Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Return to the Kootenays: Creston

I'm blogging from the last few hours of August 2010 in beautiful downtown Kaslo (in the Kaslo Hotel, no less) where the power in the entire town went out for 10 minutes about an hour ago. You don't know darkness until you're in a remote mountain town during a blackout.

I digress.

Last week I was whisked away to Rossland, a mountainous town in the Monashee Range, in the Kootenay region of south-eastern BC. It was embarrassingly my first time to this part of BC, despite having explored a lot of BC... or so I thought! But there I was in Rossland for a whole day, with very little time to explore beyond the Tourism Rossland office, only knowing that I liked what little I had seen, and that I absolutely must come back to the Kootenays.

I must.

And so here I am, one week later, not even, and I'm back in the Kootenays. Who knew I'd back here so soon? Not I.

Flying into Cranbrook...

My destination this time? No, not Cranbrook. Not Rossland either. Kaslo, Meadow Creek, and Fernie. I flew into Cranbrook's Canadian Rockies International Airport via Pacific Coastal Airlines, grabbed my Toyota Yaris from Budget Rental, and started my drive along the Crowsnest (Hwy 3) westbound (and across the Mountain Time/Pacific time boundary), knowing that I had a solid 4 hours of driving ahead.

Around noon I stopped in Creston, which I was flabbergasted by its quirky retro chicness and its uncanny resemblance to a much larger Osoyoos. In fact, as you drive into Creston, you pass through this agricultural community of Erickson which is essentially a strip of 1960's era fruit stands... but like, massive fruit stands... like the Bear's Fruit Stand in Keremeos. One after the other. This is my introduction to Creston. I had no idea.

Of course, I was driving the whole time so I couldn't exactly take pictures until I got out of the car and explored downtown Creston on foot.

Vancouver has London Drugs. Creston has Bahamas.

So I'm walking around Creston and snapping pictures. People are eyeing me... not suspiciously, but out of mere curiosity. Solo girls in red jackets and cameras stand out. I haven't even been in Creston for more than 5 minutes when a guy in his 20's on his bike stops and says, "Hey, I noticed you with your camera! What are you taking pictures for?" He introduces himself as Shawn, a born and raised Creston local. I introduce myself and then explain it's my first time to Creston and I'm taking pictures for fun, for my blog, and I hand him a card. Trying to analyze my situation, he asks, "So what, you've just finished school, and now you're travelling around?" and I explain I'm doing a road trip to Kaslo... for work. I ask him where a good place to eat a quick lunch is, and he points at the pub behind us, as that's where he's heading. We say goodbye and I continue on my walk.

Not really in the mood for a pub yet (and knowing that my hotel later that night has as brew pub), I find the Buffalo Trails Coffee Shop and step inside. Locals are feverishly ordering sandwiches to go, and one girl enthuses that they make the best food here.  I order what sounds good to me at the time - a chipotle chicken club sandwich with their house salad. I also order an Americano for the road. As I wait, I pop into the washroom and laugh at what I see:

I get back to my table and I overhear the girls behind the counter. "Where do I take this single Americano?" "To the girl sitting by herself." I am that person now. 

My coffee arrives, and shortly after, the food. The sandwich is great, but the salad was unexpectedly incredible... fresh feta on greens with orange slices, candied pecans, what can only be local strawberries, with a balsamic vinaigrette. And this is the house salad? Welcome to Creston. 

I sit there reading my sister's copy of "Eat Pray Love", amused that I am reading about what I am essentially doing at that very moment: travelling into the unknown, solo, dining alone, obsessing about my next meal.

As I walk back to my car, camera in hand, I pass three older locals sitting on a bench in front of a shop. I glance at them casually and the bearded man says "good morning" to me. I say "good morning!" back. A few steps beyond and I hear him say, "she must work for the newspaper."

It's 1pm and I still have a fair distance to go, so I get back into my Yaris and continue my journey.

Next: Jeremy & Tim from Chilliwack, the Kootenay Lake Ferry, and Kaslo...

Beautiful Creston Valley, indeed!

To be continued...


Blogger said...

To the girl sitting by herself,

Great entry, Robyn!

Your description of Creston reminded of this small town in a Michael J. Fox movie called "Doc Hollywood". I'm sure it's a lot more "modern" than that town, but it definitely sounds quaint.

Col said...

Glad to see you blogging again Robyn! And a terrific entry. I've lived here my whole life and haven't seen tons of BC, so this is great to read. Enjoy your travels!