That’s a wrap followed by two weeks of wedded bliss
Updated: Nov 7, 2022
Good day to all our fellow fisher people, outdoor enthusiasts and Davin Lake stalkers! We appreciate every single one of you although you wouldn’t know it when looking at the frequency of my communication. In my defence, I am a busy chick
In the last post I talked about earned days off???? We still haven’t figured that one out yet, because we had 17 people in camp lol. I always have a ballpark of expenses and income balance floating around at any given point throughout the season but until it is all said and done we just hope we end up on the right side of things….hence me booking people on our days off. In my defence, everyone in camp was pretty easy, but still not a true break from all the work.
What an extremely busy season! I mention in our year 6 summary that Matt and I were 2 ships passing in the night and again during the day. We get breakfast together generally, but then we both go our separate ways after checking the to do list, reviewing the comings and goings and completing our boat math over coffee. Boat math is a serious thing and can be difficult to wrap your head around lol, it is very real and can put Matt in a panic if he doesn’t carry the one. We saw just over 100 people in June, same thing for July; then for august to middle of September there were approx another 100 people to fish both lakes.
So at the end of July we were gonna run a light camp, but then the booking is to good to be true and we had some great families up at the time. I had a guest comment one day they didn’t realize we were such a busy place since we were so remote….I think the neighbours stopped by for coffee, the fuel truck came, the outpost swapped out one day and came in the next, then a helicopter stopped for fuel and put on a show. It seemed to them there was alot going on, but to us its just another day that ends in “Y”. Some days you wake up with the best intentions and you end up just having to roll with it.
My garden turned out beautiful this year…fingers are still crossed for a greenhouse for 2023 though. I had about 15 hills of peanut and red potatoes, green onions, lots of multi-leaf lettuce, mini tomatoes (if you know you know) zucchini, then of course all my herbs, dill, cilantro, parsley, lemon Thyme etc. Anyways, harvested at the end of September so Matt and I (Kevin too but I will get to that) had all fresh veggies for the last two weeks we were in camp. Interestingly, there were lots of bear tracks around and passed the garden all season built nothing really dug into it…I was surprised.
The kids and I spent so much time in the lake….it took awhile for the water to warm up enough for us to go in, but we were swimming nearly every day until the first of September, which is late by northern standards! Usually we are done when the lake turns the middle of august, but, we just kept having nice days so in we would go! Friends/guests Tabitha and Mike with their kids had brought up this GIANT unicorn floaty that I was praying they would take with them but i was very happy that they left it for us in the end. It got a ton of use, was so so fun to play on and added bonus, the international space station could see it!! that’s how big it was. We did a big fireworks show with tabitha and Mike at the end of July for all the guests and kids before their holiday was over. We truly have some very generous and unique guests that surprise us with their talents and kindness. Tabitha and Mike gave us a very nice gift that they got when they left us last year! They held onto it all year and surprised us with and etched cutting board and coasters which blew us away!! Les in cabin 6…most of you know him because he stays a whole month with us so many of you get to meet him…he had bought us some very nice wooden signage that we put up in the lodge, he also got the kids a custom monogrammed clothes hook done in a charred wood…so thoughtful and generous! A friend of mine came up and she left Freja and I the last bit of her fancy salon shampoo and conditioner, we were in heaven!!! Beat the shit outta the ol’ Pantene 2 in 1 we use all summer.
Another guest, who’s name slips my mind at this moment, *****It’s Peggy!!!***drew us a landscape picture from on the lake….I made her sign it and displayed it proudly on the whiteboard for the remainder of the year! New friends GREG AND MEGHAN, brought us a gift on their second short notice trip….a bucket of KFC!!! The one gift we didn’t know we needed lol.
One particular family came with a former guide from another lodge. Casey and the Fox family were such a great time, they had one cabin and took over the campsites. We have known Casey since we took on the lodge and it was great to have him in our camp and fish on our lakes. Casey brought us a 40 of good dark label reserve Gibson whiskey…we invited him to our house campfire then a dozen gingerale later the bottle was gone! We laughed and reminisced and told adventure stories. Casey was NOT bright eyed and bushy tailed in the morning, but Matt and I were good to go! Not sure what that says about us, but we typically go dry for the winter so I guess we are alright.
