River Goes to Newfoundland

July 23, 2017 in Uncategorized

This year, for my 36th birthday, I decided I wanted us to go to Newfoundland.  I wanted to see my brother in Halifax, who I haven’t seen in 14 years, and I wanted River to meet my Dad, who is living outside of Corner Brook, where I was born.  I wanted to feel that outdoor birthday adventure I have grown to love so much, by Touring Newfoundland in a Motorhome. 🙂

The red eye flights were strait from hell.  It took us a few days at my brother Tanners to rest up.  His family is so beautiful!  Him and his wife Sarah, have 7 sons; TJ, Hunter (Hunty), Declan, Oscar, Oliver (Bear), Shamus (Shimmy), and Silas (Sily).  We had a blast with Riv and them.  One day we went adventuring in the motorhome to the boardwalk for fish and chips, then to the giant Moose for pictures.  8 boys and 4 adults in the camper, Ha!  It was awesome. The next day was Declan’s pre-birthday pizza party and the next; we drove off down the east coast towards Cape Bretton and the ferry.  We stopped at Rainbow Beach along the way and I ran down the beach in the fog and howled into the wind.  We crossed the ferry that night and had to sleep on a closed deck because we weren’t allowed to sleep in our camper!  They did, however, provide us with a playpen and a couple of duvets.  In the morning we napped in Port Aux Basque because the winds were 110 km through the wreck house!  I couldn’t find or recognize Gramma and Grampa Pike’s house in McKays so we camped in the woods by a lake near the turnoff for Stephenville.  The next day we went to our old house in Port Au Port and drove out as far as Piccadilly Beach where we used to swim when I was a kid.  Then we headed up to Gros Morne.

We first drove out to Trout River and saw the tablelands, as well as hiked to Southeast Brook Falls and then made our way to the Lighthouse at Lobster Cove.

We camped that night at Berry Hill. The next morning was beautiful and sunny. River napped in our motor home while Luke and I took turns hiking up to the lookout. The hike reminded me of Towe Hill in the Haida Gwaii, where I was also accompanied by a little brown squirrel.   We went and got fresh lobster from the wharf in Rocky Harbour and a bottle of Moose Juice blueberry partridgeberry wine. That night we went to Green Point and camped on a beautiful sunny beach, and had a fire with some pine we picked up along the side of the highway the day before.  We also stopped at a mountain spring and filled up our drinking water!

The next day we went to see my dad and Maryln and stayed the night close by.  He seemed to be getting older fast, and he’s gentler and softer now.  Grampa time.  I was sad to leave, wondering if I will see him again.  And I was sorting out some old memories.  Both beautiful and scarring.  He gave me back a river rock I gave to him 25 yrs. ago that he’s been keeping in his shaving kit.

On the way back towards the ferry in Port aux Basque, I called my godparents and they were at the cabin, not far from McKays.  We drove back in looking for Gramma and Grampa Pike’s again and eventually I pulled over and asked Gramma where it was.  Then I found it.  And it was for sale and the back door was open! (I asked Gramma for that too.)  I even asked for their buried treasure and we found an old bag of collectable spoons, a spoon rack in the shape of Newfinland that I can remember from 30 yrs. ago, a gun rack my grampa made and other antique furniture.  IT WAS A TRIP!  Being in their home again, such special times, really sweet memories.  I took pictures of Riv running around the yard with a daffodil in his hand.  We stopped by the corner store (called Da Corner Store) on the way out for beer and found a beautifully wrapped sea glass necklace that was locally made.  Joe and Bernice’s cabin wasn’t far so we went in for the night and had great chats about Joe’s years guiding fishing and Bear and Moose hunts.  A few beers, a few fishcakes and I noticed some of my old favourite songs played on the radio (Blind Melon-Mouthful of Cavities, Pearl Jam-Elderly Woman behind the counter in a small town, Bruce Springsteen-I’m on fire).  In the morning we had breakfast and VERY RELUCTANTLY left as trout fishing opened in two days!  They told us to come back anytime and stay in the cabin, whether they were there or not.  And they’d loan us a vehicle.  And if they were there, they would take us fishing and hunting. Bernice kept saying she could have planned this or that if she knew we were coming, but our stop was just the perfect ending of our trip in every way.

