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  Climate Change Caravan 2001 - A Travel Log
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May 27 - June 7

New Denver to Turner Valley B.C.

 

 

From: "Kate Kennedy" kaknndy@mta.ca

Subject: Climate Change Caravan Week 4
Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 2:29 AM

On these pages, Highway7.com re-publishes the C3 Caravan Travellogue with the kind permission from Kate Kennedy.
Our special thanks to all the folks at C3 for their personal commitment in spreading the message of Climate Change and for sharing their experiences.

Sunday, May 27th.
We started our day with scrambled eggs and strong coffee made by Inga and the wonderful crew at the school. The bus retrieved its internal organs from the front lawn, and bikers gradually departed from New Denver. This was Lindsay and Andrew's last day of cycling with the caravan (but they promise to return at the end of the tour). We stopped for a surprise lunch at Winlaw. The surprise being free salads and ice tea at Emerald City cafT, which had been organized by our scouts but had not quite made it in the communications trickle-down. We were fetched from the gas station across the street by one of the waitresses and told to come on over. Quite a lot of time lapsed by in Winlaw before we were all lunched and had had our fill of the little market there. Next came the overwhelming head winds that seemed to try to stop us from moving altogether. We arrived in Nelson and headed up the 90 degree incline to the United Church on Silica Street. We found our host, John Altan, at his office in the Ecocentre where he was busily preparing lentil soup for our dinner (surprise number 2 for the day!). The teams arrived one by one to the church. We ate dinner, and Yuill gave a slide presentation surrounded by our general mess. The Climate Change Caravan has absolutely no problem making itself at home in any location, be it church, high school gym, or private residence. I wonder sometimes if we will find ourselves cut off when future hosts are warned by previous ones of our slovenliness. We'll cross our fingers and hope not!

Monday, May 28th.
Aaah, a day off. Or at least a day without having to pack, or lube our bikes, or navigate. Bound and determined not to have my plans for laundry and a shower hijacked by anything C3, I marched to the laundromat and aquatic centre before settling in for the day at the Ecocentre. The Ecocentre became homebase for the day, we hung laundry in the front room, made lunch in the kitchen, abused their internet access, tied up their phone lines, drank their coffee, and generally got in the way. John and the rest of the staff were very good to us. The highlight of the day was yet another bus breakdown. (This made us 6 for 6-6 breakdowns in 6 days). We were just leaving the church when Ryan leapt out of a stranger's truck and yelled at Scott to get in and not ask questions. The bus drive shaft had suddenly snapped just as Mary Ann was driving up one of the infamous Nelson hills and she was stuck in the middle of an intersection with her foot on the brake. Luckily policemen in Nelson are quite understanding and redirected traffic until the tow truck arrived. The bus spent the rest of the day in the shop and we panhandled for money to pay for the new shaft. Lindsay and Andrew scanned local papers and bulletin boards for summer employment, Ron reported to have done absolutely nothing, Hillary visited her sister, Mary Ann and Graeme tried to rustle up some media attentioną That evening we all played a game organized by camp counsellor Leslie. We had five cardboard lily pads and had to get all 28 of us across the raging carpet river in the united church basement without falling off or letting go of any of the lily pads. August lost two lily pads all by himself, and swung Jen over his shoulder at one point to keep her on a lily pad with three other people on it. We truly felt bonded by the end of the game, or at least humoured.

Tuesday, May 29th
began with another great food surprise: pancakes! With the aid of another well-stocked church kitchen Rob, Graeme, Hillary, Kara, and Jeremy made a huge breakfast feast for us all. Kate and Kennedy had the sheer joy of doing their dishes afterward. Our AWOL scouts turned up after breakfast, only one day later than they were ordered to appear after Yuill and Kate beckoned from a payphone in Nakusp begging them to come back and fix the vegetable oil system. It is good to have them back. At the garage we got a repair bill that was a lot cheaper than they had estimated, which means that the caravan is not running at a deficit-yet! We also scored some steel poles we found in the yard, which we are now using as a pivot for the wind turbine. It is quite a sight to see the turbine spinning high above the bus. When we were able to tear Yuill, Jason, and Megan away from the bus engine and close it's lid, we were off. The road from Nelson to the ferry across Kootenay Lake is beautiful. The rain cleared up, and we all made the ferry in good time. A group had set out early to do a presentation at the Crawford Bay school. We found them playing basketball with the highschool students in the schoolyard. We had a restful afternoon sleeping in the sun until dinnerą.and waiting for the bus. This story demands its own paragraph:

The bus made it as far as Salmo before it decided to return to its usual dormant state. Scott, the lucky driver for Tuesday hung out at the garage in Salmo waiting for the glow plug timer to be fixed, then discovered that in yet another random act of impeccable timing, the ferry was not letting buses on today. So he and Adam and Laird drove all the way around the lake and arrived at the school many hours later than anticipated when they left the first garage that morning. Aaah, the bus. There are two types of people in the world: those who want to pitch the bus off a cliff, and those who are willing to stomach the daily trips to the mechanic as we inch closer to being the operators of a sustainable vehicle. The jury is still out on this, and to date we are still the proud owners of the moody red beast.

