I just got myself a rowing machine. I've been wanting one for a long time. I messaged this quickly to my friend, Jo, about it...
"can only do short spurts on my rowing machine. hurts my lower spine and kidneys like mad, so i am on it 3-5 times a day instead of less times for longer durations"
She asked me,
"Do you know why it hurts your lower spine and kidneys?"
This was my response,
"yes. 'cause my body is shitty. in a way, i am not at all looking forward to triathlons again because of how much it hurts me to sit on a bike. it just gets worse and worse. even though we have brand new paved roads in my community, I put off riding this summer til next spring because it hurts too much. I'm saving riding til next year. i have to re-think the way I ride a bike and find a new one that suits how I have to ride. sitting is just so bad. rowing machine hurts in different way. as i eluded to, it gets my lower spine and kidneys. i just gotta stop whining and toughen up...and get through it bit by bit...try to keep extending sessions, you know, go a little bit further into the pain each time to where it will eventually either melt away because it is so bad, or i just stop giving a fuck. either one is inevitable."
All this is kind of a strange thing for me. I don't really like that I always have to charge straight into pain to do simple things. At the same time, it's all I know, and I like being defiant...in this case, against my pain and my body.
I separate myself from my body. There's my body and my pain within it, and then there's me...who I am. The 'who I am' part...
I love stickin' it to the man!
I love fuckery!
I am no stranger to defiance!
In my own case, my body/pain is the man, and I am in defiance of its own comfort every time I charge into the thick of shit. When my body screams at me to stop, it usually makes me want to dig in harder...shove the pain right back in its own face and kinda make fun of it.
I love being in defiance of my own self. There is something quite satisfying about that. To find that unintentional defiance, I have to wade through the sea of excruciation. That is always fun, but it is also very tiring because it is always a slug-fest all out brawl. That shit can wear a guy out.
My problem is that I am always thinking about goin' for it. It's never not on my mind. Every day! That is not going to change. My desire drives me into madness, and the only way to fend off that insanity is to dive into the pain.
As much as I have to restructure the whole realm of triathlons just to be able to do them again, and knowing how much it is going to hurt me to do so, the madness in my mind leaves me no alternative. I have to embrace what lie ahead within it all. So, I'm stuck! I have no choice but to make myself hurt more just to ease the chaos in my mind. It turns out that I am lucky that I am a defiant little fucker 'cause it makes it much easier to stick it to the hurt.
Jo-Ann is an animal. Kept chargin' through two different ankle surgeries.
I was greeted with a super kind surprise when I walked through the door and saw Natalie behind the bar. Maaan, that's the kind of welcoming you're lookin' for when you walk into any room. She's such a wonderful person, and she has that job dialed. Because I don't feel like I worded that right, I'm gonna share the message I sent to her when I got home...
"Maaan, shiiiit...It was so good to see you. You made me realize something I really miss...
Seeing you work a bar!
You're so freakin' good at it. There's just a naturalness to the way you move and interact with people. I had come to love watching it just from paying attention.
Do you remember when I used to come into The Falls after shift, grab a ginger ale, and then lean against the wall at the entrance to the washroom hallway? I'd chill out for a bit watching the music, but in doing that repeatedly, I inevitably saw you do what you do. I like watching people do things they're good at, and you're good at being a human, and that translates into the way you interact with people at your work...or anywhere, but I'm not talkin' about anywhere right now. 🙂 You're somethin' alright. Pretty good stuff Natalie."
Greeted by some wonderful
The reason why I say this about Natalie is because that's who you're dealing with as a customer at Yum Son...just this fantastic person who crushes at her job because of her awesomeness.
Me to myself: "Alright, off to a great start!"
Then I look to the left of her to see Brian leaning against the other side of the bar!
Also, me to myself: "Shiiit, lookkit this!"
So my dining experience started at great, and then immediately added in some more awesome, which brought the whole situation to totally stylin'!
Because I am a deadbeat without a phone, I had to get a real menu 'cause I couldn't do the scan thing for an internet menu.
Natalie knows alcohol isn't really my thing, but asked me if I wanted some other kind of fancy drink. I said, "sure." When she asked me what kind I wanted, I said that I didn't care, and that she can just surprise me.
Bring on the awesome! She gets to work, and starts breezing through the drink with her kind summery finesse. (That's when I realized I missed watching her in action.)
Natalie having some fun while whipping up a fancy drink surprise
Dalat Market Soda
Natalie whipped me up a Dalat Market Soda, and when she brought it to me, Brian was up on his little stage perch getting ready to play some tunes. Perfect timing!
He is a musical monument around our community. Brain is always in the thick of things to bring kind melodies to our ears and hearts with his ukulele. Whether solo, duo, trio, or whatever, Brian pops up everywhere...at weddings, festivals, markets, restaurants and pubs, and he even books music for places too. He starts to feel like a piece of home for the amount you see him at all these things you do in the area. It just so happens that he's an excellent guy too, so that's pretty good.
Of course he had to bust into a Ripple by the Grateful Dead for his second tune of the night. Not sure if that was for me, but I was more than happy to be self centred and selfish for a moment and say that he totally played that for me, even though he didn't!
There are a few things that have my number in the food world, and Lemongrass is one of them, so I ordered the Yum Son Noodle Bowl with a Spring Roll (Plant Based) add on. While I was waiting for that, I dove into my fancy-pants Natalie drink, and watched Brian lay down some tunes.
I like that they serve their drinks with a reusable metal straw rather than a disposable plastic one. Nice touch! (The little things, you know?!) The Dalat Market Soda gives a push and pull flavour. I can only describe it as though a tropical rainforest was in unison with a temperate forest in our local BC mountains...the sharp bitterness of the temperate coniferous crossed with the sweet fruitiness of the tropical. (From the forest scent point of view.)
I described the only sip of a mojito I ever had as, "this tastes like what it smells like in a cedar forest immediately after a rainfall." When I said that, the girls I was with were kinda surprised by that reaction, and then all said together that that was an amazing analogy. I don't know if it is, but that is how I described it. This Dalat Market Soda was similar in that context to me, as I could only define it to myself in terms like that of the different rainforests.
The diversity in flavouring came from the sweetness of pureed strawberry combined with the bitterness of grapefruit, and then add in some mint layered throughout. It was yummy and very refreshing!
I saw some of my guests from my hotel who I recommended to come here to see Brian play some music, and eat some good food. They were a real sweet couple. It was nice to see them.
**A side note is that it was so kind to have some live music during this bizarre time of inching our way through post-quarantine while still in the midst of this whole COVID craziness. A little slice of what was once normal...I dig it! (There's those little things again.)
Yum Son Noodle Bowl
The food came in on a vibrant wave. Enticing to the eyes. A nice light looking meal. I find Yum Son to be that way overall though. Their food tends to be light and not overbearing, but also plays to the theatre of one's eyes.
The Yum Son Noodle Bowl is pretty simple in the ingredients offered, but comes together to be completely satisfying. The bed of rice noodles lay that foundational canvass that allows the rest of the colours to come to life. I like the way it sang its own song in front of me before I got into it. It foretold to me of something wonderful about to come while also conveying to my belly not to worry about a heavy load because it was a dish not of that nature.
Lemongrass Grilled Pork Loin...yup, I'm into that! Chicken too?! Alright, that's not bad! For a seemingly simple dish, there was a nice mix of textures on the plate. From the soft rice noodles that melt away quite effortlessly, and the moist pork and chicken, to the differing crunches that the carrot and lettuce offered in comparison to the subtly creamy sweet crunch of the peanuts, you get taken for a nice stroll down Textural Avenue. (Why did I suddenly say that to myself in the beat of Electric Avenue by Eddie Grant?!) I must say, I rather liked the way it came together. I also liked the way the cilantro snuck up from behind like a beautiful little whisper that spoke to the metaphorical listening ear of my tasting senses.
Spring Roll (Plant Based) add on
I admit it, I drizzled the remaining garlic and chili vinaigrette from the spring rolls all over my food upon finishing those little beauties. I really liked the way the spring rolls were done. They had a different interpretation of crunch while not to compromise the freshness of their ingredients inside. Not bad Yum Son, not too bad at all.
Garlic & Chili Vinaigrette
I went back about a week later to get some wings. How could I not do that?! They are known to have the best wings in town by many a local, so it just had to be done. To tell you the truth though, I barely paid attention to them. They were just so good that I shoved them into my face one after another with kind of a reckless abandon. I was quite shameless about it, and was vividly aware of such, but I think it's more than OK to every-so-often completely dive into something eyeballs deep when it is as kind as those wings are that they bring out of their kitchen.
Sweet Soy Chili Pepper Lime Crispy Chicken Wings
Shameless bliss?! I'm totally into that for sure!
Understanding why Yum Son has positioned itself among the top food in Nelson is not a hard proposition to grasp. Next on my list from there are their Bao Buns that I have heard so much about. Sounds yummy!
