Keep Nelson Weird

“Keep Nelson Weird”. Saw this bumper sticker on the way to Safeway and thought to myself, “Hmmm… Yes..”

Coming to Nelson, BC, I didn’t know what expect. All I knew was that we were camping and paddle-boarding on the Kootenay River. End of story. I didn’t expect to be greeted by an eccentric vibe that took me back in time to the ’90s and then slowed the clock instantaneously where I experienced the so-called “Kootenay Time” where time seems to slow down and stretch indefinitely.


3 days in Nelson felt like I was there for 1 week and living in 360p. Felt like the time when I was all over Alanis Morisette and Nirvana. I felt a little out of place in my neon pink mountain shirt.


My friend, J, was kind enough to let me in on this mini trip out in the Kootenay. I don’t know how she can stand my incessant talking in the car.

We took off one fine morning and drove (well, she drove, I can never be trusted with a car apparently, lol) 6 hours back to the 90’s Southwest of Canmore AB. Driving through BC towns is always interesting to me. I mean, how could you not be stoked to drive through towns named Salmon Arm, Invermere & Windermere, Skookumchuk, Ta Ta Creek, etc.?

Anyhoo… 6 hours and 3 wrong turns later, we finally arrived in Nuhlsohn BC!

First stop was the Farmers’ Market.. Yea.. I don’t know why I love Farmers’ Markets. It is my ideal date place as well. I’m so easy to please, ugh. Lots of cool stuff in Nelson’s market though! Lobster bread, Torchlight Brewery’s root beer, healing stones, etc..


We stayed at the Nelson City Campground which is a convenient and also oddly-situated campground, I find. It is convenient that you are so close to the city center, at the same time, it felt like we were in a parking lot? I guess that’s how city campgrounds go.

After setting up camp, we met up with A at the Kootenay Lakeside Park. This place is really pretty. Visiting Nelson mandates going to this park. It is almost like a beach! Anything that resembles a beach, at this point in my life, is very good for me.


The lakeside park is another throwback in time. Another 360p experience. I’m loving this feels. A calm beach, a steel bridge in the background, beach goers sun bathing, children playing in the sand and shore, boats, kayaks, wood and stone benches, a playground, and the adorkable Lakeside Park Concession stand that shouldn’t be missed. Stop by this concession to get some ice cream.

Got the ice cream noms

Got the ice cream noms

We rented stand up paddle boards at the other end of the lake for a mini Kootenay River adventure. Only $8.00 here! Compared to the average $50.00 in most places in the Rockies.

Paddling on the river was a bit unnerving. Although it was calm and smooth, I can’t shake off the thought that the river is known to be deep. I was wearing a life jacket but deep, dark water just scares me. So, to distract myself, I started taking selfies! I mean, hello? I’m a tourist here, selfies are allowed.

Smoky cos of wildfires coming from the US. Crazy!

Smoky cos of wildfires coming from the US. Crazy!

Third selfie in and a tragedy happened. Butter fingers happened. Bye phone, I didn’t know you couldn’t swim and now you have drowned and is probably some 50ft(?) below, hanging out with the fishes. Bye photos, notes, videos, Flappy Bird, etc.. Oh well.. I guess I have to totally soak in the 90’s vibe now and actually interact with people and not just stare at my phone half the day..  😦

Later on, A took us to her apartment – which was trés cool – for some pre drinks of all sorts of Nelson Brewing Company beer! The organic hemp ale, Harvest Moon is a new favorite.


Wednesday night isn’t a dead night for Nelson’s bar scene for sure. Wednesday was open mic night at The Royal on Baker St.. Nelson having a very active music, arts, and culture scene, a random mic night will surely be above the ordinary jam session. Some cool tunes and vibes were delivered that night. BTW, Keszia has musical roots here. The night life on Baker Street reminded me of young nights out in Cubao X and B-Side. Lots of promising talent just chilling in one corner.


Daylight on Baker Street is another story. J and I walked around this street and signs of “local”, “organic”, “fresh” are commonplace in the shops, cafes, and restaurants of Nelson. Stop by the Oso Negro coffee shop for some freshly roasted coffee. Their cappuccinos and espresso? Ugh, to die for! The breakfast sandwiches are awesome too. They put this secret sauce which just makes it a totally new sandwich-ing experience.

Of course, Nelson

Of course, Nelson

Tram ride! A cool must-do.

Tram ride! A cool must-do.

A sunken ship can be seen on this tram ride

A sunken ship can be seen on this tram ride

Second night: A had this brilliant idea to go to a natural hot spring. And by brilliant, I mean real brilliant! Some 2 hours North of Nelson BC, a little way beyond Nakusp was a natural hot spring were a few people gathered. I could never tell how to go back there. It was dark and we were driving through a logging road then hiked in the dark to this hot spring.

Stopping to catch a toad. First toad I've seen in Canada!

Stopping to catch a toad. First toad I’ve seen in Canada!

10 out of 10 experience this hot spring was! The night was a little chilly and the hot water was a treat. We parked ourselves in a tiny earth tub with a few other people who I was pretty sure was naked. Thankfully I couldn’t see to verify. I think this hot spring adventure in the dark was the highlight of the trip. Highly recommend it! Just don’t have directions to it. Sorry. No pictures either cos that’s just not right in a place like that, right??

Back at camp, a few hours’ sleep, and J and I were packing up to leave. We resolved to leave early to take a ferry detour. Yup, a ferry! Apparently, BC’s highways has inland ferries as part of their transportation system. I don’t know.. I guess BC lakes are just very deep and traffic isn’t that high that it will not justify the cost of building bridges? BC lakes, I have read somewhere, are characteristically deep as it runs over fault lines(?). Inland ferry cruisin’ was fun though! Highly recommend taking this detour just cos.

Inland ferry rollin' whut whut!

Inland ferry rollin’ whut whut!

A guy I work with once remarked that places further West of Revelstoke BC is just different. I see that now. Nelson surely has its share of quirks that makes it unique and special. Nelson reminds me of how movies and TV shows looked like in the past. When beepers, baby tees, colorful iMac desktops, and the classic plaid of grunge rock was the usual. Felt like the Portland of Canada (not that I’ve been, just read ’bout it). I give Nelson a two thumbs up and a hearty high five – old skul and 90’s style of course.


Thanks for letting me steal your photos J, sorry!


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