(Click on any of the photos to see them bigger or for more detailed explanations.)
I had a solid plan for organising our trip to Oona River last week. It all went west on me though when Shannon called to say they were in town and leaving in three hours, a full day before I expected them to call. If we wanted to head out there early to help prepare for all the other Northern BC home learners coming later then I had to get it together and fast! Instead of bring chicken soup I ended up bringing the chicken stock I’d made over night in the crock pot. Instead of bringing homemade hearty veggie burgers I brought simple veg to roast in the oven. Cam and I packed like mad and we were down on the dock loading ourselves into Shannon’s skiff right on time.
What I failed to mention above was the thirty five bathroom breaks I made in that three hours of packing. Most of you know how uncomfortable I am on a boat. Some of you have actually seen me first hand quietly whimpering to myself while I squeeze the boat seat with a death grip. I was even more nervous to be travelling in waters that I have previously experienced as “rough” or “big”. Now I’d be doing it in a little aluminium skiff. Despite my anxiety around boat travel, I recognise how much I enjoy getting to places boats can take me. I put my trust rather easily in my friend “Captain” Ben, who has lived his entire life on or near these north coast waters. Can you believe that I arrived in Oona River without one moment of fear on the trip? Ben is just that good.
I love Oona River. I love the quiet and peacefulness and the community that knows each other as well as family. I love the slow pace of life and all the quirky things that make Oona special. I’m not sure I’d opt to live in a boat access only community, seeing as I lose about 5 lbs before each time I head out on a boat, but I need to live in a smaller more rural community. I’m laughed at all the time we I say that because most people consider Prince Rupert (population around 9000) very small and remote.
It was such a treat to visit with Shannon and family before all the other home learners arrived. Our kids hung out, changed clothes a million times, played with the chickens, jumped on the trampoline, made fresh squeezed lemonade, waded in the river, started fires in the bonfire pit and generally horsed around. We spent some time cleaning and setting up the hatchery, although Shannon and Jan tackled the brunt of it before we arrived. We each took a turn rowing a boat out in a beaver dammed lake, had a picnic lunch in the old hand hewn school house/ library/ museum. We popped by neighbours houses to feed cats and went down to the dock to care for the boats moored there. We marvelled at the little goslings, those that didn’t get preyed on by bald eagles.
The Fred Letts fish hatchery exceeded my expectations by miles. What an amazing space! From the covered porch, which housed the ever useful dryer, you walk into the very large room where we all lived and slept that weekend. There was a futon couch with a tv and vcr, an irresistible library of books, a kitchenette (with a dishwasher!), a big long table in the center of room and beds lining the walls. My favourite part of the stay was listening to the water rushing through troughs in the actual hatchery space on the floor below. The kids entertained us on makeshift stages next to the bonfire and one evening everyone stayed up late to play a game of Cranium.
We all went over to Pirate Island to ride the zipline, look for goslings and play in the river.
We set traps in the river behind the hatchery and used nets to see what we could catch. We captured lots of little trout. The kids loved this so much that most stayed back to continue fishing while a few of us went for a walk along the river. It was out-of-this-world beautiful and I didn’t take nearly enough pictures to capture this walk’s beauty.
We all packed up for a hot sunny day at the beach and bonfire supper. We had hot dogs and fresh caught crab cooked over the fire after plenty of beach combing at low tide. I remember seeing whales from this beach at New Years.
We all gathered for a group picture before leaving the beach. What an fun adventure!