522 Victoria Street
Hours: 11:30am til late (usually 9:00pm) Daily
Phone: (778) 463-2234
Quite simply, Pitchfork has cemented itself as the top restaurant in Nelson. It isn't even close. This has been an easy conclusion to reach after having very in depth conversations about food in our town with hundreds of people this summer.
They have over half of the vote from all the guests at my hotel. It's to the point where I have started finding it quite fascinating listening to stories of the food and service upon my guests' return. Personally, I've never had anything but absolutely fantastic food when I have eaten there myself, so I already know what they're trying to convey of their experience, but it enables us to go really deep into the conversation. Those conversations unanimously lean heavily in one direction, that Pitchfork is absolutely crushing it!
Whether I have a reservation, or just drop-in, after I get settled at my table, inside or out on the patio, I will usually go stand just inside the entrance door, lean against the wall, and watch executive chef, Josh (Mateschitz), at the pass. His pass is inside an open doorway just off of the front entrance to the restaurant.
Watching Josh is great. I love it! He has full command of his kitchen, while simultaneously plating up exquisite food. It is easy to see why he is the three time defending champ of our town's annual burger competition.
He has a very high integrity, and that can easily be seen through the words of the overly impressive feedback from so many of my guests. It is impossible to get that kind of continuous high praise if the integrity is not there, so it's just implied!
Laser focus from the three time defending Nelson Burger Month champion, but that's only the beginning of what executive chef Josh Mateschitz has to offer at Pitchfork Eatery
I must say, I love the intensity in his eyes while moving through a dinner rush. He just oozes focus, and the results of that speak for themselves. As much as I enjoy watching him at his craft, I can't stand there forever being a total creepshow, so I go back to my nice little peaceful table to sit down and wait for my food.
I just went to Pitchfork twice recently...once on the patio, and once inside. On the first occasion, I had the Braised Duck Leg. That was inside. One of the first things I noticed while I was waiting was the music, and how it seemed to hold the perfect rhythmic flow to go with everything within the restaurant. For some reason, I notice little things like that too...how the music fits in with everything. After all, it is the soundtrack that narrates the journey into the food experience that a restaurant delivers.
Pitchfork music = Check!
The duck might as well have been a club that Josh slapped me upside the head with, because when it was delivered to my table it knocked me right in the senses.
The duck wasn't the first thing I went for though, that was the Yam Puree. I didn't even think about anything else when my eye caught that. It had tractor beam-like powers the way it grabbed me and drew me in. I've become very selective of my first bite at a restaurant because that's when the palate is a clean canvass to explore the highs and lows of flavour.
The easy thing to say is, maaaan, did that puree ever not disappoint, but that's just short changing the truth. Its texture was so velvety smooth, and flawlessly harmonious in the flavour, that it literally made me gasp aloud as soon as it touched my tongue. I've never done that before, and truthfully, I never knew that could even be a thing, but I didn't hesitate to embrace the reaction that puree evoked! It was insanely good.
Braised Duck Leg with Yam Puree
I feel like art is meant to draw out emotion, and the art of food does that in a way unlike all other art because of the way it engages the senses. This yam puree was an artistic masterpiece, and it set the tone for the entire dish. Holy smokes! It forced me into some quick pondering...
"Do I even need to eat anything else on my plate here? Perfection has already been attained!"
Of course the answer was yes, but I went back for more of the puree before tasting anything else. I savoured that second round before I went into the duck. Mmmmmmmmm!!!
I wondered to myself some more, "did the puree just steal the show before the headlining star even got a chance to perform?"
A valid question!
The duck had something pretty strong to say about that though! It was beautifully tender and rich inside. It had a nice crunch on the skin from the perfect char. I have no choice, I have to say it again...
It was cooked perfectly!
The meat was moist, and it just slid off the bone so effortlessly. That's the moment when you see the skill in technique where you can take a meat and cook it so perfectly that it just melts. (There's that word again.)
So, it would appear that in the challenge of perfection, where the puree laid the benchmark on the dish, the duck refused to be upstaged, and announced loud and clear why it was the star of the show, and left me sitting in the audience with only one word to say,
The dish as a whole was a subtle hearty, but richly elegant knockout. Absolutely spectacular! That was the kind of dish that all backyard BBQ'r's strive to achieve, but never reach. It also shows exactly the merit in why one would go out for dinner, whether as a traveling tourist, or a local looking to embark into a finely executed culinary experience.
Dynamite patio that is backed onto park space and away from traffic
The next time I went to Pitchfork, I sat out on the patio with a friend. I took a total different direction for my order. Instead of the heartiness that is delivered through the duck, I went for the lighter Ahi Tuna Poke Salad.
Celline... I actually do have the odd friend.
Ahi Tuna Poke Salad
It was a nice refreshing style dish. I felt that the visual contrast from the tuna against the greens was something I needed to see because an inner whatever told me that it would be visually stunning. I'm also a sucker for avocado, so my intrigue was peaked from the allure of how the crispy avocado would present itself with the greens.
The result?! I mean, what can I really say?! The only way it need be expressed is that it was on par with the Braised Duck Leg from my first visit, and that left me with one word...
Onto the dessert. I wasn't really listening to what our server said they had, I just went with whatever the chocolate one was. I heard, 'chocolate,' and I said, "OK!" As simple as that.
Josh, you silly bastard!
Maaan, when it was plopped in front of me, and I saw that raspberry coulis like an almost motionless thick waterfall exploding in vibrancy against the contrasting chocolate torte, my taste buds kinda forced their will upon me to immediately start salivating.
Raw Vegan Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Torte
Sometimes the most complex thing can draw the simplest explanation. Digging into that dessert...
I actually didn't look at what it was til several days later...
"Raw Vegan Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Torte."
Celline chose the Hibiscus Creme Brulee for her dessert.
Hibiscus Creme Brulee
There's nothing else to say about the food at Pitchfork. There is, however, one thing left to address: The Homemade Ginger Ale!
Oh my freakin' goodness! It is like nectar from the gods! I had that at my first ever trip to Pitchfork, and it's the first thing I order before even looking at what food to get each time I have returned. Their ginger ale is completely out of this world! (Yes, they will gladly put rum in it for you.)
The quality of food I have had at Pitchfork Eatery, the consistency within it, add in the fact that Josh is the three time defending champ of the annual Nelson Burger Month, despite everyone gunning for him, and then take into account that over half of my guests all have it as the best joint in town leaves me with a full rounded understanding of its prominence.
I really shouldn't say anything other than that executive chef Josh Mateschitz and Pitchfork Eatery have lit this town ablaze in its magnificence!
Reservations recommended (for inside)
518 Hall Street
Hours: 11:00am - 9:00pm Daily (closed from 3:00pm - 4:30pm most days)
Brunch: 11:00am - 2:00pm Daily
Phone: (250) 352-2744
Set into an old downtown heritage building right on Baker Street, the Dominion Cafe oozes of a rustic history.
When you walk into a place that is filled with plants and the overflowing scents of a variety of fresh baked muffins, you can't help but to feel an intrinsic sense of hominess. It permeates within you, and sets you at ease while immediately instilling a depth of natural relaxation.
I arrived right before they unlocked their door at opening in the morning. It was before any muffins had yet to be put out. Sitting down, it sure didn't take long for me to want to start eating the air though. It smelled so good that it wound my senses into a frenzied overload. I felt similar to being a kid trying to sleep on Christmas Eve because the anticipation was almost unbearable. It smelled so good that it was torturous.
I couldn't take the wait, so I had to get something else to keep me occupied til the muffins came out. I went with a Chai with almond milk. I don't have those too often, but I really like 'em. They're super sweet with a tiny little subtle bite that kinda sneaks up on you. Man, are they ever good! Chai Latte for the win!
A chai was the perfect thing to keep my mind off the muffins, and it almost worked...almost! You see, the problem was that the muffins' Kung Fu was strong, and they whupped my chai's ass all up over the place...and then put a death grip on my senses! Neither me nor my hot drink stood a chance!
Straight back to torturous!
It was a rough couple minutes at that point as time was standing still in my moment of suffering. When you walk into a place and you wanna eat the air, it's like walking into a wall of anticipation. The payoff in the moment of truth though is so worth it! Sooo worth it!
As soon as the muffins were put out, I rolled right up to the front. Looking at them in the display was like watching an angelic choir sing angelic harmonies! I was instantly drifting away!
I picked the raspberry pecan muffin as well as the vegan muffin of the day. I also got the their Chunky Monkey smoothie to wash 'em down with. It's not your typical sweet fruit smoothie, so I had to try it.
I went for the Raspberry Pecan muffin first because I have kinda been into the sharp tartness that is laced with such sweetness within those berries lately. It was a sensuous pleasure to sink my teeth into that thing. Did it ever not disappoint!
