If you’re reading this it’s because our site went live to the public on April 5th! We’ve already had over 700 people visit this website thanks to our friends and families who got this email and forwarded it on. We can’t wait to see you all up at our lovely little lodge on the Eel River this summer.
On the same day that we signed the ownership papers (!!!!!!) Lynne, the woman whose father built Big Bend Lodge, got in touch with us. How weird is that? Listening to her stories about growing up on the banks of the Eel River was incredible. We’ll be talking to her some more but here’s what we know so far.
The property was purchased raw — nothing on it but meadows and trees, and of course, the river. Lynne’s father, Ace Anthony (such a great name) brought his wife, Jean, there to live in a tent while he built the first two units. All the construction wood is from the property’s redwood trees that he logged and milled and the cinderblocks were formed by him on site as well. As Lynne said, “Despite being in the middle of logging country, there were no lumberyards or hardware stores anywhere nearby, and besides, he didn’t have the money, so he had to make almost everything from what was already there or find the cheapest way to do it.”
While they were building, Jean got pregnant. Now this was a miracle, Ace and Jean had been trying for over ten years. In fact, a legend soon developed about the water at the lodge and for years, visitors who wanted to get pregnant bottled the water and brought it home. After Lynne was born, she and her parents lived in one of the units and her grandparents in the other until they built the main lodge where she grew up.
Ace, who was a legendary fisherman, fed the family from the abundant trout and salmon in the Eel River. “My father didn’t know the word ‘limit’ in any respect,” said Lynne and she remembers him bringing home giant piles of fish for her to clean. In the winters, the lodge could be a lonely place except when fisherman came up to fish with Ace. So every winter, he and Jean would treat all of their favorite guests to a long weekend of lodging, food and drinks.
Summers were magical. The lodge was filled with families who stayed anywhere from a week to a month and came back year after year, bringing plenty of kids for Lynne to run wild with. “The only rule we had was not to drown. And no one did,” she said. Ace enjoyed socializing with his guests and every night would make the rounds of the cabins and have a cocktail. By nine or so he would grill meat and then everyone would settle down to tell stories by the campfire.
Lynne also confirmed what we had suspected, that the reception area was originally on the north side of the building, directly across from the campfire. She encouraged us to locate the huge redwood counter that Ace built and Jean kept stocked with candy, soda pop and fishing supplies and hoped that we would return the reception area to being a cozy hangout for rainy days.
It was wonderful to listen to Lynne’s tales and also to hear the excitement in her voice about our group continuing Ace’s vision of, “a super casual place where guests could just kick back and relax.” We know we have a lot of work to do to bring the lodge back into shape, but knowing that Ace and Jean are there in spirit makes it all seem possible. Big thanks to Lynne for telling us their tale.
We’re almost there! After nearly a year of negotiations and lots and lots of organization — forming an LLC, creating working committees and finalizing the deal — we are about to close on Big Bend Lodge. If all goes well, a caravan of us will be heading up from San Francisco next Friday to begin the renovations. In the meantime we have already been in touch with other families who visit every summer, everyone is super nice and excited about our keeping the lodge open. Now we just have to figure out how to bring out its amazing potential and make it a self-supporting business…
The adventure begins!