Ah Newfinland, so harsh and so beautiful.

Dusty Jigs River Band

May 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

Gordon River

Gordon River

I’ve been practicing gratitude every morning since my son has been born.

I take a conscious moment to be thankful to be on this beautiful crazy journey.

I’m thankful for our health.  My husband.  My son.  Our little cabin to call home.  Making a living doing what we love.  That endless Ocean.

I’m beginning to understand why people ask me how I’m doing since becoming a mother.  It is the biggest emotional experience I’ve ever gone through.  Words can barely scratch the surface.  My greatest Teacher.

I feel like I’ve totally transformed and yet have just awakened a part of me that has always been there.

This year for my 35th birthday, I’m proud to announce River Jones Harrison to the world, and my small business, that I created from my heart, is now a family.  🙂

We decided to take little 2 1/2 month old Riv on a canoe adventure.  After weeks of research and realizing we’re getting older because canoe’s cost hundreds of dollars now!  We found the perfect one.

There is a gorgeous piece of land that runs along a gorgeous river that we are dreaming of buying to build our lodge.  And in lieu of such celebrations, we set up camp there.  The first day we managed to piece ourselves together (listen up people; your life will change when you have children!  And every tiring moment doesn’t come close to the love you will learn.).  The next day we saw some friends in town and went on a really nice walk down Mill Bay trail on a low tide.  It was beautiful.  It looked like Tofino and the Oregon coast; towering rock islands sticking up out of the ocean, mussels galore, an underwater cave, bright orange sea snails.  That night back at camp we buried a chicken under the fire for dinner and ate it with some chocolate cheesecake and wine.

The next day we went on a great canoe adventure up the Gordon River. It began with more carrying the canoe over slippery rocks than we were hoping for but the beauty of the deep, clear aqua blue pools along the way made it worth the effort.  On the way back, I pointed out a small estuary detour to take and in hindsight, it must have been my instinct that told me.  It was amazing, calm, big mossy tree’s overhanging the sandy banks, elk tracks and way better footing for the portage.  I carried River in a front pack balanced with a back pack and Luke carried the canoe on his head.

We found pristine swimming and fishing holes and I wondered, who owns the property on the other side of the river? We made it back to camp in 4 hours and cooked strip loins and asparagus on the fire before tearing down.  We experienced the usual gloom to leave such a paradise, and yet left with a feeling we will see the old man carved in that tree for years to come.

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Della Falls

May 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

IMG_5045Della Falls- What an amazing trip.

We began the May long weekend by running a daytrip out of Port Renfrew.  We took 10 people out to Avatar Grove and had a catered lunch at Big Fish Lodge.  My long-time hunter fisherman friend Luke joined us as our secondary driver and guide.  He drove the other car, my mom’s orange bug! Ha! And he really enjoyed the experience.

We left Renny and took a back roads adventure to the end of Lake Cowichan, to the Nitnat junction, then up past Franklin Camp and into the backside of Port Alberni.

We camped just outside of town up a logging road called Brenner which overlooked the valley.  Friday morning we managed to find a sweet coffee shop called Steampunk for breakfast sandwiches, strong coffees, and freshly baked muffins with yam!  The owner was on his way to Tofino to get married on my birthday.

8am we set sail off the dock of Great Central Lake which is 45 km long.  The owner of the Della Falls water taxi, Ben, dropped us at the trailhead into Strathcona Park.  We hiked approximately 13 km that day, mostly along Drinkwater Creek with a bit of elevation near the end.  We camped at a sandy river spot 2 km from basecamp where most other people stay.

