Paddle with eagles and orcas, then sleep in luxury

“I can’t get away from the magic of water,” says ClarkCasebolt, who makes his living leading sea kayaking trips offWashington’s San Juan Islands. Having grown up in Tacoma, spendinghis childhood weekends afloat in the family’s cabin cruiser,Casebolt has always loved the water. He learned to kayak riverswhile living in Oregon, then took up sea kayaking after returningto Puget Sound. But it was a night crossing between Orca and SuciaIslands one moonlit autumn evening that hooked him for good. “Thebioluminescence was spectacular,” he recalls. “Water would drop onyour spray skirt, and it was like molten silver. It was justenchanting.”

In 1987 Casebolt founded Outdoor Odysseys, offering guided seakayak trips in the San Juans. Although he wasn’t the first to doso, he was among the pioneers. And he continues to innovate today,adding touches that enhance the guest’s experience and move himcloser to his ideal of running a “green” business. Produce forguests’ lunches sometimes comes from his own organic garden orsmall farms on outer islands; lunch waste is brought back andcomposted. His newest twist on three-day tours: lodging at aB&B instead of camping. Guests get a bed, shower, and greatfood; a local innkeeper is supported; and the impact onoverstressed San Juans campgrounds is lessened just a little.

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It’s decadent and delightful, but to Casebolt, the trips areabout more than just pleasure: “I really do feel that if we don’tget people out directly in the outdoors, if they don’t experienceit, 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

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