Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Today's the day the teddy bears had no picnic

 I could see through the bear's crafty ways.

Somewhere along British Columbia's Highway 16, not too far west of New Hazelton, sits a little wooden kiosk and it's home to all manner of delicious treats including fresh vegetables and home-made muffins and they're all there for the asking. 

Yes, you can leave a donation in the tin box if you like; and each piece of food has a pricetag attached, but the honour system is clearly in effect. 

Last week, my daughter Ewa and I stopped in at the Alpine-looking kiosk, en route from Smithers, B.C., to Prince Rupert. I was riding a borrowed Honda 600 Shadow and Ewa was aboard her 2004 650 BMW "Apocalypse" so named because she's ridden that machine through places and conditions like no biker that I know of, including snowstorms, across North America, around some of the curviest bike roads in the world (including on our trip around B.C. last week) and it still runs like the cougar that crossed our path Saturday and the bike merits a place in the BMW hall of bad-ass fame. 

But never mind that. 

Back at the free-food booth, I had just finished leaving a note in the visitor guest book and was walking back to my Honda when Ewa called my attention to the approach of a local resident; specifically, a black bear.

I named the bear Huena, after my late mom. Not that Huena had any bear-like qualities but one fall evening away back when I was in university, three bears broke into our house in the middle of the night and ever since, black bears have been a Carter meme, even though memes hadn't been invented yet. Well, some of my nephews and nieces call my sister Mary Meme and she's no bear either.  But we Carters kind of like black bears. Plus I'm getting off topic again.

As soon as Ewa pointed out the new arrival, I suggested we abbreviate our picnic, climb back aboard our bikes and leave. It might well have been the best decision I made during the entire 10-day trip. 

It sure beats the doozie I made 24 hours earlier. After another roadside rest, I managed to resume highway speed with my black-framed photo-gray eyeglasses not on my face where they belonged but rather on my gas tank, from which they flew off, only to land on the highway and get destroyed by a passing vehicle.

Do these frames make me look blurry? Get it?

I should add here that I do not technically need my glasses to drive. My optometrist removed the little "X" on my driver's  licence in 2019, so the fact that my frames got smooshed in B.C., did nothing to impair my vision except I could no longer do a decent Clark Kent imitation. 

Also, since we're on the topic of gas tanks, I'm reminded that the bear picnic departure action was far wiser than my decision to not keep the Shadow's fuel topped up. 

On the second last day of our adventure, a few miles south of Port Hardy on the northern region of Vancouver Island, yours truly managed to set some sort of record by running out of gas twice. In the same hour.  

I knew when we were leaving Port Hardy, where we arrived the previous night after a 16-hour ferry ride aboard the Northern Expedition ferry boat, that I was low on gas. I just didn't know how low. 
"Take me to your litre," I said.

So I putt-putted to a stop on the southbound shoulder of the mountainous highway 19 -- where the air literally smells like pine; it's sweet and almost unbelievable come to think of it -- Ewa courageously rode on ahead in search of fuel only to come across a gallant quartet of motorcyclists who roared to my rescue. One of them offered up a litre of gas he had kept for emergencies and that worked fine until we were a few more klicks down the road and the Shadow kacked out again. 

Another of their motorized cavalry offered up his spare fuel, which got me to the next gas station, in Port McNeill

With that, I'd felt I'd done my good deed for the month, outfitting those fellows with a year's supply of "those people from Toronto are so dumb" stories.

I was, however, bright enough to get away from that bear. 

Indeed, and upon reflection -- as the little booth got smaller in my rear view mirror (see what I did there?) -- I realized the little so-called free food shop was in fact designed, erected, and stocked with yummy human food, by the bears themselves, like a human mouse trap.  

But they couldn't fool me.

One more thing. 

I just re-read the above. 

Ewa ruling the road on her BMW Apocalypse
If I didn't know any better, I'd say that story made the trip seem like one screwup after another. Nothing could be further from reality. 

On our trip around B.C., Ewa and I covered something like more than 2,000 klicks through some of the most spectacular terrain on the planet. The guys who helped us on Vancouver Island were just a sample of the generosity and friendliness we encountered every day and night. From Cache Creek to Zeballos, from sea level to above the clouds--and as we rode through the clouds covered in dew I kept thinking, "being an angel must be a pretty wet past time; they probably all have great skin" and we had sunshine every day and the only negative things that happened were the ones that I just wrote about and they weren't really bad.

And can you believe I got to do all this with one of my kids? I am the luckiest man I've ever met. Sometimes, I even make myself jealous.

But I'm still pretty pumped about outwitting the bears.

1 comment:

  1. Stellar account! Glad you got to meet a furry resident!