Raspberry Pecan Muffin
The little saucer plates the muffins were served on made me think of being at my great grandma's cottage in the Ontario Muskoka's when I was a little kid. I was taken right back to little grandma's age old cottage with all my cousins...swimming, fishing off the dock, row boating, cooking Jiffy Pop on the little wood cook stove. I could see it all crystal clear. It was a fascinating feeling that was quite unexpected, and I rather enjoyed that. It really added another level of that hominess that I eluded to that was so prevalent as soon as I walked in the place.
Chunky Monkey garnished just right
That smoothie was packed with so much goodness. It was even garnished with chocolate chips & finely chopped walnuts. The Chunky Monkey is a very visually pleasing drink on top of how kick-ass it was to drink down. Its flavour was not overbearing, and in its way, was somewhat odd in how it was packed with so much flavour, but delivered itself in such a subtle way that was refreshing personified. Maaan, did it ever hit the spot!
Unbeknownst to me, I found myself in a beautiful grudge match between the muffin and the smoothie. They were fighting furiously for my attention because of their equally impressive goodness. Each time I looked at both, I couldn't decide which to indulge in, so I enjoyed the little fight they caused within me between my taste buds, belly and my mind.
I wasn't having either though. I was just staring at them waiting for the grudge match to play itself out. I was totally zoned out on how awesome both the muffin and the drink were. Then I'd snap out of it and realize I wasn't eating either, so I'd frantically grab both and shove them in my face at the same time. Caveman the crap outta them!
It was a scenario that played itself on loop a few times. When I realized that, I really saw how good they each were. If there is a food something that draws you into pause while staring at its beauty, and then snaps you out of it to cram it in your face, that's nothing less than every indication of its quality.
I was fully conscious of that, and it led me to sum it up to myself like this...
So, I'm instinctively adding it all up in my head...plants, dishes, the thickness of muffin scents in the air with the slowed down old-time atmospheric feel in this fast paced modern world, and add to it this unreal muffin and smoothie, I can't help but feeling relaxingly rejuvenated from my visit here.
Definitely the best muffins in town! No place else is even close!
There's also the notion that so many of the other places in town are all doing renovations and trying to fancily modernize themselves, but The Dominion Cafe is the place where you feel an embracing sense of home. It is humble alongside its heritage, and welcomes you with open arms. If you're lucky, you might even see a funky skateboard reminiscent of Van Gogh's, Starry Night, come through the door, or even find a piece of vintage clothing.
Good things await at The Dominion Cafe!
From here I am going to leave you with part of a message Daylen (Hotte), the owner, sent me about the ingredients and suppliers she uses. It well represents the love she puts into what she offers to her customers.
We are passionate about everything local, coffee from 3 different Kootenay roasters, Rooftop, Trail Coffee Co. and Juggernaut Roastery. We serve organic ethically sourced teas from New Moon tea co. out of Nakusp. Our hot chocolate is created by Viva Cacao, a local chocolate company in the (Slocan) Valley. Our chai is made in-house and is the perfect blend of sweet and spicy. We have made an effort to ethically source as many ingredients as possible. Our eggs are delivered from an organic farm in Blewett and our tempeh is from a small Okanagan company called Vigilante.
We also make all alternative mylks in house, such as pumpkin seed, almond, macadamia coconut, hemp & oat, and pistachio coconut. All mylks are organic and made fresh daily.
We're famous for baking up giant decadent muffins. We bake over 14 kinds fresh daily such as BlackBerry pecan white chocolate, orange espresso dark chocolate and strawberry rhubarb, and have a wide selection in vegan and gluten free muffins and baked goods as well.
The Dominion Cafe
334 Baker Street (one block away)
Hours: Tues-Sat 8:00am - 5:00pm | Sun 10:00am - 4:00pm
Phone: (250) 352-1904
The only way to truly tell the story of the food at El Taco is to tell the story of the people behind it.
Twenty one years ago, I moved to the West Kootenay from Salt Spring Island on the coast. My first three years were spent in this magikal little place called, Queens Bay. I found the tiniest cabin ever, and dug myself in right away.
Upon moving there, I was immediately told that I should go to the ferry landing and meet Justine 'cause we would get along awesomely. She was rocking a coffee cart there during the summer back then. (Those were simpler times.) So, I went to the ferry landing, walked right up to the coffee cart, and said to the girl standing there, "You must be Justine. I'm supposed to meet you because we're gonna get along awesomely!" She laughed at me and said, "No, I'm Andrea!"
That turned out to be a total score though because Andrea and I got along awesomely from that very moment. (I thought to myself, "This place is great! So far, awesome people everywhere!") Turns out that there were three girls doin' the coffee cart at the ferry, Justine, Andrea and Caroline. They were all living at Justine's mom's place down the road from where I lived that summer.
Just like with Andrea, Justine and I hit it off perfectly. Maaan, is she ever a fantastic person! Back then, her and her whole crew of friends used to go to Mexico each winter. It was either the following spring or the one after that, that Justine came home with Ruben. He is an amazing guy. I liked him a lot right off the bat too.
Justine and Ruben have been together ever since...married with two beautiful children!
(Photos with permission from Justine)
Every winter they go back to Ruben's home in Mexico to be with family...parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents...the whole shebang! In the coming years, armed with family recipes, they opened El Taco with Justine's dad, Gil. They have been open for around 16 years I believe.
The food you get from El Taco is genuine Mexican cuisine. It is the only truly authentic Mexican eats that you will find in our region. Coming from family recipes that have been passed down through generations, their food tells a story of family, of love, of kindness and togetherness, and man, oh maaaan...is it ever good!
Chorizo Burrito - Lookkit that beauty!
Unless you have super human skills, which clearly I do not possess, there's a good chance you might just get some on you. They pack so much lovin' into that food that it kind of knocks you aback, and it takes no prisoners on your senses, especially the full-tilt assault on your taste buds!
In the battle of me vs El Taco...El Taco is the undefeated champ!
It's a funky little place that transports you through its food. I love El Taco! I know the people behind it, and I know what they put into it. I know the general linage of its history, and ultimately that it was born from love, and that's exactly what their food delivers. If you want a true Mexican food experience, there is only one place to go.
306 Victoria Street (block and a bit away)
Closes 8 p.m.
Hours: Mon-Sat 11:00am - 8:00pm | Sun 12:00pm - 7:00pm
Phone: (250) 352-2060
I like food. I've come to like writing about food. I'll eat anything if I have confidence that it was prepared well. Even if there are ingredients that I truly dislike on their own, I know that with a proper chef, who understands balancing of flavours and has the knowledge and skillful precision to bring them together, can make any ingredient truly sing. Through this little hobby of mine, I've become pretty dialed into the food in this town.
Most all of my guests at my hotel were asking me about where to get good meals in Nelson. They asked me so often that I just made it a part of my check-in pitch to each room I checked in. I'd always do the business end first for the check-in, and then I'd ask them if they'd like to know about where to go for food.
The number one thing that all my guests want? They don't want to drive! They just want to walk from the hotel. So, I start with the closest two, and then work my way out from there. (...although I do tell them that Nelson's downtown is like 6 silly-sized blocks, so it doesn't really make a difference.) I know when my guests are on their way out for dinner, and when I see them walking out, I tell them to have fun. When they get back to the hotel, I ask them which place the chose, and how it was. That is what shaped this guide.
I've had very in depth conversations about the food in Nelson with hundreds of people. What is on this summary page is from the feedback from those people...my guests. The rankings I put in for the top five are not my opinion, but rather 100% observation from what my guests say upon returning from dinner. I took all that feedback, and then went to each place to take some current photos, and write about being there. (I write about more than just the food, but also the experience of being there too.)
We are truly spoiled for food quality in our remote little town in the middle of the British Columbia mountains!
**I will have links posted on each of these summaries that take you to in depth articles I have written about each place when I went there.
Busaba Thai Cafe
It's hard to not eat a Pad Thai every day. I'm trying, but I'm not doing very well. I'm pretty sure I've quickly become their number one customer.
It is very exciting to have the Busaba Thai Cafe as our house restaurant here at The Savoy Hotel. They are a well established, and long loved Thai restaurant in Nelson. It was only months ago (June, 2020) that they lost their place to a very unfortunate fire that had destroyed several businesses. It's a big thing for them to be here in our building, and we couldn't be happier about it. Rungnapha & Yasuaki Uehara (Yasu) are the nicest people ever, and they worked really hard to re-open Busaba on August 19.
Busaba Thai Cafe
198 Baker Street
(At the Savoy Hotel)
Hours: 11:30am - 8:30pm (Closed Mondays)
Phone: (250) 352-2185
Nelson's Top 5 Restaurants
#1 - Pitchfork Eatery
Ahi Tuna Poke Salad
It has been crazy watching my guests talk about this place. I'm kinda fascinated by it. I've had in depth conversations with hundreds of people about food in our town, and my guests have made it clear to see that Pitchfork has an absolute stranglehold on the top spot in Nelson. It has about 55% of my guests' vote, which means the entire rest of the town is fighting for the remaining 45%. Those numbers speak for themselves!
