Posts Tagged ‘Skamokawa’

Sunday, 27 August 2017

On April 12, 2014, I took my first kayak ride. It was here in Skamokawa that I signed up for a beginning lesson from Columbia River Kayaks. We went up the inside passage of Price Island and back down on the riverside for a total of three miles (posted here). They have graceful sit-inside craft with snap on skirts and were a big help in deciding what kind of boat I wanted to own. They offer a wide range of trips with expert guidance.

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The road to Skamokawa

In March of this year, we had visited the museum at Redmen Hall, shown in the photo below.  From the windows, we had seen an enticing boat launch.


Here is Redmen Hall from the boat launch.

The plan today was to head east, stay near the shore inside Price Island, and duck into Steamboat Slough to visit the Lewis & Clark National Wildlife Refuge. Today the wind was forecast to be from the north 10 to 16 mph. That would mean I could use sail power both directions and hopefully minimize heading into the wind.

I filled out the form. I noticed the launch was pretty quiet for a sunny summer Sunday. There were no cars parked nearby.


I put in my dollar.

One of the locals came down to see if he could launch his ski boats yet but the tide was still too low. He then he told me that I needed to park my van in the parking lot across the road behind the trees. I only had $3 towards the $5 parking fee so it was off to the little store under Redmen Hall for a snack and more money.

As I pulled into the boat ramp’s parking lot I discovered a campground with close up views of the passing ships on the Columbia.

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Back to the launch all sorted out.

I copied this idea for carrying my boat on the van’s roof from a Yakima rack loader. It requires only lifting half the weight at a time. I’m trying to avoid using a trailer.


Next step is to swing the tail off to the ground and then lift down the bow.

With the parking paid, I was finally off.


Here is a closer look at the trimaran I had seen on our previous trip.


Here is the outward channel and a marker ahead.

I chose to head outside the island as the inside passage still looked narrow and shallow.


An Osprey nest.


Outside Price Island I passed a kayaker carrying her dog on the back deck while playing a splashy game of fetch.


A large barge was heading downstream across the river.


Maybe the local I met at the ramp was finally out on the water.


A sailboat passed me going upstream. I was paddling and had the sail out but it still passed me.


The entrance to Steamboat Slough, about 2.5 miles from Skamokawa.

Another ship was heading up the river.


It was the Enishi.

When I got home, according to marinetraffic.comI found out the Enishi was soon to arrive in Longview.

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There was a light breeze as I headed away from the Columbia River. I didn’t even feel the wake from the Enishi.


Steamboat Slough and adventure ahead.


Looking back at the Columbia.


The shallow water is kayak friendly but not so good for motors.


A gate that controls the water level of the interior wetlands.

I had to see what was on the other side.


Here’s Steamboat Slough looking back towards the Columbia.


The thick Ellison Slough continues behind the gate.


And blackberries.


Steamboat Slough Road is also a way to explore this area.


Canadian geese keeping ahead.


Steamboat Slough, the road, and I all continued east.

Soon there was no wind at all.


Here is a junction. I went off to explore a wrong route.

My map and good camera were back at home, probably sharing the same table with Skooter. I could use the phone’s  ‘MapMyTracks’ map.  First, it helped me go inland, then back upstream, then back the way I came (but differently), and finally out to the river. The inland route stays a sizable stream and crosses under the highway.

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Missing this turn would have taken me inland or upstream to the next town.


The incoming tide was filling the slough from ahead.


The shortest route home was to the right while keeping straight would add another three miles.

By now it was about four hours until sunset. Although there was enough time that I didn’t need to go back the same route,  I wanted to finish the loop and avoid driving home in the dark.


The hills of Oregon. I could hear boat engines beyond the trees.


Back out into the river and the return of a wind.

The Columbia flows northwest here instead of due east. The trip back would be northeast and into the north wind.

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A sailboat crisscrossed the Columbia upstream but I was headed the other way.


I was enough upstream I could see the bridge at Cathlamet, about seven miles from Skamokawa.

