Canada – Day Eleven: The Day We Nearly Died

Rising for breakfast I bump into one of the guys from Quebec rummaging through the food in the communal fridge. He wasn’t helping himself, but he and his wife had filled the appliance with lots of their own food. I wish we’d thought of doing this kind of thing eleven days ago as it was the meals in restaurants and take aways that were making my wallet lighter! Ray’s (the owner of the hotel we were staying in) wife Liz mentioned that the other guests had bought enough food for a back-up superstore!

After a friendly and intuitive conversation with our fellow guests we were – once again – ready to roll. Both the Quebecans and Ray advised us to check out the salmon run in  nearby Sorrento as the BBC were there recently filming the biggest exodus of sockeye salmon in 100 years.

It’s a short drive before we’re herded into a car park packed with cars and more school buses than I’ve ever seen in my life. Kids are everywhere and some of the teachers look way out of their depth. I even saw one teacher grab some kids before realising they were from a different school!

Salmon swimming upstream

Even more disturbing was a young child leaving one of the portaloos asking the teacher if he should use the hand sanitizer inside.

“Only if you want to get cancer when you’re older.” was her unbelievable reply!

Watching the fish swim in their thousands upstream was really impressive, and the sight of hundreds of dead fish washed up on the shores all over the place were equally disturbing.

After a couple of hours we left and headed toward Salmon Arm, but on the way there we passed an old automobile museum so I thought I’d pull over a take a photo or two of the old and rusty relics lining the side of the road. We weren’t there long (as it was shut!) before getting back in the Escape. This is the point I made one of the biggest mistakes of my life.

Almost the last thing I ever saw!

In England you see the odd story of the 80 year old man who drives the wrong way down the motorway.

Today, I was that 80 year old man.

I turned left out of the museum and drove down the highway… the wrong way. Years of having driven on the left made me do it automatically, when all of a sudden I realised that the was a truck driving along behind me… on the other side of the road. I was about to question what he was doing before I realised to my horror what I had done, and that I was heading the wrong way on the wrong side of the highway – and switching my eyes forward I saw two cars approaching me over the brow of the hill at high speed!

The man on the right is called Thor... by me, anyway!

I stuck the Escape into the dirt on the side of the road as the cars skidded and swerved to avoid me, but thankfully it all ended safely, even if we were pretty shaken. After convincing one of the drivers (and his pregnant daughter) that I wasn’t drunk and that it was a slip of the mind and that the police didn’t need to be involved I waited until it was clear before slowly making our way again – this time on the right side of the road!

To this day the events can still creep into my mind and make me shiver, and sometimes I have to pause and remind myself what side of the road I should be on… even back home in England!

Carefully we returned to Salmon Arm to meet up with Matt vatkin, Jess Ladner, Matt Parnell, Curtis Schindler (plus a truly Nordic-looking man I dubbed Thor who crushed me in a bear-hug as we left) and the other locals for a Vatkin-inspired karaoke night and some much needed liquid refreshment, before heading back to Jess’ to smoke cigars, sit round the fire and then crash out in her spare room.

The Salmon Arm Gang

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