Moving into august, we celebrated Matt’s birthday then carried on throughout the month as we always do. The weather was beautiful, had a couple of rainy downpours and was delightful to sit out on the runway for a few nights watching the Perseids meteor shower! The kids and I pulled a floaty from the lake, grabbed sleeping bags & blankets, a wagon, beverages and the iPad. We watched 3 Men and a Baby until it was dark enough then we saw about 50 or so meteors each night. Was super fun and is a new yearly tradition! If you are in camp mid august we invite you to join us for the spectacular event! The sunsets in August are so amazing, the days are hot and an after supper swim is usually in the books.
Mid August we had a medivac emergency from our camp. It was related to a carpenter at a neighbour lodge. His labourer, Ed, called over to us on a sat phone that a trucker let her use after she flagged them down! Matt was by chance walking by the phone as it rang….we usually don’t answer it when it is so close to supper time but he did! John was in trouble and she needed help. Matt went over with the keys and checked him out but came back when John said he wasn’t going to the hospital. I said I won’t be able to sleep unless I put eyes on him, so Matt took me back over. Keep in mind I have a camp full of guests, I am cooking for 10 and its an hour until supper…I am such a stickler for organization but by now our guests are starting to get into the loop, because the main phone is at the lodge…all the boats are in the campfire is happening, so yeah our guests were very concerned and understanding.
I get there and he is mainly fully recovered from having a TIA…I assessed him, left my BP machine and instructions for her to call me if it happened again. She was confident, he was in good hands and I felt comfortable leaving him. As soon as we got back, maybe 10 minutes, she called on the 2-way and said it was happening again…I told her to hold tight, I would call 911 and then come over to get him. 911? AMAZING! dispatched me right through to LA paramendics becaue they quickly realized they had no idea where we were or how the North operates…they were city 911 lol. I am so senseless though because we didn’t know John’s last name at the time, let alone his age & healthcare number...we knew him as John the carpenter, he’s maybe 65… He wasn’t even on site!! They had to trust what I was telling them. I had my credit card ready because we were always told the plane don’t leave unless someone is paying for it….didn’t need it though. We went over and brought John back to our camp, the twin otter was dispatched and landed on our runway in 55 minutes. John had just recovered from his second TIA in under 3 hours. We took him to the runway from the guidehouse on the quad trailer….I gave paramedics the report, he walked onto the plane
on… his. own. and was on his way to LA. We knew John was in good hands and that we made the right call. That night after supper, I noticed the paramedics texted me to say they were re-routing to PA. The next morning we were calling around to LA & PA hospitals to see where he was….they actually took him directly to Saskatoon because he had a full-on stroke mid air! We connected with the nurses at the Saskatoon hospital, Ed, John’s son and shared the news he would be alright. I thank my lucky stars that it didn’t happen in his camp or in mine and that we got him where he needed to be to make the best recovery possible. The real hero though is Ed, his labourer and good friend. Had she not reacted as quickly and went to the lengths she did, then John would not be in the good fortune he is today. John is doing really good and is staying with his son. Starting physio with plans to be up North in the spring.
I started picking blueberry‘s towards the end of the month….boy do we have prolific blueberries bushes! I picked mainly the east edge of the runway first, then started down the runway. I take my stool and plunk down in the middle of the spot and pick and pick! Sunscreen, wide brimmed hat and a podcast or a book, delightful! We love the blueberry pancakes, but no one seems to pick with me! interesting right?? A lady staying with us picked quite a bit and so did our former resident professor who still routinely visits. Then my girlfriends came to visit and we had lots of catching up to do. We swam and picked quartz, picked some blueberries and lowbush cranberries. We fished and shore lunched…hung out at the portage and sat around the campfire telling horrible stories about each other and laughing our asses off. I hadn’t seen one girl for 20 years, but it was very nice to reconnect and to see what great places everyone was at in their lives. We were hell raising teenaged party girls…I’m sure our school implemented many new rules once we left the halls!
