Posted by: Silver | June 11, 2011

Whitecourt to Fox Creek

Distance: 93 km
Ascent: 830 m
Cycling time: 5 hours, 35 minutes

Oh dear – I have got a little bit behind here, haven’t I?! Too much cycling = too little energy for writing, don’t ya know… Anyway, let’s see if I can add a couple of quick entries now and bring you up to date…

I’d originally planned a fairly leisurely start to my last day in Whitecourt, but when the weather forecasts predicted thunderstorms (usually a late afternoon phenomenon), I quickly shifted up a gear and left as early as I could in the hopes of making it to Fox Creek before the storms did. Fortunately, the photographer from the local paper was very understanding of my last-minute change of schedule, and still came out to get the necessary shot of me and Ranger in town before we pedalled off up highway 43. I made it to within 20 km of Fox Creek in the dry, but since the weather decided to go with ‘early afternoon rain’ rather than ‘late afternoon thunderstorms’, I doubt I could have escaped entirely anyway, no matter how early I’d got underway. 😦

In many ways, Fox Creek very much reminded me of Sparwood. Not in its geography of course – the scenery around Fox Creek is about as far removed from the rocky peaks of Sparwood as it’s possible to get – but both towns proudly run on fossil fuels (coal in Sparwood, oil and gas in Fox Creek), and this seems to lead to a certain number of similar features: most notably, lots of trucks, and lots of trailer parks! If you listened to the stereotypes of such places, you might be surprised that a vegetarian such as myself ever made it out alive, but I was actually very well treated, very well fed, and yes, vegeburgers were readily available from the local grocery store.

Another similarity between Sparwood and Fox Creek was the surprising number of media outlets for such small communities. Fox Creek has both a print newspaper and an online service, and I was interviewed by both – at my hosts’ kitchen table! As is so often the way in the smaller towns I’m visiting, both reporters knew my hosts and where they lived, so they just popped round for a chat while I was there. One of them was, unfortunately, clearly very distracted by concerns for a seriously ill family member, but as this was now somewhere around my sixtieth newspaper interview, I hardly even needed her to ask anything: most journalists ask pretty much the same questions, so I just answered all of those, gave her a couple of useable quotes, emphasized the importance of conveying how worthy of people’s support I feel SOS Children’s Villages is, checked she had the website address spelled correctly and my (and her!) job was done. 🙂

Apparently, it has been quite an exceptional year for dandelions this year: a lot of people seem to be complaining about this, but I thought they looked really rather pretty

This stretch of highway 43 is known as 'moose row', so a wide strip of open land is maintained on each side of the road, so at least you have a chance of seeing them coming...

No, this isn't Fox Creek, but I thought it was rather pretty anyway; the aspen gave way to solid conifers for a while here, but mixed woodland was still the dominant scenery of the journey

Never let it be said that roughnecks aren't artistic: this was the entrance to a construction company in Fox Creek

Fox Creek is quite a popular stopping point for truckers serving the oil patch, it would seem...

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