Pitchfork definitely has the best patio in town as it is backed onto park space, and is off the main street. They have a brunch that is excellent as well. Their restaurant does not do reservations on the patio though, so there could be a wait as Josh (Mateschitz - executive chef) is crushing it, and Thursday night there is live acoustic music. Dinner service starts at 5:00pm, so if you want a spot on their sweet patio, the earlier the better.
More on the Pitchfork Eatery
Reservations recommended (for inside)
518 Hall Street
Hours: 11:00am - 9:00pm Daily (closed from 3:00pm - 4:30pm most days)
Brunch: 11:00am - 2:00pm Daily
Phone: (250) 352-2744
#2 - Yum Son
Yum Son Noodle Bowl with a Spring Roll (Plant Based) add on
This is the stand alone number 2 spot in town. Yum Son is modern Vietnamese food. Oddly enough, it has the best chicken wings in town. (I think that's the modern part.) They present visually stunning food that hits the spot nicely.
More on Yum Son...
522 Victoria Street
Hours: 11:30am til late (usually 9:00pm) Daily
Phone: (778) 463-2234
#3 (Tie) - Rel-ish
Butternut Squash Ravioli
I have a ton of respect for Trevor (Ditzel - owner and executive chef). He's kind of a visionary for how he looks at and goes about his business. His food is fantastic. When you watch him, it's plate after plate of gorgeous food that he puts out, and he does it in the calmest, most mellow fashion. He has an open kitchen, so I have watched him many times. I came up with the term, "Cooking with courage and confidence," from watching Trevor do what he does. Open kitchens are scrutiny under fire that force accountability. I really admire those who are willing to work in one.
Rel-ish has an all day breakfast. A lotta my guests really perk up when I tell them that. It's my favourite breakfast in town - try The Server's Choice. Holy smokes is it ever good! There are many vegetarian and gluten free options on his menu as well to accommodate all. Modern cuisine.
Trevor also just took over the restaurant at the Balfour Golf Course to bring us his second location: rel-ish at The Osprey.
ABSOLUTELY HAVE THE GOAT CHEESE CRUSTED PORK TENDERLOIN!!
301 Baker Street (One block away)
Hours: 10:00am - 10:00pm Daily
rel-ish at the Osprey
602 Queens Bay Road
#3 (Tie) - Marzano
Spicy Salami Pizza to eat in or take back to our rooftop patio at The Savoy Hotel
Ryan (Martin) did a massive, massive renovation on his restaurant to bring Marzano to Nelson two years ago. He actually went to Italy for proper training and brought staff with him...and he brought back an authenticly bad-ass Italian wood-fired pizza oven. I gained so much respect for him when I saw a video he put up of himself pulling a pizza from the oven while in Italy. (I actually asked him to put it onto youtube for me so I could share the link.) That showed his commitment to going all in to bringing the best food to town that he possibly could. It says something...and so do my guests after they return from there.
When I show my guests this video, I do an animated commentary play-by-play to draw their attention to the expression on Ryan's face. He's so psyched. It's amazing! That has literally sold people on going to Marzano. Fantastic stuff!
Ryan in Italy...
153 Baker Street (Right across the street)
Hours: 7:00am - 10:00pm Daily
Breakfast until 11:00am weekdays | 12:00pm on weekends
Pizza starts at 11:00am!
Phone: (250) 352-9205
#5 - Broken Hill
The Broken Clubhouse with House Made Bacon and Sweet Corn Succotash
If chasing down great beer with great food is your thing, then Broken Hill is the place for you! The owner, Chad (Hansen), is a true, true connoisseur of good, quality beer, and he will actively seek it out. It is one of two essential aspects of his restaurant. There are 24 local BC craft beers on tap at all times! He keeps the selection always changing so as to keep fresh everyone's thirst quest. The second crucial aspect of Broken Hill is their smoker! The flavouring they smoke into their food is insanely good. It is balanced. It is not overpowering. Totally dynamite!
479 Baker Street
Hours: Sun-Thurs 11:00am to 10:0pm | Fri-Sat 11:00am - 12:00am
Phone: (778) 463-2244
Three Special Locations
The best way to explain this food is through its story. Justine (Langevin) has been with Ruben for 20 years. They are married and have two beautiful children. Every winter, for every one of those 20 years, they go back to Mexico to be with his family. Around 16 years ago, armed with generational family recipes, El Taco was born. It is the only truly authentic Mexican cuisine you will find in the region. It is fantastic, solid food that boasts the lineage of having been passed down through generations worth of time.
(It is great for bringing back to our rooftop patio at The Savoy Hotel.)
More on El Taco...
306 Victoria Street (block and a bit away)
Hours: Mon-Sat 11:00am - 8:00pm | Sun 12:00pm - 7:00pm
Phone: (250) 352-2060
Sage Tapas and Wine Bar
This is like Nelson's little secret weapon! It is definitely the first place to go if you love wine. Sage Tapas is only open for three days a week from 4:00pm onward, but if you are here during those nights, and can get a reservation, you will not be disappointed! It is in an intimate setting with a sprawling view from their deck. One could make a definite case for it being the pound-for-pound king in town when considering its short hours coupled with the punch that it delivers.
Sage Tapas and Wine Bar
(Reservations are highly recommended!)
705 Vernon Street
Hours: Thurs-Sat 4:00pm til Late
Phone: (250) 352-5140
The Dominion Cafe
Raspberry Pecan Muffin with a Chunky Monkey Smoothie in the background
Well, the easy part is that the Dominion Cafe not only has the best muffins in town by far, it also has the best selection in town. Those awesome folk offer 14 different fresh baked varieties each day. Oh man, are they ever good too!
Daylen (Hotte - owner) is very diligent with healthiness, and brings that passion into what she offers at the Dominion. She doesn't stop at just the high quality of ingredients, because she is adamant about sourcing local for everything she uses. There's something about that place that makes you feel an intrinsic comfort of home. It's a special little place, that is for sure!
More on The Dominion Cafe...
The Dominion Cafe
334 Baker Street (one block away)
Hours: Tues-Sat 8:00am - 5:00pm | Sun 10:00am - 4:00pm
Phone: (250) 352-1904
Nelson Brewing Company Tasting Room (Not a food place)
512 Latimer Street
Phone: (250) 352-3582
Backroads Brewing Company (Not a food place)
460 Baker St (2 1/2 blocks away)
Hours: Mon-Thurs 12:00pm - 10:00pm | Fri-Sat 12:00pm - 11:00pm | Sun 12:00pm - 8:00pm
Phone: (778) 463-3361
Torchlight Brewing Company (They do have food that goes well with beers)
125 Hall Street
Hours: Sun-Wed 12:00pm - 8:00pm | Thurs-Sat 12:00pm - 9:00pm
Phone: (250) 352-0094
Not restaurants, but handy places my traveling guests ask me about that are within walking distance downtown...
Kootenay Co-Op (a huge natural foods grocery, etc. store)
777 Baker Street
Phone: (250) 354-4077
Pharmasave Drug Store
685 Baker Street
Phone: (250) 352-2316
Wings Variety Convenience Store
371 Baker Street
Phone: (250) 352-3848
The Hume Liquor Boutique (at the Hume Hotel)
422 Vernon Street
Hours: 9:00am - 11:00pm Daily | Delivery available
Phone: (250) 352-5154
Hipperson Hardware Company
395 Baker Street
Hours: Mon-Sat 8:30am - 5:00pm | Sun 10:00am - 4:00pm
Phone: (250) 352-5517
The Dollar Store
644 Baker Street
Phone: (250) 352-4644
Although the music had yet to begin while we were enjoying a nice hearty dinner, an instinctive conversation of music was delved into with no hesitation. (A tell-tale sign of real musicians.) A harmonica was the top of discussion that kicked it all off, which then seamlessly transitioned into Juan pulling out his new accordion and taking us through a little tour of it. Once that was busted out, you could tell that dinner was getting shoved to the back of the mind as music asserted itself to its rightful place that was front and centre.
Everyone started getting comfortable and began noodling around with their instruments while getting situated. An inevitable jam easily manifested quite seamlessly from there.
It was nice listening to everyone talking through the music with what they were doing in regards to chord keys, progressions, songs to play, etc. It's always such a different element to sit with a band when they are in practice rather than when performing a show. It gives a deeper look into their music the way each musician brings their individuality into a unity of cohesiveness within the collective in regard to how the music is navigated.
The Latin Lovers' music constitutes a good feeling within. Their interactions bring layers of harmony that is separate from the music itself, but then gives another sense of depth to what they are creating.
