Living on a tidal creek that winds its way into a small harbor on Long Island Sound has made it easy for us to become avid kayakers. At up to an hour before high tide we are able to slide our kayaks into Otter Creek and have been known to spend upwards of three to four hours kayaking the waters around Mamaroneck, Larchmont or Rye. No surprise, then, that high on our list was kayaking in the Pacific Northwest! First we said goodbye to Victoria and the B&B where we stayed.
Ninety minutes later, north of Victoria on the Island's east coast, we arrived at Cedar-by-the-Sea just south of Nanaimo. Not being familiar with these waters and wanting to make the experience as simple as possible for renting kayaks, we booked the Day Tripper with Wildheart Adventures. As luck would have it, our entire party consisted of Fred, our son and me along with Kim, our guide and owner of Wildheart. Kim provided two two-person kayaks, and at first we were disappointed to each not have our own. Once we got moving, though, the two-person kayaks turned out to be perfect for easy conversation and ease of hearing Kim's descriptions of the area.
WOW. The kayak was therapeutic, calm, eye opening, refreshing, relaxing…. We kayaked between De Courcy and Mudge Islands, pausing between islands on a small beach accessible at low tide to enjoy a delicious lunch meal prepared by Penny, Kim's wife and co-owner of Wildheart. Swimming seals greeted us along the way and on our return they were sunning on the rocks. Kim told us a story of life – there had been about 20 seals in this island group, frolicking, feeding and making the most of their time. Recently, a pod of orcas came by and all but decimated the seal population. Kim witnessed the event from the shore, and surmised that the few we saw were all that remained. [UPDATE This New York Times July 9, 2018 article, Orcas of the Pacific Northwest Are Starving and Disappearing, provides more background about the orcas.]
In recounting tales of the area, Kim noted that only one island in this area is accessible by ferry, which left us wondering how a truck or two came to be on a non-ferry island. He also said there was a house on one of the islands of which the owner never made use. This got our son thinking about how nice it might be to have access to living on the island unimpeded by the modern world.
Hawley Place Bed & Breakfast in Ladysmith was our respite for the evening; super comfortable lodging after a day of activity. Fred did some research for dinner and discovered a gem of a restaurant, Odika in Chemainus, about a 10 minute drive south of where we were staying. Flavorful, tasteful decor, pleasant and perfectly timed service, portion sizes that were just right and artfully arranged, all conspired to bring a perfect finish to our day. Upon our return to New York I discovered this piece in the Chemainus local paper that mentioned Odika. Chemainus is known for its murals, which are every bit as striking in person as they appear online.