Well, waking up in the Love Shack that first morning sure didn’t diminish the idea that this was some sort of alternate reality; that we were on a strange but lovely journey through incredible nature and peace. We were both so excited to get out and explore that we could hardly wait for Bruce to come down to give us our orientation. But, at nine A.M. on the nose, there he was, ready to give us and the other couple who were staying at the Inn a talk about all the dangers that were out there waiting for us.
He started his talk by saying, “Nothing on the water will hurt you. ” Hmm, what about those big waves, the wind, the rain, the sea monsters? I stopped myself from spitting out something stupid and kept listening.
“It’s on land that you have to worry.” he continued.
“First, bears. Bears do not want to hurt you; they don’t even want to be near you. So always make lots of noise, don’t go near them and if they’re about forty or fifty feet away from you, yell, bang things, jump up and down and look dangerous. They will go away.
If, however, a bear is closer than that, play dead. That’s right, make yourself small, don’t make eye contact, don’t make noise. Remember the story of the man that got buried in the mud. The bear came up to him, scratched him as he lay curled in a ball, rolled him down the hill, buried him in some mud and then left. He had left his prey to eat on another day. The man waited until the bear was gone, took his scratches and wounds back to town and lived to tell about it. If a bear is close, do not be threatening; you cannot win. Play dead. ”
Right, Glenda, and try not to scream like a girl and pee your pants.
“Second, cougars. We have a lot of cougars out here and you may see one. If you see a cougar, unlike seeing a bear, you have a problem. That’s because cougars will never, ever let themselves be seen until they are ready to attack. Solution, carry a very big stick and don’t play dead. Yell, scream, threaten them and for heaven’s sake, hit them if necessary. Hit with all your might as much as possible. Cougars will never want to be hurt because they can’t exist in the wild if wounded. Therefore, if you hurt them, or even look like you can hurt them, they’ll leave.”
Right. So much for hiking. For the rest of this holiday, I’m staying in the boat and in the Love Shack with the doors (even the skinny door) locked and barred. Jim, get in here quickly please.
Well, after that inspiring and refreshing talk, we were turned loose to get at ‘er. Jim and I got the Klepper ready, made ourselves a lunch and decided to go to one of the nearby kayaking destinations that Bruce had shown us. However, on the way out of the bay, we noticed that the water was very calm and was therefore a good day to go to one of the farther destinations. Brilliant idea: leave the close ones for later. So, across the big water we went.
As we reached the far shore, we turned left and kept paddling. A beautiful day! Great weather! Let’s go to the Fox Islands, we said. They looked to be about four or five kilometers away and we had done an eight kilometer paddle the day before we came here. No problem.
Paddle, paddle, paddle. None of the “thousands of inlets and islands” described in Bruce’s brochure appeared, just a long, long shore with a few coves along the way and seals watching our progress. Keep paddling. After a short pit stop on a rocky ledge filled with huge sharp barnacles, we got back on the main shore and kept paddling. A boat came close and the lady in the back said, “Are you having fun?” Well, by this time, fun was not really part of the agenda, but I refrained from begging to be towed and assured her we were having a nice time. She then told us that they had caught five big salmon already and that if they caught another one, it would be ours. How nice was that? Unfortunately, we didn’t see them again and so ended up have our chili for supper. Eventually, that is.
And that’s because before we could get to supper, we had to keep paddling. On the way back from the first Fox Island (that’s as far as we got), we stopped in another cove. As we did a slow drift and stretched and looked around, we saw the most amazing thing. It was low tide and there was an area that was uncovered by water and full of clams and seaweed. And something was…..spitting! That’s right, spitting all over the place. It was completely comical to see all these thin streams of water going in all directions, twenty or thirty at a time, coming seemingly out of the ground with nothing and no one to be seen actually doing it. It was as if the ground was spitting out into the air amid a carpet of clams. Unbelievable. As it turned out, Bruce later told us, it actually was the clams. They apparently have a tube that needs to stay clear and so they spit seawater out of it all through the time when the tide is out. And when a whole bunch of them are doing it at once, and aiming in every direction, it’s hilarious. Wow, what next?
Anyway, we FINALLY made it back to the Paddler’s Inn and dragged ourselves (well, I did anyway, but Jim was in much better shape) onto the dock and into the skinny door. We had supper on the bed/couch under the covers, finished eating, read our books for half an hour and fell unconscious very quickly. We found out the next day that a round trip to the Fox Islands was actually about a twenty kilometer paddle. Quite the trip for a couple of retirees with more enthusiasm than brains. Oh well, there’s still five days to be more sensible and to enjoy our time out of mind. Providing, of course, that we can move tomorrow.