A 3-hour road trip could show up in a number of ways. One of which brings horns, traffic lights, and enough blind spot checking to require a trip to the chiropractor. The other version has a smooth start down I-90, hardly any traffic, and a single left turn towards our northerly neighbors, Canada, eh. 

Now, enjoying the drive on cruise control, you get to enjoy the scenery. From Hayden to the border, the North Idaho countryside takes you through the valleys surrounded by beautiful snow-topped hills and mountains. And it’s not just the forested mountainside that catch you. This stretch of North Idaho turns from impassable woods to fertile valleys with farmlands as far as you can see. A version of North Idaho I often forget. 

Having enjoyed the drive, the only stressful part now stares us down. You know what they say about the Canadian Mounties. Stern, stern but fair. Maybe ‘they’ say that, but I do. But this ain’t even them. This is border patrol and with a 7 and 10-year-old in the car, they too, have lots of questions. 

What will they ask? Did we bring the correct documents? Will they make the kids prove we’re their parents? What if they ask a trick question? What if I get nervous and make a joke? What if they hate jokes? What if they hate me, now? Can they just not let me in because they don’t like me? Would the family go on without me? Do I hitchhike back? 

I managed not to make any dumb jokes. And we made it in. 

Onward to our first international Slice ‘n Sip at the Buffalo Trails Coffee Shop. Roasted in the heart of the Kootenays, Buffalo Trails is a small, family-owned shop that hits ALL the marks when it comes to finding your new favorite small-town coffee shop. 

Friendly staff – check. 

And what’s the deal with Canadians having this reputation as being so friendly? I mean, they were, but it’s not like it was some abnormal friendliness – it was normal friendliness. Why can’t we have that too? What are we missing here? (I digress). 

Heavy accents – check

In this case, it only made them MORE friendly. Hmm.. is it the accent? Is it just because it’s different from what I’m used to? This is really gonna bug me now. I’m friendly too (I think). But this country gets to own it. Also – this shop is in Creston, BC. Literally 15 minutes past the border. It’s not like we fly 1000 miles away, these folks are like right there, and it’s so different. 

K, back to the shop. The Buffalo Trails is right on the main city stretch. Imagine like a downtown stretch in a down that can hardly claim ‘downtown’. But they nailed it. And it’s super cozy with seating that welcomes you to come and stay, without even trying that hard. (I write this from another coffee shop that has a very deliberate vibe, with mid-century furniture and plants placed throughout as very specific feature pieces – definitely trying). 

It’s also the type of place where friends meet. And again, not because they want that – I get the idea it’s just naturally become the place for that. 

The woman to my left sits reading a book. She’s been by herself the whole time just enjoying the day, reading away. When we go to leave, a man shows up and joins her. It seems this was a planned meeting, but she opted to arrive early just to enjoy the space. 

Across from me, two older men have come in together. Each wearing their respective old men hats. They order coffee, sit, and seem to just be visiting. Not a meeting. Not getting work done. Just visiting. I’m loving this. (again, here I am at a coffee shop too, but I am writing, working if you will) The shop carries itself with a very different sort of vibe, and it’s great. 

Finally, let’s talk coffee and food. 10/10

The chalkboard menu offered names of items, with no descriptions. 

I opted for the Brekky Panini. What’s on it? I have no idea. Will it be good? At this point, I’m going to trust the process here. 

When the sammie arrived, I kinda forgot where we were. Umm.. I thought this was just some neighborhood coffee shop, not like a fancy breakfast spot. 

Is that ciabatta? Maybe focaccia? Toasty and crunchy on the outside and super soft and chewy inside. Egg, tomato, meats, a light sauce. Honestly, I forget most of what was happening in that sammie. I was too busy enjoying it to be thinking about writing this. 

And the presentation, c’mon. You for real? 

Y’all – people travel for food all the time. And while visiting a coffee shop might not seem worthy of a 3-hour drive, I’ll say this: Make up a reason to go to Creston, BC. And time that trip for a breakfast stop at the Buffalo Trails Coffee Shop. You’ll be pleased you did. 

@buffalotrailscoffeehouse on IG

Cheers – tb