Friday, 31 August 2012

My name is Bond; Jane Bond.

Before heading into Yellowstone we made a detour to visit an 'agent' contact we met in a Haines bar in Alaska - Bond, Jane Bond.

Bond lives in Big Sky, which is both a ski resort and a 'place', betwixt the town of Bozeman to the north and Yellowstone to the south. Surrounded by mountains, houses on the golf course, and some of the most expensive real estate in Montana, (Think Ted Turner, or the West Yellowstone Club), Big Sky could rightly be termed ' a bit swanky'.

And in this setting a real community exists, which we were party to for a few days. This included the weekly live music on the green,


Hawaiian themed parties laid on by Bond.....


(Editor: three women in dresses and holding a knife - doesn't get any scary than that).

Frequent use of the pool, walks over the golf course to one bar or another (Me), spa treatments (Sarah's), all this became our life for a short while. But what happens at the spa, in Choppers Bar, or on the golf course, stays there.

Bond treated us royally, and Sarah got to have some girlie company which she needed. I could only go to the brew pub, Lone Peak Brewery.

We were sad to leave Bond; Jane Bond.


Saturday, 25 August 2012

Small town Montana.

Heading south from Missoula took us through some familiar country, heading towards the great national parks of Yellowstone and the Grand Teton's.

Not the usual wall decoration at Sainsbury's.
Not the usual magazine selection either.
At first glance communities such as Troy, Darby, Wisdom, Jackson (population 38) seemingly hang onto life. Well, life, but not as I know it.

However, they are so independent and isolated that they retain a real sense of community which I find fascinating. At the store in Jackson the owner was sat on the same outside bench that he was some 6 years ago. He did not seem any happier, but he looked as though he belonged....

Of course, this is probably idealised poppycock on my part and they all cannot wait to get out of there. But I do not think so. Perhaps I will never know for sure - it seems to rude to ask directly such a question.

We continued on south, always with the smoke in the air, sometimes so present that you could smell it.

It's always a,using when a name from distant shores appears. I have passed this place twice now; I know, a sacrilege, , but it was before 8.30am on both occasions.....

That is why the wise traveller always leave something to return for.....


From the Slocan Valley we made our way to Nelson - with a reputation as being a 'hip' town it has been the only real dissapointment of the whole trip - we did not get it at all (Too many white dreadlocks for my liking). We then used the 'longest free ferry ride in the world' (we heard that a zillion times)


to cross the Kootenay Lake, then headed south and into the USA via some extremely friendly US border guards, (after the formalities were completed).

We were only briefly in Idaho, quickly crossing into Montana - perhaps our joint favourite US state.


What followed was a long and often hot ride toward Missoula, a town we had flown into some years previously. One of the reasons for this was large scale forest fires raging in Idaho, the northerly winds blowing the smoke in our direction. Perhaps not personally in our direction, but it felt like it sometimes. These smokey conditions would be with us deep into Wyoming. The scale of these fires is difficult to comprehend coming from England, as is the impact of the smoke. I would hate to be near the darn fires.

Once in Missoula we went for a meal and some beers, then later found ourselves at the Missoula Club. We had patronised this bar on our previous visit. The end result was the same. I don't remember closing time, or getting home, but know that Sarah had to rest almost the whole day of the next day - the 10th August. Hence the new phrase, 'I've been Missoula'd.


Monday, 20 August 2012

Brenda & Gail and the Slow-as-you-can valley.

We first met Brenda & Gail Elder 7 years ago at the grave of Robert Louis Stevenson, which you may be surprised to learn is at the highest point of Samoa. Although he only lived there a couple of years (The author, not Gail) he was so loved by the islanders that they formed a human chain and passed his coffin over their heads all the way to the top. I hope he was not a big man.


We met again in New Zealand, but recent attempts to catch up had failed - until now. The Elders have had an organic farm in the Slocan Valley (Southern British Columbia) since the mid-seventies, and with no small amount of excitement we made our way to their home. We tried to imagine what it would be like.

It did not dissapoint! With Cassie to look after everyone it was hard not to fall in love with the Elder farm.


We arrived to a table buckling under the weight of organic veg, roast chicken and fresh fruit. Each day Brenda produced ever-more tasteful and bountiful meals from the beautiful garden, and Gail produced ever-more tasteful and bountiful pre-dinner drinks from somewhere else (Editor: the vodka was particularly notable....)

We helped some around the farm, which although not run commercially any more still produces a great deal of great food. I doubt if we have eaten so well for a very long time.


Always there was always Cassie on hand to assist and prompt where required.


We also had a canoe/ kayak trip on the almost deserted Slocan lake. Gail & Brenda joined us for the day, but left us to a moonlit camp.



And a swim before breakfast....

With the hanging of the famous door completed we had to pull ourselves away from this idyllic spot. If we had know how lovely it was we would have visited much sooner!!!! This was certainly a visit to be repeated,off only to check on how the door is faring ----- so a big thankyou goes out to Gail & Brenda!



Tea Pot of the month: July Winner.

In spite of a strong field for July a shock last minute entry saw the award go to this fine example from Stephanie, a potter working in the Slocan Valley.

With hints of Harry Potter, but actually created before that phenomenon, this strong contender was an instant hit with judges, with a superb pouring action and weight in the hand.

Unfortunately the valuable prize may not be awarded as there has been an allegation of match fixing linked to the Chinese betting systems. A full enquiry is under way, and the investigation team will report back from their Parisian hotel in due course.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Go east, young man!

To head east Sarah found the 600k Kettle Valley Rail Trail, a former rail line now bike path. We also had a vague notion to visit movie locations, namely the towns of Hope - movie= First Blood (although the bridge was removed last year) and Nelson - movie = Roxanne. Did I ever tell you how I shared my frappacino with Daryl Hannah? Well, I was in Telluride when (Editor; yes, you have. In fact, you tell the story every time any movie topic comes up, so the rest of this tale has been deleted).

The KVR snakes it's way through aligned tunnels, over wooden trestle bridges and through 5 mountain ranges, often using routes miles from any road or other access.





It also takes you right through the Okanagen Valley, the premier wine region. It would have been rude not to sample its produce.



Cycle touring is allowed to be fun, you know.