Bob Dylan sang it and now I’m saying it, we have just had a “time out of mind”, that is, an experience like no other. We have gone on what we thought was a kayaking holiday to a wilderness kayak resort. Both of these turned out to be slight misconceptions and somewhat different from what we expected, but still really something.
We have just spent six nights at a place (I hesitate to call it a “resort”) that is so different from anything we’ve ever done before that I don’t know where to start to describe it. It really was as Bob Dylan says, surreal. It was a pause in reality. A timeless place. An experience.
The Paddler’s Inn in the Broughton Archipelego is a place located deep in the western fjords of the northern British Columbia west coast. We travelled there from Telegraph Cove on Vancouver Island by water taxi – a big boat that moves people, equipment, kayaks and anything else that you want to take when you go. We spent two hours travelling through the beautiful scenery of the west coast with our Inn owner and boat driver, Bruce. We were going, with a week’s worth of food, supplies and our own kayak to Bruce’s creation and pride, The Paddler’s Inn.
As the boat ride drew to a close, we were able to finally see Bruce’s place with its big sign on the rocks announcing that we were home. We slowly drew into a large quiet bay and saw, with some trepidation and a lot of excitement, the buildings that Bruce had built by hand, mostly from reclaimed wood from the sea. They were amazing. Josee, Bruce’s obviously artistic and talented wife, had painted the cabins green and blue and red with yellow and green trim, planted lots of flowers, had bright colourful chairs and outdoor tablecloths and generally had created a completely charming atmosphere. The large group cabin even had, miraculously, stained glass windows on the top floor.
Our cabin, located on a huge dock and floating on barrels, was called the “Love Shack”. It was as cute as it was rustic and we couldn’t believe what Bruce and Josee had created.
As we examined things, it became apparent what had happened here. Bruce had explained to us during the boat ride that they were in fact “homesteaders”. Basically that meant that thirty-five years ago they had come to this area (known as Echo Bay), chosen a spot and just moved onto it. Then, being at least two hours in every direction from a road or a town, they had scrounged, found or made just about everything that was there. Water came from a creek which Bruce had damned up and caused to flow into each building using gravity to create excellent water pressure. Heat and light were from propane or batteries. Walls, floors, beds, countertops, cupboards, shelves, window frames and most everything else was from salvaged wood and rough-hewn cedar.
Sinks and toilets came from stores (originally) or other homesteaders and were installed by Bruce in some very ingenious ways. Our kitchen sink had screws on each corner and two completely mismatched, old and very usable taps. Our bathroom was large, bright blue and green with a colourful shower curtain full of fish and a floor made of painted planks through which you could see the ocean and the seaweed below. Our comfortable bed/couch was a platform under which suitcases and anything else could be stored and our shelves were all aromatic cedar. Our “dream kitchen” fit one person exactly and had a cold box built into the wall in which you put frozen pop bottles and from which you had to take everything out every time you wanted to find one thing. It was something I could come to hate very quickly, but the rest of the kitchen was….interesting. And next to the kitchen was our “sauna”, a little room with a small wood stove, cedar walls and benches and plenty of places to hang wet clothes. A very comforting item in this wet, cool climate.
And lastly was our proximity to the ocean from the Love Shack. Next to the kitchen counter was the back door. It was approximately two feet wide and both of us had to turn sideways to get in and out of it. But once out, you had the ocean right at your feet. I mean, right there. If you bounced out of that door too quickly, you would be going for a swim. When you were washing dishes, the resident Great Blue Heron or a white seagull would be within calling distance as they floated past. It was awesome in the original sense of the word.
But the beginning of the time out of mind came the first evening as we finished getting settled and took our wine out the skinny door and onto “our” dock. We sat down on the outside chairs and took in the view. We listened and could hear the birds flap their wings as they flew by. We could hear many, many more birds in the forest and occasional thumps and scraping sounds which were probably bears turning over rocks and feeding. We could turn our heads and see a huge, towering granite cliff right behind us, or look forward and see the unbelievable view of ocean, mountains and sunset. It really was surreal. Maybe it wasn’t exactly a resort, but it was very, very beautiful. And we had six days to go.