On a damp Friday evening when the whole of Canada was tuned into the Olympic Winter Games opening in Vancouver, a group of kayaking die-hard's gathered in Victoria to greet and listen to Freya Hoffmeister recount her epic journey around Australia.
Well excuse me for not jumping on the kayak band wagon, but I cannot help but think that Freya's presentation in Victoria was kind of well flat.
Granted I was at the back, where the sound was not that great, but I earnestly strained to hear something that would convey the excitement and epic nature of her trip around Oz. I think her cold or sore voice may have gotten the better of her - she seemed tired.
Sure there were moments in her presentation, but not nearly enough of them. The south coast of Australia, shark nudges to name a few. But mostly it seemed to be one day of drudgery after another. Certainly there was not enough offered up to help a person plumb the depths of one of kayaking's most remarkable characters. I came away knowing little more about Freya then was shared in her blog. Maybe that's a down side to blogging. Could blogs reveal to much or maybe they indulge us to much?
During my checkered kayaking career I've had the opportunity to paddle and share a drink with two of the most prominent women in the sport Shawna Franklin and Justin Curgenven, and now Freya. I'll take Shawna and Justin any day. Maybe it's the way they laugh and smile or see a world of colours and not just black. Perhaps they lack an obsessively driven nature or what might be a smouldering intensity of Freya.
Or maybe it's just me. I'm a parent and the most important thing in my life is my son and family. Since Freya's trip began I've been trying to understand how a parent can essentially put kayaking ahead of one's family. Freya's son is 14 years old and for half of his life she has accomplished some of the most spectacular solo trips in the world - Iceland, New Zealand and now Oz to name but a few.
Though out my son's formative years I was privilege to be a stay at home parent. During that time we shared a journey of discovery that I would not trade for all the islands and all the oceans in the world. I cannot help but think that in 30 years the colour will have faded on Freya's photos and there will little left but dusty memories. Whereas, I'll have the a living bond, love and strength of a remarkable person.
I know nothing of her family circumstances but I fear that she's missed out on lifes greatest journey. Perhaps I'm wrong, there is after all no one right way to raise a family, maybe the course she's steered will have been the right one. One thing is certain I knew little more about Freya upon leaving then I did before arriving.
Perhaps her story is like Homer's Ulysses, just too big for one sitting or one quick power point show. Maybe the book will be the ticket.