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Wilderness Adventures - April, Week 2/2010

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 some great contributed stories and ongoing blogs, just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

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15/04/2010 9:00 PM

A Pioneer Leaves

Al Elsey, a long known resident and pioneer of the Chilcotin died last Friday. He had requested of Andy years ago that he act as pallbearer when the time came, and Andy went down to the Valley yesterday to fulfill that request.
Al Elsey posed a bit of a contradiction throughout his life in the Chilcotin. While it's true that he did a lot of things in his life, many and varied, challenging, adventurous and just plain daring, he was also known to stretch the truth here and there. Kind of like Pan Phillips. So he was often viewed by the locals that knew him with the same trepidation as they often viewed Panhandle Phillips. I've read some of Al's stories and watched some of his collection of 8mm movies taken way back when that now reside in a collection at the University in Prince George. At the time, he was the only person in the country with a movie camera and he shot movies of events that will never be repeated again, including of the first cattle drive out of here. He eventually moved to Bella Coola in a retirement home in his later years.
Al Elsey was quite a storyteller and I'm still kicking myself for missing a golden opportunity. I had asked for a good quality digital recorder for Christmas a year ago and got it, with the intention of recording some of the stories our long time colorful locals have to tell. We've gone down to Bella Coola a few times since but were always trying to make appointments on time or get away from appointments down there to get back home. That's probably no excuse. We could have made a special trip down and Andy did get over to see Al where he lived last fall when he went to Bella Coola on his own.
Al Elsey was one person that never minded talking up a storm and telling stories about his past. He was not a humble man in that regard, which was probably why a few locals looked askance at him. Well, that and the fact that until he discovered church, I understand that though generous to a fault, he was a hard living, hard drinking man. He definitely enjoyed life to the fullest. In any case, I missed out on the chance to record some great stories because he was one person that was never shy about telling them and wouldn't have minded my recorder a bit. In contrast, a lot of the other folks around here have amazing pasts and terrific stories but it's a bit tricky getting the timing right for them to tell a few. It often only requires a great meal, a bottle of Famous Grouse or other liquid refreshment, and the stories begin to flow. I'm just not sure what the reaction would be if I brought out a recorder. I'm kind of thinking the stories would dry up in a real hurry. So though it's not often I regret not getting something done that should have been, this one I most definitely do. Whether you liked Al or not, we've lost a great bit of history in his passing.
Today was absolutely fantastic! The sun was shining, and even with some haze coming up from Oregon and Washington States, it still heated up. It was 8C or 46F by eleven this morning. This evening it was 16.9C or 62F in the shade which is amazing. There has been very little wind for the last couple of days, although a breeze did spring up later this afternoon. There has been water on top of the ice on Nimpo Lake since yesterday and by today there was even more melted snow on top. The snow has gone down a tremendous amount in the last two days which is wonderful to see.
A big storm has moved in on the wind that started up this afternoon and we're surrounded by rain squalls. A little bit of spitting is going on out there right now but I don't imagine it will amount to much. And since it's still almost 50F out there, I don't expect the rain to turn to snow anytime soon. Although because it has been so clear at night, it has definitely dropped temp wise, getting down to between -5C and -8C or 17.6F the last couple of nights.
The lake ice has been grumbling a little for the past few days, but nowhere to the degree it was a couple of weeks ago. I'm sure Andy is right when he suggests that the moon phase seems to have a lot to do with how noisy the ice can be. It makes sense. While not exposed to the tidal forces an ocean would be under a moon, it's still water and the moon must exert some influence.

