I've been AWOL for a bit, mostly b/c I don't paddle in TN in the summertime--it's just MISERABLE!! But I went on my annual visit to see my mom in Vancouver, and on the way I stopped off to meet and go on a trip with none other than our own wonderful AstoriaDave!!! He and his wife Becky invited me to stay at their home and go on a kayak trip in Willapa Bay, and they were such gracious hosts. Sometimes people you “meet” online are just faking a persona, but the Dave I met IRL was exactly the same great guy we all know and love here on the forum. Meeting him and learning from him was the highlight of my trip. I flew into Portland on Thursday, 8/11, and Becky and Dave picked me up at the airport for the drive to Astoria. I had never been to Oregon, and it is just as beautiful as the rest of the Pacific Northwest/Canadian West Coast, but with its own special flavor. All I really knew about the Oregon Coast was Lewis, Clark, and Sacagawea, and there’s a lot of them still out there. But it’s got a lot more going for it, too. I had shipped a big box of my camping supplies out to Dave ahead of time, and we spent most of Thursday evening getting our gear packed and ready to go. Friday morning we headed out to the Willapa Bay Wildlife Refuge launch site, where we met Dave’s ex-wife Belinda. Becky, alas, had injured her wrist so was unable to go on the trip. Two couples were meeting us on Long Island later in the trip. It took us a long time to load the boat. Dave and I were paddling his double, so we were a little short on space. Not only do two single people need more stuff than an actual couple, but Dave was also accustomed to packing his boat with his stuff, not with my stuff. But we finally got it all organized and we launched, heading out at high tide towards Sandspit campground on Long Island. It took about 90 min to get there on water that was nearly glass until a wind from the north picked up when we were nearly at the island. Once we landed, we set up camp. We had a lot of sites from which to choose, as no one else was there. Dave picked a spot under the trees, while Belinda and I set up our tents out on the pebble beach (well above the high tide mark). In the afternoon, we set off on a hike to the Old Growth Cedar Grove, but after a short time Dave said he was feeling tired and needed to go back. Belinda and I marched on by ourselves, and took lots of pix of nice old trees. That afternoon Dave and I were able to work a little on navigation work at the picnic table, but he was still not feeling very well. By the next morning, it was clear that our planned trip to work on navigation skills on the water was not going to happen. We were all pretty worried about Dave, but he assured us that he just needed to rest. Around mid-morning, the second couple arrived—Beth and Randy, in their decked canoe, which they paddle with kayak paddles. They have a TON of space for storage and brought lots of stuff. So the rest of us headed out on a hike to the other side of the island—Paradise Point. It was a beautiful hike, during which we saw an entire area full of huge snags and ate a ton of evergreen huckleberries (picking several bags full as well for pancakes the next morning). When we returned to camp, Dave was still not feeling too well, but later in the evening he put up a tarp. I had been hoping to see Tarp Man in action, and I was not disappointed! I learned how to tie a bowline and a taut line hitch (which is a VERY useful knot!) and I think the tarp we put up was pretty awesome (although Dave said it was not his best). I'll let Dave tell you about the TeSelle Variation LOL. The next morning everyone but me (as I’m vegan) had pancakes with huckleberries. The fact that Terry had mistakenly brought brownie mix instead of pancake mix, which she added to Beth’s small amount of pancake mix, just make the whole thing more interesting. They smelled like hot chocolate while cooking! We launched a little before noon, at high tide, and went back to the put-in the same way we came. We had planned to circumnavigate the island, but in the interest of Dave’s health, amended our trip plan. The weather was a little overcast this time, with small waves and a little wind. Once we got back to Dave and Becky’s place, I had to scramble to get all my stuff reorganized. I was sending back in the box most of my camping and paddling gear, but taking to Vancouver with me (to visit my mom) my booties and gloves (or so I thought!), paddle float, and a few more items. After a shower, a nice meal out in a great restaurant, a trip to the Astoria Column (of which I failed to get pix, alas), and a good night’s sleep, I caught the train in Kelso, WA to head to Vancouver. More on my paddling adventures there in the following trip report! I do want to say publicly a HUGE thank you to Dave, Becky, and their friends for being so welcoming and accommodating while I visited. Dave is truly one of the Good Guys of the world.