May 15: Park Drive-In Theatre, Prince George BC

Couple hugging in front of a drive-in screen at twilight

photo from the Park Drive-In Facebook page

It’s Day 135 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. When I drew up this trip, I knew this day was coming. The Park Drive-In Theatre in Prince George BC is at the 54th parallel, making it the second-most northerly drive-in. (Only the Big Island Drive In Theater in Manitoba is farther north.) More significantly, the Park is the most remote drive-in. My starting point in Langley was 756 km away by highway, so I had to drive well over eight hours to get here.

The Park opened in 1987. It includes a go-cart track and mini-golf course, and it’s adjacent to the Nitro Motorsports Park. The single screen is 40 feet by 80 feet and is 20 feet off the ground. The lot holds about 200 cars. The concession stand features homemade poutine and baked potato poutine. It upgraded to digital projection in 2014 soon after Les Pearson sold the place to Jeff Kiss and Nina Keba.

The Park’s web site answers the basic questions that few others dare to address. For example, What time is dusk? The answer: Dusk is when it is dark enough to see the movie on the screen. Do I have to stay for all the movies? No, you can leave whenever you want.

After all that driving, I was sad to find that the Park only shows movies on Fridays and Saturdays this time of year. It’s just as well; I needed the extra rest for the next day’s long drive.

Miles Today / Total:  470 / 15116 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 61

Nearby Restaurant: I love to eat unusual local cuisine. I love inexpensive food that still tastes great. I was very happy that I made it to Prince George in time to stop at The Salted Cracker, a restaurant that specializes in soup and sandwiches, mainly soup. For some reason, I hated tomato soup as a kid, but I’ve been making up for it the past few years. The cream of tomato soup here, although no soup was worth an 8-hour drive, this was definitely made it worth getting to town before closing time.

Where I Virtually Stayed: I love visiting Canada because so much seems to be the same as in the US yet there are subtle differences all around. One in particular is the Coast Hotels chain of mostly Canadian locations, including the Coast Inn of the North here. My room had good free wifi and a coffee maker, though no fridge. There was room service available, and three restaurants. The price was pretty good for such a fancy place so far up north.

Only in Prince George: Prince George is the home to Mr. PG, a 27-foot pseudo-wood mascot that stands at a highway intersection. The Prince George Citizen wrote that this is the fourth Mr. PG. The first, only about five feet tall and made of wood, was built in 1960. The next year saw a mobile parade-float version of Mr. PG, this time 32 feet high. In 1970, the city rebuilt a stationary 26-foot Mr. PG. This third wooden Mr. PG was “found to be rotten” in 1983, when the city rebuilt him “out of a steel septic tank and fibreglass.” Mr. PG was over 29 feet then but became shorter in 2012 when his legs were cut to move him. PS: View more great photos in this recent CBC story.

Next stop: Starlight Drive-In Theatre, Enderby BC.

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