By Tara Nelson
Those looking for a fun way to get outdoors now have more choices in their own backyard.
Blaine resident Gail Walker, her husband Britain and Blaine resident Eric Palmer opened Paddle and Pedal Adventures bike and kayak rentals at the end of Semiahmoo spit last Monday.
The business offers 20 bicycles and 15 sit-on-top kayaks for rental on an hourly basis. Single and double kayaks are $20 for one hour, plus $10 for each additional hour. Bicycle rentals are $10 an hour with group discounts and day rates available.
Walker said because of the area’s beauty and abundant wildlife viewing, she saw an underutilized niche for recreation in Drayton Harbor and Semiahmoo Bay not just for visitors but for those who live here year-round.
“We wanted our prices to be very reasonable,” Britain said. “If you have two people for two hours, that’s only $15 a person, which is about the price of lunch or a movie.”
Walker added that with the 2010 Winter Olympics and the World Police and Fire Games this July, Birch Bay and Blaine are on “the brink of becoming found.”
“This event is the third largest sporting event in the world and is expected to attract 19,000 police and fire personnel along with 25,000 guests,” she said. “We want them to see Blaine and stay at Semiahmoo.”
Walker has extensive experience in finding and filling niches she partly attributes to her travel abroad and living in many parts of the world.
Although she was born in Bellingham, she lived in Germany for several years while stationed at 2nd General Hospital in Landstuhl, during her service to the U.S. Army.
After leaving, she returned to Bellingham and began working as a medical assistant.
In 1979, she, with the help of her sister and mother purchased a building on Samish Way (now Samish Way Montessori School) and opened a pre-school and day care for 60 children.
She was also the first mobile espresso cart and kayak rental operator on the on the sea wall in Kailua-Kona Hawaii in the early 1990s. After that, she moved back to Bellingham where she met and married her husband Britain, and opened Emerald Bay Catering.
Although the couple sold the business several years ago, Walker still owns and operates her own catering and personal chef business, The Everyday Gourmet, from her home. The business specializes in healthy food with an emphasis on managing diabetes. Britain is the food and beverage manager at Semiahmoo Resort.
Walker said as the weather warms, she wants to schedule moonlight paddles and special guided trips. She has also arranged a special package with the owner of Outer Island Expeditions whale watch charter for those interested in cycling on Sucia Island’s 17 miles of biking trails.
Paddle and Pedal Adventures are open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Monday and are located at the end of Semiahmoo spit. They can be reached by calling 360/224-0707.