Birthday Overnighter – Bonfires and Black Phoebes

I had the idea to do another multi-day solo excursion for my birthday, but life got in the way and I ended up having a two-day one-night window. So I invited my friend, Asia, to join me. She is 23 and has not been camping since she was 10. And she’s never been kayak camping. Not that I’m an expert but I do have a few trips under my belt and have almost all of the equipment and supplies I need for multi-day trips.

August 12, 2017

Birthday number 51. The morning started off with some tragic news. One of my staff at the creamery was in a head-on auto collision the night before. Once the rest of the staff met and quickly figured out who would fill in for her while she is out of commission, Asia and I were able to get the boats packed and paddle 45 minutes up river to one of my favorite dredge spoil islands. I thought about my injured staff member and it touched me that, as they were wiring her broken jaw together, when the hospital asked her who in her family they could call, she said Little Island Creamery.  This reinforced for me the extended family that we have created in this special little place.

Once we landed on the island we immediately took a whirl around and saw many of the island’s endangered Streaked Horned Larks and many of its other usual suspects. I did get a clear look at something I had not seen before on the island – a black phoebe.

Triumphant after our bird walk, we set camp and made dinner. I used my new, tiny cook stove – tiny enough to not take up too much room in my boat, and big enough to heat tea water for two and then some – to make salmon chowder. We also enjoyed eating local cheese and local salmon spread on crunchy bread and crackers. Because it was raining, a third of an inch overnight, we decided to splurge and have a small campfire. Yes, rain in mid-August. On my birthday.  Both campfire and rain were a nice birthday treat.

It has been about a year since I’ve visited the island and it felt good to see it again, remember the special visits I have made to it, see new things, and make new memories associated with the place.

The following morning we made the morning tea (for me) and coffee (for Asia), walked one last birding loop of the island, and made a breakfast feast on my little stove that included a scramble of hash browns, oyster mushrooms, onions, goat breakfast sausage, and local cheese. Then we sprinted back in our kayaks to the Slow Boat landing and a birthday massage for me.

Birthday number 51 was also made particularly special by a group of friends who have made it possible for me to go to Surf Camp in Mexico next year. Surf is six full days of playing and learning in surf. What I will learn there will give me a big boost in skill and confidence moving on and off the ocean – something I will need in order to paddle from Alaska to the Lower Columbia safely.

Next excursion will be to the path of totality in Madras, Oregon to see the eclipse. No kayaking on that one, but special nonetheless.

Written by

kyleenaustin

I am passionate about outdoor exploration. In the recent years I have discovered how much more I can experience from a kayak. I am a professional musician and own a dairy where we produce raw milk, butter and cheeses. My son tells me I have "too much on my plate". He is correct, but I wouldn't live life any other way.

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