Looking at the map and wanting access to lakes, waterways and logging roads we chose Barriere for this long weekend. We had an Yamaha 450, an F350 Ford pick up and had planned to be towing a pontoon boat with our fisherman friend Tom. Tom became sick before the trip so he and my boat got left behind.
Now we have to return with the boat because I've seen the rivers and lakes. They are spectacular. Barriere Lakes are especially pristine. Great fishing. And in the summer the swimming must be good too.
Planning a week before our trip we found Knight's Inn on the internet and compared this 'dog friendly' place with several other motels nearby. What was attractive was the in resort restaurant. We aren't drinkers so the bar wasn't as much of an attraction, but the possibility of an in house night spot to get snacks and cokes was also attractive.
I phoned with a credit card and held a room.
It was raining in almost all of BC that weekend but the temperatures in Kamloops were warmer than Vancouver. The 4 hour drive really wasn't arduous with the Coquahalla and the beautiful BC Scenery. Laura and I realized as I drove that we had been too long trapped in the urban traffic jam and parking lot jungle. The wide open skies, blue skies with lots of cumulus clouds, it was sunny on our drive, and the gorgeous green forested hills as far the eye could see on that high mountain highway: just cleared the cobwebs from the mind.
Both Laura and I love Kamloops so it was nice to stop in the city to get last minute items we didn't think Barriere might have, like speciality cheeses and Blue Sky Gingerale. As it turned out there actually was a well stocked IGA and local Market store in the town of Barriere. In the past, when I worked up north, it was the norm for northern towns to be limitted to basic foods and lots of junk foods. Whatever the reason, it seems increasingly there's a great variety with a whole lot of what was once called 'yuppie foods' available. Barriere actually has just about everything a small town could want with pharmacy, health centre, RCMP, a couple of gas stations, and mall.
Knights Inn is right in the centre on the highway where the town begins.
The manager was East Indian. An incredibly helpful young man. I asked him where his family was originally from.
"Punjab," he said.
"My grandparents came from Scotland and Ireland." I told him I'd been to India but only to the south and so wanted to visit the north.
"Sikh or Hindu?" I asked.
"Sikh." he said.
I told him I'd hunted with my Sikh friend, Sonny and had the priviledge to attend an incredibly beautiful Sikh wedding. My Hindu friend's brilliant and beautiful daughter had married a really strong fine charactered Sikh. The two of them could have been on the cover of a wedding magazine.
This young manager showed me the choice of rooms. Upstairs there were these spacious new rooms with two double beds but on the main floor he also had a single room with queen bed. It was small but the bathroom was spacious. We chose the main floor room because it was close to the back door. This made it really easy to take Gilbert out to the fenced back yard. Also I didn't have to carry luggage up and down stairs. As I planned to be daily going out in the truck with the ATV I'd be hauling equipment back and forth. I asked him and he said that my truck and ATV would be safe because they haven't had a problem with theft because they have cameras around the parking lot. Everything was as the internet said and as we'd been told over the phone.
Laura loved the room. She's happy if a place is clean and there's a large bath. It wasn't Harrison Hot Springs Spa or the Merriott I've taken her to but it's was a classic northern room. We had fridge and coffee and a view of a meadow with a horse. Gilbert stayed with her when I went out in the woods both of us still concerned with him over using his injured back. Besides his idea of bear hunting is barking and scaring them away. He's really only a good bird dog. While I was away, she and he visitted the horse in the next pasture each day. The two of them enjoyed nice walks around the Inn. She told me "Gilbert sniffed everything and peed on most everything else."
What we most loved though was the restaurant. We think it was the hub of the town. Every day it opened at 7 am and closed around 8 or 9 pm. All the locals seemed to congregate there. Men discussing machinery and women talking about their children and grand children. It was the best place for great eves dropping. We heard how to fix a water pump, where the best vegetables to buy were, what was happening in the school and all about the local events.
