Author: Susan Carey
Date of Trip: July 2004
I let my wife plan our vacations. She lets me drive. All I ask is that we go some place where the weather is cool, and that we go in late July. She tries to see how many miles we can cover in fourteen days, but she does find interesting and comfortable B & B’s for me to rest in. We have ventured out to remote areas in Alaska in the past, and I have driven on rough, unpaved roads. Since I felt like a survivor of “the bush,” I was agreeable when she suggested we take a circle trip through Northern British Columbia and the Yukon. I went happily about my business while my wife spent every spare minute with travel books, maps, and the computer. It took her two months of researching mileage charts, driving times, and accommodation reviews to make an itinerary. This process is lengthy because she doesn’t want to miss anything, and she checks out rooms so carefully, I worry that she is buying an establishment rather than just reserving a room.
She showed me pictures of the scenery on the Stewart Cassiar Highway and baited me with scrumptious descriptions. I was hooked. She planned to spend two nights on this leg of our journey. There are very few rooms from which to choose on this particular route.
By February, all our reservations were made. Then, in July, off we flew to Prince George, B.C. We rented a mid-sized car. As we left the town limits, a large truck went by, hurled a stone, and broke our windshield. We went bravely on. We had a full tank of gas, as advised, and a cooler full of ice and food. We had not been on the Stewart Cassiar Highway long before we spotted a caribou crossing the road. He posed; we snapped. The view was as spectacular as promised by the tourist industry, and we encountered all the frost heaves and gravel breaks the Milepost predicted. We met very few fellow travelers.
We spent a night in Stewart B.C. and pressed on to Iskut and the Red Goat Lodge B & B. I was unprepared for this stage of our adventure. We were greeted by a herd of horses galloping full speed toward us in the middle of the road. Much to our surprise, they were accompanied by the dinging of cowbells that were tied around their necks. We later learned the bells deterred bears from dining on them. We turned up the lane to the Lodge and found the grounds being patrolled by llamas. I wasn’t sure if llamas were prone to attack approaching humans, so I sent my wife to the office to register. She had to step over a huge husky who was napping on the walk. He had huge teeth, too, so I felt confident that I had made the right decision in sending my wife.
The Red Goat Lodge consists of a large cabin where the family lives and five little cabins for guests. The cabins are reached by navigating a narrow boardwalk. The husky had parked himself in front of our cabin. He had met my wife earlier, so I allowed her to jump over him first. I opened the door to our cabin. I think Davy Crockett had been the last guest. Let’s just say that is was old-fashioned. I wanted cool temperatures, but this cabin was beyond cool. We needed heat. A sign posted by the thermostat stated that it would do no good to turn it up, it was operating at maximum capacity. We put on more clothes and took inventory of our home for the night. We had a sink, small refrigerator, and a stove with two burners. There were enough pots, pans, dishes and utensils to cook for and serve a road crew. We had a coffee pot and microwave, too. A sturdy table and chairs were placed by the one window, and a cushy sofa sat along the wall. All of these items had survived the Great Depression, but they created a certain charm. It was starting to feel warmer in there. We found a small bathroom that had everything but a sink. There were plenty of towels and washcloths, though.
Even though we could have prepared dinner at the Lodge, we went to a restaurant a few miles away. One other diner was in attendance. Since I had had no other person except my wife to chat with all day, I engaged him in conversation. He was a mushroom buyer. We found him to be quite entertaining. He told us how mushrooms spring up after a forest fire, how they are harvested, and about the marketing process.
Even though it was still light, it was getting late. I wanted to watch the news. I discovered a sign that explained there is no TV reception in the area, but guests are invited to borrow tapes for the VCR. Not knowing what kind of creatures could be lurking outside, I sent my wife. She returned, unharmed, with several very good tapes about life in the Northwest Territory. We sank down into a soft mattress on a creaky iron bed that was outfitted with several warm blankets and a quilt. We spent a cozy evening off in the wilderness learning more about the area. As I dozed off, the wind picked up. I was awakened by a threatening noise outside. Knowing we were in grizzly territory, I wished for a cowbell. My wife told me to bang on a pot with a big spoon. I just cowered under the covers.
The next morning, with the noises gone, we went to the main cabin for breakfast. We sat with another guest while our pajama clad hostess cooked a vast array of delicious breakfast food.
The Red Goat Lodge was not the most posh B & B we have ever visited, but it was as comfortable and cozy as any. Many of our past B & B experiences have blended together, but our stay there is one we won’t forget!
We made our circle through Watson Lake, Liard Hot Springs, and Tumbler Ridge. I forgot to mention that my wife selects remote places because she loves to see wildlife. On this trip, we saw a grizzly, mountain goats, moose and an elephant. (The elephant was with a circus in Fort St. John, but she took his picture, too.)
I like to stay at B & B’s because the owners are a wonderful source of information about the vicinity and we like swapping stories and experiences with other guests.