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A local prawn? An outsider? I don't know.
Within hours I had failed to finish my drink. My companion was on the phone to the house doctor. My vision was contracting. My gorge was rising for the 10th time. I felt the Canadian Pacific was not what it was cracked up to be. I called for a rosary.
We were going north to Smithers by way of Williams Lake. The fellow passengers were more promising than the tour group—a few sports like ourselves, some surveyors, timber cruisers, a geologist. The minute the aircraft had elevation a country revealed itself that was so tortuous, folded and empty that some trick of time seemed to have been done.
The sky came down to a jagged horizon of snow, and for 360� a coastal forest, baleful and empty, rose to the mountains. Past the bright riveted wing, the ranges succeeded each other to the north in a blue eternity.
We landed at Williams Lake on the Fraser River, dropped off passengers, taxied, flew a few yards, landed again, taxied again, took off again and landed. The pilot came out of the cockpit with his shirt unbuttoned and remarked with appalling candor that the plane felt like a Model A.
We got off the plane. I stopped under the starboard engine with the pilot. "Popcorn and marshmallow sauce seems to be pouring out of that motor," I said. It did, too.
They sent us into Williams Lake to eat while they fixed the plane. In the cab we learned the airline we were using was bankrupt. It had come to seem so. But at the restaurant they told us to return to the plane immediately.
When we boarded, the pilot said, "I hope it goes this time. Occasionally you're not lucky."
So we flew into the wild blue yonder, over the increasingly remote wilderness, hoping that we would be lucky and that the plane would work and be better in all ways than a Model A.
At Smithers, the seaplanes rested very high on their pontoons beside floating docks. A mechanic tapped away at a workbench nearby as we boarded a De Havilland Beaver.