The day after my girls left, Matt and I were heading out to fish for the last shore lunch for a group…it was steak night that night so I had plenty of time to get back. I had made dessert that morning so I was in good shape according to my schedule. I was excited and geared up to go because I got to fish! Matt and Timber were already in the boat so I unhooked us and as usual, I stepped in then I’m not sure what happened…Timber shifted her weight or something because I rolled my ankle and fell to my knees in the bottom of the boat. Instant sweat and nausea…Matt is shocked…I am shocked. I got up so fast to sit in my seat, I am tearing to get my jacket off, deep breathing and whimpering through gritted teeth it hurt so back…but I’m going fishing! I put it up on the cooler and off we went! I caught a couple of beauties including a 29” pike that topped up the shore lunch tub and over we go to get shore lunch goin on. I told Matt that I would literally stand in one spot and cook fish, but please don’t say anything about my ankle until I can get back and take my shoe off to look. So I did. I stood at the frying pan, visiting with everyone and cooked fish. I could not wait for everyone to leave so I could limp up the bank to take a piss in the woods. We get back home to the cabin and its bad…my ankle is swollen like a football and I can’t really put any pressure on it. I get into bed to elevate, the kids are grabbing me ice and Advil and pillows and there I am…so upset that my season may be over, that I have ruined our last couple of weeks in camp by breaking my ankle. Matt offered to do steak night supper so I could stay off my feet. He covered by saying sometimes we take turns so we can spend time with the kids…I just didn’t want anyone to know at this point. Greg and Meghan had just brought us that bucket of chicken and what does Matt do?? He throws me a couple pieces into the air fryer and the kids bring it over to me. The lowest point of my life is when I realized I was eating fried chicken in bed, never have I been more ashamed of myself….but it was soooooo gooooood, finger lickin’ LMAO Anyways, got up early the next morning and hobbled to the truck and drove out to LA for some X-rays. If its broke, I shouldn’t be walking on it and I need some crutches…Matt graciously offered to make me some crutches out of old paddles, but I figured I needed the X-ray for sure. The doc couldn’t tell if its was fractured or not due to an old injury from a car accident but it was at least a grade 3 sprain…2-6 weeks to healup. I got the crutches, some fuel and headed the 3 hrs a back North to camp. Our All-Inclusive guests left that morning…after me, but they did give me a call when they got to LA…wanted to see if I needed anything….Matt had spilled the beans lol
So for the last 3 weeks of camp life I was on crutches or at least one crutch for the most part. Matt’s sister was coming up right away and would be in camp for a week to give me a hand…thank you Jesus! Kelly and Chuck from OK were coming in right away and I could use some help, or at least someone to fetch and carry things for me. My motto that is truly an inside joke between Matt’s sister Arlinda and I is “it will be alright, everything will be fine” and it was…it always is. Kelly has been the most die-hard fishing client and friend since the fall of 2017. He was messaging with me and a few other camps about planning a trip for 2018. He said all the other lodges he was talking with ‘guaranteed’ him a 40+” pike…I did not. I guaranteed him there were plenty in the lake but catching one was another story! He liked that…my honest, and he has been back every year, except COVID 2020. This was Kelly’s year!! His buddy Chuck had caught a couple biggies over the years but Kelly had missed out until this year…He got his big beauty and we couldn’t be happier for him! 42” pike and I think the smile on his face was just as big! He is a friend in every sense of the word and we text and message often. He will message me throughout the beginning of the season to give me an update on how many days left until he arrives. He literally sets a countdown the moment he leaves camp, this year he rolled in, his countdown still rolling and arrived with 53 minutes to spare I think….he thinks he has a sickness because he is so obsessed with fishing Davin. Great Job BB, great way for us to close out the season with you and Chuck!
After Kelly goes, my kitchens is closed….nearly every year he is my last and favourite guest to cook for. The kitchen closes, I have a couple of days then I head out with the kids to go BACK TO REALITY…our winter lives. This year, the kids and I left on September 18…we get home there is a huge list of things to get done! Haircuts, school clothes and rest for a few days. They started back on the Friday, then we had the weekend to get a few more things done and SLEEP! The kids were settled into the new routine, nana and MA were ready to come over to share supervision of kids while I headed back into camp on Tuesday September 27 for TWO WEEKS OF WEDDED BLISS!!
