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Fun fact: Early explorers of the PNW sailed past the Columbia River because they thought the water was too rough to possibly be the mouth of a river.

Nov. 2, Day 41

In 1805, Lewis and Clark were approaching the Oregon coast, sticking to the north bank of the Columbia River despite their native guides’ admonitions that, really, the south bank was the place to be. This became clear to ol’ Meriwether and William when they hit a squall and had to hang out in a little cove, which theyIMG_8110IMG_8029 henceforth named Dismal Niche.

Dismal Niche now has a rest stop, which we learned when we hit a squall and had to hang out there. When it passed and the clouds cleared, Astoria lay on the other side of the river in a sudden beam of sunlight, of which we were quite resentful because we were cold and wet and kind of hungry. Then Rachael turned to me and said, “Let’s just get a motel for the night.”

So we did. It was just across the river, but it felt like it took a surprisingly long time. Maybe because our bodies had heard us talk about a motel and were shutting down in anticipation, maybe because of the distraction of the constant company of seal friends checking us out, maybe because of the large dark dorsal fin moving around us.

Fortunately, because we had to move all of our gear out of the boat, there was a motel right next to the marina. Smart planning on their part. Also fortunately, there was a pizza place that delivered in town.

After our chat with Dale McKinnon, we were pumped to try the Bar. But upon consulting our school visit schedule and the weather for the next day – 13 foot seas! – we had to scrap that plan. Jordan came down and drove us out to the official coast, we frolicked in the (very chilly) ocean for a while, and that was the end of the rowing adventure.IMG_7968

Not quite the end of Adventure: Columbia¬†¬† River, though – over the next three days, we visited eleven classrooms in Portland, talking to students from third through eighth grade. In its own way, more tiring that rowing all day – I’m better at rowing for hours than talking – but a sweet and satisfying note on which to finish, because at the end of the day, it’s the students to whom we talk that matter most.

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