Think globally, drink locally...
The above is actually a trademark from Shaftebury, a small brewery in Vancouver. But it applies everywhere. When travelling, please don't just pound back the same Anheuser-Busch, Molson, Heineken... products. Since the 1970s, the brewing industry in North America has openned up. You needn't settle for mega-market swill brewed in Edmonton, Toronto, Milwaukee or St. Louis and shipped thousands of miles. And a hint to Americans, a draft pint (573 mL) of a locally-brewed beer will generally cost you less than a bottle (355 mL) of Bud Lite.
In Nelson, the Nelson Brewing Company brews a truly excellent Wild Honey Ale. Most bars and restaurants in the West Kootenays have it on tap.
The town of Kaslo lies about 50 miles north of Nelson, north of Ainsworth Hot Springs. It is an interesting little town, with many historic buildings and the S.S. Moyie museum.
Kaslo is at the north end of Kootenay Lake, and has many businesses to meet a traveller's needs. There is a beach downtown where you can swim, if you're brave - these lakes are cold!
Nice little town in the mountains
We went to Nelson from the camping site to take in a movie. This, we thought would be our only break from the heat. Over 14 nights camping, it never got below 30 degrees during the day. When we got to Nelson, we really liked the town. We went for a walk...with the camera...and didn't take much for photos :-(.
Anyways, we will be going back again. We camped at Kokanee Creek just outside of Nelson and will be back.
Stress Reduction Kootenay Style (Pt. II)
"The S.S. Moyie"
Back around the turn of the century, BC's lakes were plied by sternwheelers. However, railways and highways gradually redered the sternwheelers redundant (or so people thought). However, the Canadian Pacific's S.S. Moyie continued its service on Kootenay Lake until the 1950s. When she was retired, she was the last sternwheeler operating on North America's lakes. Lovingly restored, but forever stranded about 10 feet from the waters she used to navigate, the Moyie is Kalso's proudest attraction.
I mused that I wanted a return to the days of sternwheelers. But I'd limit my passengers to only the reputably disreputable. And all that would be served on board would be Wild Turkey, Mint Julips and the occational brawl.
"The Heritage Inn"
After some photos, beers and pizza, it was time to leave Kaslo. Back south on Highway 31 to Nelson. At Mirror Lake we picked up a couple of local girls who wanted a lift into Nelson. Where transit is non-existent, hitchhiking becomes a necessity. And some advice on where to go when in Nelson is always appreciated. It turns out that the Hertiage Inn is where to stay. It contains about 5 bars, all busy. But the rooms are excellent.
"M.V. Osprey 2000"
It's not the S.S. Moyie, but the BC Ministry of Transport's M.V. Osprey 2000 is a vital link in the Kootenay's transportation system...and a scenic ride. Highway 3A east from Nelson winds along the west arm of Kootenay Lake to Balfour, where the highway comes up against the main arm of the lake. Bridging such a large body of for relatively few travellers was and is somewhat impractical. For those impatient enough (or driving at night), the ferry can be avoided (at the expense of some great scenery and colourful people) by driving to Salmo and following Highway 3 east across the Kootenay Pass to Creston. But the ferry is free, and it's not like we were in a rush.
The journey from Balfour northeastward to Kootenay Bay takes about a half-hour. There are plenty of photo ops and views to be had as the boat chugs across the lake. You can also puzzle at the art deco railings on the ship's bridge. The ship's namesake, the osprey, is a bird of prey known for its spectacular fishing abilities. But, tell me this, aren't those ospreys with monocles? And, if so, why the heck are ospreys wearing monocles? What does it all mean?! Methinks someone was indulging in the Kootenays main cash crop (which isn't fruit) during the design of the ol' Osprey.
Sometime around noon, the Osprey chugged into the Kootenay Bay dock and disgorged another load of travellers onto Highway 3A. Needing hot water for my yerba mate, I called upon Cafe Mojo. Now this is Kootenay gothic. It is not 2003 in Kootenay Bay. The world froze in Kootenay Bay sometime before that stabbing at Altamont, CA. In otherwords, it's still 1969 in Kootenay Bay and it always will be. Three miles up the hill is an ashram (yes, an ashram -- yogis, meditation, the works!) And everyone sort of walks around in a haze of marijuana, patchoulli and clove cigarettes. Birkenstocks, peasant skirts and tie-die are the style here. But the guy behind slings a mean latte and makes a fine croisant sandwich. Just don't be in a hurry!
Amazingly, I ran into my friend Jen and her boyfriend, Jay, waiting to catch the boat back across to Balfour. Small world?
"Bye-bye Osprey, hello schnitzel..."
As the Osprey set out again for the Balfour dock, it was time start making some time. With the yerba mate percolating through my veins and making the synapses fire, I put foot to floor and climbed the winding hill out of Kootenay Bay. Past asham and trailer park, peaceful creek and congested village we wound along the east side Kootenay Lake, south to Creston, where we again joined the traffic heading east to Alberta. On through Cranbrook's dusty stripmalls, gritty gas bars, greasy spoon diners, and rusty rail yards. Then exit at the end of the Strip onto Highway 95A north to Kimberly and a German dinner par excellence at the Mozart House. Before the last stretch home to Calgary.
"The journey through Fort Steele and the backroads"
Now it was time to make the final push back to Calgary. North along 95A to Wasa and across the Kootenay River. Then south along Highways 93 and 95 along the Kootenay flats to Fort Steele. Then a quick left onto the backroads cutoff to Highway 3. Ominous clouds were building over the Rockies when we screeched to a hault 20 miles west of the turnoff to Roosville, Montana. A motorcyclist had struck a deer. It was a truly sad and disturbing site as the Mounties dragged the deer's bloody carcass off the asphalt and into the ditch. The biker lay on other side. He was in bad shape. Having had a run-in with deer myself 10 years before, my stomach churned. But on we drove up the Crowsnest Pass towards Alberta. Another unfortunate deer lay dead against the Jersey Barrier just before the Crowsnest Summit.
The going was appropriately stormy and wet as we sped north along Highway 22. Through Longview to High River to Aldersyde and then up Highway 2 to Calgary. We arrived at about 10:30 pm, strung out and glad to home. But it was quite a weekend!