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Full Circle

Day 239: Vancouver to Prince George

Michael Palin - Full CircleAt a place called Gates we're stopped by a ninety-one-year-old lady in a blue two-piece and a white hat. Her name is Mrs Ward and she's making her twice-monthly trip to buy groceries at Lillooet. She's a doughty woman, born in Belfast, and has lived out here in British Columbia for sixty years. She hasn't much time for television interviews. 'I've just told you that,' she keeps saying, rather testily.

The scenery has become majestic by now, but I find I can only take majestic for so long before my eyes start drifting back to my novel about New Jersey. But I'm glad I'm looking up when we pass a sign which reads 'Marne: Elevation 867, Pop.: 2.' Both of them have come out to collect the mail. An elderly couple with a black dog. They put the letters in the dog's mouth.

After Lillooet we are on the leeward side of the Rockies and the countryside is bone dry. The dramatically steep walls of the Fraser River canyon are cinder-red. At one point we are running on a narrow ledge two thousand feet above the valley floor.

The forests that have covered the mountains for the first two hundred miles out of Vancouver are unsustainable here and the rock is covered with sagebrush and stumpy Ponderosa Pines. Salmon are fished in the waters far below (I see ladders to help them climb upstream) and giant swathes of protective black netting cover fields of ginseng.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 239
  • Country/sea: Canada
  • Place: Fraser River
  • Book page no: 313

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