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The Gearboat Chronicles

Boathouse bash, Amos Burg and Ben the boatbuilder

How ’bout this sunrise on the Wallowas, eh? Snowed most of yesterday, but made for a downright pleasant scene this morning while I was out merrily chopping wood and cursing the white spring weather.

Last Friday we gave the new boathouse a shakedown cruise with a birthday gathering. Paul and I needed some time to ease into being 40 so the party was postponed. Mike and Kathie Baird had birthdays in the meantime and my mom had recently gotten younger, so there was lots of toasting to be done.

Here’s a snapshot from outside looking in at a bunch of friends gathered. My dad and I were out on the porch beholding Mount Joseph in the moonlight.

I took this picture and then we heard some commotion inside. Turns out that was the cake and candle moment. Paul had to muster enough wind for two, which is no small feat at our age.

To give you an idea of how many candles are involved, here’s my birthday card from niece Claire, who risked carpal tunnel from all the crayon work required to fit so many candles in there. Way to be a trooper, Claire.

Speaking of cute kids, here’s Linden at the boathouse party wondering why all these tall people are making so much noise.

For those of you within striking distance of The Bookloft, our great local bookstore on Main Street in Enterprise, get on down there Wednesday April 17 at 7 pm for a presentation by Vince Welch, author of the new book The Last Voyageur: Amos Burg and the Rivers of the West.

Burg was a badass riverman and this should be good. This Welch fella was one of the authors of The Doing of the Thing: The Brief, Brilliant Whitewater Career of Buzz Holmstrom, which has made the Winding Waters recommended reading list. 

Speaking of river voyageurs, check out the recent story in the La Grande Observer featuring boat builder Ben Hayes, whose shop is in the Winding Waters brick building in Joseph.

Want another Observer story? Perhaps something about the new Winding Waters boathouse? OK. Here you go.

Rivers are starting to be run. First trip going out next week on the Grande Ronde. The GR is always fun, but I especially like the spring trips when the water is high enough that you can zip down the 30-some miles from Minam through the roadless section in one day. Call Paul to get in on some of that action.

But one day is just an appetizer. Our springtime main courses include overnight expeditions in both Hells Canyon and on the Grande Ronde, served with a side of abundant wildlife viewing and garnished with wildflowers galore and green, green landscapes. Highly recommended.

Also reserve your tables for summertime dining in Hells, on the Lower Salmon and GR. This is making me hungry for rafting.