August 21, 2008
ust got back from a whirlwind two day trip to the Kootenay Rockies region of British Columbia in southeast British Columbia. I went down on the spur of the moment with my guy as he had to pick up a piano from his mother with some other furniture as she is moving. I got to go along so I could meet his family. 'Simon' the kitten went as well. All three of us drove down together and it was just me and the kitten on the way back.
On the way down we had ethnic foods. We had German food at the Edelweiss restaurant in Lac La Hache. A long time ago a French Canadian fur trader lost his axe there while ice fishing. No doubt, to the delight of his trading buddies, the name (translated as Lake of the Axe) stuck, and will remain so for eternity.
For dinner that night, my companion used his E.S. P. his "Extra Sushi Perception", which evidently works quite well. We highly recommend the Taki Japanese Grill (250) 765-8828 if you are ever in Kelowna.
I was driving and did not realize how far (or not) you could go on a half tank of gas in his truck. I was pretty sure I mentioned it, but he did not look concerned, so onward I drove. It is after 9 pm and each little town was closed down for the night and we were pretty much out of fuel and would not be able to get to the next town past Beaverdell. We turned around and decided to sleep in the truck at the gas station when we saw the neighbor unloading his children's bikes from his truck. We asked him what time the station opened in the morning, we were going to 'camp' in the parking lot for the night. He said he owned the station and would start the pumps and fill the truck for us. What a wonderful guy!!!
We got to his mom's town a little after midnight. The last 7 kilometers was all 3-line fog. On my way back, I discovered that it is 300-some kilometers of narrow winding road through the mountains. His mom is moving from her home into a 3 bedroom condo which is being made out of an old refurbished building and alot of the building materials are eco-friendly such as the bamboo floors and wool carpeting, not to mention the recycling of the whole building. It is a very nice place. And his mom is very nice.
Picture Above: Blue Elderberries are ripe all over down south. If I had more time, I would have picked some to make syrup or juice from.
Picture Below: Some of the gold raspberries at his mom's home. They were good, but a bit 'watery' in flavour probably due to the rains.
When we were getting the grand tour of the local town, someone mentioned something about strawbale houses and my ears perked up. Within a few minutes we were on our way to go meet some of his mother's friends who had build their strawbale homes and do an impromptu viewing of their wonderful homes.
Picture Above: My guy's mother has a couple friends that have strawbale homes. This is the first strawbale home we went to visit on the spur-of-the-moment. It is not quite done yet. The owner says it is still a work in progress 10 years later. The outside is still grey as they have not determined what color that they want it to be.
Picture Below: This is the second strawbale home we visited in an afternoon. We interrupted her friend as he was working in the garden. The two story house even has its own indoor rock climbing wall. I was envious as I have not been able to have a chance to rock climb in a few years. I want to thank both these families for allowing us to inspect their houses on a moments notice.
What I like about strawbale homes, is that no two are alike and they are so personalized with the families needs and whims. We had a good discussion with the home owners/builders.
My guy grew up in Ootischenia, British Columbia. He and his sibling were the only non-Doukhobor children at his school. He said he was slightly confused when he was little and used to sing "Douk-Douk-Doukhobor-bor-bor-bor".. and did not win over any friends from Doukhobor society for it and he couldn't understand why. He always thought the song said that!!!
The Doukhobor are people of Russian decent that immigrated to Canada during the turn of the century because of prosecution for their beliefs. They were/are simple farmers that opposed material wealth. Dukabours had to produce their own food. They planted gardens and picked wild berries. Fruits and vegetables were preserved by pickling or drying. Jams and jellies were made. Food was stored in a root cellar. Fruits and vegetables were also sold to the general store in exchange for other goods The largest and most active Doukhobor organization, it is headquartered in Grand Forks, British Columbia.
A Doukhobor museum operates in Castlegar, British Columbia. It contains over a thousand artifacts representing the arts, crafts, and daily life of the Doukhobors of the Kootenays in 1908-1938. I did not get to stop there this time, but one day I just might.
Picture Above: Overlooking the town of Ootischenia, British Columbia. He was saddened his old school had been torn down.
I saw alot of the old abandoned Doukhobor homes here and there, but asked if I would recognize a person of this sect if I saw them. This morning I finally saw many of these people all at once. They were having a funeral as I drove by on the highway. I was saddened as I since learned that there are only 2,940 Doukhobor left in British Columbia. In 1941 there were 16,898.
Since there was not a hope of me getting back before 5 pm due to the battery cable being eaten though, and then time to repair with a drill and a couple screws to fix that issue so the truck would start as required, I stopped at a couple places which interested me on the way back up.
One stop was the Kettle River Provincial Park. The Kettle Valley Railway discontinued service between Beaverdell and Penticton in 1973, and the track was removed between Midway and Penticton in 1979-80, but the abandoned right-of-way runs was turned into a recreational area and is an excellent hiking & biking trail with many wooden trestle .
The remains of the gold and silver mines that once brought thousands of people to this now peaceful area can be seen on the river's eastern bank.
CD music was getting limited on the way back (no radio available). I did listen to Stan Rogers, The Pogues, Tom Petty, Spirit of the West, Paul Simon and thankfully, I did not have to break into 9 Inch Nails to keep me awake on the drive!!! I forgot my CD case at home.
One of the other stops was accidental. I have never been on these roads before, let alone by myself (the kitten doesn't count as he does not read road maps) and I bypassed a turnoff and ended up in Armstrong, B.C. Which was a good/bad thing. I got to see the cheese factory and I also stopped by the post office for directions. The ladies at the post office told me I need not turn around and head back to where I should have turned off, but to go over the mountain on a local road. I was hesitant, but so happy afterward for the mistake which brought me to their lovely town.
Spallumcheen which is one of the towns I had to drive though to find the highway again, it is derived from the Shuswap First Nations word meaning "beautiful valley", for obvious reasons. Spallumcheen is one of the finest agricultural areas in British Columbia, predominantly cloaked in rich green alfalfa and golden grains, with diverse farms nestled among pine-clad hillsides. I so could live there!
Eventually home again, home again, but I re-found out, that you do not have to travel all over the world to find interesting and beautiful places. Sometimes they are right in your own 'backyard'.