Camping on Keats Island is a family tradition for us. It’s the first place we ever camped with Pearl and we’ve been there with the girls every year since Rose was born. (That makes this our third year in a row.) Before there was ever a Rose and Pearl, Peter and I camped here together and way before there was a Peter and Karissa, Peter camped on Keats with his family. So it’s a good tradition and one we look forward to each year.
2020 marked a milestone for us in that this was the first year we kayaked over as a family of four. For the last two summers, Peter has taken Pearl in our double kayak while I’ve ferried across with Rose. If we launch from Gibsons, the paddle takes approximately 30 to 40 minutes. This summer we felt that Rose was ready to try it. We’ve done a few short paddles with all four of us in our double kayak but knew that likely wouldn’t work for this trip, particularly with all of the gear needed for 2 nights of camping.
Our solution was to borrow a single kayak, which I paddled, loaded with most of our stuff. Peter took both girls across. As always, we launched early in the morning when the water is calmest. This meant that I was changing the girls out of their pyjamas on the beach while Peter loaded the kayaks but we had a beautiful crossing.
The provincial campground at Plumper Cove was busier than we’ve seen it mid-week in previous years (we went from a Wednesday to a Friday) but we were able to snag the same spot we had last year. The caretaker told us she’s had to turn people away on the weekends.
This was something of a different year for us at Keats. In the end, we had a good time and are glad we went. It’s something the girls talk about all year and we all would have been disappointed if it hadn’t happened this summer. At the same time, Peter and I agree it was a harder trip than in year’s past. Partially this was due to weather. While we knew there was rain in the forecast, we weren’t expecting it our first night. But we got rain that night. Oh wow, did we get rain! Pearl and Rose took it in stride but we also spent more time in the tent than we ever have before while camping.
In addition, this summer, we missed one of the big highlights of our time on Keats, which is a hike to the General Store at Camp Barnabas. We always do this short hike, get ice cream at the store, and usually poke around the farm there a little too. Without the incentive of ice cream, our girls were not enthusiastic hikers but we hiked anyway! Instead of ice cream, we were on slug watch, the girls shouting out anytime they spotted one.
We spent lots of time on the dock, Pearl and Rose armed with dollar store fishing nets in an attempt to catch the little fish. (Pearl caught one and I caught one.) The girls also loved exploring the beach and particularly clambering over rocks and logs. There was one spot on the beach that we visited each day and Pearl collected limpet shells.
So it wasn’t our most spectacular camping trip to date but it was fun to kayak together and I’m delighted that our tradition continues. (Our trip home was made much simpler by the fact that Peter’s parents came over in their motor boat and took the girls back with them while Peter and I paddled the kayaks. With the uncertain weather, this meant we didn’t have to worry as much about conditions on the water.)