GOA: Rocks, Rivers, & Hand Rolled Ice Cream

5 May 2023 – GOA, as in “Girls’ Own Adventure” — a cross-BC road trip worthy of the Boy’s Own and Girl’s Own papers whose plucky content entertained British youth from the 1880s to the mid 20th century.

Our Adventure ran from Sidney (Vancouver Island) to Fernie (nearish the Alberta border). According to online metrics, this amounts to 1,003 km and 12 hours 13 minutes of ferocious driving.

Or, alternately, a week of relaxed driving.

In our case, several days on Vancouver Island; a night in Princeton in the Similkameen Valley (which I described in a post about an earlier visit); and three more days around Nelson in the Kootenay Valley, before finally puttering on through Cranbrook to Fernie.

All the way: towering mountains, tumbling rivers, valleys flaunting orchards/vineyards/cattle/sheep. Also all the way: snapshot moments.

Here are some of those moments, Vancouver Island to Nelson.

On the Island, the rocks, driftwood and rolling waves of French Beach Park, down on the Strait of Juan de Fuca…

and my souvenir from that bit of beach-combing: nature’s own arrangement of seashell clasped by seaweed, later sewn into my hat by a kind and skilled Island friend.

Later that day, the Kinsol Trestle, just north of Shawnigan Lake. Originally a railroad trestle, now part of Canada’s Great Trail from sea-to-sea-to-sea, it still spans the Koksilah River and it is still one of the world’s tallest free-standing timber trestle structures, at 187 m. long and 44 m. high.

We ferry back to the BC mainland, and take the Trans-Canada Highway east to Hope, where we join Highway 3, aka Crowsnest Highway (for the Crowsnest Pass, at the Continental Divide by the Alberta border). With only minor deviations on subroutes, we will follow the Crowsnest all the way to Fernie.

Through Manning Park, with mist thick on those Cascade Mountains…

then — after a night in Princeton and breakfast at Thomasina’s (where we eat well and discover Haskap-berry compote) — on along the highway as it follows the Similkameen River…

and later, same highway, but now following the Kettle River,in the Kettle Valley and into the town of Midway.

We’re in Frank Carpenter Park, where, as you see above, somebody has thoughtfully protected one of the trees with a blue face mask. Somebody else, more official and more to the point, seeks to protect human beings with this warning attached to the hiker’s etiquette checklist:

We do not meet a bear. We do drive on to Grand Forks, where, to celebrate sunshine and warmth, we decide to search out an ice cream cone. We ask a couple of passing women for advice; they reply, “Market Place Ice Cream.” We follow their directions. It’s past a bunch of plastic, next to more plastic, but… ooooo…. looks promising.

Inside, I see waffle cones are available, and that’s as exotic as I know how to get. My friend — who has bothered to read the list of offerings — instead asks for hand-rolled ice cream. Chocolate, please.

“Hand rolled”???

I watch the process in amazement, and bless the fact that she ordered first. I will definitely switch my own order.

First, the cheerful woman spills the cream and fresh-grated chocolate (Callebaut, thank you very much) onto her cold plate, and starts vigorously mixing the ingredients with two ulu-shaped knives.

Once the mixture has thickened and hardened exactly just enough, she spreads it into roughly rectangular shape, neatly divides the rectangle into four strips, and rolls them up. Here she is rolling the final, fourth segment, with the third roll just visible on the lower right.

Next she stands the rolls tidily upright in a bowl and — since enough is never enough — adds real whipped cream and more chocolate sprinkles.

Et voilĂ .

We are awe-struck. This turns out to be the only ice cream we eat all trip. What else could compete?

After that, we drive on very happily to Nelson, tucked on the west arm of Kootenay Lake. It will be our home for the next few days.


    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

    "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" -- Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

    "A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities" -- Rebecca Solnit, "Wanderlust: A History of Walking"

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