Tag Archives: Vancouver

NO MEN ALLOWED

3 Jul

 

Painter’s Lodge, sitting at the mouth of the Campbell River.


Every year since 1992, Painter’s Lodge in Campbell River, B.C., has hosted a women’s only fishing derby. As a rookie guide on the dock, I didn’t get the chance to fish the first one, but I did guide the next 14. Since I was the only female guide on the dock, I was a favourite with the contestants, so much so that when I announced my retirement in 2006, the ladies were horrified.

 

At the award ceremonies that year, I was called up to the front of the room and stood there perplexed. None of the 3 sets of ladies I had guided over the tournament had caught a winner with me, so I couldn’t figure out why I was standing there. The next thing I knew, another senior guide came up to the front and announced that the ladies would not hear of me not being there and since I wasn’t going to guide anymore, I should come as a contestant! My seat was paid for courtesy of all the ladies attending that year. They had all chipped in and paid my way!

 

Since that day, I have attended all but one, and that only because I was dealing with torn muscles in both shoulders. (Don’t ask!) This year was no different.

 

Travelling Highway 97C

I now live in Penticton, and the journey is a fairly long one, so off we set, my daughter Alena and I, early in the morning of June 21st. The derby didn’t actually start officially, until 10 AM June 22nd, but since we had to drive to Vancouver, take a ferry across to Nanaimo, then drive the rest of the way to Campbell River, we figured getting there a day early was a good idea.

 

We drove north to access Highway 97C, more casually known as the Connector, bypassed Merritt to hit the Coquihalla Pass, then down the Trans Canada Highway through Hope and down the Fraser Valley into Vancouver.

Going across the Port Mann Bridge
There isn’t supposed to be water behind the front group of trees.

 

The Fraser was running extremely high and all week before we left, we had been watching the news hoping we wouldn’t be forced to cancel our plans because of mudslide or flooding. It doesn’t matter which route you take, to get from Penticton to Vancouver, requires you to eventually drive down all or part of the Fraser River Valley. Though there had been a few small slides and flooding in some very low-lying areas, we were lucky and the highway remained open.

One of many rocks and islets that dot the Straights of Georgia.

 

A sister ferry heading back to the mainland.

I know that sounds like a short trip but it takes 4 hours of steady driving to get to Vancouver, then another 45 minutes to get through to the North Shore and into Horseshoe Bay to catch the ferry for Nanaimo. The ferry trip across, to me, is usually uneventful and rather boring because I’ve been travelling it since I was a little girl, but when I look at it with the eyes of a tourist, it makes me realize just how beautiful this area actually is. I know that sounds trite and it is, but there really isn’t anything else one could say without having to resort to a thesaurus. As the ferry pulled away from the dock, the background of highways, marinas, tall buildings and homes faded slowly away and was replaced by the multihued, verdant greens and disparate browns of the shorelines of the mainland, Vancouver Island and the various smaller islands and islets that the ferry passes on the way to it’s destination, the Port of Nanaimo. Upon arrival it was off north, heading for Campbell River, where we spent the night with some old friends.

Our welcome!

 

Since Campbell River was our home for 20 years, we took our time in the morning, picking up the odd necessity for our 3-night stay and our favourite types of boat food, arriving in good time, which gave me the chance to say hello to a few old friends, who still work at the lodge.

 

The other guests started arriving and eventually we were in full swing. First, there is the registration, licensing, and gift bag give out, then lunch, guide assignments, room assignments, unpacking and then dressing for the first fishing, which takes place from 4PM to 8PM.

The first night out, calm, and very wet!

 

The called for rain had finally arrived with a vengeance and it was going to be a very wet evening. Off we went, every boat out to win!

 

I have the unique experience of being the only contestant who has both guided the derby and been an entrant; so a little background would be in order.

 

The original derby had a maximum of 100 women, all 50 boats on our dock would be used for the derby and every Guide took this one more seriously than all the others, since this one carried a prize for the Guide who guided the biggest fish, a 3 day trip to the Queen Charlotte islands. It was the only time that women outnumbered men in the lodge and it used to scare the crap out of all of the boys. There would be frantic preparation on the dock and unusually, no information sharing was taking place amongst the Guides! Special lures were cleaned, hooks sharpened, rods and reels run through their paces and secret spots closely guarded.

 

Fishing partners, out for a good time, and a few fish!

