Hanging out in Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert is my kind of city.   The place is chock full of character and flavor. When I went up the street for a coffee  I walked behind little crooked Indian grandmothers with floppy handbags heading into the dollar store.  Crumpled old Indian men smile at me as they pass me  on the sidewalks.  The chubby  native women are either pushing or packing the kids around. 

 There are  at least 5 freighters bobbing and dotting along  the waterfront in front of my window.   Water taxi’s, fishboat, tugboats and boats of every make and size are here.     Emily Carr’s painted trees and E.J. Huges Industial landscapes surround me.

So much has happened so far I have no clue how to bring you guys up to speed. 

Ok here’s a start.   Yesterday, was a off day.   I was still suffering from my gravol hangover.   I needed to take 4 gravol to stop myself from puking on the ferry.   It was a rough crossing out of Port Hardy and then again around Bella Bella.  One of the passengers said he got up in the night to go to the bathroom and the ferry people told him he had to get back to his seat.   We were rolling like a rolling-pin on bread dough.   All the rattling and groaning woke me up feeling sick and I took gravol number 5 and fell back to sleep. I woke up with all my art supplies all over the floor.   Everything had fallen off the table in the gale.  

Thank goodness for Scotty’s flashlight as I needed it to find my paint brushes .  They had rolled from one end of the room to the other under bunks and furniture to end up lodged in gaps in the old carpet.   It took the beam of the flashlight to  fish them out.

PS.   When I got upstairs to have breakfast all the Indians were gone.  They had jumped ship in Bella Bella in the middle of the night.   There was no more wild children running and playing around the boat.   The kids were high on sugar the night before so much so that the ferry people had to go on the loud speaker telling the parents to please control the running herd of little ones.   Personally, I was relaxing listening to the giggling sounds of kids having fun.

My first night in Rupert I dined with David at a local waterfront diner down here in Cow Town.  I met David at the ferry terminal in Port Hardy.   We were on the bus together from Campbell River to Port Hardy and then we met again at the ferry.    As it turns out he’s doing the same trip as me only he is now on his way back  home  in Ontario.  We will be travelling buddies all the way until I get off the train in Winnipeg. 

David the outdoorsman from Ontario.

Best Salmon burger.  Not bad wine either.

Everything around the B&B is painted like cows.   I walked over to the fuel dock to check things out and even the fuel tanks are painted in black and white polka dots.

Woke up to a damp day with low grey clouds – typical Prince Rupert weather.   One minute the sky’s pours, the water churns, the colours change and then the sun would  spin itself though the low mist.  I have multicolored green hills and mountains on the Islands in front of me. When the fog lifts down the channel for a moment I can see mountains freshly dusted with new snow.

 Outside my waterfront room the seagulls screech and float about in the ever-changing water. The seals appear larger than Victoria harbour seals – their heads appear bigger.  Someone said there are sea lions around but I haven’t seen them yet.   I saw spray from either whales or porpoises.   I am not sure which.  Again one person says whales and another says porpoises.   Who know?     This morning two Blue Herons flapped up from below my room and I thought they were going to come through the window and smack me in the head.  Against the blackness of the water the colours of the fishboats flourescent pinky red floats are winking at me as they squish against the dock.


My B&B is like Emily Carr’s “house of all sorts”.   There are a group of young geologists rooming for a few weeks.  A few native boys that are working in town and a couple of Irish musicians who are on tour.   Not only did we have a hearty get together at breakfast yesterday but we all got together for a fresh  off the boat halibut dinner last night. 

When I tried to blog yesterday in the wettest part of the day the Irish couple were rehearsing in the room beside me.   It’s hard to focus with the penny whistle blowing in your ear.   I gave up and tried a sketch from my window instead.  That didn’t go so well either so then I went for a damp soggy walk around the town. 

Once I started walking the skies cleared into a dramatic sunset.   The dark green greys of the water contrasted with the sun-kissed snows on the mountains.   I like Prince Rupert.   The buildings are drab, worn and feel like they have seen better days but I don’t seem to mind.  I get a sense of the famous BC glory days of logging, fishing , mining as I stroll along.   I  am surprised by the architecture and older buildings.   Again I am sorry I don’t have more time to explore.

I saw two rustic churches.   This one had an amazing view with the freighters in the background. Actually everyone has amazing views around here.

I am going out sketching now.   The ground fog has rolled along to somewhere else and the skies are clear.   I can see the sunlight reflecting off the sailboats on my right.   I am heading out to Tugboat paradise down in the industrial part of town.

This is an exceptional B& B, with my waterfront room and  7 ‘clawfoot tub, I am glad I was smart enough to bring the oil scented bath salts.  I need to soak these old bone in this wet climate .   

Tomorrow is train to Prince George Day and then Jasper the next.    My lip is low at the tought of leaving in the morning.

Owners and hosts of Eagle Bluff B&B, Prince Rupert.   I know I’ve gained weight by staying here.  I felt so much at home I wanted to help clean up the dishes or even cook.  You don’t have to leave your room to be entertained the marine life, workboats, guests and local visitors provide all the flavor a person needs.   Absolutely perfect!!!!

