Doesn’t feel like winter

Posted by Ken Campbell January 20, 2009 0 Comment 594 views

Up at dawn once again. I’d like to survey a few more kayaking options, maybe get on the water for a morning paddle, then beat it back to T-town in time to see the boy before his bedtime. I stop at a pull-out on Highway 101, a tourist scenic vista, that overlooks Nehalem Bay and the towns that cluster around it. There is a rocky cliff face at one end of the lot and I zip up my jacket and begin climbing.

To really get the feel for a place, there’s nothing like getting to a high spot and looking down. It was windy when I woke up this morning and the wind is still blowing in the lowlands, but up here on the cliffs it is calm. Seems backwards to me, but that’s how it is. The sky is pure blue and every detail of the landscape below stands out in high relief. The town of Manzanita lies below in the shade; the sun has not yet landed on its streets. The spit where the State Park sits is shrouded in green and beyond that, I can see sunlight reflecting off windows near the towns of Nehalem and Wheeler.

I can see the route I paddled yesterday afternoon. Out the river to the bar and back. The waves on the bar are visible from here, a line of white between the blue of the sea and the buff-colored beach.

Once I have had my altitude fix for the day I get back in the van and drive north. I stop in Cannon Beach, just to say I’ve done it. It is a beautiful spot, and it reminds me of all the other beautiful places that money can buy. Carmel, Malibu, Santa Barbara… where the poor people try to act rich and the rich people try to act normal. For such a small town, there are an awful lot of fat people walking small dogs. The beach is a natural wonder, however, and I sit for some time on the sand just to absorb the sights.

By lunch time I’ve had enough. I drive north, through Astoria and across the bridge that takes me to the other side of the Columbia. Up through the Willapa hills, past Long Island. The mud is starting to show as the tide drops. Soon there will be far more mud than water in Willapa Bay, something that kayakers must take into account when traveling here, as I found out a few years back. The low-lying farmland near the Palix River is a wintering spot for thousands of geese, and they call to each other across the fallow fields. The hills are patchworked with clearcuts, evidence of recent logging that has left the earth bare in its wake.
Way to go, boys! Cut ’em all down. Why, that’s why God put them trees here in the first place, for us to use. Log this planet first, then we’ll move on to the others.

I get gas in Montesano. I can see the high-water mark from the recent floods on the Chehalis as I drive over the river. I turn off the highway near Brady and head up the east fork of the Satsop. The floods are evident here as well, but the little river has returned to its normal banks and looks harmless enough. I need to get back here soon.

This is it for today though. I make short work of the rest of my drive, stopping only at the Blue Heron Bakery outside of Olympia for a few cookies and a loaf of bread to take home. I could use a shower.

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