It truly sounds better than it is lol. Matt and I enjoy each other’s company, we work very well together and just needed time to relax and unwind and get camp buttoned down to close. No kids to fuss over, no guests in camp, just us, chores and fishing lol.
Very early in the morning, we are both still in bed and Matt jolts up and says I think someone is here? I thought I heard someone say hello… gets up and sure as shit, someone is in camp. We were expecting a couple of acquaintances to show and pick up a motor that we sold them, but we didn’t expect them that early!! They had walked in, which is totally fine, but still kinda a shock when you are so far removed. The 2 guys had hauled up their moose camp to Bothwell Lake that morning and had come back down to get the motor from us then they were on their way. Heard from them about a week ago and the motor ran great, they didn’t get a moose but still had a good time.
We did some chores that day…I had started on pulling all the food and spices from the lodge…running the dishwasher to get everything cleaned to store in totes. It usually takes 2 days to shut down the lodge, so I had another day to go.
We are sleeping in and Matt jolts up, I think someone is in camp, I thought I heard someone say hellO!!! If you are wondering why the hell I didn’t hear anything its because I am pretty deaf…but am a good lip reader for sure. If you ever say something to me and I just nod and smile, or I reply with something completely unrelated, I clearly did not hear you lol. Anyways, Matt gets up and sure as shit, Dennis is at our front door. Dennis is from Stanley Mission and he stays at the old abandoned camp ground for about a month. There were about 100 elders and other family members up to camp too for 10 or so days. They fish and hunt and process their moose on site with everyone helping. Matt had gone over to visit a few times while I was out with the kids and we stay in touch with Dennis in the winter to ask about the ice and snow etc in the north…so we are friends. Dennis had said the group got 5 moose from various locations nearby but only one from Davin. The meat was processed and every elder got a share. Anyways, Dennis stopped by that morning to give us a set of antlers..most of the elders had departed or were leaving that day and Dennis was pulling out the next morning. It was a very thoughtful gift and gesture and we were stunned he was so generous…friends, they surprise you with kindness when you don’t expect a thing. The rack is now up in a place of gathering and good fortune…above the door to the fillet house. Thank you so much Dennis, the antlers really mean a lot to us.
I finished off the lodge that day, got all the food into dry coolers and our spare deep freeze. All the dishes were clean and packed into totes to be opened again in the spring. We scanned the lodge and dreamed up a few things for 2023...New TV, Moving the TV, building a new display for the t-shirts and hoodies, and we moved some tables for a better layout! Can’t wait to see it all in place in 2023!
We pulled the pontoon boat and Matt got it winterized. He was putzing over at the quonset and built up some pallets to stack wood that we could move with the tractor! We did a pallet of wood just about every day for the next 5 days and the wood shed ended up being stocked full for spring. We were able to fill 4-5 steel blue barrels with wood too….3 are in the porch for Christmas and 2 are ready to move in when we are up sledding again in March. With the wood shed full, we went to our forest to cut some lengths to get a stockpile for Pa in the spring. We are working on expanding the trails next to the runway for the kids…they love to quad in and out of the trees and trails, plus they are great for walking! I want a trail that gets down close to the creek or that runs along the creek. I think we should start to stockpile some good skinned logs too for when we want to build, so then we can have a post and beam interior…love, love, love!
once again, sleeping in and there is a knock at the door…lol. Jump up out of bed and Matt answers the door…Its Robyn and his grandson!! Robyn is from the Southend area and has a ton of family in the North. He travels with his young autistic grandson up to his cabin just south of us to hunt and fish and teach his grandson. I had messaged Robyn to stop by this fall, he knows the summer gate code and is welcome to come in. I always gather up the clothes that the kids have grown out of and package them up for his grandson or anyone else he feels could use them. It beats bringing them home or throwing them away because I know how fast kids grow!! We laughed and visited over coffee, I entertained his grandson with little pound puppy figurines that he loved and took with him. He is deathly scared of dogs and so we always have our dogs put away before he comes in. The little toy puppies and kennels were perfect because they don’t make any noise, they don’t move and they aren’t scary for him. It is always a great visit and we enjoy seeing you happy and healthy Robyn, Hope to see you in the spring!
