Across North America, Day 20: Cousins, Reunited!

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December 17, 2015

I seriously couldn’t stop staring at it.

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You might think this trip can’t get any better, but, it does.

Newly-engaged, Rob and I hiked down Mt. Robson in our pajamas.

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Once again: Mt. Robson is one of the best hikes in the Canadian Rockies and if you’re in the area you’d be amiss to skip it.

Next we were headed southwest. To Quesnel (pronounced kwuh-nell, NOT kwez-null, as I repeatedly failed to remember).

Reunion

We were going to meet up with my cousin Kai. I hadn’t seen Kai in years. Like, eleven years. The last time I remember seeing him was in 2004 at my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. He’d been to Nova Scotia since then, but after 2008 I was in university and our trips would often miss each other in passing.

And, as you can imagine, so much had happened! I’d gotten my undergrad, he had an undergrad and a masters. As of the day before I was now engaged, and he had married his wife Lawrence. I have two cats and he has two dogs!

There was a lot to catch up on.

As we were driving first westward on the Yellowhead Highway towards Prince George before taking the highway south to Quesnel, I was texting everyone about my new engagement and feeling excited and nervous to see Kai again.

I was nervous because he’s one of my favourite cousins, like the cool older sibling I never had. He’s seven years older than me and he’s really smart. When I was little I definitely I looked up to him. Would he still be as awesome as I remembered? (okay, spoiler, yes he was).

But to put a point on the smart/badass argument, let me show you his LinkedIn summary:

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Kai facilitates environmental field work, research, planning and assessment activities throughout British Columbia, Alberta and the Yukon. Kai is an experienced consultant who engages Aboriginal communities in environmental and socio-economic processes federally and provincially.

Kai strives to develop the connections between the environment, development, First Nations, land use planning and regulatory processes. He applies his integrated environmental planning background to all of his work.

For the past eight years, Kai has coordinated environmental projects for industry, government, First Nations, NGOs and academic institutions. Currently, Kai enjoys specializing in Aboriginal engagement activities related to proposed pipeline projects in Western Canada.

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See? Badass.

In Prince George we stopped for burgers at this place called Nancy’s O’s. They had great ambience and great burgers, but not such a great part of town.

We were propositioned for change about seven times in fifteen minutes. And not just “Hey, spare change?” but, “Hey I’m knocking on your window and you should roll it down so I can ask you if you have any spare change even though you’re waving your hand and shaking your head no at me.” But hey, it was harmless and the burgers were awesome.

Burgered up, we turned south down Old Cariboo Highway and towards Quesnel.

Barkerville Brewing

Kai had suggested to meet at Barkerville Brewing, “theres a giant rotating mustache sign,” he messaged.

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Barkerville Brewing opened in 2013. Barkerville is this historic gold rush town  about an hour east of Quesnel.  In the 1800s there was an original Barkerville Brewing and the owners here wanted to continue the legacy.

So, what do you do when you’re reunited with your cousin after so many years?

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You drink all the beers.

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You practice your skeptical faces.

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The Cariboo Hotel

Then you eat all the chicken wings.

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And you feel super lucky that it turns out your cousin’s wife is also one of the coolest people.

I liked Lawrence right off when I saw her tattoos. I mean, she has the ant diagram explanation of a tesseract from Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 classic, ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ on her arm.

Source: http://www.madeleinelengle.com/books/
Source: http://www.madeleinelengle.com/books/

Right away, I knew this woman was amazing.

She’s also really smart (big surprise), funny, super kind and is studying to be a nurse.

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Magic

Also, in a coincidence of coincidences…

WE JUST SO HAPPENED TO LAND IN QUESNEL ON KAI’S 32nd BIRTHDAY.

It was completely unintentional.

A few days before when we were in Jasper by uncle (Kai’s Dad) said, “Hey, are you going up to see Kai?” to which I replied, “Yeah, it looks like we’ll be getting to Quesnel on August 20th,” to which he said, “Oh really? That’s Kai’s birthday.”

Me: O.O … “No way.”

I tell you. There’s some magic in road trips.

So we had about four litres of honey and a bunch of vegetables from my aunt and uncle to give them as well. Birthday honey!

After wings, beer and catching up we went back to their home in a cabin in the woods (no cell reception, but good wifi, aka perfect).

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We met their sweet dogs and had some tea. Caught up some more. They had to head to bed early because one of their dogs was having surgery on her knees in the town over the next day and they had to get up early to get everyone into the car and drive there.

We cozied up in their spare bed and slept like babies.

Very happy I got to see my awesome cousin again after so long. It was a good day.

Have you ever seen a family member after a long time? What was it like?
Day 20 Costs:

  • Mt Robson Cafe: $36.65
  • 2 Growlitas + Beer Flight, Barkerville Brewing Co.: $26.19
  • Burgers and drinks at Nancy O’s in Prince George: $45.52
  • Gas Station treats in Prince George: $9.11
  • All the wings and beers at Cariboo Hotel: $57.63

Total: $175.10 (but really, once again, priceless)

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