Grizzly Bear viewing on the Atnarko river
Small Group Wildlife Viewing

Zen and the art of gourmand road trip: driving to Bella Coola

Gourmet cheese platter at the Tweedsmuir Park Lodge
Wine from our cellar
Wine & Cheese in Tweedsmuir Park

Early in June last year, I had the pleasure of going by car to Bella Coola with “bon vivant” lodge owner Beat Steiner. We had an early morning start so our first destination was the Mount Currie Coffee Co for the “last good coffee cup” until the lodge. We did a quick detour in Pemberton off Highway 99, to grab a creamy latte that got us through to lunch time at 100 Mile House.

There we visited the Alpine Deli and Sub shop, located beside the Save On Foods.Beat picked up a juicy grilled vegetable wrap and palm tree cookies while I got fresh (boring) grapes at the grocery store. I looked enviously at his sandwich until he crumpled up the waxed wrapping and tossed it back in its paper bag. He offered me a cookie and we nibbled on the light sugary flake pastry for a few kilometers as we went through Williams Lake and onto the plateau on Highway 20.

Time passed and I became hungry again so we stopped in the middle of nowhere at Lee’s Corner where I got an ice cream cone under the glassy-eyed scrutiny of a pack of stuffed animals. This quaint store is worth the stop; it is uniquely quirky and has pretty native jewelry that makes for great souvenir shopping.

About 4 hours later, we arrived at the lodge where Swede set up a plate of cheese, crackers and candied salmon from the valley in front of us, paired with a great red wine from his cellar. We had reached our destination! I was now in the expert hands of Chef Carol (but that is another story…).

On the drive back home after our stay, Beat took me to Bella Coola Valley Seafoods to pick up a sampling of their smoked, candied and jerked salmon (named schluck in the nuxalc language).The fish is vacuum sealed in plastic film and once you open one to have a exploratory taste, you will likely eat the whole thing and end up tearing at the next one. Buy more than you first think, it is wonderful.

There was another mandatory stop at the Tatla Lake General Store, where we bought crunchy plain chips (according to Beat these are great to stimulate your attention and keep your mind sharp while driving because of the combination of sound, and taste and movement occurring as you are eating). Beat also recommended the home made jerky, made with locally raised beef, delicious! This is the kind of place that has a one pump gas station outside, a woodstove in the centre of the store….It has character.

Turns out I should have bought 2 bags of the jerky; one to hide out of reach in the trunk for my family and the other to eat because I only managed to save about 100 grams for them to try. I will control myself next time.

Now you too know where to stop and stock up your road trip to Tweedsmuir Park Lodge.

If you find other neat secret spots, share them with us on Facebook!

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