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Day One
Sunday December 10.
Our first BEAR sighting is made on the highway between Port McNeil and Port Hardy. However, the taxi driver tells us that that the bear is stuffed, and placed there by the local tourism authority. We believe him.

Debb and I very much enjoy carrying our bags all the way out to the Columbia at the end of the dock in the heat of the afternoon. The Columbia is, for the moment, abandoned and located at the end of the dock. We meet up with another participant -  Eleanore Roberts from Cochrane, Alberta  before heading out to prowl around Port Hardy.  In due course we arrive at the IGA and run into Sharon and Bill who are stocking up on groceries for the trip. I volunteer to help Bill with the boxes and boxes of groceries and we pile into the IGA van and drive down to the water. Don Dybeck, another mothershipper, is lurking by the boat launch. Don pitches in and helps put the groceries into the skiff, thus setting the stage for a week which will see Don gradually assume many of the chores of making sure that the Columbia is a happy mothership.

We muster back on the Columbia by about 5:00 and have our introductory presentation where we meet Bill and Sharon and Karen, the naturalist/kayak guide. We're also assigned to our rooms - Debb and I feel honoured that we are selected to live in the room with bunk beds. Joining us in the back of the boat are Don and Celeste Dybeck and George Gring and Joy Dybeck  Bob and Hannelorr Shanahan, Eleanore Roberts and Sharon (Karen's mom) live in the front of the boat along with Bill, Sharon and Karen.  

The Columbia gets under way and about an hour later we are at the pier in Alert Bay - a small town that is half aboriginal and half white.  That evening we explore the town - some visiting the world's 'largest' totem pole, some walking up to see the Indian burial ground, others stopping for a few pieces of bumblebery pie at a local eatery.

Monday September 11

Coffee is ready by 7:00 am and by 8:00 breakfast is one the table, a fresh fruit salad and a selection of muffins as well as a new friend - the Adams peanut butter. The group is at the U'Mista Cultural center by 9:00 for a bit of stage-setting for the upcoming travels. A documentary tells of the area's Indian tribes and their struggle to retain their cultural identity. The Center is a repository for the potlach collection - a stunning collection of masks and regalia that are central to the tribe's identity.  In fact, George is so taken with the Center that he makes a significant cultural acquisition - a carved ceremonial paddle. Surely there is now at least one very happy carver in Alert Bay who has probably ordered a new Dodge Ram 4X4.

We get back to the boat by about 11:30 and the Columbia is underway to Malcolm Island and have lunch on board. We anchor and after Sharon's "Introduction to Kayaking" lecture, we head out for a three-hour paddle. In the group there are some every experienced, strong paddlers and some people who have never set foot in a kayak. Everybody is quickly comfortable in the boats - those of us who have been on previous Mothership trips are surprised to see that Bill is also out on the water. We are back on board by about 6:00 and enjoy a taste of Oregon wine that Don and Celeste have brought on the trip with them.  Supper that night is garlic bread and spaghetti with fresh basil or sun-dried tomato sauce accompanied by a wonderful salad.  That evening, Bill, George and I play cribbage. Despite some extremely clever pegging  by me at the end of the game, someone other than me wins.

On To Day Two
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