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The Gearboat Chronicles

S.S. Coronado

In this episode of ‘Behind the Scenes at Winding Waters,’ we catch up with rafting company owners Paul and Penny Arentsen at Wallowa Lake, where they’re taking their sweet vintage ski boat out for a cruise on the biggest glacial puddle in northeast Oregon.

The boat is a Century Coronado, which translates from Spanglish as ‘Awesome “On Golden Pond” Boat.’ The motor has a deep rumble and sounds like it used to power a factory – perhaps the naugahyde plant that produced the brown upholstery lining this luxury craft.

Penny has fond memories of the motor conking out in this boat during excursions as a child. That plaintive look on Paul’s face in the above photo shows him making a fond memory of his own as he feathers the throttle and talks the motor out of quitting in the middle of Wallowa Lake. I think he just needs to open the throttle all the way and burn the carbon out.

They’re water people, these Arentsens. No denying that. They’ll go charge Hells Canyon whitewater in an 18-foot raft, turn around and do a circuit through the lower Salmon River country, come home to fish the Wallowa or Grande Ronde, then unwind with a cruise on flatwater in the ol’ Coronado.

Another water person, Captain Morgan Jenkins, is out right now on another river expedition. And judging by the parking lot of river guide vehicles up at Winding Waters headquarters when I dropped a raft off last night, our whole bullpen of guides is out right now rowing the rivers.

I just got back from squeaking in a last float on the Grande Ronde, from Minam down to Troy. River levels are getting thin on the Grande Ronde, but we caught some fish and didn’t ground ourselves too bad. I’ll be back with a report on that trip – complete with real live pictures of real live bears.

Meantime, try to get some help if you can’t reach that one spot on your back when applying sunscreen.