The third jam started with some heavy bass lines. Who doesn't love the thunder of a trembling bass as it rivets down inside. After a few notes, the rest of the band fell in behind the rumbles with the timing of unison. For an only 'months old band', they are noticeably tight. It was easy for me to drift away in that thought.
...and then out comes Oye Como Va by Santana!
Man, that was really smooth. They played for a bit, and then came to a short lull to talk it through, thinking they were playing it a little too slow. No sooner than that was vocalized, and unanimously agreed upon, did they get back into it with a bit faster of a pace. It was really well done...to the point where it brought me back to images of when I saw Santana down at the Gorge in Washington in September 1997. It made for some good feeling reminiscing.
When they got through Oye Como Va, it was 'on' from there! All the warming up was cast aside as they dove head on into the rest of the night. The shift in energy was palpable, quite noticeably so!
The intensity revved up!
At times I closed my eyes to see the music with more than my ears in the way I would at a live show. I do that to remove all visual distraction to be able to be closer to the music that I am hearing. As they dove deeper into things, I did the same.
The first thing I heard said by any of them once the tune was over was, "Drive it! Drive the shit out of it," which would give the indication that they must be feeling it too.
So, here we are with the, now all too familiar, rumbling bass kicking off once again. "Well, lookkit that shit!" was the thought rattling in my mind. Just like before, the rest of the band falls in behind as if the bass is a roller coaster and they all hopped on to take the trip to the promised land of thunderous bliss. Fantastic stuff!
Because of my deeply woven affinity for Bob Dylan, I will always have a soft spot for the harmonica in any capacity, so when that was brought into the mix, it was like a vessel that started to carry me home. A nice little security blanket of comfort!
The music never fully stopped during the break, even if only lingering notes were ringing out, there was always something there. So, even though there was an apparent break, where they were coming and going, the music carried on in a subtle context, and then, just like that, everyone settled into the music again without skipping a beat. I really enjoyed watching that play out.
Lots of smiles and giggling happiness permeated the room and filled it just fine. It was a good night!
When they said there was about 30 minutes left in the session, I got selfishly a tad bummed, because I was invested into the music and didn't want it to end. Having been seeing live music for close to 30 years I always take that as a sign of the performance: When you genuinely don't want it to end, and feel somewhat sad because it has, you know the goods were delivered!
It's almost unbelievable that The Latin Lovers have only been playing together for mere months now. Not only are they really tight within their music and cohesiveness, they also convey a feeling of kind wonderment that swirls within from hearing them play.
This jam session practice of theirs was a pleasure to witness and behold!
The Latin Lovers will be playing their next show tomorrow, March 7th, in Castlegar, BC. (Information below) They are also gearing up to be touring as much as they can throughout the summer. One can only hope that they might play a show somewhere near a beach because somehow it implies a sense of Latin romance on a sandy beach under a sea of stars on a warm summer night. How perfect is that?!
The Latin Lovers contact info...
Steve Marc Album Release for KBIA w. The Latin Lovers...
March 7, 2020
7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
2320 Columbia Ave #2
Castlegar, British Columbia
(This started as a few sentence Facebook post to go with four photos, but I just kept writing. No editing. Just raw, honest writing...)
Sifting through thousands and thousands of photos. Seeing these definitely stirs up some emotion. They were from when I did the Vancouver marathon in May 2008. I did the race with not one second of training because it simply hurt me too much to run. I didn't see the big deal of running the same(ish) distance from Nelson to Salmo though, after all, it's just running.
Completing the marathon was never an issue or a problem, nor was it ever in question...just a simple matter of one foot in front of the other, and eventually the finish line finds you.
I got a stress fracture in my right foot around KM 18-19, which means I finished the last 23-24 KM on a cracked up foot...on top of no training and all the rest of the crazy pain and stuff in my body. I was a mess, but even still, it was no big deal to me despite all of that.
I remember staggering down the road along one of the waterfront parks in the city, and receiving a standing ovation from a full Sunday morning breakfast patio at some restaurant. (Yes, that tripped me right out!) I didn't care how beat up I looked like to everyone else, I still didn't feel like that was warranted.
(I have been told many times over the years that it isn't right for me to express that because my completing like I do, through the circumstances I do, evokes a real sincere emotion from people, and I am diminishing that whenever I say it is never deserved, nor warranted. It feels like such a complex contrast of perspective and emotion I find myself in amidst all of that between my point of view, and that of others. It just overwhelms me so much past how I really know to handle. It's definitely quite humbling!)
I hopped on the Skytrain and bus back to Biggsy and Deanna's after the race. By the time I got to their place I could barely move my legs. Dave found me out front gigglin' while unable to navigate the short 3 or 4 inch step in some part of their walkway or something like that. Needless to say, he found me stuck on his front path with legs that didn't work. :)
It was a tough drive back to Nelson. Tara and her folks saw me across the street from the El Taco patio the next day, and I will never forget the looks on their faces. Those people have seen me through some shit unlike anyone else, but even still, every so often I find a way to up the ante on that, and this was one of those times. They were horrified...but I just shrugged, laughed, and hobbled away with my slice of pizza from Thor's. (Something they have also become accustomed to. :) )
I went onto crutches right away for a firm set amount of time. I had to scratch some triathlons I had lined up, but I wasn't missing the one in Wasa Lake that was six weeks after the marathon. I was pretty upset about missing the races I did, but I did get a special pedal made for me and my bike refit so I could still ride with my cast on. My pedal was made from a mountain bike pedal, snowboard parts, screws, and skateboard grip tape. I still have it. It's pretty stylin'! Drease and Darryl, at Boomtown Sports in Nelson, took care of me.
I lived in the bush then, so I was crutching up and down the mountain over logs, rocks, and through long brush and all sorts of bush-y life. Of course, I got charged by bears a few times crutching in the bush 'cause I'd still try to sneak up on them to watch those beautiful creatures.
Other than riding with my cast on, and crutching through the bush up and down the mountain, I did everything right. I had broken the same bone in the other foot several years earlier, and was not given good advice, so it never healed fully correctly. This time I just laid around with my foot up, except for those other two things.
Above photos by Phil Best: www.bestphotos.ca/
Because Interior Health is so speedy, it took me 4 weeks to get an appointment for a bone scan. By then my foot had healed to where it didn't show up on the scan. (I stayed on crutches for another week just to be safe.) The doctor happened to be walking by when I was still on the table, so he looked at the results from the radiologist. He came into see me all perplexed. My foot was fine, but then he tried to argue with me that I had a broken rib. I assured him that I didn't have a broken rib. He argued me otherwise.
(Trust me, I did not have a broken rib. I have bruised and cracked ribs, and even pulled muscles between my ribs, and all of them make it really hard to breathe, cough, sneeze, and laugh. This was nothing like that.)
That was the moment I learned the flaws, or more correctly, the loose results of a bone scan. He said what it really does is show "hot spots" that can indicate broken bones, cancer, arthritis, and some other thing that I forget. It was one of the many times I had to go up against a doctor trying to tell me something was wrong with me that was not. (I have dealt with that countless times over the past 26 years.)
Anyhow, much to my physiotherapist's dismay, less than three days off of crutches I raced again in Wasa Lake...just outside of Cranbrook, BC. (Off crutches Thursday afternoon...racing Sunday morning.) I compromised though by doing the swim and the bike (with my fancy pedal) and took myself out of the race at the second transition before the run.
It was the season I bought a trophy and medallions to give to the athlete who transcends adversity to compete in each triathlon I was at. (I competed in 10 over 15 weeks coming off of the crutches.) That turned into a whole other experience that really overwhelmed me as well because of how amazingly it was received. Goodness!
Presenting the Spirit & Determination Award (Named after an award I received at the 2009 Christina Lake, BC Triathlon.)
I never made it to the next season when I had some epic global aspirations because I got beat down by a freakin' goat of all things. It is a crazy story that everyone instinctively laughs at initially, but inevitably end up horrified by the time I get to the end of the story and what it meant to both my body and my life.
I went on to lose about five and a half out of the next six years of my life. It is impossible to describe what happened to my body during all of that, but it was real, real bad...even for my body's already crazy standards for pain. I have not been the same since.
When I happen upon photos and memories like these, they definitely evoke my own sense of emotion...mostly of letdown, failure, and even longing to the missed potential I have always believed that resides inside me.
As time rolls on, and my body gets more and more worn down, it gets harder and harder to draw upon the strength that I don't have to find the fortitude to forge through the obstacles in front of me and the impossible standards I set for myself. Regardless of ever worsening conditions and breaking down inside my body, I still have an unbreakable belief in myself for doing something truly remarkable. I've tried so hard and been knocked down so many times, but I still believe it is there regardless of any failures or stumbles I might have repeatedly face-planted on.
