Stan Price of our San Luis Valley, Colorado program recounts a special trip with 3 PHWFF disabled veteran participants to the picturesque Upsalquitch River in New Brunswick, Canada.
Day 1 (6/7/19):
We were all flying into Presque Isle, Maine (very small airport) from our respective home bases. Rented a 4-wheel drive SUV. Headed North to Robinsonville, New Brunswick. At the border, we get stopped and the Canadian immigration people conducted criminal background checks on all 4 of us. Phew, we passed. Took about 30 minutes. Stopped for a short lunch at McDonalds. Continued the drive North to Robinsonville. Arrived at Gerry’s house (the camp manager) in Robinsonville, New Brunswick. Took us about 3 hours travel time to get to Robinsonville, NB from Presque Isle, Maine. Gerry said, “Ok”, let’s go to the Lodge. We headed for the 2 Brooks Lodge. It was a drive down a very bumpy and rutted dirt road for about 15 miles. High clearance and either 4wd or AWD absolutely needed here or you may not get back up the steep hill with loose rocks when leaving the Camp. At the end of the road we parked our vehicle. There were several camp personnel there to meet us. Immediately they grabbed all our luggage and put it into a motorized canoe. The luggage canoe headed off across the river while we loaded ourselves into our own motorized canoes also for a canoe ride (complete with cushioned seats) for maybe a ¼ mile ride up river to the Lodge. We got off at the dock and walked up a long flight of stairs to the main entrance of the Lodge. As we approached the front door 2 ladies greeted us, Susan and Darlene. They proceeded to give us a tour of the facility. The main facility had a fire burning in the fireplace complete with a “Moose head” mounted on the wall above the roaring fire. In the main room were also candies and nuts for us to eat along with all our luggage. Each of us was assigned individual bedrooms with our own private bathrooms. During the tour we were shown where the dining area was. At the kitchen, we were shown the fridge and inside were beverages, including ice cold water, in insulated water bottles for our drinking pleasure. Asking where the water came from (the facility is completely off grid) we were told it comes out of a nearby stream and then put through a filtering system to insure its healthy water. We were told that breakfast was at 0800 each morning. We were given a sheet of paper and asked to write on there what we desired to eat for breakfast. Wow, whatever you wanted for breakfast…. What a treat!!! We continued the tour being shown where all the meals were prepared and where all the staff stayed and slept. The whole facility is across the river from the road’s end. The only access to the facility is to drive to the road’s end and take a boat to the Brooks Lodge. Therefore, the majority of all the staff (guides, kitchen and maintenance staff) all live and stay on sight rather than try to drive about one hour (minimum) to their respective homes. Electricity is provided by a generator that runs 24 hours a day. After the tour we were provided with cheese and crackers for us to snack on before dinner. Dinner was scheduled for 1800. We arrived at the dining area and almost immediately, chicken fajitas were brought for us to eat. Wonderful food, when finished, we were treated to a cherry cheesecake for dessert…. scrumptious. As the sun went down, we were all outside by the river and were visited by numerous local guests…. Mosquitoes. Thank goodness they had numerous flavors of insect repellant for us to use. It was 70 degrees today for a high. As soon as the sun went down the temperature dropped quickly. Very comfortable and great, cool sleeping weather. In bed around 2200. Sleep came quickly.
Day 2 (6/8/19):
Up at 0630. Cool temp at around 45 degrees. Hot shower, coffee is ready already and the fireplace is burning to help us stay warm. Breakfast: Omelets, toast, orange juice for me. Others got whatever they had ordered the night before. Fireplace in the dining room keeping us warm.
Headed down the stairs to the Upsalquitch River to fish. Jumped into the motorized canoes and all went in different directions searching for the elusive Atlantic Salmon. We went down river. Spent a lot of time casting and exercising our arms. Lots of fishing but no catching this AM. The Atlantic Salmon is still elusive. We did, however, see 2 Bald Eagles this AM. Momma eagle near her nest and Papa eagle guarding and providing oversight security as we went by. Back for lunch scheduled at 1330. For lunch, Lasagna and Caesar’s salad but don’t forget dessert…today it’s hot brownies. Not fishing this afternoon…. will go back out fishing at around 1700 and come back around 2030. Hit the river at around 1730. Did lots of casting and moving our locations. Fishing, Fishing with 2 bites but no catching. We did observe a mating pair of Mergansers hanging out near the shore. Then as we moved down river a black bear came out to the river bank. Mosquitos galore, but plenty of bug spray to save us. Found out that Luis caught the first fish from our group while fishing upstream from the lodge….no real picture so we are just taking his word for it. Back to the Lodge for dinner…. what a terrible dinner…we were forced to eat a whole lobster dinner coupled with onion rings, baked French fries, Cole slaw and capped off with a slice of home-made lemon meringue pie. Life is so tough here. In bed by 2300. Nighty, night.
