Another one of my life dreams has come true. I have just crossed the country from Ontario to British Columbia by motorcycle. I am happy to say I completed the first half of this trip on my Yamaha 650 Maxim accompanied by my friend Mike on his old Honda Goldwing.
Tonight, I am sitting in a small cottage in the town of Nakusp, British Columbia, in the west Kootenay mountain range in southeastern British Columbia. As I look up from the table and out the window the sun is setting over snowcapped mountains and the entire scene is reflected in Arrow Lake.
This place must be one of the best-kept secrets in the world. I have never heard of it and I don’t know of anyone who has. We stumbled on this little town while riding through the mountains. The people are very friendly here, it is quiet and out of the way and surrounded in every direction by majestic mountains.
The earliest accounts of Nakusp include visits to the local hot springs. A natural route following Kuskanax Creek to Kimbol Lake, this trail was used by the Arrow Lake Natives who inhabited the area for over 2,000 years. Today the Nakusp hot springs is a tourist highlight. There are many other wild springs in the area.
We almost left this little town but on the way down main street we stopped to listen to a young trombone player, street musician Tyrrel Messam. We pulled over to listen to him awhile and hear his story. At age 14 this bright Jamaican boy has a great love for the trombone and with continued practice I am sure he will go places. After stopping to hear Tyrrel we decided to wander into the “What’s Brewing On Broadway?” coffee and tea shop. We were greeted by the warmest person we have met so far on this trip, Debra Schiavon. The small but cozy coffee and teashop was full of interesting chats and we struck up several conversations. Debra and her husband Gerry pointed out a lot of things to do and see in Nakusp and to make a long story short we ended up spending a whole week in the community. We were also pleased to discover that Debra offers space in front of her shop for gifted young street musicians like local violinist Brandon Shelley.
I must mention that part of the reason we stayed was the fact that we both ended up with bad colds. Thanks to the great staff at the Saddle Back Medical Centre, Dr. Lea, Dr. Kelland and the hippest pharmacist on the planet, Getty Gabriel, we were soon nursed back to health.
It seems like no one comes from Nakusp and that almost everyone who lives here comes from somewhere else. The very best accommodation we found on the trip came from Donate Eckert who rented us a fantastic cottage/apartment at a most reasonable price. She and her husband Edmund also run Paradise Lodging (250-265-4379). Donate and Edmund are originally from Germany.
We also discovered to our surprise a motorcycle dealer and distributor, Wolfgang Haerter, in the mountains who specializes in exotic Laverda Italian motorcycles.
The drive through these mountains is spectacular and in many cases it is necessary to take ferries across some of the major lakes. We were happily surprised to discover that the ferries are free. There are many intriguing towns and cities around Nakusp; Nelson is only an hour and a half away and major cities such as Kelowna and Kamloops are a few hours’ travel.
Time seems to stand still here in Nakusp. It is so incredibly beautiful that we are having a hard time moving on and preparing for our return trip back to Ontario. This community is definitely off the beaten track. I think that makes it one of the best kept secrets in Canada. If you ever get the notion to travel through British Columbia make Nakusp a stop along your way.