We left Penticton shortly before the end of John’s set and started heading north: 1200kms through the mountains. We didn’t get much sleep, the road climbed and twisted for most of the night, by morning we were still in the mountains, still twisting, still following tumbling rivers and railroad tracks. It was a sixteen hour grind, but what an amazing journey. Along the way we saw three bears (that’s right…Momma, Poppa and Baby bear) eating dandelions in the ditch; we saw a mother moose and her calf running alongside the bus and another big daddy moose way down in a river valley, Chris spotted him during one of our scenic-vista rest stops. Ron, our bus driver, picked out a stop a little north of Prince George and told me to get out my rod and reel, this was the place to catch a fish, and so I did and so I did. After a few minutes I landed a nice sized Squaw fish (or Pikeminnow for the more PC minded). Pete helped me out as the fish decided to makes its last stand in the scrubby brush that lined the river. He waded in, up to his knees and pulled aside the brush so that I could make the acquaintance of the beast. Brothers, you got to love em. It’s not exactly the most beautiful fish in the book, but it put up a decent fight and, heck, landing any fish is always a thrill. After we got the requisite pictures we unhooked him, paid our respects, said our prayers and sent him on his way (the fish, not Pete).
When we finally arrived in Dawson Creek we were a little disappointed. Driving sixteen hours through beautiful mountain passes surrounded by wildlife and churling waters, one gets a certain expectation as to what the town will look like at the end of the journey. Expectations…how many times have we broken Jeff’s golden rule of touring…”No expectations”. Somehow the mountains crumbled, the waters dried up, the wildlife disappeared and what we were left with was a town sitting in the middle of a flat as freakin’ pancake plain. We couldn’t even find Mr Dawson’s creek. Perhaps we didn’t look hard enough, but we were too busy shopping at the Wal-Mart beside the hotel…irony oh irony…just another day-off on the road.
We spent showday on the bus, parked inside the loading dock of the arena, staring out at the rain. A very slow day. No satellite, no soccer or US Open. I was able to watch the Blue Jays on my laptop, bless you Rogers Cable Corporation. They mounted a furious comeback and defeated the Phillies in 10 innings. And just like that it was soundcheck and then it was dinner and then it was showtime. We turned up a little bit more tonight and shortened the set by one song so that we could let some of the music evolve without worrying about going over our allotted amount of time. We had a lot of fun and I think we played a pretty good set. The audience was very good to us. During John’s set I walked around the venue and hung out. The place had the feel of an enormous roadhouse. People milling about, drinking and talking, listening and letting go with the occasional war whoop. The place had a great feel…..”hold on to 16 as long as you can”….right on.