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Reports

Wednesday, 12 March 2003
108 Mile Ranch - Elk Lake, BC, Canada

When I woke up this morning I felt so peaceful. When I looked at my watch, I understood why: it was almost 11am. Maddi and Jeffrey Newman let me sleep in and thought I might need that. Hey, I didn’t even have any muscle pains after last night’s volleyball games!


But with an already made appointment with my next hosts at 1pm, I had to hurry a little bit to get ready. I had a quick shower and stuffed my things back in the pack. Maddi set up some cereal breakfast.

Today I was travelling more north again, on my way to the most northern parts of Canada. My next hosts invited me to stay in a historical site in Canada, but as that was going to be a nice drive, I would first stay with him and his wife along Elk Lake and then move on the next day.

Elk Lake is indeed a lake, some fifteen miles northeast of Williams Lake. But it would be futile to say that my next hosts live in William’s Lake and I am staying there as it would be way off route from there.

So I had to get from 108 Mile Ranch to that lake. Fortunately this host offered to help mke out a bit with this trip and he could pick me up in Williams Lake. And on the other side it was Maddi who kindly offered to take me along the highway and drop me with my next host in William’s Lake.

Maddi and I drove on this long straight highway, until we arrived at the William’s Lake Mall and met up with my next host. His name is Thomas Schoen and he originates from Germany. He introduced himself with a very heavy German accent (“Jawohl!”) and I said goodbye and thanks to Maddi Newman.

To get a lunch bite, Thomas took me along to a nearby restaurant. While we ate I got to know Thomas a bit better.

Thomas and his wife Bettina moved from Germany to Canada in 1992. Again it was interesting to listen to immigrant’s stories on how they got to this vast country. “It was very difficult to get to Canada. First you need to be able to show that you have a lot of money, so we had friends and family loading up our bank account for a few days. But then you also need to have a job or be able to start a well running enterprise for yourself.”

Thomas used to be a carpenter in Germany, so decided to continue this career in Canada too. But only a bit different. “Bettina and I set up a business in building replicas of native towns, so anybody can see how the natives people from this area used to live and learn more about this almost forgotten culture. Of course with close cooperation with the natives themselves, from whom I learned a lot. But then again, the business didn’t get the right rates to be approved by the Canadian Immigration Office, so we ought to leave the country. But because our projects had gained so much publicity in the media and goodwill from the locals, those immigrations officials decided to close the case and let us stay.

After lunch Thomas drove me in his old Volkswagen to his self-built house on Elk Lake, miles and miles away in the middle of nowhere outside William’s Lake. The roads changed from paved to full snowy and at his home the road was ploughed snow free by Thomas neighbour, who lives some 2km down the road.

There are some disadvantages with living so remote. First of all there is no power connection going this far, there is no real sewer and forget about a phone line. It was amazing what Thomas (and his father) had built here. Along the frozen and white snowy Elk Lake stands this two floors high and narrow house, which is very extraordinary. “We decided to build up, in stead of wide, so we could actually have a nice lookout too.”

When I entered the house it was like I entered right into one of the pages of an IKEA brochure. It was so much not what I expected. It was so much civilized! Outside, behind a hill a generator runs for electricity, a satellite connects to phones and the Internet and it was quite warm too!

The living room, bathroom and kitchen were on the ground floor, then there was a guest room on the first floor and up in this tower-like house was Thomas and Bettina’s bedroom. I was staggered that there were people that could just build something like this.

Around 5 in the afternoon Bettina arrived home from her work. She is a social worker in Williams Lake. She was happy to finally meet me, because the couple have been following me for a long while.

First Thomas read about me in the German magazine Stern a almost two years ago. Then they heard me being interviewed by Arthur Black on CBC Radio when I was in South Africa and lately I have been making airings on the radio again. They just love the way I travel. “It’s so unique, ja.”

As Bettina starts to prepare dinner, it’s time for Thomas to turn on the generator and create power in the house. Meanwhile he also lights a fire outside. “I am going to make a hot tub for tonight. The water that runs through the hose here, ends up above the fire and when it’s warm enough I can let it stream right into that big tub over there,” pointing at this big metal box in the yard. A hot tub outside? Sounds fun!

After we had dinner Thomas connected me with the satellite internet connection, which was my first time that way ever. It was really interesting, just to imagine that my emails were actually sent through space and then back to earth again!

We had a relaxing evening, hung around on the couch, read some German magazines and watched some television.

When the hot tub was filled up with warm water, it was time for a bath. And we Europeans do it the way it should be: butt naked. Dressed with a towel I was the first to walk out de door, over the icy path to the tub. It was cold to my feet, but when I finally got into that tank tub, it was great!

Thomas and Bettina also joined in and we enjoyed the heat of the pure fresh water as we bathed in the cold open nature. It was rather cool. The moon was shining almost in full and lit up the area. There are no next door neighbours to wake up, so I did an echo test. Whatever I screamed out returned to me another few times for at least four seconds. Wow!

After staying half an hour in this tub I was totally awake again. It feels very good, especially because I had to walk back to the house, which is quite chilly again. But it was fun and relaxing!

It had already gotten late and Thomas and Bettina went to bed. Before settling myself in my bed, I wrote in this diary and prepared for darkness when Thomas finally turned of the generator. Gute Nacht!

Good night Elk Lakers!

Ramon.