Sharon Hawley has finished her bicycle trip in Canada for this summer. She hopes to complete the adventure in another year. Please follow her winter adventure at http://sharonswinter.blogspot.com/
Sunday, May 24, 2009
The Arid Interior
Who would expect while standing in Arizona’s Sonora Desert, that it extends northward up the east side of the Rockies, through Oregon and Washington, all the way into British Colombia, and that I would be traversing it on a bicycle shortly after pedaling through lush, mossy forest. Lytton, where I slept last night, marks the beginning of Canada’s Arid Interior, and my passage today was through desert.
The churning Thompson River, which carries snowmelt into the Frasier River, which I have parallel these past four days, does not know that desert rivers are supposed to be dry except after downpours. So it boils and splashes a massive quantity of melted snow through the sagebrush.
I was up early on Sunday, sailing the sagebrush ocean, spiked with an occasional tree, shadowed under teetering rock formations and tilted cliffs. Suddenly without expectation, at twenty-five kilometers and eight o’clock, a building shimmered, then took shape and became Shaw Springs Café. No cars rested in front, but I tried the door anyway, hoping. I met the owner who had just opened. Right behind me came two men in a car. One said, “I know what I want.” The other said, “Do you have tea with half a lemon?” The owner said she had no lemons, and without much of a goodbye, the two men left.
I sat with coffee and breakfast, talking with the owner, or rather listening. She ranted for a good ten minutes on how impolite those men were, that she has the only place open on Sunday until they reach Hope, the town where I slept two nights ago. I categorized her as a complainer and one who should learn to bend with the wind like I do. But then it seemed that I had judged her based on labels. If someone is ungrateful and you tell him he’s ungrateful, you have called him a name, but you have not solved anything. When you look at an insane man all you see is a reflection of your own knowledge that he is insane. So I asked her about life out here on the desert, running a café and RV park by herself, vulnerable to the unabated whims of passers-by. She has held on here for thirty years, through hot summers and frigid winters and figures it beats the frustrations of society. And occasionally she talks to interesting people.
Of course this struck home to one who left society just to be in such places, and on a bicycle what’s more. About then, she pointed out the window, “Wind is from the south. See it in the tree?” She knew I was headed north to Cache Creek and figured I’d like to know that.
I pulled into Cache Creek after eight-five kilometers and tried two motels. They cost around eighty dollars, which translates to about sixty US. Then I tried the Sundowner Motel and asked how much. The owner, Michael Davidson, looked at me, all sweaty, tired and dirty. Then he looked out the window at the loaded bicycle. “Is that the way you travel?” “Yes,” I said. “Forty dollars,” he said. “It’s usually eighty, but I like your style.” So here I sit in a clean room with wireless internet. I paid him for two nights, figuring after four days of riding I need a rest. And besides, he’s a single man from the US who moved here two years ago just to own a small motel in a small Canadian town.
Posted by Sharon