It had been pretty hard for Dad to find a good job in Victoria. He finally found one elsewhere though, so we packed up everything and moved from Victoria to Langley, on the mainland of BC.
Leaving Victoria and Poppy was a difficult thing for Mum, particularly after losing her mother. At the same time, Kim and I were kind of excited by the move and all the new changes going on.
The first place we stayed when we arrived in Langley was the Fort Langley Hotel – a very interesting place. The hotel lobby was decorated like an old hunting lodge, complete with a gigantic moose head and full bear skin on the wall, and a bar right in the next room. It smelled like beer, sawdust, and old musty fur coats, and gave me a weird olden times feeling like I was in a western movie or something. Fort Langley does have a wild and wooly past too, being named after the Hudson’s Bay outpost located there since frontier times. The original fort had since become a historic site and also quite a tourist attraction.
I learned something else about the Fort Langley Hotel: it was located right next to the local railway line. This particular fact would be driven home every morning around 6 AM when huge freight trains would come barrelling through town with horns a’blaring. Fort Langley was about as different from Victoria as any place could be. In contrast to Victoria’s city traffic, elderly citizens and sea air, Fort Langley was noisy, smelled like diesel and freshly cut lumber, and was pretty darn rough around the edges. Poppy’s house was now a long, long way away, and I didn’t know what to expect in this new place. It was like being on a vacation with no schedule or routine. All the structure and security I remember from living with Poppy and Sam was replaced with a strange new place full of new people, sights and sounds.
Meanwhile, Dad was busy trying to find us a more permanent (and less expensive) place to live.
Before long, we relocated to a place called the Blue Star Motel. The Blue Star was a clean and relatively well manicured road-side place. I remember how clean it seemed, how fresh the air smelled, and how the green lawns looked against the the white and blue colour scheme of the buildings. Although it was right next to a road, there wasn’t a lot of traffic and we seemed to have escaped the noise and bustle of Fort Langley.
Kim and I played with some of the local kids and had fun, but I was starting to get curious about the rest of my new surroundings. So one day, I went exploring around the grounds to see what I could find. After playing briefly on a small swing set near the back of the Motel, I noticed a small wooded area off towards the side. I made a bee-line for it, feeling happy to be off on my own with a forest to investigate. The leaf and twig-covered ground crunched under my feet as I climbed through a log fence and tromped around in the bush.
I heard someone else’s footsteps, and stopped in my tracks. A loud snort brought my attention to a full grown white stallion about 20 feet ahead of me. He was quite an impressive sight, standing in stark contrast to the almost black trees. Having never been alone with such a large animal before, I was pretty darn scared. He let out another big snort and I got the heck out of there as fast as I could. I figured that was what I got for wandering right into someone else’s territory!