I usually don’t begin these narratives with much, if any of a preamble, or in this case an Overture, but given the challenges we encountered in getting the dates straight, an explanation of sorts is, in my opinion, required.
Let me say from the get go that I will not evade my responsibility in contributing to this “cock up,” but in my defence, when it finally did get sorted, I turned up on the right date, and didn’t have to drive to camp twice before figuring it out.
I’ve chosen to cast this years journal in symphonic terms, and while a traditional symphony has only four movements (no, not that kind of movement), when it comes to Cabin 14, more is always better, so let me present the very first:
Cabin 14 Symphony - A Movement in Five Parts
Or if you prefer: It’s All About Time.
As to the dictionary definition of Tempus fugit:
It is a Latin phrase, usually translated into English as "time flies". The expression comes from line 284 of book 3 of Virgil's Georgics,where it appears as fugit inreparabile tempus: "it escapes, irretrievable time". The phrase is used in both its Latin and English forms as a proverb that "time's a-wasting". Tempus fugit, however, is typically employed as an admonition against sloth and procrastination (cf. carpe diem) rather than a motto in favour of licentiousness (cf. "gather ye rosebuds while ye may"); the English form is often merely descriptive: "time flies like the wind", "time flies when you're having fun".
So there - now you know.
While the Cabin 14 gang cannot be accused of licentiousness in this instance, nor have they been engaged in the gathering of rosebuds – at least not to my knowledge – we did have one hell of a time – there’s that word again – getting the dates lined up for 2019. And yes, time does fly when your having fun, which is precisely what we did throughout the week.
We invariably re-book for the year ahead before leaving camp, and 2018 was no exception. The only fly in the ointment was that Cousin Dave was facing a conflict, in that his daughter had decided to get married, and apparently an apocalypse of Biblical proportions would ensue if it didn’t happen on June 1.
Despite’s Dave’s best efforts to convince her and the groom to be move the date, it was not to be, and as a result, there was then some talk about him coming up a day or so after the wedding (and of course bring pizza), meaning we would be in camp from June 1 to June 8, a week later than usual.
So after talking it over, there was general agreement to move things up a week to accommodate him - or so we thought.
The fact is, all that talk about him coming up a day or so late, was just that, talk, and while at Beaverland in the fall with his son, he checked the dates that were recorded in the reservations book, only to find they were wrong.
To be honest I don’t even remember why they were wrong, but in any event Cabin 14 was not going to be available the week of June 1 to 8, despite the fact I tried to bribe the guys who were going to be using it to change their dates.
There was also the added complication that the week of the 8th to the 15th conflicted in some degree with my trip to Esnagami Wilderness Lodge, but I managed to sort that out, and would only miss the cabbage rolls, perogies and one partial day of fishing.
To further confuse matters, we weren’t the only ones a couple of weeks late this year, Spring was also lagging behind, and up until our arrival, it had been unseasonably cold, with the result that the fishing patterns were not what we had come to expect in previous years.
I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to get a headache trying to remember all of this, so lets just say that we all managed to turn up on June 8, despite the best efforts of the fates to screw things up.
Oh ya, one, no make that two last things.
First off, we all benefited by getting some advance intel from a couple of over enthusiastic guys (you know who you are) who kindly turned up in camp on June 1, obviously to ensure that everything was in order pending our arrival the following week.
And finally, apologies to Chief Constable Criddle, who because we kept moving things around, was unable to join us this year. But then again, that meant more steak for us…
DAY 1 (day 2 for some)
While traditionally, the second movement is invariably an opening Sonata or Allegro, I decided to move things around, and go with a slow movement, or Adagio, for reasons that will soon become clear.
As is customary, I was the first to arrive, and after the clean up crew had worked their magic, I set up the boat, unpacked my gear and share of the groceries, then settled back with a cocktail and a bowl of chips, and enjoyed what I thought would be at most, an hour or so of tranquillity – but oddly that hour stretched to well over two.
The one thought that crossed my mind was perhaps the convoy was holding at the top of Beaverland Road, in an attempt to get me thinking that I had the wrong week – but I soon dismissed that idea, because while I love these guys – they aren’t that good.
