Comfort in a kayak

Paddle with eagles and orcas, then sleep in luxury

Bonnie Henderson

"I can't get away from the magic of water," says Clark Casebolt, who makes his living leading sea kayaking trips off Washington's San Juan Islands. Having grown up in Tacoma, spending his childhood weekends afloat in the family's cabin cruiser, Casebolt has always loved the water. He learned to kayak rivers while living in Oregon, then took up sea kayaking after returning to Puget Sound. But it was a night crossing between Orca and Sucia Islands one moonlit autumn evening that hooked him for good. "The bioluminescence was spectacular," he recalls. "Water would drop on your spray skirt, and it was like molten silver. It was just enchanting."

In 1987 Casebolt founded Outdoor Odysseys, offering guided sea kayak trips in the San Juans. Although he wasn't the first to do so, he was among the pioneers. And he continues to innovate today, adding touches that enhance the guest's experience and move him closer to his ideal of running a "green" business. Produce for guests' lunches sometimes comes from his own organic garden or small farms on outer islands; lunch waste is brought back and composted. His newest twist on three-day tours: lodging at a B&B instead of camping. Guests get a bed, shower, and great food; a local innkeeper is supported; and the impact on overstressed San Juans campgrounds is lessened just a little.

Getting started: Kayaking

It's decadent and delightful, but to Casebolt, the trips are about more than just pleasure: "I really do feel that if we don't get people out directly in the outdoors, if they don't experience it, people aren't going to fight for open space."

TOURS: Outdoor Odysseys: 1-day tour $69, 3-day B&B tour $725., 800/647-4621, or 360/378-3533. MORE: Learning to kayak