Tuesday, June 18, 2024

A not terribly successful day

Entry to Cranbrook downtown

Today we thought we'd work our way across to Cranbrook, then take a loop up to Kimberly and Fort Steele. We visited those places once years ago, and enjoyed both places. Kimberly is (or was?) a touristy town, with chalets and architecture reminiscent of Swiss Alps towns. Fort Steele is a recreation of a Mounties post back in gold rush days.

We set off under cloudy skies and dripping rain. That limited our views on this, another great drive otherwise, all along Kootenay Lake. 

This place had an interesting heavy-duty breakwater, with an opening for boat traffic:

We thought it was a wealthy cottager maybe, but further along we could see that it's a private resort area, with cottages and campers, so a shared beach although not public access.

While travelling the lake road it came to me that this was where a house was built from empty bottles, and sure enough we found it <BC bottle house link>:

This fellow was an undertaker back in the day, and he and his cronies emptied a lot of square-shaped embalming fluid bottles.

As we approached Creston, the woods and cloud opened up and we could see some wonderful-looking fields, a real contrast to the tree-covered slopes we'd been seeing, although you can see it was still somewhat misty:

In Creston we parked at the tourist info place for a break (we had driven almost 75 km already ya know), and they had a display of pictures done by local artists, most for sale. 

A sample painting

Cathie got a tour of the basement work room where several artists work at times


A lot of the day looked like this, off and on:

We did get to Kimberly, where it was raining heavily at times, not nice weather for a walking tour. We didn't see much that interested us today, so after a lunch break we pressed on to Fort Steele.

Well, the Fort Steele historic recreation is only open Friday thru Sunday right now. OK, we can camp in the area anyway. Well the more rustic campground didn't have a cell signal for us, and we didn't want an afternoon/evening without our internet. So back to the fancier place right across from the closed Fort Steele exhibit, where we had a good cell signal.

We just wanted a simple site, preferably with electric. Their electric sites all had full hookups (electric, water, sewer), all for "only" $70 per night. Their non-electric sites looked like they'd be hard to get level on, and they only wanted $50 for those! So I thanked him and we moved on back to the Cranbrook area. 

By golly, we had missed the fact that Cranbrook has a Walmart. That was looking pretty good by now, 4pm on a darkening rainy afternoon. But no, this Walmart does not allow overnights, even a relatively small rig like ours. 

The Walmart Customer Service rep I talked to lived up to her name, and told us that the local Home Hardware allowed overnights! It turns out that the Home Hardware lot abuts the Walmart lot, so not far to go.

Home Hardware had a lovely sign we've never seen before, anywhere:

So we're in a Home Hardware lot in Cranbrook for overnight, a first stay for us at any Home Hardware. With the nearby Walmart we have everything here that the $50 no-hookup site would have had, and more. A good end to a not-so-good day.

Oh yes, we're now back to Mountain Daylight time, just 2 hours behind Ontario.






Monday, June 17, 2024

On the road again - 2 days

Leaving Donna's place today, sad to leave but happy to be on the road again. Initially the drive is through orchard country:

 Once over the big hill past Osoyoos though, we're back into hills and ranch country:

Looking back at Osoyoos

A switchback going down

More of the old "Drive with care cause we're not reducing the 100k speed limit" signs

The weather forecast predicted we could see snow in the passes at about 1500 metres. We got a bit over that but luckily the temps stayed above freezing where we were:

Lots of moisture in the air

We crept up to and over the 1500 metre mark, but only saw some wet flakes

It only got down to 2C where we were

Once we reached Castlegar and had a break, we decided to check out a nearby provincial park for the night. It was only about 1:30 but getting close to 300 km for the day. The park had lots of room, nice wooded sites, and the weather started clearing up, so we parked at Syringa Provincial Park for the night:

Our site, backing on to the Columbia River

A really nice new playground nearby for the kiddies.

A great-looking area for a dog park

No internet signal at Syringa park. Maybe parents would bring their kids here on purpose, with no internet available, a nice playground, and hiking trails.

That straight line below our blue route is the US border.


The 20km roadway into the park runs off of route 3A, and runs along the Columbia River, which starts here in BC (we didn't know that). We didn't take any pictures on our way to the park, as it was overcast and drizzly, but a much nicer day this morning for our drive back out to the highway.

It looked like a settlement of houseboats at one spot:

There's a major power-producing dam on the Columbia River, close to Castlegar:

Also a paper mill just downstream from the power dam

Further north on Hwy 3A we came across another power dam on the Kootenay River. The Kootenay heads down from here and merges with the Columbia at Castlegar:

Lots of power lines near the dam

We met several log trucks along route 6. Notice the size of these logs. They extended the full length of the trailer, which would be nearly as long as on a normal tractor-trailer:

We stopped for a break and some internet at this day park in Silverton:

We had thought we'd stay around New Denver, but after a bit of a tour we decided to press on, partly due to the poor weather forecast for the area. It was too early to stop and be stuck in the van all afternoon.

One of the places in New Denver that caught our eye was this very unique-looking lodge:

There were quite a few roadside lupins in bloom today:

We started getting some rain and a few distractions. Luckily Cathie noticed this crossing doe in time to stop for her:

We didn't see her coming

It's a nice winding drive up into the hills along 31A from New Denver. It started off nice, then as we got into higher elevations things deteriorated:

We're heading right into that

Luckily it remained as rain, but dropped from 16C to 7C in minutes 

Lots of rushing streams

We decided we'd take the (free) ferry across Kootenay Lake to Kootenay Bay, and on to Crawford Bay. The ferry is still on winter schedule and we had just missed one by about 20 minutes, so had about 1 1/2 hours to wait until the 4:30 run.

We each got one of these "kiddie-sized" cones while waiting

We had a pleasant wait, with the sky clearing up. When the ferry arrived a caravan of old cars disembarked. There must have been a dozen or more:

This one was nicely restored. Others were a 'work in progress'. One had to be towed off.

Underway on the ferry, the skies closed in again:

Approaching the dock the rain really started:

A little video of the docking. It must have been a bit tricky today:

Once we got docked the fun started. They couldn't get the barrier to the parking lot opened, and then the drawbridge wouldn't come all the way down to meet the ferry deck. So a few more delays.

 It finally got sorted, and we were the second vehicle off the ferry. We headed to a nearby campground right away, since it was getting close to 6pm by now, and still raining. We settled in here at the Kokanee Chalets and Campground. They had some whimsical chainsaw art near their entrance:

A soggy evening, nice to be settled in for the night.