Each boat was always trying it’s best to win, but even in the pouring rain, as uncomfortable as only sitting in rubber in a downpour can make you didn’t mean that there wasn’t fun! Every time a fish was hit all the other boats cheered them on and clapped when a fish was finally netted. Jokes were told from boat to boat and good natured jibes filled the air. Most of these women, including myself are friends, though many of us only get the chance to see each other at the derby and we look forward to it all year. Sure there is intense rivalry, but it’s all done with great good humour.

Alena’s first fish, a nice 12 pound Chinook.

 

At 8 we all arrived back on the dock, where the few fish taken that night were weighed in. Then it was off to dinner, a couple of drinks, door prizes, then to bed because 5AM came damned early. Yep, I said 5AM! If you wanted to eat before going fishing that is. The boats left the dock at 6 and the rain that had been pouring all night continued unabated until moments before we arrived on the fishing grounds. The rain might have stopped and the sun came out, but the wind came up and it got lumpy. More than a few ladies complained of feeling a wee bit queasy by the time we were done!

 

We fished until 10AM, with the possible winner arriving on the dock, a 34-pound Chinook. My daughter caught a nice 12 pound Chinook, not in the running for the top 3 prizes but certainly capable of taking one of 3 hidden weight prizes. The rest of the day was given over to whatever the guests wanted to do, at least until 4PM.

 

Every year the derby has a theme and since this was the 20th Annual derby the theme was, quite naturally, the Roaring 20’s. The wine and cheese takes place in the gardens at 4PM and costumes are expected. Every year, though there are no prizes, great effort and thought is put into the costumes. We drink a little wine, eat a few appetizers, take a lot of pictures and head in to the dining room for dinner, and then we party!

I came as Auntie Mame. Kind of fits doesn’t it?

 

There is always some sort of live entertainment, more door prizes, music, dancing and drinking. Sadly, there are few who have the fortitude to last very long, what with the late night before and the very early morning, but we try to soldier on as long as we can.

 

In the public parts of the lodge hang many photos of guests taken during the 20’s. These ladies came dressed as the women in one of the photos.

The final day started slowly as always, and in ones and twos, the ladies gradually appeared, to enjoy a lovely buffet breakfast, sitting on the balcony in the blazing sun. The weather was finally cooperating and at 11AM we all hit the water for one last chance to win it all! Back in by 3PM, it was apparent that a couple of big fish had come in, so there was a competition for 2nd and 3rd, but nothing came close to knocking the 34lber out of first!

Alena’s second fish

 

Alena again came home with a small 10 pound Chinook this time and I took in a respectable Ling Cod. It may not have been a valid entry but hey, they taste great and salmon is NOT my first choice in fish cuisine.

 

Richard, my friend and our intrepid guide for the last 4 hours of fishing on Sunday.

We had time for a shower and drink then down for dinner and the awards. At this meal it’s customary for the guides to attend if they wish and certainly the winning guide comes, to be wined and dined by the guest who took the top prize. Dinner is always steak and being the meat eater that I am, I enjoy this meal over all. Damn, but Painter’s cooks a mean steak!

 

The First Place trophy

After desert are the official prize presentations, with 1st prize being a choice between a paid trip back to the derby next year, or a trip to the Queen Charlottes. Then we wandered off to the pub for a riotous night of live entertainment, and a little more drinking and dancing.

 

Eventually the night came to an end and all of us headed to bed. The next morning, those who caught nothing the previous 3 days and were determined to give it one last shot were out on the water again at 6 AM, but Alena and I were just packing up and heading home, retracing our steps and planning the trip back next year.

 

The prize for 3rd place.

The Painter’s Lodge Ladies Derby is 3 days of nothing but women fishing, laughing, dancing, talking, singing and having a really good time, with no men allowed! If this sounds like a something you’d like to do then contact Oak Bay Marine Group and get on the list. You might want to hurry though; the ladies who were there this year are mostly all going back next year including Alena and me, baring unforeseen circumstances, that doesn’t leave many vacant spots!

 

 

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HOCKEY MADNESS AND THE BEST JAMBALAYA OUTSIDE OF NEW ORLEANS!

17 Jun

When we arrived home in Penticton, it was right in the middle of the hockey playoffs. Now, when I was a kid, my parents were sports mad, they watched and listened to just about every sport there was, even golf and bowling. I can remember one night sitting in the living room with my parents watching a hockey game on TV, while my father had the radio in the big stereo console  beside his seat tuned to an at home Lions game, and on top of that he had a transistor radio up to his ear, listening to a boxing match.

A future Canucks fan?

My parents were also very vocal when they watched sports, especially football and hockey. I was sitting on the front stoop one day, when the next door neighbour approached me and asked if everything was OK, were my Mom and Dad fighting? It took me a moment, but then I laughed when I realized he could hear them yelling at the TV from the house next door, and this was from inside a very well built, sturdy old farm house. I never realized just how loud my parents could be.

