“It’s a cedar bark hat” he said. “We’re making the Canoe Journey. We’re going to Suquamish next. It’s 30 miles.” His name was Joe, he was a big guy, and friendly, and told us they’d had a great day, the weather was good and the tides were on their side. I was feeling lucky to find the paddlers at Alki – especially because we had a guest in our company for the afternoon and this was an event unique to the Pacific Northwest.
Northwest Native culture is something we’ve had the unplanned fortune to stumble upon before. I like it when that happens because it’s not culture pre-packaged for my consumption as a tourist. We find people to talk to, maybe eat some salmon or hear about something new, and then, we’re on our way. I appreciate the realness of it, they way it’s not scrubbed from modern details to make me think native culture has some how stopped in time like a TV fantasy. The way a guy wearing a beautifully woven traditional hat with a feather can also be holding big cup of coffee that says Tully’s on it in big letters.
We shook hands and then Joe had to run off and pass along that big cup of Tully’s coffee to his cousin – fuel for the next part of the journey, I’m sure. We went down on the sand to take a better look at the canoes.
We hope the weather treats these travelers kindly, that the breeze is at their strong backs, that the tides run their direction, and that they enjoy their journey as much as they enjoy the destination.
There’s more information about the 2008 Paddle to Cowichan here.