I don't believe in impossible. As so many people know, I don't give a damn what others say about the unaccomplishable things I dream up. I cannot ever compete with anyone, so I am only left to compete with myself, but inside what that notion entails, I just know there is something inside that is longing to be released within me that has never been done before by any human.
Travis Hauck... 3rd overall, 1st in his age group. World Champion!
In the past week, I have had three friends that have left a very indelible impact on my mind and in my heart...
Travis, who, after winning the National Cross-Country Mountain Biking Championships last summer went all in on a year long journey with the goal of competing in the World Championships in Quebec this summer. Unfortunately, he blew a tire about half way through his race, and DNF'd. It was a crushing blow, but he regrouped and overcame his adversity by signing up for a 60km race the following day that was separate from the world's, but at the same site. It was a huge stacked field from around the world, and Travis won his age-group, and took third overall. In the face of that adversity. He carried himself like a champion to refocus, and took down that race, and as far as I am concerned, became a 60km cross-country world champion himself. (Although he firmly disputes this with me, and I completely disregard the technicalities in the face of the matter. :) )
Sarah, who, also overcoming adversity through injury, just qualified for the Ironman 70.3 Triathlon World Championships next weekend in Nice, France (Bib #1378);)
Sarah and her husband, Rob, after finishing Ironman Arizona at the end of 2018
...and then Leo who needs to hit top 30 in the world rankings over the long qualifying process to get to the World Cross-Fit Games. In his words...
"No the qualifier to get into those competitions is right now. They release workouts every Wednesday and you have until Monday to do them, video them and submit them... ...top 30 get the nod. I’m currently 10th in one and 5th in another."
He has to keep that consistency up until sometime in the spring. I asked Leo for the link to his youtube channel so I could watch them. All I had to do was watch the first one to get stunned into disbelief! You hear around town how much of a beast this guy is, but when you actually see it, it's a whole other thing! I'll let you make your own mind up about that.
Old photo I scooped from Leo's Facebook page.
All three of these incredible people are stratosphere's beyond anything I could ever chase down, but even still, all there have found glimmers of inspired-ness from the way I have thrown myself into the athletic meat grinder of my own making. I am so humbled by them, I could never put it into words. They are three legit, world level bad-asses...and then there is my doofus self!
I am so inspired by Travis, Sarah, and Leo, but I also feel like I have been living a lie within myself when I see what they are all bringing to a fruition of reality, when all I do is have stumbles. I don't give a shit about all my body issues, they are irrelevant towards my standards for myself; but I somehow find myself living in the ever widening gap between a constantly breaking down worn out pain-filled body, and aspirational standards that surpass my imagination.
The biggest fear I have is seeing that gap widen more and more as my body slips further and further away, dying before I really tap into the potential I know I have. I am well aware of the scope of the unfair pressure I put on myself because of it, but I don't care, because it is never gonna change. It shreds my mind to pieces every day, but is also the very reason why photos and stories like that Vancouver marathon exist. I know I have pulled myself through shit that only the very, very rare few do, but for me, it is still not good enough...my aspirations that I refuse to let go of are just too big.
These three people have given me something to really think about. Stumbling onto these photos cemented it. I know my body keeps trying to get in my way, but my mind is thinking up some new shit...especially after messaging with Leo a couple days ago.
Tomorrow is gonna spark the beginning of some kinda something that I have ideas of right now. Tonight I will sift through it and share what that entails with the three of them. The only thing I really know is that it is gonna be hard for me, hard on me, will hurt me, will inevitably injure me, and test every bit of mental and emotional fortitude I have inside of me.
(I began something like this in the spring when I got cleared from surgery by my doctor, but a massive life change turned my world upside down this summer, so I was forced into some adjustments...and also took the first real vacation I have had in 13 years.)
Time to focus the intensity again to drive myself insane going after the dreams that lie beyond my imagination. Hopefully the next two years are the most intense, painfully exhausting, yet undeniably rewarding years I have had. Only time will tell how that all plays out, but the only way to find out the truth of it all is to dig in and go after it...
Coming into the finish of the final stage of the 2019 Trans Rockies Classic
At some point earlier this summer, I asked how Travis' legs were doing, and where he was at with everything leading up to the world's. He said he wasn't where he wanted to be.
(Trav works hard, and he is an amazingly committed family man. As intense as he trains, he doesn't let that come in the way of his priorities...the life of his family!)
While I was on my summer wanderings with my doggie, I would think about him, and his preparation towards August...especially with those thoughts in my head of him not being where he wanted to be. Charging the world championships is a huge thing, and I wanted for him to be able to go there as prepared as possible, peaking at the right time, to lay smackdown on everyone else.
I do realize it is weird saying what I want, but the truth of the matter is that I want him to win, and in order to do that, he's gotta have everything aligned perfectly. In that respect, yes, I do want him to be as prepared as possible.
At the end of July, Travis popped up on the radar again right before the first stage of the Trans Rockies Classic. I was around home a bit then, but coming and going all over the place still, so I wasn't overly accessible.
It wasn't the first pre-race post he put up that got me, it was seeing his day one results that triggered something in me. I was elated for him, but that feeling of shittiness from missing out had punched me right in the gut.
That was that, I couldn't take it anymore. I was to the point where, how can I even call him a friend if I don't get out there and go see him at some point during those six remaining stages. Immediately after seeing his post, I started looking into it all. I sunk right into the Trans Rockies website: www.transrockiesclassic.com/
Quite quickly, I took a screenshot of his results from Day 1, and posted it on his page.
After I did that, I looked at the course. Before I saw the dates for each stage, I messaged Travis to ask him if there was a rest day in the middle. There wasn't
When I was looking into it deeper, I was kinda getting a little deflated with each stage's start/finish locations because I had some casual commitments that wouldn't let me get to any of those places. Everything turned around when I got to the last final stage though! It started in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, and finished in Fernie, BC on the Sunday. (July 28th)
"That's the one!"
Image from the Trans Rockies Classic website.
Even though I couldn't fully commit until I figured a couple things out, I instinctively knew I was going. I couldn't miss it. I'd be so upset with myself if I did, and it would eat at me. (I can be my own worst nightmare.) I messaged Travis that I was hoping to go, and in part, I wish I hadn't as I would rather have just shown up.
(I had just done that to my friend from Whistler when she was playing in a charity hockey tournament in Kelowna the previous weekend. Debbie was on the ice when she saw me, and her legit, double-take reaction of shock was worth the overnight drive!)
Yaaaay for Debbie!
I couldn't escape the thoughts of my brief 12 year history with Travis. I mean, somehow in all of that, I was standing next to him in the hospital room when Tobi was being passed Caden from their nurse shortly after he was born. (That is a hilarious story from my point-of-view that I will tell another time; but I will say that I have never felt more out of place in all my life.) I just love those guys so much, and I couldn't miss him racing this time. I felt like I'd be letting him down, even though, in his nicest guy ever language, Trav would tell me to go fuck myself for even entertaining such a notion.
So, it was settled, I knew that whatever I had to figure out would somehow work, and I'd be on my way to Crowsnest Pass for the start of the final stage...and then drive into Fernie for the finish.
I left at somewhere around 1:00AM to drive through the night. I gave myself enough time to poke along and take a break or two if I needed it.
Crowsnest Pass is right in the Rocky Mountains, hence the name of place, and is just over an hour east of Fernie. I was really tired, and my butt was super sore, so I pulled over about 30 minutes west of Fernie to take a little break. That would give me a smooth final little 90 minute coast into the small town.
I timed it so I would arrive at about 7:15AM so I could park my van, let my doggie out, and then find my way to the race area with some time before the 8:00AM start. I woke up from my little siesta with the perfect amount of time to get there, so I looked at my dog, and said,
"Sweet! We totally nailed it, Fennario!"
About ten seconds later I got reminded once again of how big of an idiot I am, and realized I forgot about the time change. It was an hour later than I thought! Our perfect arrival time of 7:15AM was actually 8:15AM...fifteen minutes after the race start, which would be perfectly the worst time to show up!
I turned back to Fennario to say,
"Well, I fucked up again! Daaaaamn! When'r you ever gonna straighten me out?!"
In a way, I wasn't totally surprised that I messed that up, and I'm betting that if you asked Travis, he'd likely concur with that notion, "Yup...big surprise there!" I was pissed off though...like, really, really mad at myself...so upset! There I was, just letting down my friend again.
Since there was nothing I could do about it, I just crawled back into the bed in my van and went to sleep again. I was too mad to be awake anyway.
Immediately upon opening my eyes, I cursed myself out several times. Apparently that seemed to be the theme of the morning.
I took my time driving the last 30 minutes into town...stopping along the way to take some photos.
When I got into town, I started looking for my friend's school bus craft shop she has parked downtown that's called, Ace Ferguson. That bit of meandering led me to the skate park. I had to get out there to poke around and take some photos.