Oh Man I can’t believe it! Here comes the Nordic Spirit.   Bob’s fishboat from Point Hope in Victoria.  He’s chugging full stream into the dock below me.   He’s hitting it hard because the tide is running against him.   

I know those boys, I’ve fueled that boat.   Got to go I have to run down and say Hi to the guys.

The Bank is dry

Gee! Things aren’t starting off too good.   I just stopped in at the bank and the account looks mighty grim.   I’ve been hitting the credit card heavy the past two weeks getting ready.   Now I am wondering what the hell have I’ve done.   I’ve spent far more than I am comfortable with and I haven’t got out the door yet.    

It’s not all money spent on things I need for the trip. Since I’ve lost so much weight over the summer I was in desperate need of new clothes.  I couldn’t put it off any longer since my underwear was literally falling off me as I walked.   I hate shopping.  To me there is not much worse to do with my time

So here I am starting my trip in the morning feeling jittering about my cash supply.   At first I thought it all seemed reasonable but now I feel I am already out of my comfort zone.   My younger more free spirit self says” has faith it will all work out in the end” and my more mature practical self “is saying “what the fuck are you doing old gal”.

PS  My bags weigh a ton.   I walked downtown to check out my bank account with my pack on.  Good thing I did as I nearly had a stroke crossing the street by the bank.   I guess the VIA lady was right I am lacking horsepower in my old age.   I have sketchbook, paints, pens, computer, camera,  adapters, chargers and winter clothes.   I am starting to think to hell with technology. 

Bonus points of the day so far.

I ran into Scotty (Seaspan Captain) by Point Hope on my trudge downtown.   He gave me a sweet gift for my trip – a hard pocket flashlight.   I can use it to punch the eye out of anyone who gives me a bad time along the way.   How thoughtful.  I love my boys. I will miss them

Buying my Ticket

I headed down to the train station this morning to buy my ticket.

The lady here at the Via office thinks I am a senior.   She is giving me the senior rate.   Do I really look that old?  I know I am having a bad hair day and my home-dyed hair isn’t that wonderful but do I really look like sixty?  Sixty, I can’t believe she thinks I am sixty.    I didn’t want to hurt her feelings or make her feel embarrassed so I said “yep, just about, but not quite.”   Then to make an awkward situation worse she continues in a pushy voice ” Well you must be close, when do you turn 60?”  I gulped and stammered out (forgive me Budda) a white lie to spare her feelings.  I sheepishly said “ I have two years to go” which is a lie but then she stared right at me and said”Really?”  She seemed visibly surprised at that statement.  Well the truth be told I have four more years to go before I hit that magic discount number. Next thing I know she is asking me ” will that be credit card or cash”?  for the full amount.   When will I ever learn to keep my mouth shut.

This trip is coming just at the right time if I am looking that rusty.   Like a friend of mine told me the other night ” You’re a long time dead” so I might as well do it now. I think he’s right. It is time to hit the road maybe it will put the spring back into my step.

At least I got good and cheered up on my way back home over the Blue bridge.   The whistle blew and the gate flung down in front of me stopping me dead in my tracks.  Then the bridge began to lift.   Here was the Tug “Storm Wave” coming though with the cement barge in tow.   Watching him motoring through the uplifted bridge made me forget all about that whole senior business.

There’s nothing like catching a passing tug by surprise that lifts the spirit.  It just makes my day.

My Inner Canada

My Inner Canada is a pilgrimage I am taking across Canada in winter.  I feel called at this time in my life to travel across the country by ferry, bus and train from Victoria, via the coast of BC to Prince Rupert and then on  to Newfoundland.   It has been a longing in me ever since I can remember.  Not only to see Newfoundland but to really experience the whole country as a whole.  In some sense it is my tribute to Peter Gzowski and CBC Canada who both instilled in me a grand love for this great country.

I chose winter and a longer, tougher route for my trip because I want to get right into the heart of the country and the people.  I feel a need to experience the landscape and history as I travel coast to coast for the next 5 weeks.

It won’t be that easy for me as I am a nervous nelly.  Actually I am an all out worrier who suffers greatly from panic attacks.  Plus, I have some serious health concerns.  To cope with these my plan is to mediate, write and sketch my way though my anxieties.  And to put in practice all the techniques and advice that I have read about in books.  The trip will not only be an outer journey of adventures but it will also be an inner journey of reflections.

I hope that by the end of the line I will be mentally stronger as a person and that I will have learned  and matured from the lessons the trip will teach me.  The time has come for me to hit the trail and see the Canada that Peter Gzowski loved and shared with me as I listened to him every morning on CBC radio.

Please follow me on my 9,153 km adventure.

My name is Janet Etter and I’m an artist.  I live in Victoria and paint the  tugboat and marine life of Victoria’s Inner harbour.  I sometimes refer to myself as an “industrial folk artist.”