The Road Less Travelled
By Terri Windover, Connect Columnist
I recently had the pleasure of exploring a large portion of British Columbia – both the interior and the island. Kevin and I had been planning this fishing/exploring/where are we going to retire trip for some time before the fire, and we were damned if we were cancelling it.
I am not one to plan our trips in minute detail, preferring instead to plan a few must dos, and wandering like a gypsy for the remainder. I find our best stories arise from those impromptu decisions while passing an interesting looking road sign.
We were driving from Nanaimo up the coast towards Campbell River where we intended to go salmon fishing, but Mother Nature had other ideas. The ocean was rolling and covered in white caps, while the sun was completely overtaken by dark grey clouds.
After talking to the locals about the many whirlpools that we would have to maneuver around, we decided that taking our jet boat out on the water there was akin to a death wish. You’ll notice I always use capitals in front of Mother Nature. That is a sign of the utmost respect I have for her power, a respect that was deepened immensely during the fire.
We looked at the map and decided to drive across to Gold River, a tiny community on the west coast of the island. It was a beautiful, windy road with soaring cliffs and a canopy of gorgeous trees, well worth the detour. A friend of ours had mentioned a floating lodge called Critter Cove, so after setting up camp we headed out on the boat to check it out.
After an hour, we came across the lodge and it was beautiful to see. I have been to many lodges and this one takes top spot. The owners had managed to create an oasis on the water with little rustic cabins, a restaurant, a gas station and all the amenities one could need. All this while impacting the area as little as possible, so that seeing eagles, bears and wolves are a common occurrence.
Cameron Forbes started Critter Cove along with his dad and brother. He had an idea that Nootka Sound could use a place for fisherman that wasn’t a guided lodge. The first year it consisted of four small rooms, a shower house, a coffee pot and hand pumped gas from a 45 gallon drum. When I asked his wife Catherine: what’s the best part of lodge life? She replied that it was being together as a family – all summer. It is also the hardest part as they see the best and the worst of each other.
Catherine was born in Campbell River and her grandparents were one of the first families there. She spent summers on the water and by the age of eight was an avid fisherwoman. She worked as a fishing guide for a dozen years before moving over to Nootka in 1996 to work at another lodge. She met Cameron at Critter Cove that summer… and stayed. They have two sons, Bryce and Tucker. Bryce says he can’t imagine doing anything else while Tucker seems focused on other endeavours.
Most customers have been coming for many years, and have become good friends. I can honestly say I’ve never felt more welcomed by a group of strangers in my life. My favourite was Gorgon Plotts, a veterinarian from Washington, who has fished there every summer since 1996. He is lovingly referred to as “Grandpa” and Kevin and I had the pleasure of taking a cabin near him, where he regaled us with wonderful stories of the area. In 2002, Cameron and Catherine purchased a well know company called Tomics and took over the handmade lure company. They moved the workshop to Gold River and have made them since, with the help of a few talented lure makers. They are beautifully made and work very well. Just ask Gordon!
Kevin and I are already talking about going back next year and spending more than just a few days at the lodge with this wonderful family and their staff. One thing I have to mention is the food. Everything was homemade and delicious, from the cinnamon buns to the pot-pie.
Personally, I think the pot-pie was even better than mine. Kevin disagrees, but let’s face it, he can’t really say anything else. Catherine gracefully agreed to share the recipe, which I will be featuring in this week’s column of Definitely Delicious. Give it a try and let me know how you liked it on my Facebook page at Facebook.com/terri.windover.define.fit
– Connect Weekly –