December 3, 2013
The Cheakamus River in Squamish provides soft adventure thrills for beginners and families. (Canadian Outback Adventures photo)
[Article first published in Vacay.ca on October 21, 2013]
SQUAMISH, BRITISH COLUMBIA — The guide tells our group, “You are going to fall in the water. Every one of you.” He does it with certainty and in a dead-serious tone of voice that sets me shaking. I don’t like being in water, unless it’s warm, contained, and with a bar I’m able to swim up to. Dropping into cold water that’s racing for Mexico and dotted with jagged rocks whose purpose appears to be to crack the bones of anyone unfortunate or foolish enough to splash into the rapids isn’t my thing and never will be.
As the guide details how he plans to retrieve each of us when we do fall into the chilly Cheakamus River — which he repeats again we are sure to do — I am thinking about hanging up my oar and making for higher ground. But a big part of a travel writer’s job description is attempting things not in one’s comfort zone, so readers like you can know what it’s really like before you set out for the adventure yourself. It’s kind of like the work a proxy would perform for medieval noblemen, tasting their food just to make sure it wasn’t poisoned.
So, for you, I undertook my first white-water rafting trip, a two-hour thrill ride that was far safer than anything I expected and gave me a new appreciation for the soft-core adventures Canada offers.
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September 18, 2010
[Thanks to the folks at the Queen Charlotte Lodge for a very exciting visit in August. Here's an article from the Saturday, September 18 issue of the Toronto Star headlined "Chasing the Chief".]
HAIDA GWAII, B.C.—The Haida are a matriarchal society, so it seems fitting that Jessica Eussen and the other women who journey to fish these waters would outperform the men. In one of those momentous, tell-it-to-your-grandkids, I-can’t-believe-what-I-just-pulled-off highlights of life, Jessica, a tiny 18-year-old from Vancouver, Washington, reeled in a 43-pound Chinook salmon while on a fishing trip with her father.
The thing was about half the size of her and coaxed a smile just as wide.
“I’ll never forget it,” she said a few minutes after being congratulated by other anglers in awe of the feat as well as the dockhands at the Queen Charlotte Lodge, which has built a reputation as a world-class fishing destination during its nearly two decades of operation.
It attracts avid sports fishermen who come to chase the tyee, or “chief”, a Chinook salmon that weighs at least 30 pounds. But the lodge has succeeded in guiding novices to trophy catches too, as Jessica’s tyee last month proved, and that’s helped it become a choice spot for families and couples.
Jessica’s father, Remy, chose fishing as the activity to spend time with his daughter before she leaves for university because “there are no electronics. It’s quiet, you can really bond.”
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July 14, 2010
[From "Beauty and the Beach" in the Toronto Star, July 3, 2010]
BAMFIELD, B.C.—The perfect beach — far, far from crowds and close to heaven — is a traveller’s Holy Grail or Fountain of Youth, a thing of myth that sets us jetting over oceans to rummage around dots of rock and sand that belong to Thailand, or sailing about the Caribbean for the lone island that has escaped commerce.
Such extravagant explorations may not be necessary for Canadians, though. Brady’s Beach in Bamfield, a funny little place that Garrison Keillor or Richard Russo could go to town with, is a British Columbian beauty with many of the hallmarks of the legendary beach-to-end-all-beaches: It’s hard to reach and nearly unheard of; has not one café, chain hotel, Starbucks or McDonald’s near it; and possesses the ability to put your mind in a place you might only be able to reach with hard drugs.
To make it to the beach you first have to find your way to Bamfield. It has a population of not many and seems made for a fable.
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