Sunday, July 12, 2009

Kootenays Road Trip B.C. Nelson Rhodo, Kaslo, Balfour Ferry, Canal Flats, Creston

Here are a few more random photos from my road trip through the Kootenays in B.C. (British Columbia, Canada), starting with a giant rhododendron north of Nelson, then a fast return trip to Kaslo to catch the Kootenay Bay - Crawford Bay Ferry. And we left Nelson around 2 p.m., and made it all the way to check-in at a Creston motel by 9 p.m. Hinged on catching the ferry, but I had a great driver who knew the route!

Giant Rhododendron Blaylock Mansion

Rhododendrons were blooming everywhere in southern B.C. the second week in June, but when we saw this enormous rhodo at the side of Highway 3A as we drove from Nelson to Balfour,we just had to stop! I love rhodos, and simply HAD to have a closer look at this behemoth.

Another View: Rhododendron Blaylock Mansion

Here's the view from a closer angle. I cannot find the photo of me beside this rhodo to give it scale. This plant has to be 15 feet high. It dwarfed me! Blaylock Mansion is now a spa/wellness retreat (read Blaylock history).

Kaslo B.C. Hotel

One of the reasons we covered so many miles this day was that our original plans to spend the night at Ainsworth Hot Springs had been thwarted. Ainsworth lies between Balfour and Kaslo, and the hotsprings pool winds through a natural, somewhat small and scary U-shaped cave. At least it had been scary and claustrophobia-inducing for me, when I was six. I was curious to see it as an adult.

But not to be: The Ainsworth motel staff informed us that, every 5-7 years, the hotsprings pool closes for about 10 days for renovating. That this closure coincided perfectly with my road trip was frustrating, to say the least. So off we went, north to Kaslo, to have tea and snack.

M.V. Osprey 2000 Balfour-Kootenay Bay Ferry

Here's the view from the M.V. Osprey on the 4:30 p.m. crossing on June 10. The Summer schedule, with additional crossing times, runs June 12- September 3. B.C. Ferries notes that this service is the longest and most scenic FREE ferry in the world. Cannot argue with that!

Balfour-Kootenay Bay Ferry

The roughly half-hour crossing leaves enough time to get out of your vehicle, take a few photos, and chat with random, friendly strangers. Such was the group gathered beside this flatbed truck, admiring the large stones that had been made into water fountains. The largest one, we were told, would fetch $4,ooo retail.

Why I travel # 86 : The gentleman in the picture laughed and said, "Now your husband will wonder who you were traveling with!" A few more remarks back and forth, a few laughs and a bear hug, and he was off to his golf weekend in Crawford Bay, and I to Creston, thinking how cool it is to connect with other travelers! But that's a blog post on its own.

Canal Flats Reclaimed Land Canada

I remember the twisty turny Highway 3A from Crawford Bay to Creston as a guaranteed motion sickness inducer, and was a bit concerned that we chose this old route instead of the Salmo-Creston cutoff south of Nelson. But sitting in the front seat, with late afternoon sun lighting this, the east side of the very long and narrow Kootenay Lake, it wasn't bad at all.

We pulled over to have a look at the impressive reclaimed land sign at Canal Flats. We'd been driving along side miles of flat farmland that began where Kootenay Lake 'ended'.

Sunset Motel Creston B.C.

This is the second motel where we inquired about rates, inclusions, etc, and where we stayed, along the highway on the east end of Creston. Their sign (click image to get larger view, then click Back button to return here) is typical of most hotels in the Kootenays and into southern Alberta. Wireless internet was a major feature for almost all motels/hotels.

After checking in and unloading luggage, we drove a few blocks back toward town, found a pub with adjacent cold beer store, Had a very good food for a pub dinner, a cold beer, and headed back to the motel. The next day, we planned to get to Crowsnest, Frank and Pincher Creek, Alberta, to have a visit with my cousin.

We did: See pictures of this part of the trip at National Parks Road Trip.