13/04/2010 12:44 PM

The Rural Conference

I mentioned over a week ago that I would be gone for a tourism conference down in Kamloops for a week. Unfortunately, being away from my computer for that long means some serious catch up before I can get back to the business of writing a blog. Although I have to admit that yesterday's nice weather was my excuse for being away from the computer for most of the day so no work got done in that regard. It was glorious out! Finally, we've gotten back to some spring weather in the last day or so. Warm temperatures and sunshine is too irresistible so that even though I couldn't really accomplish anything outside, it was still nice to be just wandering around in the yet snow covered yard in the sunshine.
Actually, Andy and I took a meandering walk over to where the docks are stored and through the woods to look at trees that were busted off from those heavy snows last winter. We walked along the shore line in front of our place to see if the ice had melted much and just generally lazed around. We managed to kill a few hours just enjoying the warm air and sunshine.
A couple of days ago we walked along the trail where that moose died this winter. Andy had noticed while I was gone that a lot of the meat along the rib cage had been devoured. For that amount to be gone there would have to be a big scavenger or a pack on it. When we walked in we saw a set of fresh wolf tracks. Not as big as that monster that went through a couple of years ago but definitely much bigger than any dog. It made sense. Only a large scavenger could have wreaked that kind of havoc on the carcass in that period of time.
Back to the 'rural' tourism conference and keep in mind what I just wrote in the paragraph above. The conference was held at the South Thompson Inn in Kamloops. Beautiful place, styled after the fancy horse farms of Kentucky. Located on the Thompson River with balconies for every room overlooking the river or the golf course next door. A fancy golf restaurant as well as in house fine dining and lounge. There were attendees from all over the province including the north and all had a different idea of what 'rural' meant. There were people from the Shushwap and Cariboo region, Revelstoke, Smithers, Terrace, and even the Fraser Valley. They all considered themselves rural, and rightly so. The Fraser Valley is rural compared to Vancouver. But the Chilcotin is downright untracked wilderness compared to the Fraser Valley. I think we all got one thing out of the conference if nothing else. What is rural? And what are the variations of rural?
We learned lots about marketing on Twitter and Facebook, even YouTube, and maintaining connectivity for our visitors when they leave their home to embark on a visit elsewhere. But that doesn't do a lot of good if you live where we do. We have no connectivity in comparison to other areas. Without cell phone service, we are left in the dark. Do we want it? I never have, and I often think that many of our visitors don't want it either. But in view of what I learned, we may have to rethink that attitude.
As pointed out in many of the seminars, the human condition is changing. Where before we were all separate entities, connected only by a phone, mail, or in person, or lately, by the Internet on our personal computers, much of the human race connects in a different way now. I guess we could see that just by watching the news on television or in my case, by following industry newsletters for my computer business. Or even when in Williams Lake or Kelowna where you see everyone on their personal hardware either talking or texting.....constantly.
One of the speakers compared our new race to a hive of bees or an anthill, where every insect knew what the other was doing in their community. Maybe the movie Avatar explains it better where all living things on that planet were connected through their Mother Earth. In our case, it's connectivity through technology and I had no idea how widespread or insidious that has become. Where the Baby Boomer generation may have caught on to the technology and is using it, are they as dependent on it as our youngest generations? It was brought up often at the conference that young people taken away from the ability to communicate through that technology and put into a rural setting on field trips, or two week wilderness camps, were totally lost. They felt like they had been cut off from the rest of the world and didn't know how to deal with it at first. Those people are our future.
Are any of them going to want to go somewhere on their vacation where they cannot text or talk to their 'community' of friends? I doubt it. Yes, a few business people that just want to get away from their hectic schedule and shut off the ability of their coworkers or boss to reach them. And there will be a few, such as people from overcrowded European cities, that want what they perceive to be a true wilderness adventure. But for the most part, we have lost a lot of our visitors and had all the reasons wrong as to why that has happened. Yes, we knew the demographic had changed. But we forgot all about the new human race out there. The one that we can't reach.
I discussed this with some of the government ministries represented at the conference. They were aghast when they realized that this was the position that many regions are in. We cannot begin to reach those visitors until we have the infrastructure in place that will attract them. But I doubt that even something as simple as cell phone service will come to us out here, because the government doesn't have the money and isn't willing to spend it on such a small population. Nor will corporations like Telus that want the volume because they're all about making money, be attracted to putting in service here.
So what to do? I have no idea but I did learn a few things that I can incorporate on websites for our area. Many vehicles have on board GPS now so I could make sure that we have Google maps available on those sites. And where before we cited lack of cell phone service as a good thing for a relaxing vacation, I can just imagine now that it would strike a note of terror for many young people seeking a nice place to go vacation.
Maybe a connected community of humans will in the long run be the best thing for the human race. It would be nice to think that it would someday help to stop wars and end poverty. But for right now, it's kicking the crap out of our tourism industry and we need to figure out how to address it. We have known for a long time that there is a real disconnect between urban dwellers, particularly those from larger cities, and rural or wilderness areas. But I honestly did not realize how much the gap had widened until I attended this conference. What's sad is that so many urban dwellers are missing out on so much when they refuse to venture out beyond their city limits. I know what the cities have. I've lived in a couple of them and it's true that the restaurants, theater, museums, events, cultures and cosmopolitan way of thinking is wonderful in many ways. I know what they have to offer. But do they know what the other side has? Sadly, we are more similar to the characters that inhabited the planet in Avatar than the city dwellers are because we have our own type of connectivity. I believe that our link to this planet that we all ride is much closer, or 'down to earth', to use that term as it was meant to be used. And I'm saddened that many city dwellers no longer seem interested in exploring that link.
Staying true to show casing the lodges and resorts in our area, it's Chilcotin Waterfront's turn today. They are located right on Nimpo Lake and you can access the resort from Highway 20 just across from The Bean out West. They have a motel unit with six rooms, one of which is a kitchenette. They also have six serviced RV sites with 30 amp electrical hookups and three beautiful Pioneer Log Home constructed chalets on the property varying in size to suit your group. Barbecues are available and there is a laundromat on the premises for your use. The resort has a wonderful view of the Coast Mountain Range, boats, motors, and a large dock for your convenience. If you would like more information on the resort, go to Chilcotin Waterfront
This is the start of a new week. So you'll find last week's blog about the fundraiser in Nimpo at April Week One .

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!
Rugged, snow covered mountain.
Snow covered mountain and green trees.
Log cabin in the snow.
Two log chalets.
Motel units.
Snow on deck railing and birdhouse.
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