Across the Prairies
Here we were in the prairies of Canada - for a lifetime we had seen pictures of the great fields of wheat, the tall grain elevators - and, now, here we were. It was awesome; but realistically, it was HOT in August; there was no wind, just dead air...hot air. The miles rolled by, ever-so-slowly, no breeze, David laying in the bottom bunk (kind of a white-green color). We drove many days, across the endless prairies.
Our route now headed in a North/Western direction; we were heading towards Edmonton, Alberta - from there we would go West, to Fort St. John. Now, we began to see the occasional spruce tree, then more and more, and now whole forests. It was mind-boggling...we had never seen such green beauty, except in books. Now, there were tall, evergreen trees of many varieties...we went past clear, crystal-clear babbling brooks, surging streams, rushing rivers and finally, lakes that reflected the sky and parts of Heaven itself!
Such majesty...fear left in its wake. It was days like this that "God was in His Heaven and all was right on earth". Of course, we all want every day to be like that - but, it takes no faith at those times; faith has to be tried, to grow. (Thank God for the times of refreshing!)
We were about to look for a nice place to camp for the night, when we got a flat tire. And, right there was a sign for a Provincial Park (I don't remember which one), so we turned off the highway and into the park. We couldn't remember seeing a garage anywhere along the road, but we asked at the park. I don't remember all the ramifications, but before we knew it, there was a tow truck. They took our flat tire off, drove off to put air in it, returned and put it on our bus. This all happened after dark...in nearly impossible circumstances, but it all worked out just right for us.
A few days later we began to head directly West, to Fort St. John. This land had "personality"..."character"; hills, valleys, steams, lakes, evergreen trees so high you had to lean over backwards to see the tops. There's something about "green" that is relaxing - an oasis, streams in the desert...(for me).
And then we were coming out into prairies, big-sky country - Grand Prairie. I could just "picture" the pioneers crossing this land. There were rolling hills for as far as the eye could see...excellent name, GRAND PRAIRIE. I could "see" the buffalo, the Indians hunting them, the white man coming and changing all that.
We headed towards Dawson Creek, Mile "0" of the Alaskan Highway. Who would ever have thought that this girl (now wife and mother of 10 children) from Boston (area) would be travelling on the Alaskan Highway... My thoughts went back to when I was a teenager. I had "dreams" of living in Canada, travelling the Alaskan Highway, marrying a Mountie - this was about as FAR OUT as any girl, born in Massachusetts, could "daydream" (most people from Massachusetts were born and died right there).
Here was Dawson Creek, a small town, a transit town (very few people actually lived there), it was a place to buy goods and then to go back to your farm, ranch, trapline...nobody lived here on purpose! It had to be a pioneer town...there was no Mc Donald's, no Kentucky Fried Chicken; it wasn't even civilization! But, it was a pioneer town and that was exciting...we didn't notice that it was old and dirty.
Now, we headed directly North, up the Alaskan Highway. It was paved, that was impressive... We continued through farmland, rolling hills, the occasional stand of aspen or cottonwood trees. We looked for moose, for bears, but saw neither one; there were cattle (range cattle). We saw the occasional horse.
Then, all of a sudden, we were heading straight down (or at least it seemed to be in that direction). We saw the eroded hills that were bordering the mighty Peace River. We knew the Peace River, well (from books) - it was very wide, deep, warmer than the surrounding land (in the winter), and it flowed NORTH. Never before, in all our lives (in Massachusetts), did we ever hear of a river flowing NORTH; all rivers, naturally, flowed SOUTH. We didn't know anything about the Continental Divide, and that rivers from that elevation either flowed North or South - it was really amazing.
Joe had some difficulty keeping the bus in second gear, it wanted to slip out of that gear. He had to down-shift a lot on that stretch of road, down into the village of Taylor; he had Mike hold the shift in place, while he applied the brakes, intermittently. It was exciting, to say the least!
At the very bottom of the hill, was a bridge that went over the Peace River. It looked so narrow (2 lanes), so insignificant, compared to the mighty river, the surrounding hills and the miles of openness all around us - it didn't appear to be wide enough for a large schoolbus and traffic coming in the opposite direction...but, we made it! And, then we were in the village of Taylor.
I was familiar with these surroundings, at least as far as having read about it in one of my favorite books, "Mrs. Mike". This was a story I had read so many years before - a story about a young woman who had gone to live with her uncle in Alberta, met and married a Mountie when she was quite young, and travelled by dog sled with him - to land all along the Peace River...one place being Taylor, Bear Flats, Chetwynd...I was in familiar territory!
As much as we had gone straight down, we now went straight up...up, up, up from the river and towards Fort St. John. There were still rolling hills, farms, but more and more forests of evergreens - we were leaving the aspen and cottonwood trees behind. Many hills later, we came within sight of Fort St. John; we decided to stop at a RV campsite just outside of town. There was a deep ravine below us and hydro power lines over our head - a field the children could run in, places to explore. And, time for me to remember that this was the very last town on our journey...we would soon be heading farther up the Alaskan Highway, to where it was not paved, turning off the highway, and many miles into deep bush.
This can be overpowering to a young Mom - thinking about nothing to go back to: no house, no job, an unemployed husband, 8 living children, the grave of a son (Matthew) that I would never see again, a baby who didn't grow large enough to even have a grave, a son in his bunk who had been sick for the last 3 weeks...I'll have to say that I was bearly sane, about this time. Now, I can say that it was because I took my eyes off the reason for being there - but, I had a lot to learn...had to do some growing in faith.
The following day we drove around Fort St. John, got a few last minute things that we thought we surely would need in the "wilderness". We saw things like gum boots; strange things, but everybody seemed to be wearing them in town (we didn't yet know about "gumbo", the slimy mud that came as a result of rain and the kind of soil up there).
We were naive, city-folks, pioneers (about 100 years too late); but, people with a dream, people who felt the Lord spoke to sell all that we had, and to follow Him - and He led us to a Christian community farm. We were going to live there with "super saints", we were going to be "super saints", too. It was exciting. There was a purpose, a plan for our lives...a sure-cure for the monotony of living in New England from the time our relatives came over on the Mayflower. (Joe's came from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, but they were there for a long time.)
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Pen Name: Aimee Love
Crossing the Peace River, into Taylor, B.C.