In the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Grande Cache is a quaint town with a population of 3,500 people.
An important outpost for the Hudson’s Bay Company, the town got its name when fur trader Ignace Giasson cached a large supply of fur in the area during one of the winters between 1818 and 1821. The town is said to have been very important for the company that helped build Canada.
Grande Cache is home to Willmore Wilderness Park, a 4,600 square kilometer wilderness area next to the world-famous Jasper National Park. A beautiful place that doesn’t have the marketing Jasper has, but deserves to be visited. It’s wild with breathtaking views.
We rested the horses in the stunning town for a day while I wrote blogs and transferred the footage we had shot during the first week on the road to hard drives.
“We have been here since the 90’s taking tourists into the mountains,” Ray, the owner of U Bar Ranch, Mac and Smokey’s home in Grande Cache, told me while we practiced social distancing.
Unfortunately, due to last summers never-ending rain and this year’s pandemic, him and his wife have decided to call it quits.
“We figure this is as good a time to retire as ever,” the cowboy who competes in reining said with a smile on his thin face.
It was sad to have to stay several feet away from Ray all of the time and feel like we shouldn’t spend time around him due to this pandemic. If we had arrived in Grande Cache last year, I’m sure we would have eaten dinner with him and gotten to know this cowboy a lot better. Like all of the families who have taken us in in the past. But with the current situation, sadly that seems like the distant past.
While I wrote blogs near Grande Cache Lake, Clara and I saw our first bear of the season. A teenage black bear grazed on the bright green grass near the motorhome while we watched it with wonder.
“They’re such beautiful animals… I just wish they weren’t so dangerous,” Clara, who is petrified of the bears, said with a smile on her pretty face.
I just love seeing them from the comfort of the motorhome. Not so fun when I’m in the saddle.
It was near the lake that we also met a wonderful couple from Grande Prairie. From afar they asked many questions about my journey and listened with wide eyes. We said goodbye to them, the wife put her arms around herself as if giving us a hug, and when we went to drive off we noticed there was a yellow bag tied to the motorhome’s right mirror. When I opened it, it had a bottle of Bodacious red wine, a pizza bread and a note inside. It read; “So awesome to meet and talk to you about your incredible journey. We would have loved to cooked you a home cooked meal at our home but we are in a hurry to get to our destination. Please accept this small token from us because in our mind you are bodacious. Bold, Adventurous and so very humble and kind. Cheers as you finish the last leg of your amazing journey. Be safe and stay healthy. Tom and Verna.”
This pandemic sure has changed the world and my journey in many ways but it has not erased the kindness in peoples hearts!