Ladysmith was, as usual a pretty good time. Paula and I headed up-Island on the E&N about 8:00am with two inflatable kayaks and a couple of backpacks, and got off the train just after 10:00am to find John, Louise, Marlene, and Tracy just getting the lay of the land.
The trip up was uneventful; the usual drinking tea and relaxing in big seats while the train rocked its way over the Malahat. As usual, the engineer stopped the train in the middle of each of the two trestles in order to let us all get a good look at the stunning views. The only excitement was provided by the three idiots walking across the second trestle as the train came upon them. But there are refuges provided and, thankfully, the three young men (I've a guy, and even I'm disappointed in these young men who seem to take the laws of self-preservation less seriously) were smart enough to actually get out of the way on the tracks.
The train pulled in to Ladysmith on time, and it took us only moments to hop off—even with the kayaks. We were a bit loaded down because Paula was leading a discussion on inflatable kayaks Saturday afternoon and so we were camping overnight in Transfer Beach Park, along with a couple of dozen other people. From the train stop to the beach was a fairly short walk (had we wished, it was a shorter walk across the highway to a motel we'd scouted out on a previous trip). The organizers allowed us some space to cache the kayaks until the discussion, and a little while later I had the tent set up. Before I could even tell Paula about it, she'd found it and changed into her paddling gear and was off to test out boats.
I'm still interested in boats, but more from a design standpoint these days. I ended up interviewing John Rogers from 8 Dragon Custom Kayaks (who builds beautiful wooden boats), and then cruising the gear sales and checking out new boat designs. Among the more interesting ones was Delta's new Catfish design: a catamaran hull sit-on-top. It looks like a well-thought-out fishing boat, and was one of the few boats I would ave been interested in trying out. Not because I'm looking for a catamaran hull sit-on-top, but just to see how well the design translates into function.
After renewing my acquaintance with Insomniac Coffee's coffee wagon, Marlene and I settled in for a bit of a mid-day nosh, and were joined by a couple who had earlier recognized John and Louise from the blog. We ended up having a great conversation and were slowly joined by the rest of the group, more food, and a couple of bags of fresh-made mini-doughnuts.
Louise and Marlene talking to Mike Jackson
The afternoon passed in usual Paddlefest style, with meeting new people, discussing boats and paddling, and generally spending a sunny afternoon with a couple of hundred un-met friends. John, Louise, and Marlene decided to leave about 3:00pm, but not before Louise won a double kayak rental from Sealegs Kayaking—which apparently means at least one more trip to Ladysmith this year. Paula hosted her discussion on inflatable kayaks which made up for its small attendance with brisk and wide-ranging conversation.
After the discussion, Paula and I packed up her boats and headed into Ladysmith to find dinner. We ended up at Robert's Street Pizza, where we were delighted with a very good pizza.
Roberts St. Pizza
We had several choices of restaurant, but found ourselves wanting something simple and light instead of some of the more elaborate meals on offer. Although the Greek restaurant, Transfer Beach Grill, received a good review the next morning from the couple with whom we had breakfast.
Eventually we wandered back to Transfer Beach and, after chatting with other campers, we went to bed early and slept late.
If you're interested in the rest of our weekend you could check here.