Hard to believe it’s already been six weeks since I moved in to what I lovingly call the Princess Cabin. It’s my little house in Atikokan for those that don’t know. It all happened so fast. What I don’t often talk about is the circumstances that occurred when I made this choice to move here.
I got the call about the project I would be working on while I was sitting in the car with someone very special to me. We were running errands at a landfill near Humphrey, Ontario just up the road from where I cottaged as a child. And for those that know, also home to the funnest hockey team ever, in fact so good, it would make Slap Shot look like child’s play.
Shout out to the Bent River Blues!
* Yes, I’m chuckling at the moment reminiscing about bench clearing *...
Coming to Atikokan meant I had to leave behind someone I hold very dear and love very much at a really bad time. But I came here knowing it was the best thing to do even though it would come with a broken heart. Sometimes in life we make decisions that are the right ones but that doesn’t mean they are are all joy either. So my return to Northwestern Ontario has been very bittersweet. I am still nursing a broken heart and often thinking about what would’ve been if I had chosen differently. Thankfully , where I am , there is a lot of places and things to do that keep me busy and out of over-thinking mind. When I do things that scare me, or come with super sad good-byes, I do them with a prayer, and a ton of faith that the best is yet to come! I truly believe that restoration will come at the right time….
Friday during the day I was struggling with what to do with my weekend. There was so much going on. In Terrace Bay where I lived from 1985 to 1991 there was the Lighthouse Festival. In Atikokan it was Bass Classic Weekend, and I had just picked up my renewed passport, so I really had considered a trip to Duluth Minnesota. But I also wanted to get fishing and golfing. That’s just me. I want to do everything... sitting wasn’t an option…
So Friday I got off work and got my canoe on the car, and my clubs in the front seat. The first stop was to go put in the canoe at Nym Lake just outside of Atikokan but the winds were not cooperative at all. So plan B - head to Marmion under the Bridge. The bass fisherman were already filling out at the launch across from the bridge! I found my little spot.. While it doesn’t happen often I got skunked! I mostly just wasted worms. So it’s now getting near supper time, so I head home. I had left over brocolli stir fry in the fridge so it was an easy warm up!
Then I sat down… But I wasn’t having it. I couldn’t just sit here! So that was it, I called the golf course to inquire about green fees and cart rentals, and off I went. A round of golf! I haven’t golfed in years.
I can’t exactly remember the year, but I must’ve been about 14, so maybe 1989, the golf course in Terrace Bay got a new clubhouse. That was the year that I became a golfer! I literally worked the very first shift at the brand new clubhouse. The course pros would come in, and if I had time they were super kind to take me out and show me some stuff. While I never became an avid golfer, I was a reasonable golfer when I did play and always enjoy a round when I do.
So here we are fast forward to 2023, I am in Atikokan, I have golf clubs and free time - so off I went to golf. I can’t believe how good I did for a first round in years! At one point a gentleman was walking up the cart path and witnessed me hit my 4-iron and comments “wholly lady!”... I was pretty proud of myself. The game went great. I even got to golf with a deer family!
By 8 p.m. I was done golfing and headed home..
It was a quiet rest of the night crocheting with some music on and chatting with friends on Facebook messenger. The mind is still going. Will I go to the dance on Saturday, I’m thinking? Nah, I better not, I better stay home and be a grown up and tidy my house and clean up and deal with finding a place to store my canoe.
Well wouldn’t you know it, I was up nice and early, got my house cleaned up, my back country gear all refreshed and wiped out and someone in town offered to store my canoe over the winter, so that was no longer an issue. I wouldn’t have to build the canoe rack after all. So now It’s about 11 a.m., and I’m thinking do I really want to go to a dance tonight. I’m still really new in town. I don’t know a lot of people, and truly I’m still dealing with this broken heart, so not really in the mood to deal with too much other than having my own space and to keep busy.
So that was it, I packed up the car, the dog and started heading west towards Fort Frances. I wasn’t sure if I’d end up in Caliper Lake (near Nestor Falls) or Sioux Narrows but I was going camping… I got to Caliper Lake around 2 p.m. drove to the gate and asked them what they had for sites open still, and asked if I could go check them out before I committed. I stayed at Caliper Lake a couple years ago. That year a storm blew through and took out a lot of the park, so much it had to be shut down to be cleared and repaired. But other than the obvious trees down, the sites along the beach looked pretty good. So I chose Site 47! Back to the gate to pay, and then go set up camp. I am so used to setting up camp now, it takes me all of about 5 minutes. I camp light. I got the tent up, then grabbed the rod and me and Presley went fishing on the shore.
The fish were nibbling but not really biting except for.. Here comes my fish story!
