James in His Jeep Getting Java–Balfour, BC

Last June, I took a road trip from Vancouver, BC to Kokanee Creek, BC and camped along the way. While in the city of Nelson, I met a couple people while dining in a recommended restaurant who told me to take the “longest, most scenic free ferry in the world” that was in Balfour. Just twenty minutes away.

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At the ferry dock, there were a few shops and eateries. The one I tried was a bakery that had the most amazing scones and coffee. The day was bright, sunny and warm, so I enjoyed my food at a table outdoors while waiting for the ferry to arrive.

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The ferry ride was worth the wait. Kootenay Lake was beatiful and the mountains were incredible. It was an inspiring trip to say the least. Plus, it was free!

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Once on the island, I drove a short distance to Crawford Bay. This little town is big on artisans, and worth the trip itself. There was a blacksmith, a Norse artist selling Viking crafts (including shields!), and a great cafe where I enjoyed a delicious sandwich while writing.

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The Viking (a real Viking!) who owns and creates the wares for Norse Arts is worth going to meet and chat with. But be aware–he is a bit eccentric and gruff. While a passionate artist (he told me four times not to take photos even though I wasn’t), he’ll tell you his history of his people while requesting to know your background as well. (He was glad that I was Irish, and felt a kinship to me for having similar backgrounds.)

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This was probably my favourite stop. One day I hope to return to buy one his amazing shields to hang in my home.

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This photo makes Black Salt Cafe look empty, but it was actually full and I had to wait a few minutes for a table. This is a well-loved spot by the community, and local friends recommended it as the place to go while visiting.

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Once I had finished my meal and looking around, I considered going on a hike to the local lighthouse but then (10 minutes into the hike) chose to turn back since I was actually ill-prepared to be on a hike with no cell service. I instead returned to the ferry dock for some coffee while waiting for the ferry.

I went inside the Ladybug Cafe, but then saw they only took cash. I had no more cash on me, so was about to turn back when the owner said, “Have a coffee on me.” I tried to decline the generous offer, but she insisted and I gratefully accepted. What amazing people!

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If ever you’re in the area, I recommend Crawford as a place to visit. The ferry, the shops, the cafes, and the island itself, are all a mixture of wonderment and joy. You’ll be refreshed by nature and leave feeling a connection to those who call this island home.

 

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