Because we were up early again, we decided to hit the lake…it was a beauty morning! Calm but overcast…grabbed some new tackle off the wall, packed a cooler of snacks and beer and off we went! We have always had good luck in September at the north east end of the lake and today was no exception. Matt was running the hook I picked which was a Mepps aglia giant killer spinner…I did not get to run that hook, but rather was using a #4 Len THompson pike (green with black dots). WE both consistently catch whenever we are out, always bring a trout or 2 for the dogs for supper but today, Matt slayed! He caught a huge 40+ pike, great catch and awesome release. Not even 20 minutes of trolling later and only about a 1/2 mile away from the last, he caught another 40+ pike…another good catch and great release! I was jealous of course, September is MY TIME, and that was MY HOOK! Joking of course, but still a bit of ribbing going on…and then he got snagged up and lost the hook. Man I have never laughed so much, he was so cocky!
We fished our way back catching some trout and headed for home mid afternoon. I dont think the dogs were with us that day because they buggerred off in the morning and didn’t come back when we called. They were in the porch by the time we got back though. Matt did a high mow on the runway that afternoon. End of season Arlinda and I had pulled the last of the carpet from the cabins (1, 3) and stained the floors. I just had to pull carpet from the back room in cabin 6, which I did that afternoon and stained the floor. Turned out great and no more old grubby carpets…anywhere!!!
Slept in…no surprise visitors, just sleep. Precious, well-deserved and long overdue….sleep. Chore day again….I’m sure we went to the forest and cut some logs to haul back to the Quonset. We finished winterizing the cabins, antifreeze through the water lines, pulling CO2 detectors and fire extinguishers. Turn off fridges, set baking soda, bag all the processed linen, take off the screen doors and board the windows and doors. Takes a day to get it all done. We ran up to the top of the driveway and took down the DLL sign too. We don’t like to leave it up because it looks like we are there and we don’t want it messed up by the graders clearing the snow or by vandals.
I busted out the paint today!!!! I had the top 2 feet on the east & south side of the cabin to finish in green. Took like an hour but then I had all this paint left over….so I moved into the porch. The south wall in the porch was still the original brown, so I painted all that out in the green. The ceiling in the porch was just raw wood so I went to 7-11 and looked through all the bargain paint (I buy 2 cans of missed tint every other year) and I had a light colour to paint the ceiling….took the rest of the day and a bit of the next morning but turned out so much brighter. With the laundry machines now out in the porch it truly looks like it is put together….I love how it turned out. Matt did services on the generators today and that was the day….I think happy hour was early that day too.
Slept in…maybe it was just me who slept in lol. I finished painting the ceiling in the porch this morning. Timber and BARK!! Stuck around all morning so we loaded up and went for a fish down to do both the upper and lower legs of Lightle Bay. Caught a couple of good pike and trout to add to our take home limit, nothing too aggressive. Back early afternoon to tidy up the cabin, have a fire and early supper. Kevin is coming in tomorrow so we have some chores planned.
Kevin left Lloyd at like 4am so we expect him mid afternoon. Its a cold windy day, so Matt is playing around with our winter water system for when we are in camp at Christmas. I packed up the remaining dry goods from 7-11 and carted it into milk crates to pack into the freezer trailer . Took nearly all day but finished up in time for Kevin’s arrival, happy hour and early supper. I told Kevin not to pack a bunch of food because I would be cooking supper for us all…just bring breakfast stuff and his own snacks. He would be hunting for moose on the lake from dark to dark, the least I could do was feed him to help him out…saves me from having left overs too.
