prince george

I’m writing this from the back of the EuroVan, heading north from Prince George. The rest of the convoy should be about 3 hours ahead of me now, camping at Moberly Lake, just outside of Chetwynd (“Chainsaw Sculpture Capitol of the World.) This puts us 2/3 of the way up through B.C. on our second day out. B.C. is BIG. Much larger than I imagined. I’m told that end-to-end B.C. is larger than California, and in land area, B.C. is larger than California and Texas combined.

Last night, we were pulled into a filling station when we started attracting attention. First, a group of five kids came over and said, “Hey, were you guys on the radio this morning???” We admitted to the deed and then showed them the interiors of our vans. Meanwhile, a brown ’67 splittie puttered up and out came a gentleman looking like a younger, slimmer Santa Claus. He introduced himself as Wilbur and a fellow VW nut. “Hey,” he said, “would you guys like me to show you a camping spot with a great view, near a lake, quiet and isolated?” Well, we were supposed to be an hour north last night, but then again it was 9pm. The mutiny took about 1 minute, and we all rolled up the hill behind Wilbur. His ’67 bus was faster than the EuroVan, which was faster than any of the other busses. Then again, his bus was optimized for B.C.’s hills.

The spot was everything that Wilbur promised, and the 11 busses pulled tight together beside a lake. We cooked, and ate, and Wilbur told us that “You know, I own a house, but I still sleep in my bus most of the time. I’m comfortable there.” We all nodded knowingly. And then we slept in that grassy meadow by the lake, and Wilbur slept beside us, in his bus.

At 6:15 this morning, John and I packed up the EuroVan and pulled out of the quiet meadow. We were huntin’ Hoover. Bob Hoover, that is. Drivin’ a ’65. Sorta curmudgeonly-like.

Tobin was sleep deprived from trip hosting. John and I were going to look for Bob Hoover at the scheduled camp sites, and then proceed on to Prince George, where the busses would be serviced by VW.

We didn’t see Bob along the way, but when we pulled into Hub City Motors in Prince George, there was a scruffy-but-noble-looking splittie bus there, with a huge rack and two tires on top. Inside, were two auto dealers in striped white shirts and ties. Between them stood a man wearing a woolen cap and an evil grin. He looked like a cross between Adam (the mad chef from Northern Exposure) and a local lumberjack. “You must be Bob Hoover” I said, extending my hand. He grinned wider, nodded, and shook my hand.

We waited there for the rest of the gang to arrive. Now, I can move pretty fast. I can get stow the van, get dressed, and be ready to drive in under a half hour. When I’m travelling with someone, that amount stretches to 45 minutes.

When you add more folks to the equation, you have to figure around 10 minutes extra per person. Bob, John, and I waited there for the rest of the vans to show. And we waited, and we waited.

Finally Bob got antsy. His bus is a ’65, and thus is pretty slow. His engine is the same engine they put in VW bugs. Bob and I made an executive decision on a campsite where we’d meet. Two things influenced our decision… it had 109 spots, and it had showers. That it was by a lake was only a bonus.

While waiting my Mac had hung up. I’d spin the trackball, and the cursor would move grudgingly and with great trepidation. The machine was hesitant, and I was getting very frustrated.

Now, I love Macs. They’re beautifully designed machines. But their total dependance on a mouse is a major downfall. Hopefully at some point they’ll give users a way to use dialogs and menus with the keyboard.

Around 12:30, folks started pulling in. John and I went off to the Internet Cafe, where Eddie Hintz tried to get my Mac working better. (He is using a Duo to write his many dispatches.)

Can you believe that there is an Internet Cafe in Northern B.C.? I was surprised. Even more surprisingly, it’s one of the coolest coffee shops I’ve ever been in. It does this in by being both incredibly huge and incredibly eclectic. The place is literally the size of a Woolworth’s, and contains terminals, pool tables, murals, paintings, a bookcase, and some things that were fairly inexplicable. I think that this must be a big-time happening place in the long winters. (Note: Bob Hintz noticed that many of the local cars had a plug dangling from their front radiators. The locals would plug in their cars to heat up the block before even trying to start them.)

So Eddie had marginal luck getting the Mac to feel better. Meanwhile, I’d discovered that there was an Apple Authorized Service Center just around the block from the Internet Cafe. The convoy was to leave soon, and the Apple repair folks told me it would take a few hours, so I told Eddie and Co. to go on ahead. I handed over the Duo, and John and I bummed around Prince George for a few hours.

Notes on Prince George:

  • I counted three internet service providers during my walk.
  • There is a shop called ‘Dead On Arrival’ that delivers boquets of dead flowers artfully arranged in old paint cans and shoes.
  • John spotted the lone town clone.
  • Fashions in Prince George aren’t that different than in San Francisco. Folks have shaved heads, piercings, and I saw yet another one of those pesky goths.

So around 5pm I picked up the laptop. The boy servicing it was adorable, but didn’t look a day over 17. I was fairly certain he didn’t know what he was doing. He told me he’d cleaned the trackball but didn’t find anything else wrong.

I went back to the van, booted the laptop, and lo! Everything worked fine! So I’ve been given a reprieve to write this dispatch, and hopefully I’ll get it sent off soon.

Now we’re camping by Moberly Lake, I’ve eaten well, and even showered. Life is good. Thanks to the time zone change, it’s 2am, and time to sleep.

Until tomorrow,


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