Looking over Nelson from Pulpit Rock

Lazy days in Nelson and the Kootenays

Dominion Cafe sign
Dominion Cafe sign

My first two days in Nelson were not dynamic. This was partly due to the weather and partly to my feeling of inertia. However, I now accept there are going to be lazy days when I am travelling for any length of time.

On the first day, I parked in the Visitor Centre where a kind staff member gave me a day pass for their car park. Parking is a problem in the city itself where it is all short term. I obtained maps and information and set off to explore the historic town, which nestles in the Selkirk mountains on an arm of the Kootenay Lake. Its heyday was in the late 1800s when silver and gold mining prospered and many historic buildings remain from this period.

I strolled up and down the main street, checked out the wares of the local artists in their cooperative shop and stopped for coffee. Fortified by caffeine, I ambled through the lakeside park and sat on a bench to eat my lunch with a view of the red bridge. On my return, I chatted to a heavily pregnant lady who said she was having contractions which I found a little alarming!

The following day was marginally more active. I ventured out of the city to take the ferry from Balfour to Crawford Bay on the other side of the lake. This ferry is free, like several in British Columbia, as it is part of the roading system. It’s a 35 minute crossing and allows people to join the road to Creston rather than driving a long way round. (Floods recently meant that this was the only way round and there were long queues for the ferry.)

However, I misjudged my timing so, instead of waiting a long time for the next ferry, I continued to Kaslo, another historic town further up the lake. The drive was beautiful, and I passed a few small settlements and several camp sites. It was obviously a popular holiday area. Once there, I had a most enjoyable time wandering around the small town, avoiding a coach party as much as possible. It is located on the lake edge and has views of the surrounding tree-clad mountains.

On the ferry
On the ferry

Back at Balfour, which comprises the ferry terminal and a couple of shops and not much else, I ate my sandwich whilst waiting in a line of cars for the ferry to arrive. It was bigger than I imagined but the crew unloaded and reloaded it quickly and we were soon on our way. I started the trip outside admiring the scenery but despite the sun, the wind was cold so returned to the car.

On the other side, I drove to Crawford Bay which is home to several artisan workshops. I had a look in each and admired their handiwork but refrained from purchasing anything. I considered going for a walk but felt unmotivated and was mindful of the ferry times so instead drove in the opposite direction to Riondel. By the time I arrived, the weather had changed, and it was pouring with rain so I was glad I hadn’t opted for a walk. Riondel is a very sleepy village which appeared to have seen better days. I’m sure it held appeal for people who wanted to live a tranquil life! I caught the ferry back in heavy rain and was glad to arrive back at my cosy accommodation.

Crawford Bay
Crawford Bay

Saturday dawned with a blue sky and sun and a whole new perspective on the world. My hostess, Annalisa and her elderly dog, invited me to join them on a hike up Pulpit Rock. This is a popular walk that affords a spectacular view of Nelson and surrounds from the top. We exchanged stories whilst we were walking and later, having taken the weary dog home for a rest, went to the market for lunch. She knew which stalls to patronise so delicious samosas were followed by cinnamon buns. The latter were excessive but wonderful!

Piles of sandbags used in recent flooding
Piles of sandbags used in recent flooding

That afternoon, I parked by the red bridge (it may have a name!) and walked along a track to Bealbys Point which, according to Annalisa, is an exclusive area. There were several dog walkers and one stopped to chat, introducing me to another lady whom she had also waylaid! I think it constituted her social interaction for the day as she lived alone.

On my way back to the house, I stopped at the liquor store to buy more wine. (You can’t buy alcohol in supermarkets in B.C. which I find quite inconvenient!) A young Australian was serving and inevitably we chatted. Much to my surprise, he assumed I was from N.Z. by my t-shirt. It was one I had bought from a charity shop and even I hadn’t recognised the logo on the front as being the Canterbury brand. (For the uninitiated, Canterbury is a well known N.Z. brand of sportswear.) He had come to Nelson to experience the Canadian way of life rather than join the hordes of other Australians in places like Whistler.

The day was a most enjoyable end to my stay in Nelson.

Old iron structure on walk to Bealby Point
Old iron structure on walk to Bealby Point
Annalisa's vegetable garden in the evening sun
Annalisa’s vegetable garden in the evening sun

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