Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Mountain View, AB to Kimberley, BC.
The breakfast buffet at the Rocky Ridge Inn lived up to its billing: lots of home baked muffins and pastries, a variety of meats, omelets made to order, and plenty of caffeinated coffee in this Mormon-run establishment. We were able to take lots of food for later.
The area around Pincher Creek has become a hot bed for “wind farms”. Wind energy is being heavily promoted here.
Much of Provincial Highway 3, the Crows Nest Highway west to Cranbrook, BC, is not particularly scenic; there has been extensive coal mining along this route. One of Canada’s great disasters, the Frank Slide, occurred near the Municipality of Crows Nest in 1903. This rock avalanche killed at least 70 people in the coal mining town of Frank. Unfortunately, the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre, highly recommended by AAA and elsewhere, was closed for renovation at the time of our trip (note: it reopened August 29, 2008).
We pulled off for a stroll through attractive Fernie, which sports a well-preserved downtown dating from 1908-09. After two disastrous fires in 1904 and 1908, the citizenry rebuilt the city’s commercial district entirely of brick and other fireproof materials. The Fernie County Courthouse has been little altered since its rebuilding after the 1908 fire.
The Kootenay Trout Hatchery, 4522 Fenwick Road, Fort Steele, is located along the Kootenay River. We stopped for a picnic at a nearby rest area and visited the hatchery afterwards. It is very much an interactive educational institution, appealing to the young and “young at heart” alike.
For those interested in a reconstructed historic village, Fort Steele Heritage Town
We continued on to today’s destination, might be worthwhile, especially for families. AAA gives it a “Gem” rating.Kimberley, a Bavarian-themed ski resort town nestled in the Purcell Mountains. Although a bit touristy, it’s a fun place to walk about. There are many high-end arts and crafts shops as well as the usual souvenir stores. We found an excellent German bakery where we bought some pastries. We had a reasonably priced, hearty dinner of pork schnitzel at the acclaimed Chef Bernard’s Inn (early bird special at about $12). (Note: the U.S. and Canadian dollar were about at parity in June 2008).
Our hotel was The Kimberley Inn, with a Senior/AAA rate of $84. It was pretty plain, but comfortable and quiet. The rate included complimentary coffee and tea; the Cee Cee Restaurant and Lounge offered reasonably priced meals. A nice amenity was the Dell computer available for complimentary public use in the lobby. Their cable TV service included a channel from Spokane, WA; among the nuggets of information we heard was the gasoline “price war” in Coeur d’Alene, ID where regular unleaded was available at the “bargain” price of $3.72/gal vs. $4.20/gal prevailing in the U.S. and $6.00/gal in Canada!
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Kimberley to Coeur d’Alene/Post Falls, ID.
After our breakfast assembled from leftovers taken from the Rocky Ridge Inn, plus fruit purchased from a nearby market and German pastries bought near the Platz, we made a beeline to the U.S. border. The passage through customs at Kingate, BC/Eastport, ID was uneventful and once south of the border, we enjoyed the scenic drive to Bonners Ferry. We ambled on foot through the historic downtown for a little exercise.
We continued on to Sandpoint, where we shopped at the Sandpoint Litehouse [sic] Cheese Shop. Our favorite product is their Idaho Bleu blue cheese crumbles (a wonderful salad condiment). They also had some bargain-priced low-calorie salad dressings that we also purchased. After window shopping throughout the historic downtown, we picnicked at City Beach Park, located right on Pend Oreille Lake. What a magnificent setting!
We reached Coeur d’Alene mid-afternoon, and found traffic gridlock due to the Ironman Triathlon two days hence. The town was packed! Nevertheless, we visited the Museum of North Idaho, located on the North Idaho College campus. We were within short walking distance of the staging area for the Ironman next to Coeur d’Alene Lake. Already, the place was swarming with participants preparing for the event.
We headed to the outskirts of town, where we visited friends, formerly from San Diego, who prepared us a fabulous home cooked salmon dinner. Finally, we headed to another private home in Post Falls for our overnight stay.