PA state of mind

Posted by Ken Campbell April 12, 2010 0 Comment 949 views

I don’t know exactly why I look forward to the Port Angeles Sea Kayak Symposium each year. It has its down sides, after all. It’s small, out of the way, and weather-dependent in a way that other events, offered later in the summer, are not. Even when the weather is perfect, as it was last year, attendance is often low. The 10th annual PA symposium is scheduled for this coming weekend – there must be something about it that keeps me coming back.

It could be the setting. In Port Angeles (one of Washington’s coolest towns), on the beach below the Red Lion, in the heart of the harbor, where there is always something happening. The Black Ball ferry comes and goes on its route across the Straits to and from Victoria, and other vessels, large and small, regularly sail back and forth. The city marine center occupies part of the wharf next to the hotel, and the adjacent kids play area with the pirate ship is a strong draw for the poop-in-my-pants crowd and the parents who tend them.

Although the Indian restaurant across the street has slipped considerably in both quality and service, the Thai place next door is still outstanding. Up the street one way you’ll find Mexican and Chinese cuisine, while the other direction will lead you to burgers and a decent sports bar. There are a couple of well-stocked and quirky independent bookstores – there can never be too many of those, eh? – that can stretch a walk downtown into hours of enjoyment.

The small size of the symposium itself is, quite possibly, its greatest charm. Instructional sessions are typically uncrowded and geared to the needs of the participants in a way that larger events might not be able to be. There are surf sessions, rolling clinics and rescue training, but there are also enough items that relate to entry-level paddlers that there really is “something for everybody.”

There’s also the feeling that, by attending, I’m helping to further kayaking and paddleboarding in a place where it was absolutely meant to be. With the demise of the Port Townsend and Tacoma events, it’s the longest running symposium in Washington, and I hope it goes for another ten years.

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