Posted by: Peaceful Social Worker | March 8, 2012

Alaska Highway bus trip with church folks

Muncho Lake, BC

My header and gravatar photo is Muncho Lake, BC. The lake is at Mile 407.7 of the Alaska Highway. This photo was taken on a lovely September day in 2010 when my bus trip had stopped for lunch at the provincial park. It was a wonderful spot for a break, and perfect weather for a picnic lunch.

The Alaska Highway is an amazing place, or possibly places. Everyone needs to plan an Alaska Highway trip. The road was built during the Second World war so there would be access from the Lower 49 to Alaska. It was built in less than a year, from March to October 1942. Today it winds its way from Dawson Creek, BC to Delta Junction, Alaska, for a total of 2,288 kilometers or 1422 miles. Many parts of it have been straightened out since it was first built, and it is now paved. It is truly an engineering marvel, and even with the upgrades it has received over the years, it is easy to see what a challenge it was to build.

I took a bus trip up to Whitehorse with my church in September 2010. Our congregation is part of Northern Lights Presbytery which spreads from Whitehorse, Yukon, to Yellowknife, NWT and down to Valleyview, Alberta. We had a Presbytery meeting in Whitehorse on Friday and Saturday. The bus started in Alberta on Wednesday, we had an overnight stop in Fort Nelson, BC and then arrived in Whitehorse on Thursday night. Aproximately 40 Presbytery reps and some spouses filled the bus. As in many school trips, we found our place at the beginning of the trip, and stayed there. Of course, there was visiting, singing and story telling.  We raised money for the United Church Mission and Service Fund with games, and fun activities. It was my first time as a Presbytery Rep, so it was a wonderful way to get to know people. The trip north was uneventful. We celebrated the covenanting service of the new minister in Fort Nelson and had a great church dinner there. We stopped for pit stops in great places. We picked up another passenger and looked at the hats tacked to the ceiling at Toad River at Mile 403.  Stops at Liard Hotsprings at Mile 475 and Watson Lake, Yukon at Mile 772.7 of the highway refreshed us and filled our bellies.

The meetings went well, and we were treated like royalty  by the folks at Whitehorse United Church. We ate sourdough pancakes, cariboo, moose, salmon, wild berries, …….and did not go hungry. We headed home on Monday morning at 7:00 sharp. Sitting in much the same places we had been in for the trip north, we headed south. We were a slightly more subdued group on the way home, as fatigue started to set in. Lunch was at Muncho Lake Provincial Park. It made me wish I could stay a few days and camp. The weather was perfect. We had time to wander around, and explore and take pictures. I believe Muncho Lake is the nicest lake in the province.

North end of Muncho looking south July 2001

We stopped in at Fort Nelson for the night on our way home, and I was billeted with the woman I had stayed with on my way up. We spent a lot of time chatting, and yet again, I was fed very well. Our bus was to leave at 8:00 a.m. Sharp. Apparently they meant it. We left the house close to 8:00 a.m., and there was frost on the window. I started to become anxious, knowing the departure time was fast approaching. But, it shouldn’t be an issue anyway, right? They wouldn’t leave me behind? Would they? Well, the frost was cleared from the window, and we headed over to the meeting spot. No bus. Was I seeing things, or perhaps NOT seeing things? I got out of the vehicle and looked around. Sure enough. No bus. It was 8:05 a.m. now. We went over to the other spot where they had to pick up someone and again. No bus. It was foggy, so we could not see if it was ahead of us. It is a sickening feeling being left behind. Even worse, knowing there were cell phones on the bus, and I didn’t know any numbers.

So, my host was feeling very bad and felt she was to blame for my missing the bus. I reminded her, that I had been on the bus for three days with that group……why did they leave without me? More importantly, was I more of a wallflower than I realized? People didn’t miss me? 😦 I did remember I had a number when it was too late. I imagine what it would have been like to call my friend and say “Hi, missing anyone?” so they could come back and get me. At any rate, my host graciously drove me home, spent the night in my town, and did some shopping apparently. I bought her dinner that night.

This has become part of our group’s folklore now. The poor woman in charge of counting heads felt so bad for forgetting about me. That was her worst fear – to leave someone behind, and she felt especially bad she left a new person behind. Part of the issue was that Fort Nelson was the final stop for about four people. Two were driving from there to Yellowknife, and two were staying in Fort Nelson. A couple of people had stayed behind in Whitehorse, and were flying home. Numbers were all wonky for the person counting heads. One of my friends from Yellowknife assured me that if HE had still been on the bus, they would have remembered me.

We have been able to laugh about this, and we have all learned at least one or two things from it I am sure. I know I have. I know I will make more of an effort to be absolutely on time, even when I am seemingly at the mercy of another person. I’m not sure what might have helped. Maybe going out ahead of time and clearing the windshield? Who knows. I will also make sure I have at least one other person’s cell number. In fact, I might suggest we all have a list of the cell numbers of the people on the bus in the event we get separated. I have continued to be involved in Presbytery, and now in fact have a leadership role. I enjoy reconnecting with the people from Presbytery and sharing ideas. I think we have a pretty good group…..even if they can’t always be trusted. 😉

Liard Hotsprings January 2000

Liard Hotsprings January 2000

Muncho Lake July 2001 - 11:00 pm

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr

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