I’m one of millions of kids who grew up watching the original 6 teams of the old league. I’d have to admit that I wasn’t that interested until 1970 when the Vancouver Canucks became part of the league. I have always believed in supporting my home town so regularly attended Canucks hockey and Whitecaps soccer whenever I could scrape the money together. The league was strong with 8 teams and provided  hours of entertainment, I mean when one is poor, watching a game with a room full of friends is almost as good as being there.

Then the expansions started. By 1993 there were 24 teams, including the Disney owned, Anaheim Mighty Ducks. I watched the 1994 playoffs, and cheered mightily for the Canucks, but my heart really wasn’t in it. Richard was not a sports fan and still isn’t, so I watched less and less and as the teams multiplied, I could no longer keep track of all the teams and their players. With so many teams including the Disney one named after a kids movie, I gave up. Like many hard core fans I couldn’t believe how diluted the play had become . It had simply, in my mind, become a money making scheme for Gary Bettman’s wealthy American friends, so I stopped watching.

Over the ensuing years I kept track of the Canucks through my daughters and other friends, but until coming home this spring, I had never been drawn back into the craziness. This year it was impossible to ignore. I mean we live with our kids when we come home and not having a TV of our own, we end up watching what they want and what they wanted this year was HOCKEY! So I watched and I got drawn back in. I believed, just like I did in 1994 only once again, it wasn’t to be. As a true fan my reaction was, “Oh, well, there’s always next year!” Then, all hell broke loose.

The game wasn’t even totally over and the morons had taken over the downtown of my beautiful home town! I watched in horror as these brain dead excuses for human beings rampaged and destroyed everything they could get their hands on. At the same time I saw ordinary heros stand up for Vancouver and try to stop the stupidity, only to become victims of the violence. I hope the city recognizes these folks and the ones who turned up in the immediate aftermath, to try to fix and clean up the mess, trying to repair our cities reputation. These are the real heros and they show the true face of Vancouver.

As to those who participated in this wanton destruction, Let’s hope that the Judiciary finds some really creative ways to make them pay. I think having their faces posted on the front page of the Newspapers with a $10,000.00 fine, 2 years in jail so they end up in a Federal Penitentiary, and at least 1000 hours community time with a large sign around their necks while doing it that reads, “I AM A TOTAL MORON”. Sign not to be removed until all 1000 hours are completed,  a complete prohibition on consumption of alcohol and a mandatory  alcohol treatment program, paid for of course by the idiots themselves.  Oh, and with all photos and information sent to their families and employers.

Vindictive? No, I don’t think so! This type of stupidity needs to be stamped down on hard, just like you do when confronted by a cockroach. I could speak about why this attitude exists amongst some of our young adults, but as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter. Whatever is the root cause of this malaise, is something that can be looked at, at leisure by the experts, but in the meantime, those who think they can behave any way they like and were responsible for this, must be smacked upside the head just as hard as possible. Is this what we get when we teach our children they can do no wrong, are THE most important person on the planet, there is no such thing as failure, and there are no consequences for their actions? Does giving our children a steady stream of ultra violent movies, TV shows and video games warp some of them? I don’t know the answers, though like everyone else I can speculate.

Just a few minutes more cooking time and it's thick and ready to eat!

Now this is going to sound really odd, but my first thought at seeing the burning cars was “Mmmm, Jambalaya” It was only a passing thought and vanished almost as fast as it arrived, but as I started to write I realized I wanted to include my recipe for it. It’s really tasty and I have the assurance of a man who has travelled extensively through the southern United States that mine is as good as it gets. Give it a try. It might not defuse your anger, but it will make you feel just a little  bit better.

Here’s to the Canucks team and to the REAL Vancouver Hockey  fans!

All the proteins.

3 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
1 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 red pepper
3 or 4 dried Spanish Chorizo
300 grams fresh or frozen prawns, cleaned and deveined
1 whole (both sides) chicken breast, cubed and browned
2 - 14 oz(398ml) cans, diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons Cajun spice
What can I say? I like my Jambalaya hot and spicy!
Saute bacon until just crisp, add onion, celery, and pepper. 
Cook until onion edges are browned. Add spices, chicken broth, 
canned tomatoes, chorizo and chicken.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer stirring frequently. 
Cook until desired thickness is achieved.

Add prawns, cook until pink and curled, serve over rice.
Enjoy and keep your fingers crossed, maybe next year
the Stanley Cup will come to stay in Vancouver for a while!