Wednesday, May 30th
Team Gimp (minus Kate K who had rudely been scheduled to cook that day) got up early to start a 185km trek to Cranbrook in order to make it in time for early morning presentations at schools the next day (the bus being its unreliable self, we decided cyclists were more accountable). The rest of us gorged on scrambled eggs for breakfast before slowly pulling out of the school parking lot. The road to Creston was quiet, and we got a great view of the farms in the valley below when we made it to the top of the final hill. In Creston Yuill gave a slide presentation to a group at the Rec Centre and we did an interview with local media outside. The triumph of the day: the bus is finally running on vegetable oil. The french fry smell coming from the exhaust as it passed us nearly made me cry, which makes me wonder how obsessed I really am.

Unfortunately the bloody thing still doesn't like to start. The people on the bus in the afternoon found themselves stranded outside Little Joe's fruit stand for two hours cooking a dinner that couldn't be delivered while we waited for the solar panels to recharge the battery. We arrived to irrate cyclists who had been forced to beg for food in the metropolis of Yahk. We found them in the community centre surrounded by bags of potato chips and Wonderbread. We also found Ron, who had broken another spoke and had had to drop out of Team Gimp's marathon ride to Cranbrook. Finally, we found that the stove in the kitchen didn't work, which made french toast the next morning an experience I don't even care to write about.

Thursday, May 31st,
following the french toast trauma, we headed off for Cranbrook. This was the day we discovered the obnoxious ribbing the highways department puts on the edge of the shoulder to jar sleepy drivers awake before they drive off the road. It began just outside Cranbrook and is still here in Alberta. It makes passing other cyclists something only those with thick skulls or a fetish for headaches care to attempt. For people like Yuill who claims to actually fall asleep on his bike, it has come in handy on more than on occasion!

At Mount Baker Secondary School we met our fearless leader for the day, Cam Trueman, who had arranged our stay at the school, presentations, and parking for the red beast. Graeme and Mary Ann had organized a media event outside the school that afternoon. A few local papers were there and took shots of the bus in all its renewable glory. The wind turbine was raised, and the solar panels up. Many a kodak moment was had. After the press left we did a tour through town with the bus and cyclists out front. We definitely raised a lot of eyebrows, although it would have been better to do it before stores closed for the day. Better luck next time.

After the tour it was time for supper at the United Church, organized by Barbara (thank you!). The food was amazing, and the cooks refused to let us help do dishes. Although we protested this, it was a nice treat. After supper we had a slide presentation at the school, followed by some serious internet access, and bed.

Friday, June 1st
after being well fed by Barabara Warman and her crew in Cranbrook, and being sent off with tons of great food, we set off for Fernie. Sandy Trueman arranged a free tour of Fort Steeke, a historical site of an old gold rush town at its peak in 1898. We noted how funny it was that this historical site was only one hundred years old-as compared with the ruins in Athens. We hopped back on our bikes and pedalled a bit further to Norbury Lake where we stopped for a dip. Our third stop of the day was at a trout hatchery run by the BC government to support the trout fishing industry.

With a large chunk of the bike riding day not yet under our belts, we decided we should really start to move-however for some of us the more touristy pace was a nice shift from biking on by.

A torrential storm of heavy wind and rain hit at approximately 9pm just as Tim and I were arriving into Fernie. Luckily at her presentation Hillary met a woman who offered to put us up in her home (we were supposed to camp that night). Thank you Joni, Corey, Jill, and Chad!-Leslie

Saturday, June 2nd
was the day we finished BC. The Crowsnest Pass is supposed to be the least steep pass through the Rockies and we all made it through with ease (the wind at our backs certainly helped). At the BC-Alberta border we took many proud pictures and planted a tree, and at the base placed a rock painted with Climate Change Caravan, 2001. This is a trend we will continue throughout the rest of the trip.

