There I was with a few minutes to spare on my commute (if we can even call it that) from Midway to Grand Forks, just over a week ago. It wasn’t like a commute I’d ever had before, like any of the times I was cramped on an Ottawa city bus holding a book to avoid eye contact with headphones in to drown out the noise. Instead, I was peering over a cliff up Gibbs Creek Road at a young black bear in a clearcut. It was my “long-cut” home from work on Saturday.
It’s so easy to settle into routines and miss what’s happening right next door to us. That’s why I was grateful that in my first week in Boundary Country I was invited to bowhunting and boxing events in Rock Creek — a place I’d only ever visited for a music festival or when I was just passing through on my bike (I will forever be grateful for that long downhill from Anarchist Summit down to the Kettle after climbing out of Osoyoos on a much-too-warm summer day). It’s pretty cool to get to “explore” the province and call it work.
In the city, my life was governed by bus routes from which I rarely deviated. I knew my coffee shop, my favourite driver, my very seat on the 97 bus to downtown. Out here in the Boundary, I’m thrilled that there is so much to explore here and so little dictation over where we can go.
Two weeks ago, I threw my camping gear into a rubbermaid and now tote it around in the back of my car, ready to find a spot to settle down for the evening if a story takes me just temptingly too far away from home to justify driving back in the evening. It’s part practical — it’s best not to drive when you’re tired — and part for fun, because I realize that I have a lot more exploring to do to understand some of the stories happening in the region, and also, who doesn’t enjoy a nice impromptu camping trip?
(I also put a bathing suit and towel in my car last week because I don’t have air conditioning so I will be relying on the local waterways and eateries for relief from my sauna of a vehicle).
Wilgress Lake caught my eye one night driving home from Midway. The rain was fresh but the sky was clearing and the dawn temperature was rising, lifting clouds of the surface of the still lake. It was amazing but I only got a glimpse. Luckily, I got to stop there again, at just around the same point in the sunset, on Sunday after a drive back from the coast. Fog crept in across the still water and ripples erupted and faded in the moments when trout leapt for mosquitoes. It was a perfect pause before settling into a week of talking and typing at the computer.
Instead of gazing off at cigarette butts in a roadside gutter at an Ottawa bus stop, I’m thrilled to get to spend my commuting hours (and they are hours) taking in the Boundary. But if you know any “long-cuts” that are well worth anyone’s while, please do let me know. Your reporter is now accepting news tips, submissions, letters to the editor and hiking/biking/adventure advice.
I know that to be a local is to be able to refer to specific mountain peaks and logging road turnoffs and gradually I am getting there. With kids out of school and summer holidays set for some readers, I wish you a happy time exploring this summer too — see you out there.