So, rather than continue to fuss over my colleague’s unusually late arrival, I had another cocktail, a few more chips, and contemplated the mysteries of life, which after several minutes became somewhat tedious, so I gave that up and did something far more useful, and topped up both my glass and chip bowl.
The Beaverland 500
The majority of the crew finally pulled in around 2pm, with the cause of the delay being a problem with both of Gary’s trailer tires. While travelling down Highway #11, someone in another car alerted Gary and Lynn to the fact that one of their trailer tires had peeled off, and they were effectively driving on the rim. I don’t specifically recall what the problem was with the second one, but he ultimately bought 2 new tires.
After a call to CAA and a stop at Canadian Tire in North Bay for some new rubber, things were eventually rectified, at least well enough for the boys to make it into camp, but a couple of days later the Cabin 14 pit crew flew into action and got the new rubber installed, meaning that all was once again right with the world.
Those pit crews who work the NASCAR and Indy circuit don’t have anything on them!
And speaking of trailer tires, Nick also blew a tire on Hwy. #400 on the way home! I’m going to have to give mine a good once over before I take my boat out on the road again.
Following these harrowing events, the welcome cooler was attacked with a vengeance, and as the rest of the crew trickled in as day wore on, continued to take quite a beating, but surprisingly was still standing the following morning – bloodied but not broken.
This probably had something to do with the fact that Chief Constable Criddle was not in camp…
As usual, we spent the first day launching boats, catching up, having a cocktail or two, and chowing down on Gary’s outstanding Sawgeeg. There was a time when we couldn’t wait to get out on the water, and leave the catching up and such until later in the evening – but then again, what’s the hurry?
My ultimate decision to go with a slow movement, rather than an up-tempo Allegro as noted above, was predicated on the fact that we all started to drift off to bed around 8:30pm, and by the time 9pm rolled around, you could have heard a mouse fart – that is if anyone had actually been awake to hear it.
You know what I mean Vern?
I reckon we are simply slowing down a touch, perhaps because as Baldy was fond of saying, we would rather rust out than wear out.
Finally, I’d be remiss in not mentioning that today was my b’day, and the boys were kind enough to produce a Black Forest Cake to celebrate the event. I did throw in a comment regarding the obvious lack of presents, and was told in no uncertain terms that the pleasure of their company was present enough, and that I should shut up and eat my cake.
Hey, when you’re right…
SCHERZO with TRIO
Sorry, But We Are Unable to Process Your Order Due to Technical Difficulties
Early to bed, early to get up and eat steak – that’s what I say anyway.
Breakfast the first morning was as tradition demands, eggs, home fries and fillet mignons sourced from Barbarian’s Steak House or Bill’s Fish & Chips if you prefer, with our chef petit-déjeuner Lynn working the griddle, and yours truly on the “barbie.” Lucky me was joined by a cadre of kibitzers, no doubt hanging around so as to ensure that the steaks were done to their liking.
Once the breakfast dishes were cleaned up and put away, it was time to head out on the water, with the intention of coaxing a few Walleye into joining us for dinner later in the week.
As the fleet was making preparations to exit the harbour, a “tech” gremlin raised its ugly little head, with the result that a trio of iPilot’s were inexplicably – at least for the time being - out of commission.
These gizmos, which are built into many models of Minn Kota electric trolling motors, allow you to, among many other things, control the direction and speed of your boat using a wireless, hand held remote. Not unlike other pieces of technology that many of us use on a regular basis, and tend to rely on rather slavishly, when they go down it definitely seems as though life as we know it has come to a somewhat premature conclusion.
After much cursing and a bit of tinkering, 2 out of the 3 units were soon back in action, but if you happened to forget to bring along the remote you are, what’s the word? Oh ya – screwed! Right Moffatt?
Once that had been attended to, Cousin Dave lubricated, and adjusted his sphincter for the long day ahead – it would require regular maintenance throughout the week - and we were off to the races!
Given the success we had last year in McFee Lake, the majority of the fleet headed off in that direction. The only question was, how difficult would it be to get over the damn Beaver dam? Fortunately it was passable, as long as you had a good head of steam up when crossing over. Cousin Dave and I missed it by a hair going in, and we had to pole our way over the final 3rd.
