In 2015, a friend of ours working for REI told us about how they were closing their stores on Black Friday. REI was giving their employees a paid day off and encouraging them to get outside, or as the social media campaign put it, #OptOutside. Having never been a Black Friday shopper myself, I thought this sounded wonderful.
So we planned to meet our friend and her co-worker (who also kayaks) for a day on the water. When we got to our launch spot, our friend was already there. It was cold out and sunny, with no wind: one of my favorite types of paddling weather. We set up our kayaks, distributed our gear, and we were off.
The water was glassy, and a slight mist was rising from the surface where the sun peeked over the hillside. There were no other boats on the water – we had Puget Sound to ourselves. As we paddled away from the shore, we spotted the occasional harbor seal. Then, off in the distance, we saw a large group of harbor porpoises, surfacing in pairs as they are so prone to do. Before long, it didn’t matter which way you looked out over the water, there were twin dorsal fins coming to the surface. We made our way up the Chambers Creek tidal zone and were greeted by Madrona trees full of blue herons – more than we could keep track of. We eventually turned around when it got to be too shallow to continue.
My wife and I decided that this is how we wanted every Black Friday to be: a crowd of harbor porpoises is better than a crowd of anxious shoppers any day. So we were caught in a traffic jam of harbor porpoises in Steilacoom in 2015, we floated the Narrows in 2016, we paddled Owen Beach to Point Ruston in 2017, and Dash Point to Dumas Bay in 2018. We have kayaked every Black Friday since REI started prompting us to #OptOutside, and we will be doing the same this Black Friday. So far it looks like it will be sunny and cold, so maybe it’s time to visit the harbor porpoises again.