Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ay Chihuahua!

Highway 29, also known as the Don Philips Way, is the road less traveled out of Fort St. John. It follows the Peace River along its tall bank through rolling farmland that made a pleasant change from the endlessly identical evergreens that had followed us all the way from Tok. Sunshine and clear roads and nary a car in sight, we had nothing but wind in front of us (not to mention a little in back) and were determined to enjoy the day; which, despite a few long waits for roadworks, we did.

Our objective was Prince George a mere 455 kilometers away, only a half day’s ride even with our scenic detour. Prince George, originally named Fort George by the The North West Company and named for Mad King George (the III), is known as British Columbia’s “northern capital” - even though it’s technically south of the half way point north. (Get on with it! - ed.) Lying, as it does at the nexus of the Fraser and Nechako rivers there is a great deal of backwoods stuff to do like canoeing, fishing, camping and hunting - none of which we did. For some reason at its outskirts I was reminded of Reading, a town in Britain with a particularly combative third division football team, around 1980 - a good place for a pint and a punch up on a Saturday. Now, however, Prince George looks over-policed. The pubs in the center were closed or transitioning to more upscale coffee and cocktails. There are signs of creeping hipsterishness intent on making things a little more livable (if that’s not a contradiction in terms).

Having gotten fed up with the industrial accommodation in chain motels we figured we’d give AirBnB, the house sharing site, a shot. It’s really easy to be cynical about mankind, or worse scared of it - especially if you’re prone to watching television news. For all my worldly adventures in the past few years, I never cease to marvel at the trust people place in their fellow human beings. As individuals we are all really just folks wanting to get along, even when getting along means that we have to share our lives with others. AirBnB taps into this fundamental trait and brings together people that need a bit of extra cash with travelers wanting something more personal. Laura and her daughter Teegan hosted us, along with their dog Diego, a chihuahua, who barked at me then jumped in my lap as sat I on the sofa writing my trip notes. We both quickly fell asleep. The sharing economy is a real thing and I’m not entirely sure where it will go, but long may it continue.

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