On our way into the Prince Rupert Rowing and Yacht Club basin, we passed the sailboat who’d just vacated our intended spot on the dock. “Lots of bumpers!” they called across the water, shaking their heads. It was a tricky spot, not much room and way too many waves for comfort. On the dock, the cluster of people who had helped them get away from the dock waited to catch our lines — the harbormaster and three yachties from nearby boats. I heard murmurs of admiration for Jim’s expert boat handling.
Looking up at the massive — and fortunately vacant — cruise ship dock, I felt a little smug about arriving on such a small boat. I picked up the camera and headed into town with Barry. We had traveled for days and seen nothing larger than a small village, so this “big” city seemed both huge and remote.
Prince Rupert, population 12,000, feels like the end of the earth, but it’s really just the end of the road — for Canada.
We were walking by a grocery store when we saw a curious sight. A Unimog was parked in front, sporting a pair of exotic horns and an unrecognizable license plate. We walked over for a closer look. This was no streamlined RV, but a huge, high-clearance monster truck camper looking like something out of the movie “Road Warrior.”
The owners were loading groceries into a rear door, too busy to talk. I caught a glimpse of an interior decorated with African art, but the owner told us, crossly, not to take a photo of that side while he had the door open. We went around to the front, noting some of the countries painted on the side — I saw Brazil, Chile, and Argentina, while Barry noted European countries.
I was dying to know about the trip. What did the slogan “African Power” on the front mean? Had they come from Europe via Africa and South America? Where were they headed? What kind of horns were they?
We continued through town and ran across another busy couple at the gas station across from the next grocery. Their mode of transportation was motorcycles, two dusty bikes with extra high suspensions and lots of gear. A closer look showed Quebec license plates. They, too, were too busy provisioning to talk.
By the time we saw the bicyclist, I was feeling considerably less smug about our mode of transportation. After all, we’d had a comfortable bed, hot showers, and gourmet meals aboard Complexity. This fellow’s bicycle held loaded panniers, and the young blonde rider was studying a map in front of the visitors’ center.
“Hello!” I said. “Where did you ride from?”
He answered with a German accent, “Do you mean today?”
“No, I mean the beginning of your trip.”
“From Los Angeles,” he answered. “I plan to ride to Prudhoe Bay.” I was impressed: Prudhoe Bay is on the Arctic Circle.
He was busy with his map and not inclined to talk further, so we walked on.
I guess you have to be pretty driven to accomplish these remarkable travel feats: Thousands and thousands of miles without much in the way of creature comforts. I lost a little of my smugness that day, but not all of it. Sure, we’ll never be in the Guiness Book of Records. But on the other hand, we are hardly ever too busy to stop and talk.
My one photo of the African-themed Unimog:
A candid shot of the motorcyclists:
The bicyclist, studying his map: