Saturday, June 16, 2012

Tour... or is this a vacation?

Oh the Kootenays. Nothing like the Koots to lift my sunken spirits. We have made some wonderful new friends, caught up with some glorious old ones, played shows to packed rooms in Kaslo and Winlaw, and spent a good chunk of time in one of my favourite places on earth. And Winlaw! What a beautiful part of the world. I have had the pleasure of wasting time in Nelson and Kaslo several times before, (well, I lived in Nelson, so was also productive there sometimes) but I had not had the pleasure of spending any serious time in the Valley, other than working at my KSA teacher’s shop in Kristova. The valley is soooo beautiful. Old farms scattered across flat stretches of lush green land, with a river rushing through the low vein; an old railroad bed is maintained for bike riding, hiking and horseback and runs along side the river. Giant mountains jut upwards at the back edges of the open fields, begging to be climbed. There is something thrilling about being in the Kootenays, and much of BC’s interior. An adventure waits at every turn. You can walk out of whatever town or city to find yourself in, and in won’t take long before you’re deep in the thick of wilderness. It feels magical, dangerous and soooo exciting. I have missed it out here. The Kindness of Friends and Strangers (who soon become friends) For the first time ever, we are feeling healthy and well rested on tour! This is thanks to some very kind people who offered us rooms in their homes during our stays in their towns. Our friend Samara, who we met through, and who is a very good friend of Oli’s sister, Anna, billeted us in the home of her friends Crystal and Alida who gave us the spare room and free range of the house – most importantly the kitchen – so we could keep well fed and comfortable. Crystal set us up to stay with her parents after our show in Winlaw, and they were more than accommodating, feeding us delicious meals and lending us their bikes so we could take to the rail trail with Crystal and their extremely well-behaved dog, Rufus. After Winlaw we dropped in on Kevin, my blacksmithing teacher from my KSA days, and then we were invited to spend a few days with Julie, my old friend from school, and her family in their lovely new home in Blewitt. As luck would have it, I managed to run into three people over the course of our stay in the Koots, who I wanted to see and didn’t have time to coordinate with. So instead of running around like chickens with our heads cut off, trying to find a place to stay for cheap, and eat for cheap, and cooking hotdogs on sticks every night and feeling like crap, we got to visit and meet fabulous people, eat good food, hike, bike and wander the streets of great towns and cities, sleep in comfy beds (for free!) and have some wonderful, memorable times. I am afraid of Bears Last night we slept at Halfway Hot Springs, which is an undeveloped, fairly hidden hot springs 10 klicks down a logging road north of Nakusp. It was pretty cool, except for that I lied awake all night horrified at every snap of a twig or rustle in the bushes. It’s unfortunate, because I so love to explore, and camp, and spend time in the woods. I am a chicken. I spent $40 on a can of bear spray before we left Nelson. Very expensive for a can of Cayenne Pepper – although the can is designed to spray 30 feet if need be. I’m hoping I will never have to use it. (One of the people at a tourist information booth told me that some people (hilariously enough) spray the stuff all over their campsite to repel bears as if it works like bug spray, only to find that the bears are attracted to the smell of Cayenne Pepper.) It would be much cheaper to fill some water balloons with Ebeze Zozo hot sauce, but I have terrible aim with a water balloon. The only other people who were at Halfway were a 60-something couple who were sleeping a ways down the mountain from us, closer to the springs. They assured me that bears are really not a great danger unless they feel threatened. But they are big and have teeth and claws – so I don’t think I’m going to get over this heart-pounding fear. I almost had a heart attack when Oli let out his first snore of the night. Tonight we are at a campground in Nakusp, and though it is far from real camping (in fact, this is less like camping than our normal lives, as there is a shower just 100 metres away) I think I will get some sleep tonight. It was amusing how simple and every day was the task of setting up camp at Halfway. We quickly assembled the tent and laid out our beds, tasks which took less time than clearing off and making up our bed in the cabin. Then we made sandwiches, brushed our teeth in the bush, just as usual, and went to bed by the light of headlamps, just as we always do. The hot springs themselves consisted of a big puddle of very clear, very hot water that bubbled up from a crack at the base of a cliff, and a couple of man-made, wood-framed pools pieced together by whoever was willing to lug a few basic building supplies down a very steep trail to the side of the river. I think in this case, pictures will explain the scene better than I can with words. The unfortunate part was the amount of garbage lying around. It’s a pretty special thing to have access to this natural phenomenon and to be able to camp and soak deep in the woods, for free. Why are people so careless as to leave bits of garbage around the pools and in the camp sites? This place could have been a clean, pristine oasis, but instead their were grotesque signs of human greed and filth. Today we went to check out Nakusp Hot Springs, but we didn’t end up going in. It was a nice-looking tiled pool, but nice-looking tiled pools aren’t really what we go for. The hot springs lacked any evidence that they were actually coming from underground. We looked at photos of Halsien Hot Springs too, but it just looked like a resort with a bunch of fancy pools. The view looked fantastic, but the resort feel wasn’t what I was going for. It would be so awesome if there was a happy medium. Something clean and well-made, but just the bare minimum done to alter the land and create the pools. Anyway, I could go on forever. I think these blogs may only interest my parents, as I tend to yammer on about details and personal opinions for a little too long.

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