Day 3 (6/9/19):
Up at 0630 again. Hot shower is just wonderful, & the heater is on and the fire is stoked to keep us warm on the chilly mornings…. Breakfast is again at 0800. Wow, more food. We’ve had so much food since we’ve been here…. we just might explode before we leave (lol)…. but it is sooooo good. This morning for breakfast is another omelet for me, this time cheese and mushroom. The others are having oatmeal, poached eggs, over-easy eggs, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, juice (orange or cranberry). and coffee. Each day, each breakfast is whatever you want since the evening before you always get to write down and submit your breakfast order for whatever you want for the next morning’s breakfast, to the Camp cook. Ahhhh, the tough life we’re living here. This morning and early afternoon were another fishless outing. We did, however, see 2 bottom feeders (mud suckers, we’re told). cruising along the bottom of the very clear Upsalquitch River. Also saw several sandpipers and 2 ravens. Two of the other guys in another boat in another part of the river saw a mama moose along with her baby moose. Lunch at 1330 was a chicken casserole and Rhubarb pie for dessert. We are back to the water at 1700 to hopefully get some fish. Evening fishing is supposed to be good. The fishing turned out great…we just ran short in the “catching” department. The highlights, though, were seeing 2 Moose, 1 Beaver, 2 pairs of Mergansers, and a bald eagle. Back to the Lodge for dinner at 2100. Tonight, was a wonderful meal of New York Steak, medium rare, of course, and to accompany the steak, we had Fiddle Heads and a baked potato. For dessert it was fruit and lemon cookies. A wonderful way to end the day.
Day 4 (6/10/19):
Up at 0630. Refreshing shower and off to breakfast. French toast and hard poached eggs. A splash of bacon, sausage and toast to top off the breakfast. Then off to go fishing. We fished and fished and fished and we caught nothing. The other group got a salmon picture but didn’t catch it……sooooo sad. Lunch at 1330……. home-made clam chowder followed by pumpkin pie for dessert…wonderful. At 1730 we are back out to go fishing……our last chance to get a fish…we’re crossing our fingers. The mosquitoes, this evening, were just vicious but one participant ended up with a baby salmon (called a Parr). So, the total catches for the whole trip were one 20lb salmon and one Parr (3”-4” long). The “Last Supper” at 2100 was chicken-breaded pork chops, cauliflower, and asparagus. The final dessert included apple crisp and home-made, hand-cranked, ice cream…just delicious!!! Tomorrow is our travel day #1. We were promised a bagged lunch for all that we will carry with us on our trip to Presque Isle. Weather during the entire trip was exquisite. Highs during the days of 70+ degrees. Lows at night in the mid 40-degree range. Wonderful sleeping weather.
Day 5 (6/11/19):
Up at 0630, as usual. Get that last hot shower here. Pack those bags for a sad but required departure. All participants would have been and would be delighted to stay for more time. The experience here was just phenomenal albeit the shortage of caught fish. The personnel were so attentive and professional. It was so refreshing to be treated like royalty while staying out in the middle of nowhere, next to a picturesque river with gorgeous scenery all about. The Last Breakfast: before any of the breakfasts there was always coffee ready, usually an hour before breakfast time. Today were pancakes, a bacon and mushroom omelet, and orange juice (we always had 3 juice choices…apple, orange, and cranberry juices). Breakfast finished, we went and said our “goodbyes” … a sad time for us…nobody wanted to leave. The side-by-side was ready for our luggage. We loaded it up and it was off to the river to be loaded on the freight canoe and floated across the river to our vehicle for our departure. In turn we walked to the front of the lodge, down the steps to the passenger canoes (2). We were immediately whisked down and across the river to our waiting vehicle. The luggage was already waiting for us, so we opened the car, and the camp personnel quickly loaded our bags. Within minutes we were on the road (the very bumpy, pot-holed filled dirt road) for about 15 miles lead by one of our fishing guides to make sure we did not get lost on the way to the main highway. Once on the highway we headed straight south with Presque Isle, Maine as our goal. We arrived there at around 1430 and checked into our motel. Dinner starts a 1730 with appetizers in the lobby followed by dinner at a local restaurant. We chose an Oriental Restaurant and all ate, talked and enjoyed our final “together” meal. Great way to end a wonderful PHWFF National Outing.