A Necessary Expedition…Part 1
In the spring of 2000, Heather and I were living in a rental on the American River in California. Our roommate at the time, Scott McGuire, was a sales rep for Teva sandals and was scarcely home. When he was there, though, Heather and I would listen like children to his ever-growing collection of adventure tales. Scott is a class V whitewater paddler, an expedition sea kayaker, a backcountry skier… and he is great at all of them. It was the tale of his two-month paddle along the Sea of Cortez in ‘99 that inspired us to launch ‘Canada to Cabo’ – our 162-day expedition by mountain bike and sea kayak – and the trip that really launched Heather’s and my own adventure career.
Like us, Scott has his heroes. He’s a voracious reader, and during his visits home he lent us books from his library along with a detailed, verbal review and a mention of the impact each particular book had on his life. It was Scott who introduced us to the book “Baidarka” by George Dyson. I’ll never forget it: he handed it to me with both hands, as if it were an ancient, recovered scroll from some archaeological dig. “Have you seen this?” he asked with a smile as I reverently took hold of the book. I had not. “It will blow your mind,” was his only review.
For the rest of the afternoon, and for days after that, I slowly turned the pages of what would become my single favorite book. It was a window into a dream-life that resonated with everything I had come to love at that point in my own life. I had already been a paddler for nearly a decade. I was a carpenter, and although I hadn’t built any boats yet, I considered the ability to design and build boats to be the highest form of art, and then to expedition in those self-built boats one of the very highest achievements in life.
In “Baidarka”, here was the story of a man who had followed his heart so clearly down his own, unique path – and had the skills and genius to do it with unequalled style. The audacity and passion of this young man, George Dyson, who lived in a coastal tree house ten stories up, built skin on frame boats of original design and modern materials yet based on ancient concepts, who innovated sails, outriggers, rudders and paddles, and somehow, through the years, captured it all on film and in words as eloquent as music. To this day, each time I put down my dog-eared, coffee-stained copy of “Baidarka”, the same single word comes to mind: “Wow!”
Half a decade after our roommate introduced me to “Baidarka”, Heather and I had settled in Bellingham, WA, having no idea that George Dyson was a resident here himself, and that he kept a shop right downtown on Holly Street. It was, to say the least, a most enjoyable discovery. Part museum, part workshop, part library, sometimes watering hole, art studio, think tank, author’s haven and occasional residence, George’s downtown space is, like his watercraft and growing number of published books, both an enviable creation and fascinating reflection into its creator’s way of life.
It was in his shop, fittingly, that I first met George, and where his legendary skin on frame creations, beautifully displayed amongst shelves of books, photographs, nautical charts, spools of twine and tools, further inspired my imagination.
And it was in his shop that I thought to propose to George an expedition…one that will take the support of the entire community if it’s to be a success.
TO BE CONTINUED….
~In the Spirit of Compassion and Adventure~
Heather, Brandon and Hayden Storm