We’ve made it to Port McNeill!! It’s been a long two weeks of gail force head winds that have left us days behind schedual and exhausted.
The owner of Spirit of the West kayak adventures invited us to stay at his beautiful camp that was probably the coolest place we’ve stayed so far with an artistically rustic hot water shower overlooking beautiful ocean views and tents perched on cliffs above the sea. We were woken in the late evening to a whale feeding just off the shore not 100 feet from our tent. They also had the most picturesque wood fire hot tub, that unfortunately was not set up for the season yet…
Doug is getting skinnier and his hands are freakishly tan, we both are looking ever more alien by the day…
Port Neville and the Deer Stalker
We spent three weather days huddled in Port Neville trying to get out of the wind. It was a beautiful setting, a homestead plopped in the middle of nowhere with an old store and giant manicured lawn. Although the amenities of store and post office had been shut down last year due to an aging owner that had to move back to town the lawn was recently cut and made for an ideal campsite. In the mornings we sat on the old store porch looking out over the water and mountains, with coffee in hand we would watch the sun rise in the sky and talk about how it wouldn’t be so bad to live in a place like this.
One morning we were making coffee and I looked up and saw a deer chasing the caretaker’s cat up a tree. It stood looking up at the branches while it pranced around the tree. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it and chalked it up to a coffee deprived morning hallucination. But as we walked around the porch the deer got site of lil’ bit and began to stalk him. I scooped lil’ bit up and the deer would lose interest, but as soon as I set him down the deer would come charging from across the lawn and stop about five feet from us looking with curiousity at lil’ bit, sniffing the air cocking it’s head, shifting it’s ears, blinking giant black eyes. Lil’ bit wasn’t sure whether to bark or whine and decided eventually just to sit in ambivialence and ignore the deer…untill it started to run, then his predetory instincts kicked in and before we could stop him he started the chase. The deer ran halfway around the yard before turning to face lil’ bit, the bravado seeped out of our little dog and he cowered, began to yip in increasingly higher octaves and turned tail to run with the deer in hot persuit. He ran back to us and the deer pranced around within arms reach for a few minutes before baiting lil’ bit back out by bounding just far enough away to incite the chase. Maybe it was playing? Maybe it thought lil’ bit was a rogue fawn that needed to be corralled? But after a morning of it we tied lil’ bit up and resigned ourselves to having a deer stalker that occasionally circled us curiously at an uncomfortably close distance.
Easy Rider Kayaks
I talked with my mom the other day and she said, “you know dad’s old kayak was an easy rider.” it’s strange how things come around. I remember my dad teaching me as a kid how to wet exit in that boat. We went down to the local gravel pit in the middle of a hot Fairbanks summer. He waded into the water waist deep with me and the kayak in tow. “Ok on three I’ll flip you, ready?” he’d say. I remeber the water being a shock but also how suprisingly easy it was to pull the skirt, exit the kayak, and pop back to the surface. My dad has had that boat ever since I can remember. He must have bought it in the 70′s. Easy Rider kayaks is a relatively small operation whose owner personally took the time to go over our boats (which we bought used on craigslist) before we left on this trip. It is a fitting, sentimental coincidence that the boat that I learned how to kayak in was the same small brand as the ones we are now piloting up the inside passage.
Today is a current day. We are in an exceptionally narrow passage way right now that in order for the ocean to squeeze it’s voluptuous mass through it must rush at astounding rates of speed, creating currents that make you feel as if you are on the world’s largest treadmill. Yesterday we paddled…and paddled, pushing against the current with all our strength, but little paddles and mere human muscle are no match against the sea. So today we will wait untill the sea is on our side and try to outrun the daylight.
Lil’ Bit and the Hobo Boat
Lil’ bit is sleeping in a ball at my feet. He likes the tent. He especially likes my sleeping bag. As soon as I take my sleeping bag out of it’s stuff sack lil’ bit instantaneously is there prodding it’s surface for the most comfortable spot. I have to lift him off to get in the bag myself and he puts up a fight of passive resistance, relaxing to complete jelly so it takes two hands to move him and as soon as I set him down, before I even have time to get a leg in he is back on my bed prodding it’s surface indignantly. He is not so fond of the kayak. He puts up with it but always looks a little anxious when we are out on the water. I have been trying to think of ways to make the experience more comfortable for him and had an epiphany when I saw a milk crate washed-up on shore. I tied this to the front of my kayak, broke out one end as a dog door and padded the bottom with fleece. I figured this is how he loved riding on my bicycle so maybe it would feel more familiar and secure. I stepped back to look at my boat. It had bags tied on the stern, a pile of junk on the outrigger, an overflowing deckbag, small items carabined to every open spot on deck, and now a faded half broken milk crate lashed to the front…it looked like a boat owned by a hobo. But lil’ bit seems more comfortable and if passing yachts think I’m a hobo maybe they will take pity and cook us eggs (the food I would sell half my soul for right now).
After over a week without showering, I tried to freshen up with spruce bows this morning and scratched the begeesus out of my armpits.