After a long, ridiculously snowy winter at the cabin we had spent more weekend indoors than any other winter in the last 7+ years. We were itching to get back out on the road, or just to do anything fun away from our remote locale. The weather had started to break by the last couple weeks of our stay and some long awaited plans for a Canada escape finally came to fruition!
The plan was primarily Ainsworth Hot Springs, but Ross and I had never stayed in Nelson before. Last time we visited the hot springs we did a loop starting in Ainsworth and passing through Nelson with a quick pop into the co-op grocery store for some vegan pizza ingredients to cook in our kitchenette hotel.
Arriving in Nelson
We arrived in the afternoon on Friday, the drive through the Selkirk forest was beautiful, and everything was great until we arrived at the border crossing. It wasn’t busy, being such a remote crossing, but our answers to their series of questions about our winter location vs residence location (Florida), travel lifestyle, Florida plates, and Ross’s greencard, always seem to make us suspicious to people of authority. We were asked to pull the truck to the side while they did a search of our things. Luckily, perhaps, the man doing the search was an immigrant to Canada from Scotland, so I felt more at ease that it wasn’t about Ross, just our weird life. We both felt a little uneasy going over and back across the border without Ross being a full citizen (and the current negative attitude and actions towards immigrants).
Almost as soon as we got over the border and saw a gas station we stopped for some drinks and snacks. I was excited to finally find some Ketchup Chips, something the US needs badly, and saw a cooler full of Jone’s Soda, which is all but extinct in the US it seems (Short story: I once, many years ago, got one of my photos on their bottles but I never was able to find it). We continued onto Nelson another 40 minutes or so away excited about all the weird little things that make Canada different from the US.
We met up with my cousin’s family and shared a room at the Prestige Inn of Nelson. They were under renovations so somehow we got a pretty good deal on the room because it was a rather fancy hotel, with two restaurants and a coffee shop inside – and they took pets! After some greetings, we threw our things on the floor and headed out into town. We were excited about trying some local beers, which we were sure would be in plenty, though I wasn’t sure what to expect for vegan options. We knew that Nelson had a reputation for being a laid back, progressive place but that doesn’t always mean veg friendly we’ve found (Asheville, NC being one). We first went to Rel-ish, a fairly upscale looking little place with a few vegan, or at least convertible, dishes. We had giant, gut busting burgers and a couple NBC (Nelson brewing company) Amber Ales, all really delicious.
We returned to the hotel greeted by gorgeous fog over the water. I took Sherlock for a walk and got a better view, passing some Canadian Geese (In CANADA… so I guess just Geese?). We finished the night with a dip in the hot tub and laps across the pool, aiming for Ainsworth in the morning.
We woke up, changed plans, and went on a rampage of shopping in downtown Nelson instead of immediately going to Ainsworth. We stopped for a great tofu scramble at Full Circle Cafe, did a little more shopping – there are a surprising amount of hippie shops in Nelson with a lot of the same stuff inside, but several great little boutiques full of clothes I wouldn’t dish out money for (but don’t mind looking at). I did however find a moonstone ring set in silver for just $30CA, not bad!
The town itself is super cute with great historic buildings, alley ways and steep streets. They have lots of great little cafes but not many actual coffee shops that I saw (maybe I wasn’t looking). After poking around for a while it was time to stop for a beer Finley’s Irish Bar and Grill before heading out. They had a great selection of beers, I again went for an NBC Amber Ale…or was it two? Who can remember…
For us, half the fun of going to Ainsworth is getting there. We’ve been to a couple hot springs we liked better, but you can’t beat those B.C. views, and it’s fun to get out of the country once in a while. Last time Ross and I came from the east and took the ferry across Kootnay Lake. This time, we drove a scenic route up from Nelson along the lake with great views of towering mountains.
We arrived early evening, hoping that it would be less busy, but it was probably about the same as earlier in the day. Luckily it wasn’t too hard to find space along the wall of the warm pool to rest. The weather surprisingly wasn’t bad for February in B.C. and it was easy to hang out in the main pool, which I consider a little cold itself.
The cave was as hot and steamy as ever, and since the last time we were there they removed the humps under the water that I used to scuff my knees on and trip over; I’m not sure why they were there to begin with. Since my first visit, at age 12, Ainsworth has been a good measure of how my lungs are much better than they were. Back then, I don’t even think I could make it all the way through the cave with my asthma. I’d get 1/4 the way, start feeling like I was suffocating, try to go a little further anyway, and end up turning around. This time I went to the back corner and sat under the hottest waterfall for at least 7 minutes, and took my time getting out.
The locker room isn’t bad, they provide a multipurpose soap and plenty of space (and there’s even a swimsuit dryer now if you can get to it), and although the place was busy, it wasn’t a battle to get to the showers or dressing rooms at all.
More Food and Beer
We drove back with dinner in mind, and after various conflicts of interest relating to food, Ross and I went to a Vietnamese place called Yum Son and had some of the tastiest food we’ve ever had at a restaurant. It was so fresh tasting and filling. The also had the most delicious 20oz bottles beers from Postmark Brewing out of Vancouver.
We came back to the hotel to another great scene over the lake. We woke in our own time, stopping at the in hotel coffee shop then heading on back to lake Sacheen for our last week at the cabin. Overall the trip was a success, no time off work needed, just a few hour drive from where we were, and Sherlock got to come as well, making her officially an international traveler!