Celebrating a strong, creative, resilient Lunenburg County
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Finding balance in beautiful places - Couple and business partners forced to slow down to discover what’s important
Story by Tina Hennigar
Before interviewing Cody Whynot from Whynot Adventures,
I felt it was important to experience one of their adventures firsthand. Together with a few girlfriends and our guide, we canoed out on the headwaters of the Mersey River, the longest river in the province. We learned how to properly canoe and read a compass. We camped in tents. We ate like queens, even drank freshly ground coffee. We gazed at a night sky full of magnificent stars and a milky way so bright it brought tears to my eyes. We drank wine. We swam. We heard coyotes. And for the first time, I used a thunderbox (portable toilet). In other words, I committed to the role of writer for this story.
Our guide Carlene Gallant, a self-described nomad, demonstrated the perfect balance of teaching and listening. We were more than a decade her senior and she is no dummy. She took in as much as we did. She’s an equal part ‘survivor-girl’ and foodie. “I hope you don’t mind, but due
to COVID, I have to insist on doing all the food-prep and cooking,” she informed us, as she adorned her gloves and mask. We laughed. “And we won’t stop you,” said someone in our group of moms tired of cooking.
We drank wine from our camping chairs
and learned how Carlene lives half the year here working as a guide for Cody and his wife, ironically also named Karlene, and the other half of the year travelling to Australia or hiking the Pacific Crest Trail or somewhere else in the world. It might not be our perfect life, but it is hers, for now. She talks of her bosses, Cody and Karlene, and what they’ve built, with admiration. Lunenburg County is a good place for a vagabond to settle.
Cody Whynot and Karlene Hauer met in BC while taking Adventure Tourism. In 2013 they submitted their 14 lb application to run Jacobs Landing, where they’d rent kayaks and offer guided tours out of Nova Scotia’s treasured National Park, Kejimkujik. To their surprise, they were accepted, and with the help of South Shore Opportunities and their loan manager, they were up and running in 30 days. “They were paramount,” Cody said. “They were the only lending agency that treated us like adults and didn’t require our parents to co-sign.”
Things were running along smoothly. They bought a beautiful piece of land off Boot Lake, which happens to be our camp for the night. They adopted two dogs, Gulliver and Huckleberry, both Wirehaired Pointing Griffons. 2020 was looking to be a good year with pre-bookings expected to be about double 2019.
Then, COVID-19 hit. Everything slowed. They had to refund payments as guests wouldn’t be permitted into the province.
“COVID has forced us to reimagine the future,” Cody shared. “We were ‘grow at all costs’”. COVID forced them to look at how to be more efficient and put their energy in places that brought them joy.
Although visitations are down 65%,
team morale is up. Business is more efficient. Guests are happier. Cody and Karlene went blueberry picking and visited the Annapolis Royal Farmers Market for the first time in 8 years.
“Work-life balance doesn’t really exist in the summer as an adventure tour company. We work hard on the weekends and rest on Mondays,” Cody said. They take pleasure in small things, like giving their
staff craft beer on non-pay week Fridays. Cody said this place in time has forced people, including himself, to look at what’s really important, the often illusive work-life balance.
“When you can’t buy a bike, a kayak or a flower to plant because people are going outside and playing in their gardens and doing what is important, that’s as close to balance as we’re going to get.”