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Tenasillahee Flamingo Surprise

Tenasillahee Flamingo Surprise


Three of us squeezed in an overnight trip on the Columbia River, paddling upriver on the tail end of the flood from Aldrich Point to a campsite on a dredge-spoil island last Saturday, and returning the next day on the tail end of the ebb, avoiding head-currents, as old people should. We stayed away from the places where geese are nesting now, and only saw overhead flights of presumably migrant stocks (in the hundreds), along with the odd dozen or half-dozen swans (late for them to be here).


Both days were mild and mixed sun, haze, overcast, and a little drizzle, though not enough to justify the Goretex jacket. The evening showed Cathlamet’s lights to good advantage, and the ghosting of barges and freighters in the channel in the mist and more serious rain. Water temp demanded the wet suit, but otherwise it was shorts and light top clothing weather! Spring! Oh, that sap is running!


The other two (a couple “renewing” their slightly dormant relationship) were on their first paddle since October, and I was futzing with the relationship between my chunky body and a new cockpit (new boat — my SO’s, but she had to go to Seattle … oh, well, her tough luck!), so this was more of a shakedown cruise than a serious endeavour. Nonetheless, several eagles were spotted, scads of scaups, beaucoup buffleheads, and a scoop or two of harbor seals, along with the odd (really odd) power boater, and a very stuck-up pair of canoeists from Portland.


The old campsite was refurbished, which included returning the 30 inch diameter round we had been using for a table top, gardening away the offending scotch broom, and resetting the fire ring. To keep things humming, I did the hot stir fry, and the others the wine, the plastic pudding, and a mega-breakfast. No wonder that cockpit is a tight fit!


Two pink, plastic flamingoes (man, that new yak has a LOT of cargo room!) greeted the loving couple in the morning, a suitable iconographic introduction to the rites of spring. The return trip revealed massive work in process on tide gates on one side of Tenasillahee Island, and a couple miles of heavy rocking on dikes, all on a deer sanctuary. Why do the deer care if the tide is kept out? Did I help pay for this? Is this a harbinger of more dredge deposits and elevation of the upland on the island? Time will tell.


Summer is around the corner. I wonder how many flamingoes that thing will hold …? Can I transport plastic waterfowl across the US/CDN border without being arrested? I think they’d look good in Zeballos.

Dave Kruger
Astoria, OR

Copyright 1998 by Dave Kruger.
May not be reproduced or redistributed without author’s permission.
Originally posted on Wavelength mailing list in March, 1998. Republished with permission.