Saturday, October 19, 2013

(Mis)Adventures in Boating

Several weeks ago, a couple who attend the same church that I do invited me to visit them at their house on Oswego Lake and go for a boat ride. Here's a little lake history, back in the day it was called Sucker Lake (charming name, isn't it?). There are different stories about how it's a man-made lake but also was formed during the Missoula Flood. Perhaps the truth is a combination of the two. The lake is joined to the Willamette River by Sucker Creek, and there is also at least one canal joining it to the Tualatin River. In the late 1800's it was used to transport iron from the local iron mine down to the smelter, which was several miles away at what is now George Rogers Park. Now, it's a private lake owned and maintained by those who live around it. There is public swimming access, but if the idea is staying above the water, that's another story.

When Leon invited me to come take pictures, I jumped at the chance. After living in Lake Oswego for eight years, the closest I'd gotten to the lake was the "Duck Pond" in downtown. The view from their house was captivating enough, and I couldn't wait to go for a boat ride. However, the matter of a large bit of a canvas barrier that was part of the remodel next door getting caught in the boat's propeller, prop, blade, etc., caused a bit of a delay. While Leon was busy untangling the cloth, Sharon got out the paddle boards and gave me a quick lesson on how to ride one without taking a nose dive. Ever since I've seen groups of kids gliding along the surface of the water, I've wanted to try this. It wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be, and after a few minutes I was headed off for a quick tour. I knew all those years riding skateboards when I was a kid would come in handy.

After about 20 minutes, Leon drove the boat out, free of its slimy canvas entanglements. We then headed off under the little bridge on North Shore Drive and out into the "big lake." And it was certainly bigger than I realized. As many times as I've run, walked, or driven around it, I never realized how vast it really was.
The sun was not in the ideal spot on the way out, but I wasn't complaining. Leon told me about the history of the homes as we went by and stopped to let me take pictures of anything interesting, which was about every five feet.

Things were going swimmingly (no pun intended), when all of a sudden there was silence instead of boat motor noise. After numerous attempts to get the engine started and attempting to flag down the only blind boater on the lake, Leon got out the oar and paddled us to the nearest dock. We tied the boat up and went up the stairs to find out who our new best friends would be. Of course, I had to take a picture because it was a really nice view. Unfortunately, no one was home at
either of those homes, so we trooped next door and down more stairs. The lady of the house let Leon use her phone to call the lake patrol. They are a group of off-duty firemen who help rescue boaters and patrol the lake to make sure everyone is following the rules. Of course, this particular day, no one was on duty. So, back to the boat and into the lake to try and flag down a good Samaritan.

This time we were more successful, and some very nice people towed us all the way back home. It was a much slower ride back, but it gave me more chances to enjoy the scenery.  The house below is also known as Casablanca, and for good reason. It was once occupied by Humphrey Bogart and his wife Mayo Methot, the wife before Lauren Bacall. We soon

 were safely back and thanked our rescuers, who happened to live right across the bay from Leon and Sharon. They were both so apologetic, but there was no reason to be. I'm now assured of more visits out there to make up for all the mishaps that happened on this one.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

To the Lighthouse

Yes, I know, Virginia Woolf already wrote that story. But in this instance I really was trying to get to a lighthouse, just without all the angst associated with the other story. One of my favorite spots in the area is Sauvie Island. It has a small lighthouse on an equally small outcropping of rock called Warrior Rock. The story goes that in the late 1700's a British Naval expedition landed on Sauvie Island and was greeted by warriors of the Multnomah tribe. There was some trading between the two groups, and the point where they met was called Warrior Rock to commemorate the occasion. The lighthouse, Oregon's smallest and one of only two Oregon lighthouses not on the Pacific Ocean, guides river traffic on the Columbia. I have had several past attempts at hiking out to the lighthouse and Friday's adventure was yet another failed attempt, but at least this time I actually caught a glimpse of it. With a little imagination, the lighthouse can be seen at the end of the line of trees on the left in the picture above. Well, with maybe more than just a little imagination.

I had decided that the first sunny Friday in October I would take a vacation day  to capture some fall colors. I was hoping it would be a little later in the month when there was more color, but when you live in such a temperamental state you take any sunny day you can get no matter when it comes along. So when this past Friday was predicted to be 70 and sunny, I put in my vacation request. When I left Portland around 9:30 in the morning it was almost clear. As I got closer and closer to Sauvie Island, it got cloudier and cloudier. I was not amused. I parked at one of the designated areas and started walking, looking for any sign of blue sky in the middle of all the gray. Finally, about noon, the skies started to clear. I sat on an old fallen tree eating carrots and humus and thoroughly enjoying the scene before me.

This particular part of the island has little traffic, especially this time of year, and each time I've been there it has the feeling of walking through a landscape painting or a picture in an old story book. This area has a trail that runs roughly parallel with the main road and then intersects it at a point where the other road turns to gravel. I was heading for this intersection and just happened to look over my shoulder to see a mountain peering at me over the canal.

Once the two roads intersect, it's a long straight walk to the trail head. There are numerous signs for Collins Beach along the way, which is a clothing optional spot. I was half tempted to jump out of the underbrush with my camera aimed at any unsuspecting sunbather just to see if I could get anyone to scurry away to take cover, but I decided I better not. After passing numerous cows and old barns, I finally found my way to the beach. I was going to take the trail out to the lighthouse and follow the coastline back but there was some trail construction going on so I decided to go out and back the same way.

 Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams (I just found out that the mountain I'd thought was Rainier all these years is actually Mt. Adams), and Mt. Hood were all out with their fresh layers of snow. I thought this time I would make it all the way for sure, but alas it was not to be. The beach soon became a sea of mud and the trail was almost as bad. I could feel my shoes being sucked off my feet and decided it would have to wait yet again. I'm sure the lighthouse isn't going anywhere soon and it will give me another excuse to drive back to the island next summer or spring.