Alan and I received our first baby boomer introduction to the beauties of British Columbia on a Tauck tour of the Canadian Rockies. Each time we stepped off the bus, one of us would say, “Let’s come back for some independent exploring.” However, when we recently had the opportunity to experience the Kootenay Rockies in BC on a sports car road trip with Spokane’s Inland Northwest Region of Porsche Club of America, we forgot all about doing it on our own.
The minute I read the well organized itinerary that Tourmeister Keith had prepared, I knew we were in for a good time. And my boomer intuition did not fail me. Keith had planned the trip down to the very last detail, including knowing where to find mechanics, tire stores, towing companies and medical centers in case of an emergency. Luckily, only the tire store saw any of our group’s business.
Alan and I met the Spokane Porsche enthusiasts, plus a few visitors like ourselves, on the outskirts of Sandpoint, Idaho, where we picked up a segment of The Selkirk Loop, a 280-mile scenic drive that circles through British Columbia, Idaho and Washington State. From Sandpoint, the long line of Porsches motored to Bonner’s Ferry and across the Canadian border at Porthill for a ride along the eastern shore of Kootenay Lake as the Purcell Mountains loomed to our right.
A free ferry ride across Kootenay Bay on the Osprey 2000 Ferry deposited us on the western shore of the lake where we continued to Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort, the night’s stop. Soaking in the resort’s hot springs was a smart solution for road weary muscles. We had a choice of steeping in the horseshoe cave system of hot springs (and I do mean hot), the main hot springs or a lukewarm soaking pool. And if a boomer got too hot, he or she could take a quick dip in the stream fed cold plunge. Uh, that would not be me.
Day two of this driving adventure introduced us to more than curvy roads and scenery. The region is filled with history — the S.S. Moyie sternwheeler in Kaslo remembering the Canadian mining boom and the Nikkei Memorial Internment Centre in New Denver commemorating the plight of the Japanese who were held in Canadian internment camps during World War II — are two examples. And roadside signs advertised local cultural events like the jazzfest in Kaslo. When I found out that Nakusp hosts a family oriented rock concert in mid-July, I prodded Alan for a return trip to the lovely mountain community on the east shore of the Arrow Lakes.
Depending on whom you ask, the highlight of the day was either the scenery or the driving experience. The series of long lakes bordered by mountain wilderness reminded me of our cruise excursion to Gudvagen, Voss and Flam in the Norwegian fjords. However, on that trip, the bus driver took control of the road. This time, it was Alan’s turn. Driving the New Denver Loop from Kaslo to New Denver, our Porsche zigged and zagged, hugging the curves of one of the most scenic roads I’ve ever experienced. Did I mention the grin on Alan’s face? Or the fact that we need to return for a slower paced journey that includes stopping for photos?
The Canadian portion of the trip ended with a night at Prestige Lakeside Resort in Nelson. Afternoon light shimmered on Kootenay Lake as we sat in the bar at Ric’s Cafè planning more sports car driving adventures with new-found friends.
Active baby boomers will want to put a trip to the Kootenay Rockies on their travel list. In the summer, there’s enough boating, hiking, fishing, kayaking and mountain biking to keep boomers busy for days. And once the snow starts, the winter fun begins. The Kootenays are home to downhill and cross country skiing as well as snowcat skiing and snowmobiling.