After a fantastic eight days in Jasper, we hit the road on our way to the Prince George area of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia. The landscape changed from sharp, rugged, snow-capped mountains to flatter, rolling, thickly forested country. We were on our way to visit the childhood friend of my mother-in-law, June, and her husband Rick, at the campground that they owned in Stoner, BC. We arrived to Stone Creek RV Park in a bit of rainy drizzle and were met by a very enthusiastic fellow, dressed in a bright yellow raincoat, rolled down rubber boots, curled up straw hat……we introduced ourselves, as it turns out, to the man that we would forever after refer to fondly as “Uncle Rick”……What a character!….June came to meet us outside as well, and though I had never met her, I felt like she had always been a part of our extended family, as Paul’s mom had spoken lovingly about her for as long as I had known the family. We got our rig all set-up, with an incredible view of the mighty Fraser river right behind the camper. We caught up with June and Rick outside on a beautiful late August day, and it quickly felt like we were catching up with old friends.
We had arrived to the area in the season that native fisherman have the river gill-netted for sockeye salmon. The time allotted to fish for the salmon is announced and closely monitored by the ministry, and the season lasts between 2-5 weeks, depending on the numbers of salmon in the river. There are three salmon nets in a several kilometre area that are tended to by a camp of native fisherman close by. The nets are emptied every three to four hours, 24 hours a day, around the clock while the season is open. We could see one of the nets across the river fill with salmon, as the white buoys holding up the nets would dip below the water with the weight of fish. Once in a while, the fishermen will throw an old fish, or the guts and bones, onto the beach and guess what swoops down to collect the scraps?? Bald Eagles!!
Bald Eagles were high on the list of wildlife that I wanted to, but hadn’t yet seen, so I was thrilled when we got the chance to see them feast in the sand. Uncle Rick is an avid fisherman and hunter, and had a super powerful sporting scope, and we could check out the majestic birds up close. Rick took us for a few rides in his boat and we saw eagles everywhere along the river, once getting right up underneath a big, juvenile eagle sitting in a tree, and once coming across a group of twelve eagles soaring in the thermals on the riverbank. The eagles are incredible, they look just like you expect them to, almost like a cartoon, with bright intense black eyes and bright yellow beak and strikingly white feathers on their heads and tails……really incredible! Paul and Rick saw a black bear walk out onto the beach across the river from us, but sadly, I wasn’t around for that sighting! Darn!
Paul and I had discussed the option of owning and operating a campground or number of cabins for a long time, and since we had intended to stick around Stoner for a little bit, we asked Rick and June to put us to work doing tasks around the campground to get a taste of the campground life. Paul was put to work cleaning and filleting salmon, and I was tasked with peeling bushels of apples, and when we were done, there was a freezer full of fish and peeled, diced apples ready for the next season!!
Paul was also tasked with helping out with firewood chores, and he’s had years of practice after the four winters that we heated our big, drafty house exclusively with wood. Since we had cooked our meat over the open fire in Jasper, we could no longer go back, and since the weather was beautiful and the firewood was plentiful, we had a nice campfire every night, and lots of times in the morning, and cooked our dinner over the fire every night. Most nights we were joined by Rick and June and our new friends and neighbours Mike and Charlene, and we had a blast playing guitars, singing, telling stories and lies and generally having a good laugh and a great time.
We had dinner together several times with Rick and June, both at their house, and at our camper, and it was really nice to have a family atmosphere with our new friends. Paul and Rick got along really well…..as they are both outdoorsy jokesters, both enjoyed nature and hunting and fishing…. and both just the slightest bit dodgy!!…….Paul had a blast smashing golf balls across the river with Rick, dragging trees out of the woods and getting some archery lessons…..and I really enjoyed June and spending time with her, she is very cool and relaxed and has a calm, warm energy about her. We had no trouble chatting our faces off together no matter the topic it seemed, and had a good time going into town together running errands, and Paul and I were both very happy to have made new friends in Rick and June. I guess we did an alright job at our chores too, because they left us in charge of the campground for the day while Rick was out of town and June had appointments to tend to…..and we were busy!! We had two new RVer’s sign in and a family come and have a picnic at the riverbank, plus an employee from the town who came to test the water quality……handled it like bosses and didn’t burn down the place…..so far so good!!
Rick and June have three sweet little dogs named, Trooper, Jeannie and a tiny tulip-eared chihuahua named Lily. They cruise around the campground, following June around, keeping an eye on things…..They’re the sweetest things and were super mellow around our old Molly, who is pretty mellow herself in her old age!! The four dogs would veg on the floor together and snore while the humans dined and laughed and carried on. The campground is very pet friendly and many other campers have sweet little fur companions with them. I tried for all ten days I was there to cuddle the little tulip-eared chihuahua, who would have none of it……Finally, on the day we were to leave, in a staged photo, June gave me Lily to hold for the picture, and she was as sweet and beautiful as I had imagined she would be……then she bit me on the ear and squirmed away……total dog FAIL!
We stayed at Stone Creek for 10 days in total and had a fantastic time there. It was a great introduction to BC and we quickly felt at home after spending only a few days here in Stoner. Rick and June had generously given us a free-pass admission to the historic town of Barkerville, an old gold mining town in the BC interior, which was about a two hour drive from their place, so after the labour day weekend, we packed up once more and said our goodbyes to Rick and June, and most other campers at the park who had now headed home after the summer season, and headed to Barkerville for the next few days to check out an integral part of the province’s mining history.