Here I was tacking against a near headwind. Meanwhile, two sailboats were motoring their way upstream. They had an incoming tide, and a fair wind to push them along, but, not me.

A can floating by to salvage.


It was unopened and punctured from the side, a mystery.

Soon came a float I thought I could salvage.


It snagged me hard and swung up the daggerboard. This may have been a marker for a pot.


Another bird home design

Finally, after about three hours I was back at the entrance to Steamboat Slough.


The birds were still there, though by now most of the the bar was underwater.

It was 6:45 and everybody was heading home.


A long crooked trip back

A bald eagle was at the harbor entrance.


Its head was bowed and I wasn’t patient enough to wait for its noble pose.


I passed the home to Columbia River Kayaking.


The harbour’s Ospreys were calling it a night.

I passed by one of the local trawlers, the nondescript F/V Alki II. The blueprints and its history are in the Library of Congress here.

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“…Alki II represents the transition from traditional wood hull gillnet boats to the more modern fiberglass hull and a change in boat building…”

I’ve discovered the internet has resources for ship spotting, such as the Enishi and the smaller boats too.


This blackberry covered special may not be on the internet at all.


Finally, an hour before sunset and about to head home.

The top speed of 24 mph on the phone looked awesome until I remembered that I had put the electronics in the car when I went into town for money. Oops.


It’s more like Distance: 17.4 miles Top Speed 6.0 mph and knock an hour off the activity time.



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Sunday, 12 March 2017

Because we had a political meeting in Naselle this afternoon, we had decided to leave home in time to drive half an hour further and visit a museum in Skamokawa.



driving along the Columbia River

I was not best pleased that it was a beautiful day and would have been excellent for weeding the boatyard garden.


two wrecks?

Here is what the white remnant of a boat looked like in 1995, in the same little bay:


For some reason, it had been deemed unsalvageable.

As we drove along, I pondered the fact that the many conifers along our roads are why our landscapes look more somber than the airier ones that Mr Tootlepedal photographs in Scotland.


scenery heavy with evergreens

We arrived at our destination in Skamokawa: Redmen Hall, which I had read was hosting an exhibit about tugboats and steamers on the Columbia.


The view from the parking lot

A back door offered easy access without all those stairs…and a disheartening sign.



Across the highway, below, is a general store and café where we have stopped before.  I thought that, because of Skamokawa being such a small town, I might luck into a museum docent there.


looking down on the grocery store and post office


Redmen Hall from below

In a room right on the river, behind the store, an antiques sale was on for the day.



antiques in a light filled room


I used to have an apple like this till my good friend Sophie (a dog) broke it…for which she was forgiven.

I found two things to buy.  One is a present so I cannot show it!

And sure enough, when I mentioned having driven from Ilwaco to find the museum was closed, I learned that one of the docents was ill, and another one offered to open it for us.


behind the store/café

Off the deck by the store, a boater was buzzing around.  I am sure Allan wished he was out boating, too.




Allan’s photo

We followed the docent back up to Redmen Hall.  The hall was once a school house.  Amazingly, it used be down where the highway is.  When the road was put through, the building got moved up the hill with “steam donkeys” (not really donkeys!).


The old school house remembered.


Allan went straight up to the bell tower. (I did not.)





Step on a pedal to open the shutters for the view.


The views from the bell tower.


river town from high above (and a boat ramp)

On the second floor, well designed historical panels go all around the walls of a big open room.



What Skamokawa means



interpretive panels




the kind docent who let us in.  The way the panels are put together reminds me of my grandma’s scrapbooks.


when the road went through


a dance where “ladies may walk on their partners feet, and no questions will be asked”.


another strong woman


river pictures (Allan’s photo)

A glass case held birds provided by the Audubon Society…


an erstwhile Mr Grumpy had fine plumage.


the view

We dropped a contribution into the money jar and also spent a pretty penny in the well -stocked gift shop, including two books (quiet, because one is a present), a documentary called Work is Our Joy (about gillnetting), and some notecards.  If we’d had time, we could have watched Work is Our Joy right in the museum.  I will enjoy it from my comfy chair at home.  I already identify with the title.