Inevitably, I was thrust into reliving some nostalgia from when I was a little kid in the 80's charging on my skateboard. (If I wasn't all crippled like I am, I'd still have one to play on.)
I noticed there was a lotta commotion at the bike shop right across the train tracks beside the park. There were all these little kids with their bikes, and their parents signing them up for some kind of race. I had to go check that out.
Being in the parking lot of GearHub Sports was fantastic. It reminded me of the Kids of Steel events at triathlons I have done. You see all these little kids with streamers on their bikes, some dressed as super heroes, and all that fun stuff. It's so great to see. I have always loved that.
Kids Rally Registration at GearHub Sports: www.gearhub.ca/
I asked what the event was, and where it was located. They told me it was a kids rally. The Kid's Bike Rally was in its 13th year. The registration was at GearHub, but then there was a bike decoration station at the Fernie Bike Park that was right across the street from the skate park. The rest took place by the rec centre and finishing area of the Trans Rockies race.
I love that stuff so much. Seeing the young kids out to give 'er is so amazing. I'll never not love that.
One thing I realized there was that no matter what the kids event I might see, or stumble into, I always get reminded of this one little girl in the Kids of Steel triathlon in Summerland, BC years ago in 2007. (About 5 days before I met Travis and Mike) She was having trouble getting into the water for the swim. She wanted to so bad, and kept motioning herself into the water, but couldn't bring herself to do it. She was turning around in half of a panic, pleading with her parents, and crying. Even still, she wanted to do it, and we all knew it. She just needed to find that millimetre of a push within herself, and she'd be fine. Everybody on the beach got behind her. The volunteers in the water were incredible. We were all going nuts cheering for her. She finally found the strength to get in and do the little swim course. The applause that we generated for her was really something else. When she stood up at the end of her swim, she had the biggest smile on her face, and the whole place just erupted! It was awesome. I felt so fortunate to be a part of it, and I have never forgotten her. Being in the parking lot, watching all the kids registering for the bike rally, brought all of that back again.
Gotta love kids who charge!
My little bad-ass hero in the stripes!
Being at the kids registration area definitely wiped clean all the frustration I had within myself for screwing up the time change and missing Travis' start at Crowsnest Pass. (It's nice to feel not pissed off. Haha.)
I went back to get in my van to drive over to the finishing area and check it out. After being such a dipshit in the early morning, I had to make sure I had everything all set for when Trav would be coming down the finishing chute. I wasn't missing that for anything!
I scoped it out, but had lots of time before his estimated finishing time, so I found an excellent shaded area to park. Fennario and I then walked the few blocks away to Ace Ferguson to see Kate and her kick-ass bus!
We hung out with her for quite awhile, but then with about 30 minutes left til race finishing time, we strolled back to the park area. I put Fennario in the van, rolled the windows down, and put out her water for her. With my doggie all styled out, I walked over to the finishing area.
I walked around wondering where the ideal place to see the end of the race would be. The finish line was in an outdoor hockey rink. I decided that the best place to be was right where the dirt met the opening to the boards of the rink. That way I could see him pop outta the bush and he would ride right past me, only a couple feet away, and unobstructed. Perfect!
I asked one of the race officials about the estimated time that they would be arriving. I told him that Travis said it would be around (whatever time he told me), and he confirmed that. The official then said that Travis had been on fire!
I told him I had driven from Nelson just to see Travis, and also told him of my time change screw up. I welcomed him into making fun of my stupidity with me, and he happily obliged. We had fun making fun of me for a couple moments. (I earned it...might as well embrace it!)
From that moment on, I planted myself right where I was, and was not moving for anything. Not a damned chance!
I was around 20-25 minutes early, so I had some reflective time on whatever my brain wanted to wander through. I looked a bit at the summer I had been having, but really I was just thinkin' about Travis, and the bigger picture of this Trans Rockies race he was leading.
I know how hard he works for all of this, and what it really means to him. Seeing his positioning at the top of the leaders board for this grueling race made me happy, but not necessiarily for the Trans Rockies itself. I was looking at what it was all saying about his overall conditioning for the World Championships later in August.
He was never far from my mind during all my summer journeys, and until this race, the only information I had was him saying he wasn't where he wanted to be with his training earlier in the season. Leading this insane 7 Stage race that averaged 79km in distance and over 6000 feet in elevation gain each stage told all the story one needed to know about his conditioning...
I got really, really happy for him. Super, super psyched!
I looked back to that wintery dinner of us sitting at his kitchen table, when he looked me right in the eyes and said with such conviction that he wasn't going to the worlds just to compete, that he was going there to win. I stayed with that image in my mind for a bit.
I know how much he has put into it all. That idea reaches further than all the long hours he puts out on his bikes. Before I had come over for that dinner in the winter, Travis had sent me the sponsorship/media packet he put together. (He emailed it in a pdf.)
Travis has always commented on my writing, and knows I have a done a bunch of sponsorship/media for myself, and have helped other people with that if I'm ever asked as well. He'll send me stuff like that because he knows I love it, but he also asks me what I think about it. (Quite flattering!)
The kit he put together was amazing! When I saw him next, he put the hard copy in my hands, and we got into it. He worked hard on it, and you could tell. It was so well done.
From my own experience, I know first hand how much goes into putting those sponsorship/media kits together, whether that being the time, or the mental and emotional energy. They don't just happen on their own, and you cannot just whip them off. I loved seeing it. I loved that he sent it to me, and then put it directly in my hands when I saw him shortly later.
It's more than the obvious that speaks to me about Travis, it's the fine unseen details of his passionate, and fierce commitment towards what he is doing. It is infectious!
Make no mistake about it, going to the world's is a big deal to him...past the obvious to what so many others might see!
That's the stuff I was staring into when I was standing there waiting for him to come down the finishing chute. It's also why I was so pissed off at myself for missing the start of that final stage. I know how much it means to him, I know how much he has put into it, and he's someone I give a shit about; so I just found myself swimming in thoughts of happiness for him because of the way he laid it down for the Trans Rockies. Trav completely annhialated any of those apprehensions he might have had quietly swirling when he told me earlier in the summer that his training, and body, was not where he wanted to be.
I understand that kind of mental toll in this respect. I can't speak for him obviously, but I know all about the far depths of the spirit one gets submerged into when pushing into the ultimate extreme. The things one's mind can do when treading within that realm can be absolutely brutal, so I can only imagine where Trav's mind was at fighting through everything when his body wasn't where he wanted it to be after the countless hours he poured into it all.
Of course, I could be 100% wrong!
I almost felt a sense of elation when I was standing there waiting for him. Despite the 7 days of hard pounding on his exhausted body, it had to be some sort of big release to crush down the Trans Rockies the way he did! Good bye apprehensions, hello world championships!
If I'm being completely honest, I gotta say, I was getting a bit emotional. I was glad that I came to see my friend finish this epic race that was the big springboard testing ground towards the world's. (That is a fabricated thought within my mind, he has never implied such a thing to me.) Outside of being able to go to Quebec itself, if there was one race to come out to see him finish, it was this one.
There was a little comedy yet to come...
An elderly couple walked up and stood beside me. We started talking right away. They were super sweet. The lady was firing off all the questions. She asked me if I was from Fernie. I told them that I had driven overnight from west of Nelson to see my friend Travis finish the final stage. I then had to explain the deal with it being the final stage, and what that meant. They were pretty blown away by the scope of the race, and also were pretty psyched that I would drive that far just to see my friend wizz past us for all of 15 seconds.
The comedy played out when they both asked where the racers came out from to the finish area. I pointed down to the brush with the cone markers along the ground. She then asked if they would know where they were going. I told her that I have done a bunch of these kinds of races, and that I have never looked at a map, and never had a problem as courses are always marked. I then said, "These guys race all over the place, they know what they're doing!"
The couple were diggin' it, and stayed hangin' out til the boys came charging through. Well, seems she was right, because when the boys popped outta the bush, all three of them went the wrong way...they took a right instead of going straight.
All three of us started laughing. She totally called it! I turned to her and said, "Well, you totally nailed that one, huh?!"
It was most excellent!
Back on track to bring it home!
The three of them got quickly back on course and blew past us into the finishing chute in the hockey rink. Trav was out front, and in his words, "I couldn't resist," pulled a huge wheelie on his bike into the finish line.
It was great!
Once he was finished, he had to give interviews for their media and such. He had cameras right in his face. I loved watching it. Lil' bad-ass!
I walked to a different spot on the outside of the rink to take some photos while he was doing all of that. When I saw it winding down, I went back to where I originally was by the entrance that they biked into as it was also the way they came out. That's when I got to see him and talk to him finally.
For some reason, I was kinda at a loss for words. I wasn't even sure of the last time I saw him, and even considering everything, I still didn't have much to say. I remember thinking about the way I get whenever I have finished triathlons, and I think I let that get in the way of any conversation with Trav.
