I have a small list of minor adventures that I could easily label “the sure thing” – the sort of trips where there simply are no unknowns. You know: the route is scenic, there are easily implemented contingency plans in case of bad weather or emergency, both cell phone and weather radio coverage are assured, and the location of stellar campsites – and alternates – is already in you GPS. Generally, such a list is useful if a) you take someone you’ve never paddled with before and it’s just the two of you; b) there is a chance you may have to abort for one reason or another; c) schedules are such that you can’t put in before sunset and you need a known location; or d) you want to impress someone with a place you already know and love and are confident *is* of sufficient caliber to impress.
Any one of those reasons would be sufficient for resorting to a sure thing trip, but if every single one of them applies, you really have no choice. Rick was visiting, and though he needed to be in cell phone coverage and warned me that he might have to quit the trip to commune with his laptop if the cell phone rang, he declared himself willing to submit to my sea kayak obsession. I’d never been on a trip with him before, so there *was* the chance he’d be a weenie and I’d need an excuse to ditch him (there was a contingency plan for that, too…). But mostly, I suspected I’d like him enough to want to paddle with him again, and thus the goal of impressing him with how beautiful the Bay is and how fun I am also served as a powerful motivation for picking the Snakes on a weekend in early September. If he had a stellar time and enjoyed the landscape, he’d have to work even harder on *his* contingency plans for ditching *me* (what? How would *you* interpret “the cell phone might ring and there might be an emergency and I might have to go”? Probably as “she might not be that much fun, so I will set up a deal with a buddy to call me right back if he gets a text message from me that says ‘out’ “)
So… we arranged a boat rental with White Squall, Rick cast one last, longing eye over his laptop before locking it into the trunk of the car, and we set off from Snug Harbour at sunset. Since the Snakes are west of Snug, that meant we literally paddled off into the sunset – and I, in impress the new adventure buddy mode, even made sure that I not only had our destination marked in the GPS and the GPS in my PFD pocket should I need it, but that I had my headlamp on and took a visual bearing for my compass before it got totally dark. And thus I impressively led us to a site I’ve been to so much that I can even recognize the landing in the radius illuminated by an LED headlamp. It must have been impressive – I didn’t see Rick fiddle with the text messaging function of the phone that night. No, indeed, he didn’t even pull out the phone when I declared that he should make dinner since I had important tent setting-up duties. The tent setting up was much less work than the cooking, and it was at that point that I knew my suspicions that I wanted to do more trips with the guy were not unfounded…
We had clear weather, and, belly full of dinner, I only became marginally less impressed with Rick when I discovered that he knew as little about constellations as I did and thus the clear sky view was somewhat wasted on us. I did point out, lying flat on my back at all the stars I couldn’t identify, that if the universe loved me half as much as I clearly believed it did, there would be a shooting star. And you know what? Right after that, there was! Not only that, but in the middle of the night, when I went to inspect the thunderbox, I discovered that the northern lights were out. I immediately woke Rick up – this was after all part of the “look how great this place is” plan, and he had no choice about waking up with an excited Johanna jumping up and down, but his getting up to look at the northern lights involved little more than unzipping the fly and sticking his head out of the tent. He made up for that weenie move the next morning, though, when he motivated me to leave my cosy sleeping bag and tromp to the other side of the island to watch the sunrise. It was lovely. Even if I was bleary-eyed and longing for my sleeping bag.
We spent the day wandering around the island (when Rick decided to test the napping potential of some rocks close to the water, I once again declared that if the universe loved me, there would be rogue wave, but the universe had enough of my demands at this time and he stayed dry), and then launching our kayaks for a day trip to Green Island in the Minks. On Green Island we napped some more (what with northern lights and sunrises, this was entirely called for) and walked the perimeter of the island. Then, back to the Snakes, where Rick decided to hand-roll his sea kayak and then once again proved his worth as a tripping companion by cooking, even if he did whine about mosquitoes and wrap a sarong around himself in the hope that looking like a Russian grandmother would scare away the biting insects. Besides, if he can make eggplant dip on a camping trip, he can dress up as a flamenco dancer for all I care. And he got bonus points for building a fire on the rocks (after we found a spot with an existing scar in wind that would blow any embers over water, not land – I like campfires and all, but not if it means risking an even bigger fire), where we sat and watched the sunset. And our second night we were sufficiently tired that there was no northern lights or sunrise nonsense.
Only problem with going to sleep on these trips is that it makes the morning come faster, and morning meant packing up and going home. I dawdled as much as I could, since I suspect this was my last Bay trip of the year, but departing was inevitable. Whatever sadness I felt at last trip of the year on the Bay, though, was entirely offset by the satisfaction of no trip-ending phone calls, the knowledge that Rick would still be around the following weekend, and the fudge we bought on the way home.
So, the trip itinerary was a sure thing – but on this weekend I discovered another sure thing: that Rick is a good adventure buddy even when he wears a sarong on his head and can’t find the big dipper. The universe does love me as much as I think it does, because I keep discovering cool people.
All pictures shamelessly stolen from Rick.