Tuesday, May 8, 2012

STAMP #2: Harrison Mills

Early departure to reach Harrison Mills, deep in the Fraser Valley (BC), for my 9:45am tee time at Sandpiper Golf Resort. Hazy sunshine all the way. Once through M. Ridge the traffic was light and the views of farms and fields gave way to lush countryside. Trees newly in leaf looked lime green and the sloughs were flat calm with almost perfect reflections.

Found Sandpiper easily and entered the estate on the banks of the Harrison River through gates and down a driveway with views of the golf course, the river, and a mountain backdrop. Whee!!! This is a little known gem deep in the Fraser Valley and the Pretty Estate Resort also includes the elegant inn called Rowena's and a fine dining restaurant, The River's Edge. More of the latter two in a moment.

Sandpiper's signature hole
© Photos by Pharos 2012
Greeted by Alan Goad, player's assistant, who gave me a tour of the estate before my round. It's been owned by the Pretty family for decades, but not turned into the resort till the end of the nineties. The huge family home is now Rowena's Inn on the River and it looks down river with spectacular views across the golf course.

 I played the back nine, which contains the four most divine holes, including the signature 15th, right along the river. The fairways were very green following our wet spring but the greens were in good shape, but challenging. The other holes I played had peekaboo views through sky-high, perfectly straight evergreens. Customer service was excellent and friendly. Not busy either. Worth the drive out for a game!

Lunch in The River's Edge with Summer Dhillon who takes care of the PR for Pretty Estate. Met the chef as well as the food and beverage manager, Sean. Both are new here and have plans to change the menu, which was good today. The Crepe Neptune, for me sans salmon, was packed with fresh prawns, mussels, and halibut in a rich white wine sauce. The restaurant has a terrace overlooking the 15th and the river, and a pleasant ambience inside. We sat beside the fireplace.
Rowena's Inn on the River
© Photos by Pharos 2012

Then a tour of Rowena's. I had already been inside one of the four cabins, which was one bedroomed, with a living room, kitchenette, and a jacuzzi bathroom. Its patio overlooks the view. What a place for a romantic getaway!! The inn is spacious and beautifully decorated and furnished with antiques, clearly with a loving eye and good taste. There are about six rooms with king-sized beds, all different. Most have that gorgeous view. The living room, drawing room, and dining room are huge. Behind the scenes is a large commercial kitchen because this inn caters for corporate retreats and weddings, and a conservatory where breakfast is served for guests.

Later I spent an hour with Judy Pickard, the coordinator of the Agassiz-Harrison Museum in Agassiz. In the old station, this is a treasure trove of history, including the railway, hop farming, the great flood of 1948, and dairying. They are just about to expand into a barn built by volunteers with recycled barn lumber. This will almost double the space for exhibits. The story of this area is rich indeed, and today is filled with friendly volunteers ready to explain it. The community spirit is alive and well here.

By the time I checked into the Harrison Hot Springs Resort, it was 4pm and clouds threatened showers; the wind was howling and the temperature had plummeted. I was given a suite overlooking the lake where wind surfers were out in force. The room is huge for one person, but I'm relishing the big desk to work at with free wireless and the view. Not sure I really need two bathrooms! This hotel has been here for over a century in one form or another due to the natural hot springs, first enjoyed by the First Nations people and later by the gold miners heading up the lake to the upper Thompson River and to the Cariboo in search of the mother lode.

The Hungry Chef is a new family restaurant about two streets back from the lake where I had dinner. Has a patio and windows right across the front. Its view is of the back of a hotel, an old cottage and a sleazy motel. Mid-week and out of season, there were ten seniors, and two families: one with two small kids and one couple with their MIL. Menu has burgers, sandwiches and wraps, pasta and pizzas. Cheap fare.

I had a "Rollo" - a pork slice on a bun with bacon and onions and a side of fries. The pork was overcooked but not by much. The fries were hot but not fresh cut; the onions were cooked but not caramelized as advertised, and the bacon was soggy.  True, it was mid-week and out of season, and may be it was the B team in the kitchen too. Not recommended, even at the price.

And so to bed.

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