Kevin was gone early but we planned for him to meet us at the portage for 10am. Over to the cabin we all go to clean things up, winterized and cut trees for next years fire wood. We needed to remove motors from the Wathaman boats, service them and store them for the winter. We hauled the boats up high on shore and flipped them for the winter. I fished a bit from shore while they were doing motors and the water levels over there were so low...like nearly 4 vertical feet low. There is an accidental sandy beach on the north side of the cabin when the water is this low. It looks really rocky when the water is high, and it is rocky when the water is low but right at shore there is a little beach area. You can manoeuvre the rocks to park a boat there, but not all of our guests are that skilled…don’t worry, I’m not that skilled either lol. There were bear and wolf tracks in the sand so there were animals there in the last 24 hrs because yesterday was quite windy. It took a couple hours to get things done and we had to head home right after as the dogs stayed in the porch while we were gone. Of course we fished the Davin river on the way back because we had our rods…caught a couple trout for the dogs for supper.
Matt and I head back over to Wathaman again to clean some more things up, do a big burn in the barrel there and fish the portage. Nice day, weather was good and the fish were biting. Caught a couple trout for the dogs for supper again…they loooove the trout! Came back to the portage to see the eagle was in his perch. As we got closer and closer to landing the boat, he realized he had no where to go but right over us…He went to spread his wings…thought about it for a split second and then went for it…trying to get vertical right above us…was a pretty cool thing to see that close. Fished a bay we had never been in, up by the portage. We had seen some local hunters head in there a few years ago, but we had never ventured in. Turned the corner and saw a dry cow moose right at the water edge eating greet shoots, we idled over and Matt gave a couple calls to her. She was just out of sight in the foliage but you could hear her chewing and walking around. Was cool to see…too bad Matt and Kevin can only shoot a bull!
We had another chore day, cutting wood for the spring stockpile. We worked the afternoon at transplanting trees around camp, specifically around the fire pit and playground area. The trees that are there are very old and will have to come down one day, so we need to get some new trees growing in the area before having to cut down the big ones. I think it turned out good, we will see if they are alive in the spring. Typically you want to transplant pine/spruce when the sap stops running, but I think we were close enough to that time…we’ll see!
Matt was up early to head out and moose hunt with Kevin…making some miles on the lake. I got to sleep in…I am a total night owl and I love to sleep in. I worked in our own cabin all day, sorting through kids stuff and throwing out junk. Dusted everything in their room, washed and bagged all the bedding and organized all the dvd movies. Their room is ready for them come Christmas time!!! The guys came back late afternoon…saw lots of sign but did not see anything to shoot. We had a happy hour and supper and called it an early night.
Matt finished his winter water system while I peeled logs for the gazebo structure between cabin 4 & 5. We dug our holes with the tractor auger and set them in…got it nearly finished, just needs some tin in the spring! One more to build for between cabin 2 & 3 in the spring as well. They will provide a bit of protection from the elements when cooking on BBQ’s, the picnic tables fit under so people can stay outside in the rain! We are going to put on a slat wall on the backside to help cut down on the wind that will whistle through too.
Up early to head out and fish….we went down trough the ‘T’ then towards hidden bay except we went east and fished in and around the islands as you are coming out of Lightle Bay. Lots of islands and trenches and little bays…I slayed the fish today, catching some good pike to add to our take home limit. Called it an early day because we are pulling the dock this afternoon. When we got back, we pulled the boat up to the fillet shack and waited for Kevin to get back so he could pull his boat. I was vacuuming in our cabin and Matt comes in to tell me he and Kevin are pulling the dock. I know this is not an immediate type of project…I have experience with this, so I know. Sure as shit, the screw piles on the dock pegs are ground into the sand and silt are are stuck, like in cement. Poor Kevin and Matt…they grunted and worked so hard…getting those big thumb wrenches onto the posts…once you get them moving though they are suctioned into the holes…this I know, from experience. I used to be the #1 labourer around here…now Matt has Kevin and I couldn’t be happier to watch them work together. I used to be Kevin lol. The dock pulls out in under 5 minutes once you get all the screw piles out…and that is it. The dock is out and the season is over.