It was a very hot and still day, which made the fishing very challenging, and although it was a slow day, we did manage to catch a few fish, including:
- Cousin Dave – 19” & 20” Walleye
- Ivan – 19” Walleye and a Clam
- HB – 20” & 22” Walleye
- Nick – a couple of Walleye that fell outside of the slot size, which gave Moffatt the opportunity to unsheathe his fillet knife.
- Moffatt and “T” – 2 small Lake Trout in Big Marten (caught in 19 ft. of water), and
- Gary – 24” Pike, caught in Bruce.
In addition to the above, Cousin Dave caught a never before recorded species that we christened a “Baldyeye.” The reason we imparted this particular moniker on this fish, is that it didn’t put up much, or any fight really, and just kind of floated in on its back. See above comment regarding wearing vs. rusting out.
Gary, who misses nothing, was quick to point out that the Harry Brettell Trophy speaks to the biggest FISH of the week, and is otherwise clearly non-species specific, therefor as a Pike is without question a FISH, he was arguably leading the pack. The man definitely had a point.
That evening we enjoyed heaping plates of Ivan’s delicious goulash, following which it was suggested that a platter of nacho’s would not go amiss between periods of the Stanley Cup playoff game, most of us were planning to watch in the Rec. Hall.
At one point during the evening, the person who is arguably the most food motivated member of a group of guys, who in and of themselves and very food motivated, brought up the subject of pizza – and from this the Beaverland Mensa Society was born, which fortunately I have not been invited to join, and hopefully never will.
In journals past, you may recall that the rule is, if you are late to the dance – usually about 24 hours - you bring pizza – no exceptions. Therefore given all the mix-ups regarding dates and the various arrival times, the consensus was that SOMEONE must be on the hook for pizza – right?
Following a rather animated and somewhat incoherent discussion – membership in the Society being in part based on the amount of alcohol consumed in the 2 to 3 hour period prior to a meeting – the following “recommendations” were adopted:
- Because of Cousin Dave’s daughters wedding, resulting in our trip being 2 weeks later than usual, the 24 - hour rule applied, and he should have brought pizza.
- In that Brownie and “T” were a week early, they should have brought pizza as well, and because it was too late to do anything about “recommendations” 1 and 2,
- Kidnap HB, and tell Kenny Gold, who was picking him up Friday morning, that I would only be released if he brought pizza (more on this later).
And by the way Mike, the “Wicked Pickle” Moffatt won the hockey pool.
Will Someone Please Turn Off the Damn Tap!
Much to my complete shock and surprise, the Beaverland Mensa Society actually remembered some of what had occurred the previous evening, and took steps to implement recommendation #3, by drafting and sending a ransom note to Kenny.
His reply, if and when it came, would no doubt be a classic.
As things ultimately turned out, today was by and large a complete wash out – pun intended.
The rain was hard and relentless throughout the day, and whoever came up with the idea that fish bite better in the rain, can bite all of us, because that is nothing more than a load of “bool – a – shit” as Ivan is fond of saying.
Only one Walleye made it back to camp, bringing our over all fish fry total to 3 or 4 which was, as Gary would say, “patetic!” Someone also brought in several small Lakers, which if you have ever tasted one that came out of these waters, would never be part of any fish dinner I would be involved in. Fact is we now had more Lake Trout in the freezer than we did Walleye. Yup – “patetic!”
I caught several small Walleye in Bruce, and unlike yesterday when they were too big, today they were all too damn small. Cousin Dave and I also ventured into McFee, where I managed to catch one lousy Perch.
Although Albert and Dorothy were unable to join us this year, having moved out of the area, together with Mike and Lori, we gathered in the Rec. Hall for what has become our annual Surf & Turf extravaganza.
The wine, steak (good job on the grill Cousin Dave, lack of a meat thermometer(s) notwithstanding) and shrimp met, or exceeded everyone’s expectations, and afterwards we were treated to a selection of fine cheese’s and Port, courtesy of Brownie and “T.” I’m also pleased to report, that unlike last year, someone had not been into the Port before it arrived in the Rec. Hall.
