Columbia River – Quarantine Station to Vista Park
August 29, 2019 – I slept well in the Pesthouse. It was a smooth and easy morning. I finished up yesterday’s blog post. I ran out of time to proofread published it anyway. I was on the water by 9:25, 40 minutes after the tide turned and starting filling up the river. It was warm and overcast with patches of blue peeking through here and there. No rain. No thunder or lightening. No wind.
Again I was paddling water I had so often driven next to. It was not long before I was paddling next to the shore where there was no highway. It felt wild and reminded me a bit of southeast Alaska. It was quiet. No ships were coming or going, even far off along the south shore. I had the river to myself. Well, I did have to share it with the harbor seals. I didn’t mind.
At first there were some pretty ominous clouds that could have easily spat out some lightening, but they began to fade. By the time I was equidistant with Rice Island there was one dark cloud over the east end, and by the time I was near the middle of the island it was blue skies everywhere. I still had lots of flood current ahead of me, and I was making really good time, so I decided to paddle to Rice and have a little break… and look at birds…
I was rewarded with three different shorebird species right away. About a hundred semipalmated plovers flew over my head and were calling. They looked like semipalms but I wasn’t familiar with their flight call so I pulled it up in my Sibley app and, voila’, that was what they were. I’ve never seen so many, and definitely never seen them in flight like that. Then I saw a large number of western sandpipers fly over in the same flight path. It was like they were all glad I was there to appreciate them. Then three pale gray shorebirds landed just far enough away that I couldn’t get a good photo of them but close enough I could get a good look at them through my binoculars. Sanderlings! They had already changed back to their nonbreeding plumage.
Having finished my breakfast and my bird list I got back on the water and headed toward Harrington Point. Now I was in familiar waters. In fact, from this point I was in my neighborhood. My home town. A growing feeling of peace settled over me the farther east I paddled. The only thing new was that I stayed farther off shore to get a different perspective. Unfortunately, that perspective consisted of a lot of clear cuts, but that is what it is where I live.
I arrived at Vista Park around 1:30 and, after a comedy of errors, was greeted by friends who came to spend some time together as this journey nears its end. Friends and loved ones came and went throughout the afternoon and evening. They fed me, built a campfire, and I enjoyed every moment with them all.
Now here I am at the end. Many feelings come and go as I reflect on the journey. It will take time to sort them all out. That’s good. I’m going to need something to do now that I won’t be rolling out of a tent, starting up the camp stove, making breakfast, striking camp, loading up the kayak, paddling with whales, dolphins, seals, otters, murrelets, guillemots, loons, etc., landing on a new beach, unloading the kayak, moving everything above the high tide line, setting up camp, starting up the camp stove, making supper (and lunch and snacks for the next day), writing my journal entry, falling asleep to the sound of the water and the wind and the wildlife.
This is going to take some time to get used to.