ZANESVILLE – Bear Davis has a vision: A colorful armada of kayaks and innertubes making their way down the Muskingum and Licking rivers, and drawing attention to Zanesville’s waterfront.
Davis and his team expect to open Pea Ohana Water Sports in the space below Weasel Boy Brewing on Muskingum Avenue this week, offering kayak and canoe rides on two routes through Zanesville.
Named in honor of Hawaii’s famous North Shore of Oahu, a global surfing hotspot and a favorite place of Davis and his wife, Marissa, Pea Ohana means Bear Family in Hawaiian.
Davis, whose watery roots stretch back to Ohio’s canal days, says he wants to create a synergy with the city.
“You have a brewery here, you have a restaurant, what kind of vibrant river town could the city become? We are the dynamite for that, start the fire, lets go,” Davis said.
“People crossing theY bridge, look down and see tubes and kayaks, and say ‘you know what? I’d rather be in that than in my car, where do I rent that?'” he said. “If it helps Weasel Boy, if it helps Muddy Miser’s, all the campgrounds have another place to send people. What can we do to be the best possible community members?”
Zanesville Mayor Don Mason said the project will bring a boost to the Putnam neighborhood. “It is going to bring and energy and a vitality to the Putnam area,” Mason said. “After people finishing their kayaking, they are going to be able to have a bite to eat, get a drink, and enjoy the area.
“I am excited by Bear Davis and his concept because it tells me other people believe in our area,” Mason said.
Initially, Pea Ohana (pronounced Paya Ohana) will offer two routes – one starting at Dillon Falls and flowing about four miles down the Licking River, and the other starting at their headquarters and flowing about four miles down the Muskingum River. An all day route, from Dillon Falls to their take-out spot near the River View Cafe south of the city is available as well. Shorter trips, from the Y City Little League Facility will be offered after 3 pm.
Davis wants to perfect the routes they are starting with before adding more, but envisions more routes in the future, and the possibility of day trips from Dresden or Black Hand Gorge as well.
In addition, Davis expects to add stand up paddle boards next summer.
Kayaks and tubes are available for rental Thursday through Sunday. Kayaks are $35 for a half day trip, and $45 for the full day trip. Tubes are $25. Davis recommends reservations via the company’s website, https://www.peaohana.com/. Customers will meet at Pea Ohana’s Muskingum Avenue location, and then be bussed to the drop off point near Licking Falls or embark southward from a floating dock at the facility to be picked up south of the city upon the completion of their trip.
More:Pea Ohana’s website.
Pea Ohana was born during the pandemic, when Davis, who had lost his job as the head coach of the Ohio Machine the year before, was looking for things to do with his family. The Machine, who won a Major League Lacrosse championship under Davis, folded in 2019.
“We were taking my ’72 Volkswagon Bus out, taking the kayaks out, throwing our grills in the back. Simple fun, no Facebook, no Instagram,” Davis said.
“We thought everyone should have the opportunity to do this, but not everyone has the space or the stuff, or a way to haul it,” he said.
Originally planning to get a box truck and offer a livery on the Olentangy or Scioto rivers near Columbus, Davis came to Zanesville following a suggestion from his nephew Austin Davis.
He and his wife fell in love with the building and area and it’s potential, and idea of Pea Ohana in Zanesville began to take root. With 6,000-square-feet at his disposal, Davis said the building has the potential to host other like-minded businesses, and well as an event center in the future.
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