Friday, June 24, 2016

Up Indian Arm

A few hours ago, I took the wedge of parmesan cheese from the fridge door, and unceremoniously took several toothy bites out of it. Because I was too tired to fix myself a proper snack, because nibbling would involve no dishes or knives or cutting boards to clean.
So, the parm we reserve for dusting on pasta is no longer a perfect triangle, and looks as though a gigantic mouse-shark hit pay day.

I was too tired-- a phrase that I, and he, and many around us have been saying lately.

We are limping towards the light, to that annual bit of sun and hope that the end of the school year brings. We are plum ready for respite, and maybe an adventure.

Until we can peel ourselves off the couch, or the bed, or the cabinet in the bathroom we sometimes sleep against, here is an adventure with a capital A we took one long weekend in May.


Let me start this off by saying that I am okay that we likely won't be doing much international travelling in our near future, so long as weekends like this are within our grasp.

It takes no effort, really. You call a guy about renting his canoe. You buy a watermelon. You meet your new beauty in all her muted sea-green glory, and name her Avocado. You strap her to the car.

You find yourself a husband who is awesome at camping meal planning, and name him Trip Captain. He looks into the details, and you insist on breakfast burritos and maple glazed doughnuts in Deep Cove.

You park, pile everything else you might need for the next 48hrs into the boat, and suddenly, you have left land for the wide, blue sea.

It turns out that your Trip Captain is also the powerhouse behind any movement Avocado is making, and you might as well be an ornamental mermaid at the bow of the boat. In your head though, you are a worthy contributor to the joint effort in getting the canoe to your stop for the evening, Twin Island. 
A mere 45 minutes from the marina, the island is a really sweet spot for for escaping from the hot scorch of the sun, and to break up your journey so that you can swim, read, tan, nap, set up camp, cook, and talk in the moonlight underneath the stars while eating dark chocolate, all with relative ease. Save the big paddle for tomorrow. 

(Later, you will find out that the paddling you have been doing on Day 1 amounts to lily dipping, and you redouble your efforts the next day so that your husband's arms do not fall off. Note: the boat moves much faster this way.)

You set off in the morning after a lovely sleep, even though you decide to keep your contacts in. (You will actually keep the same contacts in for a record-breaking two days, because rules of hygiene do not trump rules of efficiency in the wilderness. Your eyes will be dry like toast, but don't worry, you are a badass outdoors warrior now.)

Funny story.

You set out ahead of most of the other camper-canoers on the island, because they are hungover and a tad slow, and you are not.  You both paddle hard for a few hours, motivated to find the best camp spot up the coast. At some point, needing to pee and to eat lunch, Trip Captain and you decide to pull over on a rocky beach just past a waterfall. There haven't been a lot of parkable shoreline options until now, so everyone is very excited.

By this time, it is about 1pm. Really reasonable.

You make a couple awesome tuna wraps, hang out with a colony of ants, an abandoned cabin, and so many ferns from the dinosaur age. Trip Captain naps, and you read a book, and it gets later and later. At some point, after you've eaten a few berries and inspected the beautiful, wild foxglove growing languidly everywhere, he says it might be best to stay here for the night and not go any further up Indian Arm. He is concerned that heading to the actual campsite you've both earmarked will wipe out the energy reserves tonight, and that paddling back home in the morning with the potential of wind and tide will mean 18k of arm strength that he (understandably) doubts your lily limbs can handle. He doesn't say this in so many words. You do not agree.

And then somehow, you end up having one of those 'discussions' your marriage is infamous for, full of thoughtful concern for the other person, and very long pauses, and no one putting their foot down--meaning that no decisions get made, and the hours pass by so it's now 4pm, then 5pm, and every so often, you see in the distance canoes and kayaks floating past, and you worry that all the camp spots will be taken up, as you arrive-- with no dinner in your belly --sweaty and in the dark.

You don't want to stay here. It felt perfect for a lunch spot, but claustrophobic for a sleeping spot, and besides, the abandoned, falling down cabin gives you the heebie jeebies and you don't want to be the only two souls here when it gets dark.

But it is hard to say this irrational train of thought in the face of Trip Captain's reasoned logic about the tides turning against you in the morning, and the ease of staying here so you can get home swiftly.


In the end, your sadness and resignation that this potentially is the farthest you'll go up Indian Arm imprints on your face like a mopey bear, and as seeing you unhappy is your husband's most unliked thing, he throws all the shit back into the boat and you push off for the unknown, primary colors of a map that doesn't tell you much in the way of how close your next camping site is.

But lo! Behold! The freedom of leaving behind a cramped sliver of land for open water feels replenishing and hopeful indeed.

So much so that some bends later, a welcoming shoreline of other humans appears, and you both feel like idiots for marooning yourselves in Indecision for so long. You could have been on this very expansive beach for hours by now.

Oh well. No matter. You are now busy snarfing down watermelon, and being very smiley and smug that you were right and don't have to spend the night next to a haunted shack anymore.

Curry is made, supplies are hung up in a tree, and no one even really is bothered by the drunk party singing about hot dogs behind them. Sleep is easily attained, on account of all the actual paddling and the burn of accomplishment in your upper arms.

The final morning is foggy and deliciously so.

There is something very calming about a grey sky when you wake up outside, even when faced with some rain. Everything smells more earthy and anyway--your soul has forgotten about things like showering and furniture, and all is as it should be.

Breakfast is coconut milked oats with freshly picked salmon berries that Trip Captain has foraged. The colours bust open your eyeballs really wide. 

The way back is peace incarnate. You and he spy 17 seals between the two of you, 1 otter and hundreds (and I mean hundreds) of jelly fish. Your paddle glides in and out amidst their translucent, ebbing bodies. Eagles fly past, and their young hawks parachute down from the sky. 

Everything is like a Mary Oliver poem, or something.

All told, you paddle 12 km back in the direction of home. You've gotten used to the rhythm, and feel strong and able. Your skin turns brown, despite the cloud cover. 

The marina is ahead of you now, and other people on stand up paddle boards and kayaks begin to dot the horizon. It has just been the two of you for the past several hours, so it is a bit startling and maybe a little bittersweet to see civilization, and realize that your time as a guest of nature is drawing to a close.

You haul Avocado on the beach, unload, watch Trip Captain tie some knots. 

You put off turning your phone on for a while longer, relish in this stillness--

then ask to go for another doughnut.

You're a beaut, BC. Thanks for letting us live here.

1 comment:

  1. Great pictures Joann. And a fun read. Hope to see you soon on Saturna or Victoria. XOXO