Matt and I knew we wanted to do a drive at the end of the season and our days of doing so are running out. Kevin was wrapping things up at this a camper today and we were all caught up and done the closing list so today was the day. Got up at 6, packed some drinks and snacks and hit the road. There are no restaurants, gas stations or anything so we need to bring our own food and fuel. Where are we going??? To the end of the road North…Stony Rapids and Black Lake. 5 hours North. The road goes right to the top these days, not necesarily a great road but good enough. We have 10ply tires, a patch kit and an air compressor, and 2 spare tires, we good. It was a beautiful drive, nice dark morning until we got near Points North. Tons of chickens and ptarmigans on the road side and they are so dumb. Its like they step forward onto the road so they can turn around and go back into the bush. Hit one good one for sure then another tagged off my review mirror on the passenger side, folded it right in…we laughed so hard at their stupidity! Once passed Points North the road is not really maintained. We really only saw 1-2 vehicles on the entire drive up. The forest gets smaller in stature and more sparse. Sand dunes replace the rock and even the road has gravel hauled in because there is no rock to crush or gravel stored…only sand and silt. No garbage, on the road side in the pullouts, nothing at all. Everything was so clean and natural…it was beautiful! It was really a very nice drive, we went to Stony Rapids first because we wanted to get to the trading post…We wanted a wolf pelt to add to the collection.
The trading post at Stony is definitely underwhelming when compared to Robertson’s in La Ronge. There are no historical pieces, no bead crafts or anything really. Its a small Northern peavy Mart with a fur buyer in the back. We picked out one of the nicer wolf pelts with the best markings. You look for the dark stripe down the back…the darker and deeper the stripe, the more likely it was an alpha or a boss dog. It is so soft, but not as soft as the big lynx pelt we bought!! Now that’s a big cat! The wolf came from the Yukon, the cat was from Fond-du-Lac area and the arctic fox came from a fur warehouse but in the arctic somewhere.
Talking with the guy, he said the trappers had already gone in to set up camp for the trapping season. Flown in with theeir supplies, the family will stay in place all winter and run the trapline. They will either sled out when they are done or stay until a plane comes in the spring. He told a story of the one year the family had gotten a bear and undercooked the meat. Everyone was sick and they had to be flown out. Bear meat can be downright dangerous…full of worms and bacteria if it is undercooked. I can’t imagine how sick you would be. We left there and went to the Northern…its a grocery chain in the north and most small settlements have one…Been to the one at Southend a few times. I wanted to see if there was any beadwork or crafts to buy but there was not. I did however, discretely take some pictures of food prices and you CANNOT BELIEVE how expensive things are….it is crazy, and a rip off. It is appalling how much they charge for things. A 10lb bag of potatoes…$35! A bag of apples $19. Stony was way more expensive than Southend but some things were on par. So, the Northern is in the best location in town…right down at the water edge, near the dock with a beautiful view of the water. The wind was whipping that day and there were waves going against the current of the river…it was crazy! There was a float plane moored in the water out of the wind. Really cool place and I am privileged to be able to visit there.
AAAAAAnyways…onto Black Lake. You have to backtrack about 15 minutes. The road comes to a T and you go left for Stony and right for Black lake….so we wheel into Black Lake and its a small community on the water edge. There is a huge pier and and its standing all up out of the water, so the water levels must be really low in the fall. There is a bit of new housing, but nothing is really subdivided and the streets are all criss crossy, full of potholes in the silt…its a overcast windy day and it just looks all grey and sandy. There are fences everywhere, rough edge planks which I assume are to mainly keeping the blowing snow in check. We saw lots of people driving and milling about…about 15 dogs in 2 blocks, and then there it was…the Northern…lol. Lots of people in the parking lot gathered going in and out…we didn’t go in. We are a tourist and we respect their shyness and privacy. We had no need to go in. Seemed like a nice little community, but a hard life. But that is the sacrifice for staying in your home town in the North.
Turned around, found the only corner heading south and took it. Home in 4.5 hrs, just in time for supper.