As there was no hockey game tonight Lynn, who runs the Cabin 14 casino and gaming operations, put together a basketball pool, and while unfortunately the Raptors fell to Golden State 106-105, I won the pool, so all’s well that ends well.
I think Lynn somehow manages to connect with Uncle Harry on Monday evening in order to get some pointers on how to get the day going, because just like Uncle Harry, he usually starts banging around in the kitchen just as the sun begins to peek above the horizon.
Lynn’s beer pancakes and peameal were delicious, particularly with the addition of “real” maple syrup - although the appearance of the “real” stuff was not without controversy. I don’t specifically recall if it was a price thing, or merely the fact that it was considered far too upscale, and would therefore be wasted on this motely crew, but nevertheless, it sure beat the rat’s ass off of Aunt Jemima!
Unlike yesterday, when there was some discussion about building an Arc given all the rain, our day dawned clear and cool, and the weather remained pretty much picture perfect.
While some of us started off in Bruce, where we caught 2 small Walleye, the place to be was McFee.
Nick and Ivan caught a mess of Pussy Cats, and several Walleye in the slot size, including Ivan’s 23” Walleye that vaulted him into first place for big WALLEYE of the week, although the Pike controversy continued to loom in the background.
Moffatt and “T” had a good day, each boating a 22” Walleye, including several more in the slot size, and brought in a total of 4. Cousin Dave and I caught several in the slot size, and managed to catch 1 keeper, meaning that in total, our crew brought in 7 fish.
While we were certainly getting closer to the required number for a fish fry, we still needed between 5 and 10 to properly feed the masses, and therefore would have to get our collective butts in gear, unless we wanted to dine primarily on beans and the Tiger’s coleslaw.
And speaking of dinner, we started with Ivan’s homemade chicken soup, which was followed by chicken and ribs, served up with copious quantities of Lauren’s BBQ sauce.
It was to be a quiet evening, with everyone pitching in with stories about various people and journey’s past, which was not only very enjoyable, but a refreshing change from what seems to have become the norm, with most of the gang having their heads buried in their tablets and/or cell phones, which engenders little, if any sustained conversation.
There were no games to watch, no cards were played, or nacho’s consumed, and thankfully even the Beaverland Mensa Society took the night off, resulting in an early night for all.
I almost forgot to mention that Chief Constable Criddle’s buddy “Foxy” came by, and wanted to know if he could come out and play. The little guy looked really disappointed when we told him he would have to wait a year.
Beware the Atomic Buffalo Turd!!!
Another decent day weather wise, and the fishing continued to improve as well.
McFee was yet again the place to be, although Donny told us that the back of Bruce was finally starting to come to life.
As it was across most of the country spring, such as it was, made its appearance approximately 2 weeks later than usual. What this meant for anglers is that water temperatures were lower than expected with the resultant impact on the bite, and in addition, the fish were still in post spawn mode.
If you would prefer that in English, the fish were cold, didn’t give a shit about eating, and were still enjoying a cigarette and glass of wine after spending a couple of weeks making little fish.
12 fish were brought in thereby locking down the fish fry, with enough remaining to start putting some aside for take home purposes. Ivan further solidified his lead with a 23 ½” Walleye, which if you’re counting, was still a ½” shy of Gary’s Pike.
Dinner was all Greek to me, and everyone else I suppose, and featured grilled, marinated pork tenderloin, a traditional Greek salad and Tzatziki, all of which was served with grilled pitas.
So what, you may ask, is an Atomic Buffalo Turd?
Allow me to elucidate.
It’s an appetizer, or popper, albeit with a somewhat unappetizing name, comprised of a jalapeno pepper stuffed with cream and Monterey Jack cheeses and smoked sausage, which is then wrapped in bacon – and boy, does Gary know how to make these babies!
I think the original recipe calls for them to be smoked, but we bake these, and they are indeed salubrious.
Unfortunately I’m getting a little ahead of myself, and although we had intended to cook up a mess of these for a midnight snack, we also had the ingredients for Cousin Dave’s ‘Shrooms, and because we needed to use up the fresh mushrooms, and the Turds were still frozen, ‘Shrooms it was.
