For 11 consecutive years, my husband and I have journeyed to British Columbia to vacation in the Kootenay Rockies. My role has invariably been to navigate and to peruse tour books in search of scenic sites. I was studying the British Columbia Accommodations Guide in 2002 when I was drawn to the Happy Hans Riverside Resort between Marysville and Kimberley.
Although in recent years it has become the Kimberley Riverside Campground, I shall always remember how my enchantment with the name was soon affirmed by the setting, with huge Redwood Cedars towering up towards the sky, the fast-flowing St. Mary River, and exquisite nature walks. The day had been oppressively hot, and twilight was descending when I discovered the Forest Canyon path. A misty coolness permeated the gorge as I followed along the solitary hike. Still, looming darkness and my proclivity for venturing on unknown mountain trails alone forced me to return to our RV before I completed the climb.
Arriving at resort office this year, I received a homecoming welcome from Jarrett and his staff, who have worked together for the past eight years. Every afternoon before starting my daily hike on the Kimberley Nature Park Trails, I was reminded about the mother brown bear and her two cubs and to remember to make an undue amount of noise.
During my trip last August, I was invited by the director of the Kimberley Public Library, Karin von Wittgenstein, for a reading of Arriving: 1909–1919, and our friendship was forged. When she requested my return for Thriving: 1920–1939, I eagerly accepted, and I was delighted to meet James Farnan, producer, Shaw TV Kootenays. Karin and I quickly discovered that James, who arrived from Australia four years ago, is enthralled with Canadian authors. With his camera running for two hours he ensured that he had more than ample footage for his story to be aired on Canada Day.
Following a successful signing at Lotus Books in Cranbrook, when Erin Dalton, owner/ manager, expressed, “I have a feeling there will be customers checking in regularly for updates on when we’ll have the third book.” I began to believe I was making inroads on my western tour. Then, when Kathie offered to take my books to the Vernon Library when she returned home, I felt confident that my Understanding Ursula trilogy would soon travel beyond the mountains into the interior of British Columbia.
As pleasurable as it was to hear the sound of children’s voices and laughter arriving for the Victoria Day long weekend, there was a sense of camaraderie and serenity among those of us who began the season early. Kathy, a perennial camper who purchased Arriving last autumn, began introducing me as “our author,” and soon Mert, Karen, Diane, Tom, Clarence, Jim, Lynn, and Maria and Laszlo (a lovely Hungarian couple from San Jose, California), were reading and discussing my first two novels.
Nonetheless, it was not until Clarence exclaimed around a blazing bonfire, “And she remembers all of our names,” that I realized how many new friends I had acquired during this spring’s sojourn to the spectacular Kimberley riverside campground.