Saturday, August 25, 2018

Aug 24,25 – To Fort Steele, British Columbia

Yesterday we both woke up with sore throats and stuffy noses. On going outside there was a strong smoke smell and even the trees near us in town were partially obscured.

The forecast had called for a day of rain showers. I had hoped that they might clear up some of the smoke but it was obvious that the rain was not going to happen.

The only things I had left on my todo list where some drives with short hikes to viewpoints and a longer hike up a canyon. Since the viewpoints were pointless and we didn’t really want to work too hard in this air, we decided to cut our losses and hit the road. We had paid for a week here and we don’t get money back leaving 3 nights early but there was no point in staying.

So we moved on to the Fort Steele RV Resort near Cranbrook. I called first to make sure we could move up our arrival date.

Just south of Kaslo we got stopped for a short time while they cleaned up an accident. It looked like a head on collision as the front ends of both cars were pretty mashed up but the passenger compartments seemed mostly intact so I hope they weren’t too badly hurt.

At Balfour we got to take the longest free ferry in the world over to Kootenay Bay. It takes about 40 minutes to cross the lake. Once again we arrived just as a ferry left the dock but here they run two ferries so we only had to wait the 40 minutes to board the next one.

There was an interesting shop at the dockside.



The air around Balfour was actually much clearer than near Kaslo. We could see some things while on the ferry, although not much of the mountains on the shoreline.


The other ferry seems much smaller than this one.


We ended up right in the middle of all the cars.


We were just about the last ones off and those that were behind us, we quickly let by. The road down the eastern side of Kootenay Lake to Creston is 60 kph all the way with even more twists and turns than the road to Nelson or Kaslo. At least it was relatively flat and for most of the time we had the road to ourselves.

The road from Creston onwards was being paved so we hit a few delays but again there were no big climbs or downhills.

As we got nearer Cranbrook it again got very smoky.

With not deciding to leave until later than usual and the change back to mountain time it was after 6 by the time we got to the campground.

Fort Steele RV Resort is pretty big with about 125 sites, with some in the trees and some like ours, out in the open.


Just a hint of the scenery around us.


When I was planning the trip we were scheduled to stay were for 5 days but once again most of the things would be pointless if you can’t see anything in the smoke or if we just don’t want to breathe too much of it. We are just staying for 2 nights before we start the long trek back across the prairies to the cottage in Northern Ontario.

Today we went to check out the nearby Fort Steele Heritage Town. It was never a military fort but just a small community. It is named after Superintendent  Sam Steele of the Northwest Mounted Police, who came here at one time to mediate a dispute between the settlers and the Ktunaxa First Nation.

It was not very busy today.


First up was the water tower, which didn’t seem structurally strong enough to have held much water.


It is now an observing platform. This is a very distorted panorama of the stairs.


And a photosphere.


They have about 60 buildings, not all open, around a large square.


They have a herd of huge black Clydesdales that pull this wagon. For $5 you can take a ride around the grounds.


At the end of the day, the driver was leading them back to the stable.


She disappeared.


Some of the building have people giving demonstrations.

The leather shop.


The blacksmith.



A nice bandstand in the middle of the square.


You can stay in the hotel. $250 a night for the suite and $150 for a smaller room, with breakfast.


The candy store.


What used to be 25c all day suckers are now a bit pricier.



Some of the building without attendants in them were protected by this wire mesh which was just small enough to make it hard to take pictures.


The print shop, taken through the front window.


Some of the building were beyond repair.



There was a field full of what I assume is all the equipment that they couldn’t repair.


There were a lot of homes that you could look at but they got a bit repetitive.


At the bakery we bought a sausage roll and a cinnamon bun for lunch. Both very good.


The bakery is famous for its sourdough bread. As we were eating a fresh batch came out of the oven.


I asked them to run it through the slicer but probably shouldn’t have. The slices turned out to be very thin. I like a good thick slice of bread. Still very good.

This huge waterwheel was brought here from a mine where it used to run the pumps. It is perched on a hill over the highway to entice people to come in.  



The surveyor and assayer’s house started small but as he got married and had kids its got a few additions.


Nice house.


The assay office.



Checking out the samples.


I am not sure why they put these fake storefronts when they had so many real buildings.


This building used to be a hotel. You can now rent the lower floor ballroom for functions.


The upper floor is a museum.


Some old “medicines”. Arsenic, cocaine, heroin, morphine and strychnine.


Out on the street this group came by looking for new dancers for their hall. The local widow was not happy.


They gave everyone lessons.





We headed over to check out the steam train that gives rides around a looping track.


You could go up in the cab.


We didn’t go for the ride but just watched it start as we left the park.




And so, sadly, this is the premature end to this year’s exploration of southern British Columbia.

Tomorrow we will start the cross Canada trip back to our cottage. I don’t think we will pause anywhere. We just want to see some clear skies.

1 comment:

  1. Safe journey home! Are you travelling through the US om the way back or staying in Canada?