One of three nooks of books.


Well represented: the books of Grays River author Robert Pyle


Musician Doug is the spouse of our friend Beth; they live nearby but we had had no time to look them up.


river town art


most of our purchases

The hall is open Thursdays through Sundays from noon to four.  We recommend a visit.

We had a little over half an hour to to get back to our Indivisible meeting in Naselle.  I could not resist a side trip to the historic 1905 Grays River covered bridge.


on the way

Tying in with our visit to Redmen Hall: author Robert Michael Pyle lives in a house with a view of the covered bridge.  I thought it would be kind of nosy to add a photo of his house, so here is the bridge.




under the bridge (Allan’s photo)


The river running fast and high.  (Allan’s photo)

In particularly stormy times, the river has flooded the valley.


Allan’s photo


Allan’s photo


Here we go.



the other end

Before we turned around, I had to get a closer look at two trees beside  the parking area.



going in for a closer look



moss and licorice fern


Allan’s photo


Allan’s photo


assorted critters

Ooops.  I suddenly realized time had slipped by and we would be 25 minutes late to the meeting at Hunters Inn, Naselle.  I told myself that it was ok; we have been to almost every liberal political meeting available since November so we could be late to just one.



part of the gathering


postcards laid out on three booths


One member brought this.

We discussed, shared ideas, and laid some plans for future events.

On the way home, Allan and I detoured to look at a garden we had admired when attending last month’s meeting.


The garden in question is next door to Naselle Timberland Library. (Allan’s photo)


lots of narcissi about to bloom (Allan’s photo)

Next door: a large garden which I intend to look at every time we have a Naselle meeting.





Allan’s photo


Allan’s photo


pieris and the church next door


Right across the street sits another charming house.


I wonder if there will be sweet peas on that fence in summer. Or that could be a dog path!


wrap around porch



a tree with personality


Allan’s photo

As we got close to home, I looked at the weather forecast and must admit I did begin to fret about losing what might be the only nice gardening day this week.  Remembering that we now have light till after 7 PM (yay for daylight saving time!), I resolved to get two hours work done in my own garden.

While clipping some Joe Pye weed, I gave an experimental dig at a large fuchsia.


one of two many fuchsia magellanica

To my surprise, it shifted, so Allan helped me pull it out.


after…Ok, he pulled, I watched and encouraged.


project: clean up middle bed, before…


and after


Woe!! One of two matched asophedels has disappeared from the right hand pot.


I will snag this asphodel from a different pot.




bogsy wood swale


Oh for more time in the garden; so much to do.


Skooter obsessing about the frogs.

The unfortunate forecast:


Resolved: no more daytime meetings on nice days till we have spring clean up done!

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Saturday, 12 April 2014

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kayaking in Skamokawa (name origin: Smoke on the Water)

Price Island tour by Columbia River Kayaking

$65, half day   approximately 3 miles

Price Island is part of the Julia Butler Hansen National Wildlife Refuge, and is located right at the mouth of Skamokawa Creek. We will paddle up protected Steamboat Slough, leaving from our dock at the old steamboat landing and general store building and into the Wildlife Refuge. Osprey nests are perched in the top of Sitka Spruce trees that are up to 400 years old. Beaver and river otter are often seen here.

