I admit willingly, even with a dose of embarrassment, that it was a dumb, irrational, foolish decision. Reflecting back on that time now, I shudder inwardly at the memory of what we did. I’m sure our parents shuddered then already, upon hearing of what we were contemplating.
Linda and I were young, newly married and happy in our relationship. She was a bank teller and I was a heavy equipment operator. We had bought a home with five acres on Defehr road, near the Canada-U.S. border. The house needed updating, but we were delighted to not be renting. Our only real problem was that we both felt utterly unfulfilled in our work On a Saturday in early May, 1967, we had just completed breakfast when I asked Linda a question that had been percolating in my psyche for some time.
“How do you feel about what we’re doing?” I asked. She seemed to understand the meaning of my rather vague query.
“I know I really hope I won’t have to be a teller for forty years,” she said.
“And I don’t want to be a cat operator for forty years,” I said.
That conversation ended with our seemingly ill-conceived decision. We gave notice to our employers and found a renter for our home. Two weeks later we loaded our chevy panel truck with camping supplies and food, and set out along the Trans Canada Highway. A couple of innocent, small town kids, we were looking for more from life. How to find more was still well outside our sphere of understanding. We didn’t even know where we were going.
That first evening we pulled the chevy into a campsite near 100 Mile House in central British Columbia. One night in our new sleeping bags convinced us they were more suited to California summers than to this area’s minus zero temperatures. It had not occurred to us that May in the Caribou would not be as pleasant as in the Fraser Valley. Even fully dressed, we shivered. A couple of weeks later we spoke with an elderly local realtor. In spite of our severely limited funds, he seemed to take an interest in us. “Meet me here tomorrow at 8 a.m.” he said.
The next morning, after an hour of travelling in his pickup along an unpaved road, we eased his canoe into the pristine water of Sheridan Lake By sunset, we had fallen in love with the leased lot the realtor showed us on the rugged, far side of the lake.
The next day we set up our tent on the property. At about 5 the
following morning Linda roused me, agitation in her voice. “What’s that noise? I hope it’s not a bear”. Heavy breathing just outside the tent had awakened her. I unzipped the flap of the tent and realized we were surrounded by a herd of curious long horned cattle. The realtor had not informed us that this was open range cattle country. After breakfast I built a corral around the tent.
For nearly 3 months our only visitors were an overly bold black bear, a shrieking demanding squirrel, a curious cow moose and her calf, and the local rancher patrolling on his ancient dirt bike.
We cleaned up debris on the lot and in the water. Needing a place to prepare meals, w created a fire pit and circled it with stones. In the evening we sat by the fire, often talking about what might lie in the future for us. With no real sense of direction, we considered the idea of building a log cabin and staying over winter.