The evening shadows began to settle in on the river. It seemed the minutes were filled with magic as we neared the end of our journey.Our captain - my sweetheart - took us on an excursion we will not soon forget. A gentle ride on the river. He slowed so we could take pictures. He circled areas we wanted to see up close. He gently, safely piloted us through the channels. Around the rocks and then back to the place we had started.An evening on the river - not soon forgotten. A happy memory of time together in a place where time seems to stand still.The memories will not fade. Captured forever in our hearts.We will return again soon. The river has given new perspective to life nearby. The countryside along the riverbanks looks different now. As I travel around our community and the surrounding area I see things I have never seen before. Things that were there all along. Hidden. Seen from the river. Now seen from land. Will every voyage on the river broaden my sites? Perhaps. I think I'll try to find out.
Friday, August 8, 2008
Cruisin' Down The River
One evening about two weeks ago after my sweetheart returned home from work we took my out-of-state cousin for the maiden voyage of our little boat on the beautiful Willamette River that flows past our town just a few blocks from our home. There was no way I could have imagined how wonderful life on the river could be. I was totally in awe of the beauty and incredible peace a few hours on the water would bring to my heart. We arrived at the river where my sweetheart carefully backed down the boat ramp.Soon we were on our way.Within a few minutes we approached the ferry crossing. I recently shared a bit about this ferry that is one of two left on the Willamette River. The ferry was just leaving the north bank of the river, carrying passengers in cars to the other side.Rules must be carefully followed in the ferry crossing zone and my sweetheart knew what to do. Move slowly. Give the ferry right-of-way. Pass between the buoys marking the path through that zone. Soon the ferry passed by as it neared the south shore. The lines overhead and the connecting cable provide electric power for the engines. Viewing the ferry from this vantage point gives a new perspective. Completely different than when we are passengers onboard the little ferry. (Some day I will take you for a ferry ride from my home and through the countryside on the other side.)Not far past the ferry we came to an abandoned log boom. For many years timber from our area was floated on the river to this boom site where it was lifted from the water and placed on waiting log trucks for transport to nearby mills. The timber industry has nearly halted in our area and the boom is now just a memory of days gone by.The weather was perfect for time on the river. We weren't the only ones out there. The river has many channels and islands along the way. Trees and rock bluffs mark this part of the terrain beside the river.My cousin and I were assigned the task of watching for rocks and logs and whatever else might be in the water. Things that could cause harm to our vessel. Buoys marked safe channels all along the river. Numbered like mileposts along the highway. The beauty of the evergreen trees on the hillsides along the way and the rock formations we passed was incredible. Who would ever suspect that homes and businesses dotted the tops of these hills just beyond the trees? Thousands of people going about their daily routines while we slowly cruised down the river near their out-of-sight homes.A major highway goes along the banks of the river on one side. The highway was built many years ago by skilled craftsmen. A wonderful old rock wall prevents cars from accidentally ending up in the river. Evidence of fine workmanship. A style seen throughout our part of the state. Faithfully maintained with respect.We heard it before we could see it. The train! Adding to the fascination of our day on the river.Soon we re-entered 'civilization'! Near a beautiful park and dock area along the way. A ski jump ramp proved that. Closed. No jumping today.A nearby dredging operation lifts rock and gravel from the bottom of the river. Only at certain times of the year.Downriver a ways we came to the site on the shore where the rock is removed from the barge and trucked away. From the riverbed to land. To be used somewhere else.About ten miles from our home a major waterfall on the Willamette River attracts the attention of tourists and locals all year round. We knew the falls were ahead, evidenced by these signs posted along the way.Ahead we saw the paper mills that fills the riverbanks on each side just below the falls. The falls provide power for the mills. The river widened, one more caution sign warned us of the falls ahead and we knew we would soon need to turn around and head upriver. Between us and the mills ahead the falls poured over a rocky bluff and spilled onto huge rocks below.After a wide U-turn we were heading back. Houseboats along the way fascinated me. I've always wondered what houseboat living would be like. Especially after I saw 'Sleepless In Seattle'. I'd be happy to try 'Waking On The Willamette'!As we approached the details of each sweet home became evident. This cute little red home appeared to be someone's get-away. A perfect place to relax on a summer day. The occupants were doing that on the deck as we passed by.Beside the tiny little houseboat was an incredible home. With a greenhouse. A floating greenhouse!One more house and then. . . Seaplane Rides! What fun!!The plane was docked nearby. I would like a plane ride! And I like that cute little yellow houseboat beside the plane 'garage'.On our way back in the direction we had come we enjoyed the changes late afternoon brought along the river. Shadows and sun. And then suddenly - a little deer. Down at the river for an early-evening drink of water. We watched him as he watched us.And then suddenly - he was gone.