A classic car group is heading back to the Cariboo, one year after they first arrived, and exactly one year after the 2017 wildfires.
VI Cruises, short for Vancouver Island Cruises, is a classic car group for which Lori and Vic Camire organize a number of driving tours with their classic vehicles.
Last year, they headed up to the Cariboo, visiting Cache Creek, Williams Lake, and Quesnel. Everywhere they went, it seemed, wildfires lit up behind them. The group had even stopped in Williams Lake overnight the day before the fires started, says Lori.
This year, Vic and Lori are hoping to encourage hundreds of classic cars to cruise through the Cariboo in a Wildfire Recovery Cruise, in an effort to support local businesses and encourage tourists to return to the area.
A picture — from the poster — shows the group perched on a hill above Williams Lake, with not a wisp of smoke. A day later would see a very different scenario for the Cariboo communities.
“In my personal life, my husband and I owned a small business and knew firsthand the impact the loss of income would mean, even if only for a day or two, let alone weeks or months,” says Lori.
Lori is the executive director for Community Futures Alberni Clayoquot, and said she was in touch, from the days the fires began, with the manager of the Cariboo Chilcotin office.
“Early on, the economic and personal devastation the fire was creating was evident and I realized recovery support from numerous forms would be needed.”
Eventually, their tour ended up taking the long drive home, leaving the Cariboo via Quesnel and returning through McBride due to road closures, even passing a wildfire on the side of the road as they returned via Little Fort.
She said when they were planning their cruise for this year, they felt “compelled” to return to the Cariboo.
“Generally our cruise groups range from eight to 14 cars, but we knew if we leveraged technology and our networks we could spread the word and encourage others to travel to the Cariboo,” says Lori.
From July 8 to 15 the group is encouraging classic and vintage car and motorcycle enthusiasts to travel the wildfire corridor from Ashcroft to Quesnel.
The week will begin July 8 with a picnic at the Williams Lake Stampede Grounds from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will end on July 15 with the Hot July Nights Car Show in 100 Mile House.
A variety of deals are being offered for the different visitors throughout the many communities on the route, with businesses chipping in deals and introducing their businesses to prospective tourists.
Details and deals are available at the website: https://2018recoverycruise.com.
While Lori says she’s aware not everyone can commit to the week in July they are holding the cruise, they’re hoping others will travel through the Cariboo at another time during the year.
For those planning on coming earlier and staying later, they’re also promoting the Williams Lake Stampede and Quesnel’s Billy Barker Days as different events to explore.
They’re also looking for garages to tour, and different activities to promote through the region as the car and motorcycle lovers drive on through.
“We encourage everyone, regardless of what they drive, to gather their friends and plan a cruise of their own to support the people and businesses in the Cariboo.”