Cowboy Valley, Heart of BC
I had lunch of sorts at the Coldwater Hotel in Merritt, British Columbia, located 50 miles south of Kamloops on the Coquihalla Hwy 5 in the beautiful Nicola Valley-- one of British Columbia's major ranching and cattle areas since the late 1800's. Merritt has been called the "Country Music Capital of Canada." Every year country music is celebrated with Merritt's Walk of Stars along the banks of the Nicola River, east of the larger more populated banks of the Fraser River (Canada’s Bible Belt).
The Coldwater Hotel, built 1908-1910, is located at the corner of Quilchena Avenue and Voght Street in Merritt. Its unusual copper, curved copula is like a beacon over the three-part restaurant/hotel/pub that is now a local gathering place. The relatively dark interior was not all that inviting but the hospitable hostess reminded me that charms lurk in North America’s mountain valleys. Also, this BC region’s motto is: "A lake a day as long as you stay." A couple of hundred, I guess.
Glorious sunshine in early October painted itself into the autumn-tainted low brush and trees, and cultivated well-watered fields and pastures, all linked by the lazy-looking river snaking its way past feeding livestock.
Throughout the heart of BC are amazing cliffs and riotous wildlflowers. The Nlaka'pamux Nation of the Interior Salish farmed, hunted, and fished the rivers and lakes in the area for more than 5000 years.
Driving northward out of town along the valley, a startled black bear in the road initially charged my car before veering up an embankment and picking its way into the conifer woods on a slope on the right side of the twisty rolling road. It was a memorable drive north to Route 99; there it was virtually downhill all the way through very thick forests to Whistler ski resort, north of Vancouver.