I had lost my lure. But I knew the pike would like my orange jig head / jig tail set up. Ask how I know, ummmm, Uncle Ron’s coaching when I was a kid! So I got myself rigged up. Then bammmm. It hit. At first I thought it was a snag but then there was that all too familiar pull down! And I’m thinking oh no, I got a big pike and no net! I don’t really use a net, mostly cuz when I'm backcountry I don't need extra gear to carry. But for shore fishing like this.. someday I’ll learn to bring one! So I fought this extra feisty guy knowing he’d be generous in size, but what came to shore had to of been about 36” long! Best pike I have ever caught…
I got him to shore, got him wedged up in the rocks good still hooked and grabbed at my phone. Trying to figure out a way to get a picture of this massive fish, while keeping it in the water (to not cause it unnecessary suffering) til I could get a hold of him and the camera, but it was no use. Trying to hold a camera and a big pike at the same time was a challenge in the battle he managed to bite the line off - and swim away with my lure! :( So you can take my word for it, I caught the fish of a lifetime.. But I have no picture. So add insult to injury of nursing a heartbreak! Ha ha. My life.. Honestly I wasn’t too upset about it. I know what I caught, and I’m pretty proud of myself.
(Here is the picture of my Pike! He is in there swirling around, I swear)
It was such a lovely afternoon, fishing and some crocheting lake side. Squirrels running around behind me.. It was a really nice peaceful quiet time.
In the evening, Presley and I decided to head off to Nestor Falls. It’s one of those place I have to go if I am in the area, so we went. I was surprised to see how many improvements they had made over the last couple years, a little park and stairway etc. I get that they are doing this for accessibility no hard feelings, but I will miss the rustic version. The good news is because of all that work they were doing there was a lot of families down there and kids catching perch out of the falls… It was nice to see.
On the way out I decided to stop at this store in Nestor Falls. I had been through Nestor Falls many times from Alberta to Atikokan but this store in particular I had never stopped at before. I was pleasantly surprised at the gifts and items available. I got talking to the store owner to learn that he was instrumental in saving what is Caliper Lake. It was to be closed, but he spent a good deal of time lobbying the government to not do so. I then told him about Bruce at Wabakimi who created that park. Of course he knew Bruce, then also came to find the store owners’ daughter lives in Sylvan Lake, where I used to live. Now where my daughter, her husband and three children live! I always enjoy talking to people and learning their stories.
It was time to head back to camp. The neighbour family came over to say hi, they were from Manitoba. Presley noticed their daughter was fishing. If you know my dog – she will be wherever the people fishing are, so she ditched me for a bit to go fish with the neighbours little girl. I got some dinner in me and some more crocheting in. Then went and set up the inside of my tent now that it wasn’t a sauna from the midday heat. I loved where my tent was because I was pretty much right on the water and was able to leave half my fly open so that I’d have a lake view all night!
The night consisted of more fishing and crocheting until the sky got too dark for it. I packed up the car with my food, then headed in to my tent. I got my few chapters from my Bible read.
It’s not often I get a really nice spot to put my tent, especially when I backcountry camp so this was a nice tent pad. Almost glam for me… I loved sleeping with my fly open. I got so much fresh air and the soothing sound of the wind and waves crashing on shore.
Presley was licking my face by 6 am. to let her out so she could head to shore and try to get me to go fishing. I figured since I was up I would pack everything. So I did. While I was packing, I was enjoying the most beautiful sunrise too. I love those early mornings when I am the first camper up. Not a soul awake, just me and my dog…
We got packed up and back on the road. I was almost going to detour the long way, but then thought better of it. I better just get home early so I can unwind… You remember how I was wanting to make it in to Minnesota with my brand new renewed passport, well I get to Fort Frances, and wouldn’t you know it - the entire town is out of power! No gas… No McDonals, no timmies. So I had no choice but to cross the border in to Minnesota to go get gas! So in to International Falls to get gas…. I got my trip to the US afterall although extremely brief.
A quick stop to Safeway, which was open for groceries, and then an uneventful drive home to Atikokan. Coming in to town Lerome Lake looked beautiful. I was thinking I will get home unload my gear then go fishing. But I get in to Atikokan and my oldest daughter’s dad bumped into me. So we stopped to chat about our grandkids (and some news we just got) by the time the chatter was over the sky was overcast..
So I assembled myself some good ‘ole hamburger steak with mushroom and onion gravy for a late lunch.
I am just now blogging and waiting on that slight window of opportunity to get out there and go fishing yet again! I am sure I will get out one more time today... I got the worms..
What a weekend.
It wasn't back country but it was full and satisfying and though my heart break thoughts keep resurfacing, I chose not to live in them. I will keep living and enjoying the good stuff, until God decides what he’s doing with the other parts!
Cheers, all… Life isn’t all roses but a lot of it sure is!
The lure never did make it home. (This is not the one the pike stole.)
World's best fishing buddy!
Beautiful little corner for me..
Sunrise backdrop while I put away camp! Blessings, right?
International Falls, thanks for the gas!
A Sunday Dinner... ( yes, I'm a good cook!)