not have an RCMP at least roll down his, or in this case, his and her window. You really need to work on your PR people! If you want to be a bunch of faceless, inhuman little jackboots, you're doing a remarkable job of succeeding with that image. And as I understand it, that's exactly the impression at least a couple of Members posted in Anahim want to give. Er....you might be in the wrong profession there, people. Perhaps a profession in the military might be more suited to your temperament?
On to more pleasant subjects. (I know, I wasn't going to do anymore cop stories but we've got a doozy coming up.) Thank you to John, Len and Val for their help with decorating and organizing the dance and a special thanks to Catherine who did a wonderful job of bartending. And since no one else has done it yet, a huge thank you to our Chairman, Andy, for running around and organizing this thing with all that entails, being a designated driver, bartending, and single handedly cleaning the hall up today, on top of being instrumental in getting the hall new doors and furnace this fall, and getting them installed with Rob and Brie's help.
In the meanwhile, another long-standing citizen of Nimpo Lake and bush pilot from way back sent me a great picture and some more information on the infamous owner of Rimarko Ranch today. Floyd has probably done as much to settle this country via floatplane as anyone in the country and has some awesome stories to tell.
-"I was reading your blog on Charlotte Lake and thought you might like some more information. We always knew him as Charley Morris ( DIDN'T KNOW HIS NAME WAS CHALMERS). He was a very rich playboy with family money, and never paid much attention to running his lodges as a paying enterprise. He also had a lodge on the lower Dean River for steelhead fishing. I flew many trips to the lower Dean with his guests and sometimes with Charley and some of the young girls he always hired for the summer. He also owned a Cessna 310 that Wilderness Airline Leased for their charter operation, and to haul his guests from Vancouver, or Seattle, and some times Calgary. Dave Kahll did most of the flying in the 310, and the IFR flights. One time Charley called me on the radio phone, and told me to bring him a dozen eggs. I told him that all I had at Nimpo at the time was the Beaver, and how much it would cost to bring a dozen eggs to Charlotte Lake. All he said was, "Yeh I know, just bring me the eggs." -
The picture up on the right is of the floatplane hauling a water tank to Charlotte Lake for one of the cabins. Boy, that would create some wind resistance!
I'm switching over to a new year now so the menu of archived articles will look a little different. If you want to go into last year's menu from now on, you'll want to click on 2007 Articles starting with Last Week of December 2007. If you just want to check out articles for the first two weeks of December, you can go to For the articles from the last two weeks of December, including articles about the RCMP and the letter from the local Sergeant, go to December Week 3-4 .


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The purpose of this web site is to draw attention to a remote area of west central British Columbia. It is a beautiful area that relies heavily on tourism. The search engines don't know much about the West Chilcotin, Anahim Lake, Nimpo Lake or any of the other small communities in the region and I hope to change that! Even as large as this site will eventually be, there just isn't enough room or time in the day to fully describe this incredible country but I am going to try scraping away at the tip of the iceberg, so join me!


Follow the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!
Unusual pole fence.
 
Burned metal motor on a plane from an accident years ago.
 
An old Beaver floatplane sitting at dock.
 
Several people celebrating after midnight New Years party.
 
People dancing in the community hall.
 
Small woodpecker contemplates a red potato net bag full of suet.
 
Close eye of a woodpecker.
 
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