The greening of the banks of the river, the moderate climate, and Google Maps told us we were nearing the Pacific. However, clouds, wind and rain had followed us out of Portland, and were creeping into team morale. We were reveling in some elusive early morning sun, when a car on the road paralleling the river slowed to watch our progress. Then it stopped. And started reversing. Leah and I started to get a tad weirded out, and I started thinking the passer-by had been offended by my lack of t-shirt and had stopped to chastise me for my scantily-clad sports-bra rowing attire.
“Where did you start?” our visitor hollered, getting out of her car and standing on the side of the road.
“The Canadian border!”
“Are you going to try the Bar?”
“You can do it if the weather is good. I’ve done it!”
Most people who see our boat react with surprise or disbelief at the water features it can handle, but this was no mere passer-by. We rowed over to meet Dale McKinnon, an open water rower from Bellingham who has rowed the Inside Passage from Ketchikan to Bellingham in 2004 and Ketchikan to Juneau in 2005. Dale loaded us down with her knowledge of open water rowing and details about the section of river we still had to row. She regaled us with stories of her rowing expeditions, and encouraged us to try crossing the bar.
We rowed on, uplifted by Dale’s excitement about our trip and meeting two female rowers. And she was even excited I was soaking up the sun, rowing in my “skivvies.”