Not surprisingly the boys did themselves proud, consuming 25 of the 30 I prepared, notwithstanding the fact that each one was about the size of a small dinner plate.
I Don’t Know About You – But I Came For the Camaraderie
Weather wise, the day dawned and remained crappy, with steady, heavy rain throughout, although fortunately it was not very cold, and the fishing was hot.
If I recall correctly, given the weather, Gary and Brownie stuck pretty close to home, because as Gary often says: “I come for the camaraderie!”
While Moffatt and “T,” together with Ivan and Nick headed back into McFee, Cousin Dave and I took Donny’s advice, and decided to work the back of Bruce – and it paid off handsomely.
Working the left side, almost at the very back, we caught 15, including a 19” and brought our limit of 8 back into camp.
The McFee contingent also did well. Ivan and Nick worked the left side and caught several in the slot size, including a 22 ½” Walleye, and brought home 8, and “T” and the Pickle (kind of sounds like 2 guys who should have a morning radio show) while catching several in the slot size, only brought 1 in.
Given this performance, there was some speculation that perhaps the Pickle wanted to save himself some work.
In any event, at the end of the day, we were only 5 fish away from everyone being able to take they’re limit home. Not a bad recovery given our slow start.
While I was packing, Lynn made up a mess of his now famous grilled cheese sandwiches, which if you have never tasted one, is worth the drive to Beaverland in and of itself. Velveeta cheese, onions and hot peppers, pressed between slices of buttered, grilled bread – oh ya!
They were to die for.
As noted in the Overture, another twist to all of the folderol regarding the dates, was that because of the change, it overlapped in part with my trip to Esnagami Wilderness Lodge, meaning I was going to be leaving tomorrow morning – assuming of course the pizza ransom was paid, and my kidnappers released me.
Speaking of which, Kenny Gold had in fact replied to the email setting out the Beaverland Mensa Society’s demands, making it clear in graphic terms that he was not prepared to offer a pizza, or for that matter, anything else of value to secure my release. He went on to further suggest that they should pay him for coming to get me.
We sorted out the bill tonight, with the damage coming to $392 pp., which if I recall correctly, was just slightly less than last years total.
Because of the incessant rain, the fish fry took place inside of the cabin, and we made short work of 20+ fish, beans and the Tiger’s really, really good coleslaw.
I’m Off - Like a…
Kenny while late did finally show up, and I took over the driving duties for the next leg of my trip, which consisted of a 9/10 hour run to Geraldton.
Apparently everyone had a great Friday night, because according to Nick most, if not everyone, got jigged up to varying degrees, perogies, cabbage rolls and “Turds” were consumed, Cousin Dave was finally able to relax his sphincter, and they played a couple of games of Chase the Ace, thereby keeping a 50 + year tradition alive.
The boys did get the remaining 5 fish for take home purposes, and despite Gary’s 24” Pike, Ivan’s 23 ½” WALLEYE, held up for the biggest fish of the week, so congratulations to Ivan!
By the way, we are going to have a chat next year in regards to how many rods that can be legally used at any one given time…
He who wins the big fish pool is obliged to buy everyone breakfast on the way home, but unfortunately our “usual” restaurant in South River changed formats, and was no longer serving breakfast.
According to Cousin Dave, they stopped in North Bay at a truck stop on Hwy. #11, where the food was greasy, the sausage was salty and the waitress scared the shit out of them. While they were having breakfast, she clearly demonstrated who was in charge, by unceremoniously tossing out a belligerent patron, and after seeing her in action; no one in our group was willing to risk asking for a second cup of coffee.
When I went over to the main lodge to pick up the bill on Thursday, Lori and I checked and double - checked the dates for next year – so as long as things don’t go completely awry over the course of the next 12 months – we will be back to our “regular” week – whatever the hell that is.
I also asked Cousin Dave to do a further check, both when he paid the bill on Friday, and when he comes back in the fall with his son – you can never be too careful ya know!
Well, that about wraps it up, and we sincerely hope that you have enjoyed the very first, and hopefully not last:
Cabin 14 Symphony - A Movement in Five Parts
Adieu & Curtain…
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