My races are a spectacle for exact opposite reasons of Travis, but I get swarmed by people at the finish line. It totally overwhelms me, and really I just wanna unwind, chill out, and much to my friend, Shelby's, dismay, eat ice cream. Talking to people is the last thing on my mind. End even when I see close friends at races, I don't have too much to say to them either. I know for sure, that got in the way of any kind of proper conversing with him on my end. I was also aware of the grind he put himself through, so figured he might be a tad bit tired.
We small talked for a bit, but made plans for me to come over for dinner before he left for the world's in Quebec. With that, I took off straight for the ice cream stand...The Happy Cow!
I talked to that lady for a bit. She was selling these amazing home made ice cream sandwiches. The ice cream was bookended by two fatty, fresh baked cookies. Daaaamn, they were good.
I saw Travis walking by somewhere when I had just gotten mine, so I yelled over to him to see if he wanted one.
(Also, much to the dismay of Shelby. In a small, little way, I kinda offered it to Trav in total defiance of Shelby... The story behind this is that Shelby is a naturopathic doctor, and really close friend I have known for over 30 years. She doesn't have a damned thing against ice cream, but said it is the last thing your body wants/needs after doing something like a triathlon, or in Travis' case, a grinding mountain bike race. Well, stick it to the man...haha, Shelby!)
Travis was all over the offer, so I grabbed a second one to give to him. We indulged together. I got some guy to take a photo of us cheers-ing our sandwiches, but for who knows what reason, he didn't know how to push a simple button on a camera to take a photo, and screwed it up. I was bummed when I discovered that at home.
We talked for a minute or two more while shoving ice cream in our faces, and with that, I was on my way.
Before we parted ways, without him knowing, I took a photo of his shoes, and his skinny little calves. I always love looking at his legs because they're so gawd damned savage! Whenever you see photos of him on the podium, he's always the tiniest guy up there.
I come from the triathlon world, and even though it is extreme endurance, I am used to tree trunk legs, so I have always found it most excellent looking at Travis' little legs. Those lil' fuckers are like unassuming assassins! Don't mess with them 'cause they will whup your ass all up over the place!
Even though I messed up getting to see Travis off at the start of the stage, I was really happy about having been there. I never saw the whole getting emotional part coming, but I embraced it because I love the guy and was just so psyched for him.
I let Fennario help me with the last of my ice cream when I got back to my van. Then we walked back over to say good bye to Kate before we left town.
A few last post race photos!
Keep chargin' Trav! I was glad to see you race for 15 seconds!
I must begin with the 2019 Trans Rockies Classic, and bounce around from there...
I had been intermittently following Travis' race during the last week of July. He was competing in the Trans Rockies Classic. It is a pretty gnarly mountain bike race in the Canadian Rockies. Consisting of seven stages over seven days through the rugged mountains with crazy elevation gains and descents, it's not for the faint of heart!
Being into triathlon the way I used to be, it was always inevitable my world would collide with Travis. For the first several years of my racing, I knew who he was, but that was about it. It wasn't until I was flying to Ontario to do a duathlon in my hometown of Wasaga Beach in September, 2007 that I really met him though.
Out on course along the beach.
Coming down the finishing chute and talking to a reporter after the race...
As per usual, I was the last one through the gate at our airport, and they gave me a tongue-lashing for it. (Nothing has changed...that happened when I went to Chicago this past June.) I was told I was lucky to get my bike on the plane because there was less than usual luggage that day, otherwise I'd be screwed.
I went into the waiting area, and sat down pretty much right beside Travis. He was flying to Las Vegas with Mike Seniuk for some kinda conference-y something.
I barely had my ass on the seat before Travis was lookin' at me with a huge fat grin, and saying something about my bike in the box, at which point we fell into conversation about racing.
At our layover in Calgary, the three of us had lunch, and carried on like we'd already known each other for quite some time. (Mike's cousin, Jackie, had been a really good friend of mine for years at that point, so we were instantly comfortable with each other.)
That was all it took! Just like that, Travis and I were instant great friends.
So, fast forward to this summer, 12 years later...
I had still yet to see Travis race in all that time. Yes, there is the thought that he mostly races far away, but even though I would consciously think about it, that was still never a good enough excuse for me to miss out on his bad-ass-ery!
In a kind of overreacting way, I had a mini little meltdown, and sorta snapped at myself for only being reduced to seeing his photos with written race updates and conclusions over the years. If I am being truthful, I actually started feeling like a pretty shitty friend for never having seen him race, especially considering how supportive he has been of me in all my triathlon endeavors for so many years. There are two instances that I take note of the most...
-The first was when he got sponsored to do the La Ruta race in Costa Rica in October, 2011. It was a crazy, crazy 4 day stage race. (Like the mini Tour de France of mountain biking.) While he was down charging that course, I was in Portland, Oregon for a half marathon, and then going to try for some sponsorship at the Adidas North American HQ. We were both messaging each other in total support...taking away from what each of us was doing to cheer on the other. (By the way...he grabbed the leader's jersey, and podium'd overall.)
-The second time that stands out was in late summer/early fall of 2015 when I did 31 triathlons under pretty grueling conditions. (All told, I bailed hard once, battled severe hypothermia in our freezing lake with no wetsuit for the back half, had many injuries, and then got hit by a car on my second last day.) On my final day, Travis came out with Caden (his two year old son) to watch me during my last swim. He was yelling at me out in the water from the park. If that wasn't enough, they got in his truck to follow me on my bike course...honking his horn and yelling and screaming out his window.
You see, Travis is the most solid of guys! I've even put it into writing before that, "it's almost sickening how good of a guy he is...just be at least a bit of a prick to give the rest of us a chance." (Haha...Something like that.)
As far as the triathlon meat grinder I have repeatedly thrown myself into, and all the crazy stuff I think up within that world, regardless if I am successful or not, Travis has always been 1000% supportive of me...quite actively and verbally. In a way, it kind of trips me out when he says what he has about me because he is a legit bad-ass.
Me, glued together with wraps and tape before the 2007 Nelson Triathlon.
Photo by Phil Best: www.bestphotos.ca/
Travis is definitely a local legend around here, and the racing circuit he charges on. It would be quite a fitting nickname if one were to call him, "Mr. Podium!"
He charges insane races year after year, and after all of them, you see podium photos and stories pop up on his Facebook account. Then there is me, "Mr. Last Place, Nowhere Near the Leaders Guy," who Travis supports without restraint. (I mean, I'm not just last place, I'm last as fuck!) The two of us have always seemed to have a circular connection of mutual inspiration. We have both been quite vocal about it, to each other, and outward to the world.
Personally, I have never felt like I have earned, nor deserved that for myself, but with him, it is beyond undeniable how incredible he is. Plainly stated,
"Travis is a mountain shredding mutherfucker!"
I hang off the stuff he does. I love talking to him about all the different facets of what high level racing entails. (There's more to it than one would think.)
Truthfully, I feel very humbled in his presence, and all this stuff never leaves me when I'm in thought about him.
(He inevitably floats through my mind when I am out charging through unbearable pain, and those thoughts actually give me strength to transcend anything a course, or my broken body might throw at me.)
There's sooo many great things about the guy, but no matter what, I'm always dialed into Trav's racing life. Even if we are talking about things completely irrelevant to that, it is still automatic as something lingering on my mind! I'm never unaware of the levity of being around Mr. Podium!
(I don't own rights to any of these photos, so if you see this and one is yours, shoot me a message so I can happily give you credit.)
I'm not too sure when I started realizing this, (It has been for awhile now.), but every time I see more of his racing stories, photos, and results online, or talking with him about them in person, I've started to increasingly feel kind of shitty that he is always out to support me, but I had never been out to see him goin' for it. (Except when he would pass by my last-place-ass on the bike portion of the old Nelson triathlon many years ago.)
I haven't liked that feeling, and it has eaten at me somewhat. I've always kept that to myself, but it is there, and it is real that I have started feeling kinda shitty around him because of it.
(I can only imagine him reading this right now. Haha...suck on it Trav! Your impact is real!)
I had been on my own adventures all over the place this summer, so I had not seen him in quite awhile. Since he won the National Championships last summer, and was committed to going to the World's this summer, I had never lost sight of his journey. There's no way I could. He was always close to my thoughts!
I was at Travis and Tobi's place for dinner sometime either side of the Christmas holidays. He and I got carried away talking about the world's. When we were deep into that conversation, with the most conviction I have ever heard him speak, Travis leaned forward to look me right in the eye, and told me that he isn't going there to just race, he is going there to win.
"I WANT TO WIN!"
A total a freakin' bad-ass! What more can you really say?!
Stuff Writin' About Kinda Guy
I am a simple guy who likes to dream of the impossible and go after it. I have found fun in writing about my journey as well as other things that inspire me too.