The next day was my birthday.  We had an additional 2 km until we hit the trail going 3.5 km up Mt. Septimus to the lookout and Love Lake but it was nice to travel light with just a day pack. I lead and paced us slow and steady to enjoy the day.  I shared with Luke some of my life story.  About my birth, how my aunt was there to support my mom and that’s why she passed on the middle name Idella to me.  Idella is a welsh name meaning bountiful.  My first name is after my great grandfather Andrew Gillard whom we all call dad gill.  A gentle giant.  My first 6 yrs. of life in Newfie, being born in the same hospital as my mom and her twin who passed away as an infant.  Living in Port au port like my mom did as a child.  Spending half the time with Grandma and Grandpa Pike, learning to garden, cook, hunt, clean, fish, and shoot, basically living off the land.  I’m the only one of my sisters who experienced that.  And it has shaped me tremendously.  Even that my mom got preggers and had me was a miracle! I told him how it’s always been important to me to leave a legacy.  I want to be that lone pioneer woman, the Cougar Annie, of my family.   Luke really appreciated hearing my history and shared a bit of his story with me too.  What a sweet way to bond and really get to know someone.

3 hrs. later we reached the lookout at 1200 metres above sea level.  To the left of the view is Nine Peaks mtn. and to the right, Big Interior, both sit at 1800 metres.  Between them is a giant bowl where Della Lake sits and the falls cascade into three streams falling 1440 ft. to the base.  The highest waterfall in Canada.

We sat for 2 hrs. eating cake (a piece we bought from Little Vienna Bakery in Sooke Thursday morning and hiked up there) and taking pictures, breathing it all in.  There was a tiny plaque for a captain from Newfoundland in the rock up there too.  I could have stayed for days looking at that scene.  I later learned the falls to the far left is Beauty Falls from Beauty Lake, and there’s a glacier up at Love Lake but we didn’t go any further which worked out because we heard from other hikers it was snowed in.

We took our time coming down the mountain and little 3 month old Nootka just nailed it!  Along with Sage of course.  We went through basecamp, said hello to everyone and told them it was my birthday.  We went to the base of the falls which is not far from camp at all and made our way back.  Our faithful captain Ben suggested I bring groups up to the Falls and I think it’s a wonderful expansion for my business so I made sure to take many pictures.

Back at our camp, we had my birthday dinner.  Instant pasta, bacon carbonara and pesto penne with salami, mushrooms, red pepper, tomatoes and cilantro!  Along with sipping maple whiskey from little tin cups around the fire.  Luke and I really tapped into the old miner’s spirit and spent a lot of time re-living what we imagined to be the history of the land.  Drinkwater Creek is named after Joe Drinkwater who discovered gold in Della Lake and built a cabin at the base of the falls back in 1910.  He was a local pioneer and jack of all trades.  He named the falls after his wife Della.

We slept by the fire that night, lying on our backs, watching the stars and talking about life.  The next morning we packed up and made our descent, back across the sketchy 1 ft. wide steel bridge and the man powered cable car.  We walked in silence mostly as I know I was feeling sadness of the trip’s end.

Ben met us early which was great because the last few hours surprised us with thunder and lightning spring rains.  It was sweet actually, been years since I walked through one.  Or boated!  Damn it was right above us at one point in the middle of the lake! Ha!  We had warm showers at the marina and sought out our very much awaited cold Heinekens and steaks.  We camped up Copp main which allowed us the view up the valley of Mt. Arrowsmith to Cameron Lake.  It was beautiful.

The final day we spent exploring the back country of the island.  We stopped at river spots for a dip and lookouts for pictures.  I found myself also very quiet and solemn, realizing how we are our true selves when we’re out in the wild like that.  No roles, no expectations, just who we really are.  In the raw.  I noticed my anxiety as soon as we got off the boat at great central returning to the van.  Luke too, woke that last day very quiet, closed,  and I thought about how we all react and cope differently to the noise of the world. I feared losing that sweet blissful freedom and peacefulness we experienced up in those mountains.  We talked about writing about this trip while the feeling was fresh and how important it is to follow our dreams in life because our time here is short and so precious.

34 yrs. old and a little bit wiser.

Surfing in Tofino

December 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

RunninOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAg surf trips to Tofino once a month over the winter.

Bring your own gear or rent some there.

Here’s a Pic from 2011 Cold Water Classics.

Surfs Up!

Winter Hiking At Its Finest

November 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe are blessed on the West Coast of Canada.  Our winters are much different than the rest of our beautiful country.  While we have a lot of rain and it can be gloomy, we can also escape to the mountains and enjoy the snow.  Hiking in the rain is a bit more challenging, but still very rewarding.