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Monday, June 3, 2019

Kootenays, Part 2

Kootenay travels, ! We really enjoyed stopping in Sandon, near New Denver BC .SOO worth a visit if you're in the area. Part of the town is owned by a Museum co operative group, and the Powerhouse owned by one family that has been working hard to keep it running with the help of donations. Its the longest continuously running power system in BC history ,the equipment has been successfully working for over 100 years. if you look it up online the articles explain the technical details much better than I can, but how cool it was to see it - Real "Green " power! A fast flowing creek was partly diverted 100 years ago and the powerhouse and equipment installed, but since then it generates enough power for the town and area of New Denver. No flooding, dams or fancy computerized equipment. It is an interesting model for other areas to get inspiration. Mike took a tour and got some practical ideas for our future pelton ( water ) wheel install . Currently we use a generator in the winter to top up our battery bank when we don't get enough solar light, but the plan is eventually to use our creek and waterfall to supplement instead. Our ancient Ginormous diesel Onan Genny uses very little fuel and is economical, but, like most of our ancient equipment will only run for Mike - he's an Old machinery "whisperer" We took the dogs for a walk up the road from the ghost town of Sandon to Idaho Peak, a scenic drive to a wildflower meadow we attempted on our Honeymoon. At the beginning of the twisty, one lane gravel road is a sign reading " no RV's beyond this point" .Seeing as how we were in our Jeep back then, it was fine although pouring with rain and foggy the day we tried. I wasn't convinced we'd see any vistas or wildflowers, but Mike was determined, so off we went. As I was staring down the sheer drop on my side, Mike was climbing us over a fresh mudslide partly blocking the one lane. No one had any idea we were up there( pre cel phone days) and I was wondering out loud if our bodies would ever be found should we go over, when around a corner descending the mountain, was a huge Motorhome!! What the?!! They gestured and shouted at us in German and the standoff ended only when Mike backed down, over the mudslide, backwards around a corner, and put the Jeep practically over on its side so they could creep by. Tourism and polite Canadians at its finest... We did make it to the top finally and the view WAS obscured by fog, but we saw flowers and marmots so all was not lost. Fast forward to 2019, the sign was still there, but road improved. Still one lane but now all sorts of vehicles go up apparently. (We took their word for it) . We also checked out the large collections of retired Trolley Busses parked in town as living " museum" displays . They had one open for touring so we took a look around and Mike realized it was from a route in Burnaby where he grew up and he'd actually ridden on it back in the day! His horrified face while telling me all about his motion sickness and why he wont ever ride a bus again was pretty entertaining. I also really enjoyed meeting the owners GF, who's from Chemainus on V.I. She had gotten burnt out from being a business owner caught in the rat race, sold everything and decided to walk around BC. Many miles later, she came across the Valley to town and has been there ever since. For all my complaining about the crowds in campsites, we both really enjoy meeting all the interesting people we come across and hearing their stories. After Kaslo , we headed across Kootenay lake on the Balfour ferry for a lovely 1/2 hour ride. Its the longest Free ferry in BC, (maybe even in Canada?) We'd been given directions to a Forest site accessible by a logging road by Island friends who highly recommended it, so off we went ,once again rattling and shaking along for 10 km of gravel roads. The road was well maintained, which should've been a warning... but it was as gorgeous as we'd been told, with lakeside sites and a fast flowing stream alongside. We chose our site and settled in, planning to stay for a few days. When the new caretakers came by to collect fees, they proudly announced how they'd been working hard to make the site better. We thought the setting was lovely and wondered what they meant .The place began filling up on a Thursday afternoon, the generators running immediately ,then at 7 am the next morning the weed-eater started. As I gave up on sleep and made coffee, the Lawnmower was next. There was no lawn- they were mowing the grassy verge on the beach! Good grief. Mike said, " Why are we paying to stay in these noisy crowded places and putting all the wear n tear on the Van to get to them again? We were longing for the good old days, where anyone could pull over pretty well anywhere; Forestry and Free sites were just that, and they were truly "rustic", with maybe an old outhouse and a rickety picnic table. Usually empty or maybe one or two others there just for fishing and privacy , making do with flashlights and campfires. Where are those places ?! Where are those people? I don't begrudge folks who like hook ups and watching TV while in the wilderness, fine, good for you, but I am not that person and no offence, but I don't want to camp beside you. We pulled out the next morning by 8 am and rattled our way to the 9 am ferry back across the Lake. It worked out well anyway ,as the weather changed and it rained off and on all the way back to Vernon. We pulled into town in the midst of a thunderstorm, understanding that we truly are from another time, perhaps even another planet and thats fine- we live in the right place!!

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