Category Archives: Road Trips

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.

 

James in His Jeep Getting Java–Kokanee Creek

Crow’s Nest Highway was a spectacular drive, with these statues on the side of the road (there were many, I stopped to photograph two of them). While they made the drive interesting, it bothered me that they seemed to be for entrances to private high-end homes for the uber wealthy. They kind of said, “You can’t afford here. Move on.”

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While researching where I was going to camp, my original plan was to drive to Drumheller. When I saw Kokanee Creek online, it looked so beautiful that I decided to spend a few days there instead. Glad I did.

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I was a short walk to the lake and in a spot where I couldn’t see my neighbours. I could hear them though, as the kids playing in the campsite were screaming at the top of their lungs (one repeated the same Queen’s lyrics “We are the champions” over and over). They even rode their bikes into the washrooms, spreading wet mud everywhere. Thankfully, they were only there for the weekend and I was there for a few days into the week.

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I did have one thunderstorm while I was there, and branches from above broke and fell on my tent. The poles snapped in two, but the tent held up enough to get me through the night and early morning. The day turned out sunny (plus 30), with intermittent sun showers. I bought another tent, and carried on the rest of my trip making a mental note to invest in a much, much better tent..

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This was my view each morning when I woke up. I’d make a cup of coffee, walk to the lake, and sit and stare at the water.

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Instead of an inspirational song, I’ve added a video that I took while sitting on the beach. Enjoy!

James in His Jeep Getting Java – The Camping Edition

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Maybe it’s all the apocalypse writing and reading I’ve been doing over the last few years, but I got back into camping this summer. This trip I took west instead of south, and I stayed in Canada to visit a few places I’d never been.

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My goal was to drive from Vancouver to Kokanee Creek Provincial Park. I booked campsites in Manning Park, Kokanee Creek, and Stemwinder Provincial Park. I drove the Crow’s Nest Highway (Hwy 3) from Hope to Nelson and stopped in a few really great towns.

What I didn’t know when I began was the necessity of booking your campsite ahead of time. Unlike when I was a kid, one cannot simply go into a campsite and expect a great spot. (Get the reference there?) I booked mine the week ahead, but because I was travelling on odd days (I began on a Friday and ended on a Friday) I was able to secure some sweet spots. If you haven’t used Discover Camping yet, it is a really simple service that lets you see photos of your spot. Unlike dating sites, these photos accurately represent what you’ll find when meeting.

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I originally wanted to spend Friday to Sunday in Manning Park, but by the time I went to book the only spots for that time frame were in overflow near the highway. Instead, I changed my dates to just Friday to Saturday, which opened up a spot in the Lightning Lake Large Loop section which was pretty sweet. A close walk to the lake, and a pretty private (and quiet) camping area.

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It was also early enough in the season that there were no fire bans. You do have to remember to bring cash for firewood, as it is illegal to transport out of park wood into your site.

The night I spent in Manning was actually pretty terrible. (No fault to the site at all.) Being summer, I was prepared for summer heat and not for the quickly changing temperatures of the mountains. It got cold that night–no idea how cold, but my tent, sleeping bag, and the sweater/pants/pyjamas I wore were not enough to stave off the cold. To say it was rough is to understate just how cold I got. I’m from Winnipeg–I’ve dealt with -40 and colder.

After Manning, I drove Crow’s Nest to Princeton, BC, a little town of about 3,000 people. It had an old feel to it and very friendly people. I discovered a very tasty cafe, the Cowboy Coffee. Had french toast and coffee there–highly recommend.

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While in Princeton, I knew I’d need a better sleeping bag if I wanted to survive another night. I found the outdoor store, Princeton Outdoor Supply, who was very helpful and had a sleeping bag that should do the trick. He suggested that I take the one I have and put it inside the new one, and sleep with the two if I got cold. It was a great idea, actually, and gave me the leeway to have a cooler night if needed.

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Plus, I saw this deer. Didn’t seem to mind me or the traffic at all.

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While on my trip, I listened to a local singer/songwriter Land of Deborah. Give her a listen–she’s great road trip tunes!

SD 43’s Annual MACC Writers Conference

When Cheryl A. of SD 43 asks you to participate in the annual MACC Writer’s conference for grades 6/7, the only response is to say yes and then figure out how to free your schedule. This year’s all-day event had around 300 students, and 11 authors teaching them the craft.

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From left to right: (top) Lee Edward Fodi, Sean O’Reilly, Richard Dal Monte, CC Humphreys, kc dyer, and Rob Taylor. (bottom) Pia Guerra, Denise Jaden, Me, Tiffany Stone, and Tanya Lloyd Kai.

I talked about one of my favourite subjects–Dungeons and Dragons. As a collaborative storytelling game, it really is the perfect training ground for young writers.

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But not all was school and writing and conference. I also stopped into a cafe along the way called, Coffee+Vanilla. If you’re in the Coquitlam/Maillardville area, this is a pretty sweet spot with very good coffee!

 

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James in his Jeep Getting Java – The Penny, Mission

I have a favourite coffee place in Mission, BC. The Penny is an amazing cafe that gives back to its community by supporting an outreach program that offers comfort, relationships, support and food to those in need. (In their words from their site.)

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Walking inside, it seems like any other cafe. Friendly staff, neighbours who greet one another, and plenty of comfy places to sit.

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But there’s something very special about supporting a neighbourhood space that is using its profits to better the situations of those in need.

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This last Christmas while there, a neighbourhood Santa stopped in to greet everyone and offer candy canes. He’s been doing this for 33 years!

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Everyone in the cafe was thrilled.

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I definitely recommend this place if you are ever in Mission. The coffee is great, and they very often have gluten-free treats!

For a theme song, I thought this fit well.