The waitresses were incredible. Friendly down home. Really good looking. City folk forget what fresh air, exercise and good food does to skin. They had a great sense of humor too. Lovely personalities. The reduced insaniety in the country. Less beaurocratic stress, less of the drugs and alcohol and rage in general makes for a whole different demographic. People just aren't being shot in the community despite everyone owning guns. If people are dying it's not from drug overdoses but from getting into a tractor or logging accident.
The food was to die for too. Knight's Inn has a really terrific chef.
"It's just like my mom's cooking," Laura said.
"This is the kind of meal my father loved best, " I said.
Each morning we had what Canadians call a 'trucker's breakfast'. Eggs, bacon, sausages, pancakes, toast. They had bennies and all sorts of other choices but I just loved their "Mountan Man" breakfast. Armour Mountain is visible from the Inn, which explained the breakfast sensation's name.
The lunch sandwiches and daily home made soups were equally delicious. I've tasted a lot of beef barley soups but this one was truly outstanding. As well as a full menu they had daily specials. One night we both had meatloaf and this was the one Laura thought her mom could have made. What delicious gravy. We also had a really awesome pizza that they served in the pub. Better than most Vancouver pizza places.
Alright I loved the home made pie. Berries and apple with vanilla ice cream. What is northern rural Canada if it's not the home made pie. Best in the world. And a bottomless pot of coffee refills kept us sitting there a while reading our phones and sharing the humor on each.
Our city boy Prime Minister Trudeau had just got caught physically bullying in the house of parliament grabbing conservative men and elbowing NDP women, a level of out of control uncouth p aggression never before seen in the polite hallowed House of Parliament. It was a news filled weekend of 'spin doctoring' and damage control. With heavy rain outside, it was fun to sit inside 'playing Facebook', posting political humor and arguing with strangers.
Laura and Gilbert hung out in the Inn when I actually got out on the Yamaha 450 ATV. The rain stopped so I got a chance to really the cross country ski and snowmobile trails nearby. I saw lots of deer, a couple of young bucks, a really big black bear that ran away from me really fast, and several big hares that sped away from my ATV. Another afternoon I hiked up the Barriere Lakes trails enjoying the views. Pine trees and spruce. Something to be appreciated.
Rather stupidly I ripped the wall on my tire coming too close to a cattle guard. Thankfully I was in cell range because it turned out I didn't have a jack. I was actually glad that I'd discovered this deficiency in cellular range relatively near to town. Having had the truck 5 years I'd never had to change a tire, having got new tires after I purchased the truck second hand from a fellow we only later learned was a truly unsavoury character.
I called Laura and asked her to talk to Knights Inn management because the towing services I found on line were all closed. The really helpful Knights Inn manager got in touch with the local expert at North River Towing. There was some emergency phone number they knew and next thing I know this really great guy calls me back.
I explained where I was and North River Towing found me at the 5 km mark on the trail. This big bearded guy really knew alot about trucks and towing. I didn't even know Ford had a special locking nut on each wheel to protect against theft and another locking tool to attach to the end of the piece used to unscrew the spare tire. I had to search the truck all over showing him different parts till I found what was needed. Then I held the light while he worked. He got right in under the truck with his winch. I'd unloaded the ATV for him but still, he was amazingly fast and fearless. It was muddy raining and dark.
I know I've changed tires on cars but not on a big truck in the mud at night on a logging road in the middle of nowhere. I really did appreciate his skill and knowledge. Told me he'd come to Barriere in 1963 and talked about watching the community develop. I sure was thankful for his help. I enjoyed all his knowledge too, not only did the work but explained why he did things. He'd had a lot of experience and could have been a college instructor.
Next day Laura and I were sad to be leaving Knights Inn. It really was a friendly homey place. They had just done a whole lot of renovations especially inside the rooms but there was just a little heart warming touch of Indian 'juryrig" in the door handles. They had the northern standard push shut door lock from my childhood schooldays but a piece of wire had been thread through the door so someone could more easily pull them open from the outside. In India I saw a lot of these 'solutions' . Mountain men think the same way. You see this kind of thinking in the old homesteads. I liked that. And all round that was the flavour of the place, country homey, clean and friendly, Canadin north.
We really did like our stay there and would gladly come back again.