On the Road for the Rough Guide to Canada in Beautiful British Columbia
It’s been an amazing few months travelling around British Columbia researching for the 2016 edition of the Rough Guide to Canada. It’s been exhausting, frustrating, hard work made a privilege thanks to exploring the jaw-clanging beauty of this huge province. Researching for a guide book means a life on the gallop, you never really have time to explore or to take a breath, always going on to the next place, and the next. Spending your days in a blur of checking attraction and museum opening times, room inspections and switching hotels every night, endlessly checking in and out. But although I was bone tired, I always had moments of heart-soaring happiness thanks to the dazzling wild nature of the province. Early in my trip, I had to pull over to see if I wasn’t hallucinating at this green-blue lake on the Sea to Sky Highway to Lilooet, that looked for all the world as thought has been photoshopped, all ready for a spread in a guide book.
I travelled in May and June, when snow still dusted the tops of the mountains in the Kootenays. Incredibly, the ferries are free here (unlike the rather pricey ones around Vancouver Island) and the journey across the staggeringly gorgeous Kootenay Lake from Kootenay Bay to Balfour is the longest free ferry in the world –complete with views that made you wish it was even longer.
In Kaslo I found the world’s oldest intact passenger sternwheeler, the SS Moyie, now a Canadian National Historic Site, but in her hey-day she plied her trade on the Arrow and Kootenay Lakes delivering passengers and freight from 1898 until she retired in 1957. Moored in the pretty little town of Kaslo, you can visit and look around, imagining the good old days when you’d ride the Moyie and stay overnight in a cabin decorated with gold leaf.
It was the perfect time to travel; spring was giving way to early summer, warm enough to just wear a cardigan and feel the sun on your skin, but still see the mountains topped with snow. There were fewer holidaymakers on the road and often I could stop at one of the many little picnic sites by a lake and feel as though I were alone in a perfect world of blues skies, bristling endless fir trees and soaring eagles.
I saw my first bear in the Kootenays; I’ve wanted to see a bear in the wild so much since I got to Canada and –at last! here one was. I gasped when I saw its teddy bear-like form waddling across the road, hit the brakes and made a grab for my camera, quietly gabbling ‘ohmygoditsabear‘ under my breath, (alas – too slow for anything good, the two cars zooming by in the other direction scared him off).
It’s also the first time I’ve seen so many deer and elk cantering across the highway –and each time I’ve been enchanted to see these bouncing Disney-like creatures.
Even cheeky ones who stick their tongue out in photos.