When my wife was a child she invented a word for her own use to describe ‘something soothing, familiar and comforting’. The word was “fernie”. Years later we bought a second home in Fernie, BC, and it has proven to be all these things.
I have been eagerly awaiting my return to Fernie on this trip and, wouldn’t you know it, 17 of my family members had the same idea, and Fernie became a real homebase for this journey.
We planned to meet in Elko (about halfway to Fernie) to go swimming and cliff diving, but the weather did not comply. When we called enroute to make new plans, wouldn’t you know that by coincidence we had all stopped at the same place. Even though we were not yet in Fernie, even there on the side of the highway we were instantly in a fernie place.
Our route to Elko was another story. The highway between Cranbrook and Fernie is well travelled by trucks and cars. We were starting early, so traffic was light, but our bike navigation tool showed a paved backcountry trail – road cycler’s Valhalla – for most of the way, so we committed to that path. The first few kms, went well but then the trap was sprung, as our trail became a trial. We spent the next few hours crawling along loose stone/gravel roads on our thin tires. I thought it would be more than my bike could handle, as we tweaked, rattled and ricocheted along our pinball course, skirting water-drenched craters and bike-eating rock patches. Off in the distance I occasionally caught sight of Mike, who was super human on his gravel bike.
When we finally hit pavement, it felt soft and silky – almost fernie. Despite the heavy traffic into Fernie, familiar sites play like a photo album. It feels good here. We will spend three nights as tourists before returning to our nomadic ways.
P.S. tomorrow is my wedding anniversary. I must not forget. [Editor’s Note: I wrote this blog the next day, and I had forgotten. This blog is my mea culpa, though all was forgiven.]