One of my favorite places in the world is my in-laws house. Nestled on a quiet rocky shoreline of the majestic Kootenay lake it is a strong visual reminder that nature heals. The incredible beauty of the area and laid back lifestyle of the citizens is such a contrast to our daily life that the six hour drive often feels like an intergalactic trip to a different planet. Calgary suffers badly from urban sprawl, with a foot print larger than New York and cookie-cutter neighborhoods popping up like mushrooms on the edges of the city. There are huge chunks of land set aside for parks, but the neighborhoods are still plagued with the sameness of new urban construction. We are close to the mountains, but the city itself firmly sits on the windswept prairie at a high altitude. Our summers are short, our vegetation is often dry and shriveled and the city is cloaked in shades of gray and brown and concrete as far as the eye can see. So it makes sense that I am drawn to lush, green spaces, with colors and life and water and gardening seasons that begin before June.
For me the magic begins at Creston. A small mountain town just 11 km from the US border, it consists of a main street flanked by an old grain elevator, an ever changing plethora of shops and restaurants and many organic farms. The highway curves through town and dips down to edge the hill that overlooks the farming valley below, with the mountain range on your right. The road to the house is a drivers delight – tight turns with banked corners, hardly any traffic, and amazing scenery. Steep russet cliff walls and wild raspberries lining the edges. Here and there the trees lining the road drop off revealing amazing views of the deep glacier fed lake.
There is also the local oddity called the Glass House. Built entirely from embalming fluid bottles by an eccentric David Brown, it’s a full small house with a castle feel to it, and surrounded by flowers. He drove around the country collecting the bottles and you can visit the house during summer hours to reflect on that endeavor.
Every few kilometers there is a spot to pullover, take a break and enjoy the scenery, or dip down to the water. The views are simply amazing, tranquil and quite often you’ll see deer, foxes or bears ambling along to get a drink at the water’s edge. But never when you have a camera, that’s a rule they have. There is even a lovely wooden bridge you get to cross, although as we speak they are tearing it down and replacing it with concrete. I personally feel that all wooden bridges should be preserved, but it’s likely the maintenance is steep. After about fifty kilometers you arrive at the sharp turnoff, so small and steep you’ll likely miss it, and reach the green fence which you have to get out of the car to open. The air is amazing here, piney and fresh and intensely sweet with greenery.
Part 2 – tomorrow.