Sunday, October 29, 2006

(written by hand in a notebook, transcribed later, and eventually retro-posted...)

It has been a long time since I sat and wrote by candlelight... My entire day, except for the time spent in the car, has been without power.

Winlaw had no electricity during a planned power outage between 8 am and 2pm. Diane was up early to make coffee and toast, Jim piled wood into the stove and cooked brie omlettes.So, it was hardly slumming it when I made my way from the guest suite over to the house for a leisurely (delicious!) breakfast. Spent much of the morning reading Susan Williams, "Wind Rider", a prehistoric horse whispering tale set somewhere in Kazakhstan about 6000 years ago. Well-written speculative fiction, it does a brilliant job of asking the question, "What must it have been like the first time someone climbed aroard a horse?"

A short stroll down the hill for fresh air and a trip to the shop to pick up some SNP stock and return a phonecall from Dad (seems his Internet was down, Mikey the pig bit him, Zina had to sleep - quiveringly - in his bed because of all the fireworks, and some guilty boasting about climbing up a ladder to make a tarp roof over Mikey the biter)... and then off to Kaslo.

The drive up the Slocan Valley was easy enough - I foolishly thought wind and a few showers wuld be the worst of the weather. Stopped in Silverton to find my I-pod cable so I could plug into the power outlet (formerly known as a cigarette lighter, though I don't think it has that function any more) - and to take a couple of photos of the outside of the local museum (closed).

Stopped again in New Denver, hoping the Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre might be open. Found the Kohan Reflection Garden

and, bundled up against the wind, wandered through the short loop, breath taken away not just by the chilly gusts blowing off Slocan Lake, but also by the stunning colours of fall. The garden planners did a fabulous job of planting numberous varieties of decorative grasses and bamboos, the former fully mature wtih seed heads heavy and ripe. The blaze of Japanese Maples and deep red berries was all the more stunning against the dark grey sky.

The Memorial Centre, when I found it, was closed not only for the day, but for the season (though a sign outside indicates that it may be opened by appointment after September).

The road (the 31A) up out of New Denver is windy and it wasn't long before the spitting rain and cloud turned into a blizzard. Luckily, the barricade arms indicating a closed road were still up and I wasn't worried about the avalanche signs warning drivers not to stop as this was the first real snow of the season and there hasn't been a chance for any accumulation. At the highest elevations through the pass and where the road was particularly steep and/or windy, I geared down to low gear and travelled slowly, leery about having to hit the brakes if some deer or bear ambled onto the road. Saw a dead coyote on the shoulder and snapped some random snow shots while driving, by blindly pointing the camera out the window. The quality doesn't look great, but one gets the general (nasty) idea. During the whole trip (about an hour), saw only five or six vehicles, all coming from the other direction.

Reached Kaslo at about 4:15 to find the town apparently deserted and wind howling off Kootenay Lake. Drove slowly around town - up one main street two blocks long and down the 'highway', scouting for restaurant possibilities and/or a grocery store. Couldn't see anything at all open, so found the B&B on Front Street, half a block from the SS Moyie, to discover my host, Cathy lighting oil lamps and placing candles on various stairs leading up to the guest rooms.

Turns out the storm has knocked out the power and nobody knows when it might come back. I asked about a restaurant and Cathy suggested somewhere a block up the street - a place with a generator. My walk there proved fruitless - truly, the entire town had shut down.

A loud generator-like noise seemed promising. Following it to the source, came to the Mohawk Gas Station. They had power to run the pumps and cash register but not for lights inside. The two available flashlights were in use by other customers, so I felt my way along the shelves and into the cooolers and found what felt like some kind of chips (turned out to be of the tortilla variety), some kind of fruit juice (Snapple), a sausage roll (that was right), and a bun (turns out to contain Black Forest Ham and mustard).

Took these goodies back to the Victorian Room in "The Quaintest Hotel in Kaslo" and have been snacking in the gathering darkness while making these notes.

It was pretty well dark by 4:50pm, a fact to keep in mind while planning my driving for the week ahead. Tomorrow and Tuesday in particular require lots of time on the road.

So, blizzards and gas station food eaten in a cold, dark (though certainly quaint!) room can not compete with Dani's ubermodern life of lusury in the big city, but I suppose are memorable experiences in their own right.

5:30 pm. The wind is dying down a bit out there. I suppose I can pull up a candle and finish reading my book. How early is it polite to go to bed? Who would notice?

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