In the days preceding my departure by kayak, I flew from my home in Saint John, New Brunswick, to Vancouver, British Columbia, and I stayed with friends, Calvin, and Virginia Mitchell, who helped me with last minute details, such as gathering up equipment, photocopying maps, and collecting provisions.
On July 4th, I was finally ready. The Mitchells drove me to the shop where I picked up my new kayak, and then to a thin branch of the Fraser River. It took over two hours to pack my boat. It was the first time I had ever packed a kayak for any longer than a two day paddle. When I lifted the loaded kayak off the dock and into the water, it was so heavy I wasnt even sure it would float. I piled tons of gear on the back deck; including my laptop(in a water-proof case), sandals, kayak cart, extra dry bags and paddle float. The kayak obviously did not sink. In fact, I was totally amazed at how stable it felt.
I left the dock at 4:25, on a sunny and calm Friday afternoon. After five minutes on the water, I noticed a small flock of Canada Geese lined up along the river bank as if to bid me an official Canadian farewell. Behind the geese,
the Canadian maple leaf was flying over-head from a flag-pole on a cottage
lawn. Knowing I would soon cross into foreign waters, not to return to
my homeland for many months, I became instantly nostalgic for that which
is Canadian... whatever "that" is. As I paraded past within five
feet of the geese, I felt like a paddling ambassador. The geese didnt flinch.
Moving past Boundary Bay and out into open water, I could see the sun flashing off of paddle blades. There were three kayakers paddling towards me. As they passed by, I could see puzzled looks on their faces. "Where are you heading?"
"Im paddling home." I said.
"Where is home?"
questioned another. "Saint John, New Brunswick" I replied.
way!" he said.
"Yes, way!" I said, then gave the name
of my web site and told them to check it out in a few weeks to see if
Im still alive. They were quite amused... and so was I. I love the sound
of that... "home". I cannot think of a more suitable destination.
With the sound of paddles becoming faint behind me, I pointed my kayak toward the border town of Blaine, USA, which was approximately eight kilometres straight ahead. To keep from talking to myself, I started to sing - " Ah... for... just... one... time...
I would take the Northwest Passage... To find the hand of Franklin... reaching
for the Beaufort Sea..." Im sure the guys fishing for crabs a
half kilometre away could hear me. I was singing almost as loud as I could.
Its kind of fun to act strange and not care what people think. Ill
probably never see them again.