Most of us arrived at the Crowsnest Pass Secondary School with some time before supper to clean our clothes and ourselves. Theresa Negreiff and her crew at Crowsnest organized a delicious dinner of chili, salads, and desserts-yum! Hillary presented the slide show and some local media from the Crowsnest Promoter stopped by for an interview. Most people went to bed early to get a good night's sleep.-Leslie

Sunday, June 3rd
both Rob and Kennedy celebrated their birthdays, Kennedy turned 13 and Rob turned 23. We feasted on oatmeal with all sorts of crazy toppings. Since the new cooking schedule came into effect, we have been operating on a system of one-upmanship which means that the meals have gotten progressively better each day.
We were scheduled to visit the Cowley Ridge windfarm, about 27 kilometers away that morning. There was an amazing tailwind that got us there in no time, although in our usual fashion, it took several tries and a couple of phone calls to actually sort out where we were supposed to meet our tour guide Peter Wilson. The turbines look amazing. From the highway they line the ridge, spinning away happily, producing 21 megawatts of power for the Alberta grid. They're expanding in the next couple of years to 200 megawatts. The wind on that ridge is out of control. We had to hide behind a huge steel box to stay warm and to hear Peter tell us about the farm. He answered our endless questions and tried not to cringe as Adam lay down underneath one of the turbines to get earth shattering footage for the documentary. Apparently the blades can fall off at any moment in their 20 year lifespan. Luckily enough, none of them chose that particular moment to do it.

We gobbled lunch in the bus before challenging the unbearable headwinds that faced us and nearly killed us that afternoon. I don't know if I've experienced the frustration I felt trying to maintain even 10 km/hour on a downhill. It was maddening. What made it worse was the prairie phenomenon of being able to see your destination for hours before you actually reach it. At one point I watched the bus for forty five minutes in the distance, praying that a) it wasn't something else red and b) that if it was the bus it wouldn't leave before I got to it. When we got there we ate all the food that was immediately available and avoided the last leg of the journey for a while. We also watched Sam approach for about half an hour.

When we finally arrived at Judy Hadley's ranch, we were met by good food and the Alberta NDP party and campaigners. Our visit coincided with the party's potluck, which made for an interesting mix of obsessions. We were all a little stunned after the ride, so I can't imagine we were very stimulating company! We went to bed very early, starting around 7:30.

Monday, June 4th
we awoke to downpour. As disheartening as it is to start the day's ride completely soaked, Alberta has been in a drought and badly needing the rain. Judy and her daughter prepared us an amazing breakfast (note to self: stop talking about food all the time). The coffee was particularly appreciated. Those who couldn't bear to bike the gravel driveway again were teleported to the highway courtesy of -----'s pickup and Gary's car. Today's ride was quite a relief after the hellish winds from yesterday. Make no mistake, it was windy, but everything's relative. The rain stopped, but not before it turned into hail for a few minutes, just to give us the full spectrum of weather events. The terrain was actually hillier than our day through the Rockies was, but the executive decision to put panniers on the bus today, just this once, made things much easier.

We ate lunch at Chain Lakes and then continued on until Turner Valley. Leslie had a traumatic brush with death (unlike the more common untraumatic brushes with death) when a transport truck passed just inches away from her and honked its horn at her. This left her a bit shaky and she and Augie ended up hitchhiking the last 15 km. She seems to be on the mend now, and is in the midst of writing Friday and Saturday's updates for this week (yes, it's true, the weekly updates have overwhelmed and I am now starting to crack the whip).

Probably the most startling part of this landscape is the derricks that incessantly pump oil out of the ground all along the highways. They're sort of eerie, both in the way they pump away without anyone operating them, and because they are perpetuating our fossil fuel consumption in a way that seems as though no one is in control. Scary stuff.

Our host in Turner Valley is Gary. He has us sleeping in yet another well-equipped community hall (wonderful things), free tours of the local historic oil plant, food donations, showers, and the audience for Hillary's slide presentation earlier this evening. Thank you to him! We finished off the day with lots of plans for the new approach, ie the one that will allow us to talk to the unconverted of this country. After weeks of presentations to environmentalists, we are desperately in need of a new method. August and Jordan and Adam have been working on this for the past few days and presented us all with a plan for a C3 travelling festival, complete with music, art, demonstrations, food, parades through town, and the list goes on. First stop Edmonton.

And that's the week (or so!). Out of one province and into the next, with a month almost gone. Shocking. Congratulations to all those who made it to the end of this email, and please bear with me as I work on shortening these monster updates.

Next week: Calgary, Edmonton, and brevity.-Kate. K

Read more...
Antigonish to Halifax "The Final Frontier" (September 20,2001)

 

 

 
 

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