Kevin was over early to have a cup of coffee before he left. I slept in…its my last day to sleep in, I am staying in bed where its warm. Not for long though because the chore list on the last day is so very long. Fuel up the trucks, hook up the truck to the trailer. Load the truck boxes with the last remaining things. Pack the clothes to come home (I only need to travel with a small bag as I have everything I need up there and that’s where it stays). Matt, needs to haul back nearly everything he owns! Drain the mountain water, last generator check, tidy up Princess Auto by the generator house, get the winter fuel in there, the quad and other stuff then lock it down. On to the Lodge….board the remaining windows, put a post in the centre of the kitchen to help with snow load, take the handle off the main door and overboard it after setting mouse poison. The Quonset…check fuel levels, make sure the last quad fits in, shuffle some things and close and quadruple lock the big overhead doors. We have to prop thick plastic sheets in front of the Quonset doors to protect the tracks. Snow builds up in front and melts on nice days, icing the doors in place. We have chipped them out before and never again! The plastic sheeting helps so much once you get it out of the ice…boom, you can get to the 72 locks that protect the contents. Might be overkill, but we have also never been robbed.
Matt and I packed shit nearly all day…that’s how it always goes. So many things at the last minute, which is why we can never rush out of camp. It takes time and a list for sure! Early supper and a quick cabin tidy, last fire in the stove and its early to bed. Leaving in the morning. Its over until next year….but we are back for Christmas!!!
Up early, gave the toilet a last flush and we winterized the water lines and drained the last water tank. I had packed road snacks for each truck the day before and we each had a coffee. We locked and boarded our cabin, put a post in the porch to help with snow load and we left…locked the gate with the winter lock and hit the road. We always stop and catch up to each other at Devil’s lake then its on to LA. I was stopping at Robertson’s and Matt was only stopping for fuel…so see you at home!!
I was in Robertsons for about an hour…trying things on, looking and bead crafts…then I stopped and talked with Scott. Robertson’s is closing at the end of 2023…we knew that, but what we didn’t know is it’s FOR SALE!!! He is hoping someone buys it and carries it on without the Robertson name. The band has not had a real interest or the motivation to proceed at this point, which is too bad. What a diamond it could be for their Indigenous tourism industry not to mention the collection of history…their history! I truly hope a community member or the band steps up to purchase and carry on the legacy and the history. My main motivation to go into Robertson’s was to get the beaded poppy they sell every year. I didn’s see any around but when I ran into Scott, I asked him and he had a private collection behind the fur desk…He asked how many I wanted and I needed 8….Matt’s mom is a knowledge keeper and is heavily involved with Alberta Métis, plus I have a friend who is a counsellor on reserve in Northern Alberta. I am giving them to those who I know will wear them proudly and keep them safe. He had exactly 8 left…he said the beaded poppy originated at Robertson’s over 35 years ago. He does not make any profit on them but sells them for what he pays for them. The poppies were made by a lady who lives at Grandmother’s Bay and is some of the prettiest beading I have ever seen. Scott says that the best beadwork is done by the Woodland Cree…with his vast experience, I can believe that. We talked for quite awhile and he told stories of being a boy when his dad had the store….he will miss it I’m sure…he is a part of the history of the surrounding community. Everyone will miss the store and him.
I grabbed some jerky and hit the road…Matt was way ahead of me but I was slowly catching him…5.5 hours later at 4:30 pm I pulled into our driveway literally 1 minute after Matt. And that’s it, that’s the season!
We have been home for 2+ weeks….I am back to work 3 days /week, Matt is back to work and will probably hit the road in the coming days. Welcome to winter work! Kids are good, Freja is on a swim team and swimming 4 days/week, Milo is getting top marks in school and has started his gym membership with a trainer. We are looking forward to Christmas to get up to the lake, do some snowmobiling and fishing and just hang out together. Matt and I have planned another Christmas Extravaganza in Edmonton in lieu of gifts…we usually spend the weekend and take in a hockey game and do other fun stuff with the kids. Its quality time together that isn’t overshadowed by stuff. We will do that a couple of weeks before Christmas so we can head up to the lake on Dec 23…stay tuned for our Christmas message!
Until then, guess what???? Early booking for repeat guests starts tomorrow!! I will send out an email to most of our repeat guests later today and you can start getting ahold of me tomorrow to lock in your spot before anyone else. You have until November 14, then I open it up for everyone who wants a spot for 2023. It’s gonna be a stellar year, I am predicting a year of the PIKE!!!
Thank you for being so patient for this blog post…it was a long time coming.
All the best, stay happy and well! Hope to see you in 2023!
Matt, Danica, Milo, Freja and of course Timber and BARK!!