When traveling through the Oregon-Idaho-Montana corridor I believe it is imperative one reads at least part of the Lewis and Clark journals. This expedition — brainchild of Thomas Jefferson and executed by the two dapper captains — is one of the great American Tales. Mr. Bielicki, my high school history teacher, told our class the stories of the wilderness and Sacajawea with such enthusiasm as if he were there himself, and I was always curious to see this part of the country for myself.
Finding the right book isn’t easy as there are many abbreviated and interpreted versions of the journals. I ended up getting the Bernard DeVoto edited version written in the fifties. This edition does not include the entire journals, but close enough to feel as if you are along for the expedition on a day by day account. Devoto garnered some respect as evidenced by a patch of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area bearing his name. L&C’s chronicles are impressive, hilarious, and quite accessible even in the original writing. With some regularity there are encounters with Native Americans, Grizzly Bears, and other interesting features. They really didn’t have many dull moments. The men, in particular Clark were misspellers of fantastical proportions finding seemingly endless ways to spell thing like “Seouex”, Sacajawea or “brackfast” etc. etc. and proving you don’t have to know how to spell to write a great work. Pick up a copy for yourself when you travel their path.
Heading out of Hood River was heartbreaking. The wind was cranking, my friends were staying for a good while longer, and when I shipped my kite gear to Florida, a tear may have started to form in my eye. On my final day, Curt and I constructed a roof rack for my honey bee (new moniker for the bus). Felix came by and offered a software coder’s point of view on the subject, and between the three of us (i.e me) the job turned out road- and bus-worthy. The total sum for the materials (one 2 by 4 and four eyebolts, two beers) was less than $10 and the project was completed in one afternoon. That included picking up my new Stand Up Paddle (SUP) board that the rack was built for. We ended up going out for my send-off in town enjoying some of Oregon’s finest live Bluegrass. When we stared out the window of the bar about 2am, we realized the trees were moving…hmm it’s windy. May have to do a little final session! On borrowed gear and under the cover of darkness (new moon) We proceeded to kite out of the familiar event site, and managed to return to shore without injury or death.
I set out the next day with four hours of sleep and drove straight to Hells Canyon where the Snake river North and eventually joins the Columbia. It is dammed in several spots and provides power for both Idaho and Oregon. I took advantage of the smooth water between the Oxbow and Hells Canyon Dams to go for a paddle with my new toy, going for swims, watching the fish jump, and taking in the view. Further down past the Hells Canyon Dam, the river is left to run its course, and the resulting rapids draws kayakers, river rafters, and they even run a jet boat for part of the river. I did a short hike along the river , and swam in some of the milder currents. I made a note to come back for the spring melt some time and float down the rapids — seems like it would be fun…
Ah, at last, the promised land of milk and honey, complex IPAs, and Elysian winds. I had been trying to reach this place the entire summer, and by beginning of August finally achieved my goal. Summer in Hood River is pure bliss with warm days, cool nights, and a beautiful strong breeze blowing most days. There are lots of outdoors activities to partake in: The Dirty Fingers Bicycle Repair Shop Thursday group ride (with free keg of quality brew after), kiting off the sandbar with your friends, or paddling around on a SUP board — the fun just doesn’t stop. I have to admit I didn’t take all that many photos, as I was too busy doing other things…
There is also a whole sub-culture of van dwellers, and I have to thank my friend Tanya for showing me the ropes of the lifestyle when I first arrived. On several occasions locals told me they first arrived in HR in their windsurf or kite van and never ended up leaving…Let’s see if I make it out 🙂