Exploring B.C.’s Kootenays

Last week, I was in mountainous British Columbia, travelling around with my grown kids. We celebrated Robin and Nici’s wedding on Sunday and the newlyweds were generous enough to share their honeymoon time to show us around the beautiful Kootenays. Some of my children left Monday and Tuesday to go back home (Taylor, Kristi & Mike & the boys, Nellie, and Darin), but Robin & Nici, Marty & Jeanette, Melvin and I remained in Creston.

Kootenay Campground Beach

On Tuesday, we drove along winding mountain roads hugging the east side of Kootenay Lake taking in dramatic vistas of mountains, lakes, forests, creeks, wildlife, and beaches ( www.kootenaylake.bc.ca ). This 144 km (90 mile) long lake is nestled beween the Selkirk Mountains to the west and the Purcell Mountains to the east . Incredibly, the water is pure enough to drink and provides a home to salmon, sturgeon, and rainbow trout whereas mountain fauna include deer, elk, bears, cougars, wild turkeys, and coyotes.

Our first stop was at Nici’s family’s traditional ‘swimming hole’ along Kootenay Lake – I think it was the Kootenay Campground beach. Nici was the only one brave enough to go swimming while the rest of us ‘played’ on the beach, veggin’ in the shade against huge driftwood logs. There was NOBODY else there – we had the entire area to ourselves! Marty did a time-lapse photo shoot and I collected tiny beach rocks for Nellie’s jewelry. After a bit, we drove on up the highway to Lockhart Creek Provincial Park beach where we continued to take it easy in the shade against giant driftwood logs. Robin began de-barking his latest walking stick, while Marty, Melvin, and Jeanette invented a new beach game of ‘hit the rock’. Nici stolled along the water and I just savoured every single fraction of time.

Lockhart Park Beach
@ Kootenay Lake

We stayed here for about an hour, just enjoying the mountains, lake, sand, rocks……….. Our next stop was the hamlet of Gray Creek where we shopped at the 100 year old general store: it was awesome – wood stoves, hardware and groceries on the first floor and camping gear/supplies on the second floor! Everything you could ever need!  We continued to drive along the winding mountain-hugging road to Crawford Bay. It’s quite an artisan community ( www.artisansofcrawfordbay.com ). We stopped in at Breathless Glass Studioand watched a woman blowing a glass ball in her extremely hot studio.

Breathless Glass @
Crawford Bay

Kootenay Forge ( www.kootenayforge.com ) offered beautiful hand-crafted ironwork from hooks to tools. I purchased a couple of small hooks to screw into a piece of driftwood from the beach – my grandchildren have asked for lower coat hooks in the mudroom.  Next we visited North Woven Broom ( www.northwovenbroom.com ) where Nici’s family purchased the wedding broom (see my last post Home Grown Wedding). Hundreds of handcrafted brooms hung from the rafters of the historic log barn – made with antique broom-making equipment. They make Harry Potter style brooms, special brooms for movies like ‘Bewitched‘, floor brooms, whisks, veggie scrubber brooms, fireplace brooms, and 6″ miniature brooms (which I bought to hang on our Christmas tree).   Lastly, we drove to the Kootenay Bay Ferry terminal and had an ice cream cone at Fairy Treats Restaurant. We enjoyed the setting sun and the Kootenay Lake ‘of shining waters’ while we walked along the beach searching for small coloured rocks and beach glass. Then we headed back down to Creston.

Kootenay Bay

After our Kootenay Lake road trip, we had a relaxing day on the farm the next day. Robin organized a BOLO tournament which we all participated in. Nici’s Grampa Tony (I think) made the Bolo toss ‘frames’ from copper pipe and balls (2 golf balls joined by a approximately 15″ piece of heavy duty cord). Briefly, Bolo is a backyard game with two ends where the Bolo frames sit (set about 15-20 feet apart), and each player tosses 2-3 ‘balls’ to attempt to land them on the far Bolo frame for 1-3 points. Of course, these might be just ‘house rules’ which we also added the ‘bonus ball’ or the ‘bonus frisbee’ point, but we weren’t concerned about official rules and regulations. We had two tournaments actually when Melvin unseated the reigning champion, Robin………..twice that day. We played Bolo off and on all week long. It was tons of fun!

Playing Bolo

On our last full day, we took a drive up to summit along the ‘Kootenay Skyway’ in the Selkirk Mountain Range, Hwy 3 west of Creston, where the East and West Kootenays join at 1774 meters (5820 feet) above sea level. We leisurely walked around Bridal Lake snapping pictures (Robin did a ‘time lapse’ along the shore) before heading back down the mountain.

Bridal Lake @ Summit

I think I never used the gas pedal – I basically just coasted all the way down, occassionally using my brakes. We ended the day with a wood-fired bbq of sausages and hamburgers AND another game of Bolo – Robin insisted that THIS tournament was the championship of all tournaments and whoever won THIS one, was the real Grand Champion……… congratulations, again, Melvin! Sorry about your luck, Rob. lol
All our adventures last week were lots of fun in one of the most scenic areas of Canada shared with family members. I have been SO lucky to explore beautiful British Columbia. Now, Melvin and I have made our way back to Ontario while Robin & Nici and Marty & Jeanette drove back to Vancouver. Tomorrow, Marty and Jeanette are off to Bali, Indonesia for who knows how long. This wonderous wedding was the perfect opportunity for all 7 of my children to gather in one place from all over Canada AND to gain new family members like Nici’s parents, Myles and Cheryl; her Grandparents (amazing individuals); sister, Steph (& Darryl), and many Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, neighbours, and friends. Thanks, Myles and Cheryl, for all your hospitality and sharing your amazing farm!

Summit – Selkirk Mountains

I know that I will always cherish this time…………….

More amazing photos by Marty @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/mmellway/page1/


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Betty
    Aug 27, 2012 @ 15:06:48

    It’s sure sounds like you had some wonderful adventures… Such a beautiful place…. British Columbia… and to have these memories with your children is pricesless… but then – you deserve it!!!.. You’ve been an awesome mom to your kids!!… (and my kids too!!)… Thanks for sharing… Love u…xo


  2. Carolyn Renouf
    Aug 28, 2012 @ 10:31:11

    love to read this what an awsome adventure love it too bad gotta fly to get there wowowwo


    • grammomsblog
      Aug 28, 2012 @ 14:06:20

      You can drive there if you have 4 or 5 days to spare, each way………unfortunately, I didn’t this time. But next time I want to drive and see our wonderful country from the ground!
      I’m very happy that you are enjoying my blog Carolyn.


  3. Rob
    Aug 29, 2012 @ 16:23:07

    My parents had a house in Riondel near grey creek , and crawford bay. Very nice part of the country. Sounds like you had a blast. it was so much fun seeing you again this summer


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