The Rocky Mountains form a natural dividing line between British Columbia and Alberta; and some would argue that this internal border also symbolically forms a distinction between BC and the rest of the entire country. Physically, it is the home of the continental divide in North America – on a basic level (with some exceptions) all rivers East of the Rockies will flow into the Atlantic or Caribbean , while those West will flow into the Pacific.
Of the four Western provinces, BC is a completely different kettle of fish from the 3 prairie provinces – geographically, culturally and socially. The entire province is extremely mountainous – and that’s after you cross the Rocky Mountain range. There are huge evergreen trees everywhere, which is why forestry is such a huge economy. People in BC are generally quite liberal, which why other parts of Canada often refer to British Columbians as tree huggers. I may have even hugged a few trees in my time – hey, it’s nice to be in the forest!
It’s been a long trip and as we drove back through the Rockies from Calgary, just past Lake Louise, we saw the sign welcoming us to British Columbia and we both cheered. We had reached another milestone, even though we were still over 400 miles away from our final destination of Vancouver. For the moment, we still had a lot of province to explore.
Winding our way through the Rockies, with the mountain peaks above and the green valleys below, the area was fraught with all types of weather on the day we travelled. It was clear one moment and dark as night the next with rain and thunder from above; certainly a dramatic entrance into BC. As we eventually emerged into the Columbia Valley, to the West of the Rockies, the skies began to clear and we caught glimpses of the great mountain range with menacing clouds perched in the distance. It was a breathtaking view as we turned South and drove parallel to the mountains.
We decided to stop first in a ski resort town called Kimberly located in the area of the province called the Kootenays. I visited Kimberly on a family holiday when I was young, and I always remembered the small pedestrianized German themed town. Don’t ask me why it’s German themed, but if you like strudel and schnitzel, there’s plenty of it in Kimberly. We actually stayed in the ski resort, a bargain price at this time of year, and enjoyed the independent cafes and businesses in town. One day, while driving back to our hotel, we saw 4 deer – two adult and two babies just hanging out by the side of the road, not even fussed by the car traffic.
After a very relaxing few days in Kimberly, we moved onto Nelson, another Kootenay town, and for a bit of trivia, where the Steve Martin movie Roxanne was filmed, way back in the mid 1980’s. Nelson is nestled in between tree covered hills and gorgeous lakefront and is a very pretty town with a traditional main street. It is another very relaxing place to be. It is also full of outdoor loving tree huggers. Gun toting Albertans may not get on in Nelson…..
When we arrived, the temperature had climbed to over 30 degrees, but unlike Eastern Canada, there is almost no humidity and the evenings cool down quite a bit. The lakefront beaches are surprisingly uncrowded, and if you stay in the shade, it’s a lovely place to hang out and take in the scenery.
After a few days in the Kootenays, we both felt a bit recharged. There are no crowds anywhere, the roads have surprisingly little traffic, and the scenery is wonderful. It was good to be back.