Monday, June 14, 2010

Touring in Creston BC

Creston is about one and a half hours from Nelson but on a snowy day, it could be many more. It's the Pass. Also called the Kootenay Skyway (never heard that before I read the sign), the Kootenay Pass is the "highest section of maintained paved all-use highway in Canada." It is high. The elevation is 1,775 metres.

Though it can feel mighty far away, Creston is a part of the same school district as Nelson. And Creston is where my nephew lives. And this year he graduated. That is how I landed in Creston on June the 11th.

Here's the graduating class. He's the tallest one:

His dad (my brother) arrived via Cranbrook airport, which is an hour east of Creston, and the closest airport that has pavement. I drove my one and a half hours. We met at the Valley View Motel - we could have stayed at the Mountain View Motel but I get a lot of views of mountains and not that much of valleys, and since I was making the decisions, that's where we landed. In fact, in Creston there are many other choices but if you are promised a view, well, there is no need to search any further.

Besides my nephew's home, Creston's other claim to fame is beer. And specifically Kokanee - the beer out here. Columbia Brewery began brewing Kokanee in 1959; it is 51 years old this year. Apparently, it's British Columbia's best selling beer. Kokanee has been made famous from its commercials, featuring Sasquatch whose name is Mel. The commercials feature the Kokanee Ranger who has been unsuccessful in hunting and catching the Sasquatch who is stealing all the beer.

With such fame in the vicinity, visiting the Columbia Brewery was a must. My brother and I donned our safety goggles and went to see the operation. Technically, we saw the bottling operation because we were late. What we learned was that bottles are filled and capped at the rate of 700 bottles per minute. And cans of Kokanee are filled at the rate of 1,100 per minute.

Here are the bottles on their way through....

What's the wet stuff on the floor? And can't it be rescued?

At the end, we got a sample taste. When I passed, I was offered a box of orange juice, which they called "children's beer." My brother chose Kokanee Gold and he was smitten. As for me, in true employment counsellor style, I was taken by the names of the different jobs there. Brewmaster. Labeller Operator. Packaging Manager. Tour and Retail Coordinator. Packer Operator. Foam Candler. This last guy keeps an eye on the bottles after they are capped to make sure they have just the right amount of foam. Very important job.

We ate at Stavros Restaurant, Jimmie's Bar and Grill and A Break in Time. (All recommended - they all have Kokanee Gold, FYI.) On the way out of town the next day, I got a tour of the Creston Museum, dubbed as one of the best small museums anywhere - I agree! I also stopped at the Kingfisher Used Books - also very impressive for a small town.

All of that in 15 hours (including 3 hours driving my brother to Cranbrook airport and returning). Gotta make hay while the sun shines.