Thursday, December 6, 2012

EAGLE WATCHING, HARRISON MILLS: DAY 1


All I can hear is the rain beating a tatoo on the roof of my private cottage and the log fire crackling as I type. The night has fallen on a monochrome landscape of dripping trees, brooding mountains, and a silent, steel-grey river sliding west to join the Mighty Fraser. 

Before dusk I counted fourteen Bald Eagles in a tree close by; twenty soared in the gloomy sky above; and one fed at the river's edge. 

I'm at Rowena's Inn on the River in Harrison Mills in December enjoying the peace and anticipating seeing thousands of eagles who congregate here in the fall. They come when food supplies dwindle and the cold bites in the north to feast on the remains of salmon that have spawned in the Harrison and Chehalis Rivers. Between five and seven thousand put on quite display here - more eagles in the fall than anywhere else in BC. It is only an hour and a half from Vancouver, but feels a world away.

First though, I find a cheese plate and a bottle of good BC wine in the fridge as I put my beer away to cool. The cheeses are local, made by Farmhouse Natural Cheeses in the Agassiz region. I bought some last May at the farm store and they make an excellent snack.

Looking east up Harrison River
Through two wide bay windows, views of the river and Mount Woodside shrouded in mist form the backdrop to the fairways of Sandpiper Golf Course and a small lake. Inside the decor of knotty pine and the floor to ceiling river rock fireplace forecasts cosy and comfortable evenings with a good book. The Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom will come in handy after bird-watching tomorrow in the rain, which the weather office predicts will last for my entire visit. But I'm prepared with good rain gear and a hat.

A gourmet breakfast is delivered to my door every morning to start my day and I look forward to enjoying it tomorrow at my table looking at the eagles before I get a tour of the property with the owner, Betty Anne. After this I shall be interviewing her for articles I'm planning while we have Afternoon Tea in the Inn. More on that tomorrow.

But tonight I brave the weather as I walk to the River's Edge resto for an early Christmas dinner. On my way, I can see only seven lights stretched out on the far river bank reminding me that we are close to the wilderness. I'm glad the bears are denned for the winter….

The resto was warm and cosy with a fun server, who is also the manager, and the Christmas decorations were tasteful and not overdone. My home-made soup was sweet roasted peppers and tomato bisque - so thick I could stand a spoon up in it. Delicious. Turkey was moist and tasty. Nice Pinot Gris to go with it. Loved chatting with the owner's husband originally from London before 1957. He is probably on the other side of 80 and has the most wonderful smile. I spent most of the time trying to make him laugh and grin. We reminisced and both decided we like Canada better, less expensive and less crowded.

Rowena's is a gorgeous place to stay even in the rain:  wildlife in abundance, far away from the madding crowd, unspoiled views, and history to keep me entranced.

Images: Photos by Pharos 2012. All rights reserved

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