Watch Lake is remote and relatively small. Located in British Columbia’s Caribou Country, it lies inland from 70 Mile. Linda and I have just returned from a weekend there with daughter Vivian and granddaughter Alexa. Their family’s 27 foot seasonal trailer is parked there, at the Ace High Resort. While there we saw an example of two people who have chosen to live according to their dream.
Talking with the manager, Lisa, in the evening yesterday, I realized that she and her husband Mike have made a rather uncommon lifestyle decision. It’s the kind of decision that is usually made later in life, if at all. Lisa and Mike are not even in what we tend to refer to as the middle years. They have taken a considerable reduction in income to get closer to living the life they want. They are following their dream to free themselves from the clinging tentacles of urban life.
Lisa owns a successful catering business on the Coast. It makes her a lot more money than managing the resort. When camping season begins, she shuts down her business and lives at Ace High full-time, rarely having a day off.
Mike owns a heating and air conditioning business at the Coast. During camping season he drives just over 4 hours each weekend to be with Lisa and assist her at the resort. Not being around to look after his own business during these times is a financial cost to him. Being with Lisa and sharing this wilderness experience with her makes it entirely worthwhile.
Lisa told me they began coming to Ace High as campers twelve years ago and loved it. When the management role was offered to her 2 years ago, she accepted.
Mike had already left for their home in the Fraser Valley when I knocked on the door of the single wide mobile home Monday evening. Standing in the doorway with her black dog, Snoopy, beside her, Lisa told me about life at Watch Lake. I quickly concluded that with her congenial manner and pragmatic approach, she is well suited to dealing with people and camp issues.
Being manager brings little glamour. Lisa cleans and stocks the cabins and the common washroom. She also cuts acres of grass, delivers wood to campers, tidies the grounds, tends the resort store, deals with campers, and much more.
On weekends, Mike does the heavier tasks, especially those requiring equipment. Cutting the firewood is one of his duties. Extraordinarily outgoing with a sense of humour that can surprise, he also has practical skills that are useful in this remote setting.
“The first year we did this, it was tough,” she said. “We didn’t like being apart from each other all week. Now we handle it better, but we are considering options that would allow Mike to be here more.”
Ace High offers fully serviced recreational lots, she told me. Also cabins, boat rentals, a number of wharves for launching boats, and fishing in Watch Lake. The lake is stocked with rainbow trout annually.
“It’s a more peaceful life than what we have in the city,” she said. “When the resort closes for the season, I return to my business, catering for television studios. I also have Level Three First Aid. Sometimes I’m called on to deal with pretty serious health issues. Here it’s quiet and peaceful. Mike and I both need this place to get release from the tension our businesses inflict on us.”
This morning I was up long before light, and I heard the loons
calling to each other. It’s an eerie haunting call that every Canadian should seek to hear at least once in their lifetime. Studying the dark unruffled lake, seeing the barely discernible evergreens scattered along the shoreline and deeply breathing in the cool, clean air, I experienced the quiet and peace Lisa and Mike have come to love.
I respect Lisa and Mike for having the wisdom and courage to say no to more substantial city incomes so they can live a life they enjoy. We really pay a very high price when we don’t follow the dream our heart tells us is most important.