If the river is calm and paddlers are willing, we will return to Skamokawa on the outside of the island, using the main channel of the Columbia River. Cormorants and Bald Eagles are often seen on this side of the island, along with a sweeping westward view downriver. This is a great introductory tour for beginning kayakers.

what to bring:


One quart plastic water bottle (full)

Lunch for full day events, snacks 

Sunscreen and lip protection 

Sunglasses with strap 

Hat for rain and sun 

Paddling jacket or rain jacket 

Non-cotton shirts (2) for layering (wool, pile, polypro, other synthetic) 

Non-cotton pants (nylon, wool, spandex, fleece) 

Eyeglass strap 

noseplugs (optional) 

Sandals with heel strap or neoprene booties, or tennies that can get wet 

Wool or fleece socks 

Swimsuit (optional, but makes a quick-drying under-layer) 


Change of clothes for the trip home 

Wetsuit if you have one 

Gloves for blister protection (optional) 

Drybag if you have one 

Camera, film, binoculars 

The Other Months: 

Drysuit if you have one 

More and warmer non-cotton layers 

Shatterproof thermos with hot drink 

Warm paddling gloves or pogies 

Evening and Moonlight Paddles: 

Flashlight or headlamp 

Warm non-cotton clothes 

Wetsuit, paddling jacket, and pogies available

At Columbia River Kayaking & their fleet of nice kayaks with another couple & instructor Mark Whitaker

At Columbia River Kayaking & their fleet of nice kayaks with another couple & instructor Mark Whitaker

The 14 foot boat I got to use. I looked it up and it retails for $1399. & the paddle was a couple hundred more. Quite a deal to use such nice equipment, have a guide, the trip planned and not have buy or to store the boat later.

The 14 foot boat I got to use. I looked it up and it retails for $1399, & the paddle was a couple hundred more. Quite a deal to use such nice equipment, have a guide, the trip planned and not have buy or to store the boat later.


heading up the shore side of Price Island

heading up the shore side of Price Island

The tandem kayak the other couple got to use. These sell for over 2 grand and are very stable and fast

The tandem kayak the other couple got to use. These sell for over 2 grand and are very stable and fast.

A barge that is used to ferry cattle that had broken loose and drifted aground

A barge that is used to ferry cattle that had broken loose and drifted aground

Cormerants on the river side of the island on the pilings.

Cormorants on the river side of the island on the pilings.

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Skamokawa Gardens Nursery

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Old Megler Mansion

At a site down 8 miles of gravel road OR easily accessed from the river. An old 100 foot apple tree & leveled areas, lots of sword ferns and my kayak instructor had spotted daffodils.

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Duffy’s Irish Pub 


  The little tower building is across the street.  The garden belongs to the pub.  Duffy’s in Gray’s River is a place where I like to stop for a lunch when I go on an excursion upriver.

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And on the way home, an old ivy covered house.  Old is relative compared to the age of ruins in Mr. Tootlepedal’s blog set in the Scottish borders!


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I confess: This is actually written on August 12th, because work has been all-consuming, and during days off I have been obsessed with a big pruning project at home.

This isn’t the most suspenseful way of telling the tale, but on the morning of Saturday, August 4th, I read an article by Dan Hinkley in Garden Design magazine in which he mentioned Dichroa febrifuga, an Asian shrub with hydrangea-like flowers and cobalt blue berries.  It’s been a fixture on my must-have list for years, and I have indeed bought a couple of them by mail order but they were small and fizzled out.  Why, I thought to myself in frustration, do I STILL not have this excellent shrub?  It’s not one I see in nurseries.  And then, as kind fate would have it, by the end of the day I had a dichroa febrifuga of my very own!

We had been planning another garden tour day trip.  (If I lived in Seattle or Portland with their excellent weekly open gardens by members of the Northwest Perennial Alliance and the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon, I’d rarely spend a spring or summer Saturday gardening at home.)

Up the Columbia River we drove to a small riverside town, stopping on the way at Duffy’s Irish Pub in Gray’s River because Allan had discovered it on his latest motorcycle trip and wanted me to see the punk rock poster collection inside. Indeed, it took me back to happy days of the 80s in Seattle clubs.  Back in the 80s, my significant other, Bryan, had managed a delicously grotty punk club called the Gorilla Room, and our subsequent life together included many shows… and we stayed, when visiting Vancouver, B.C., at the D.O.A. house. So it certainly took me way way back to see a DOA poster on this wall in small town southwestern Washington.

Punk rock memories at Duffy’s Pub

The pub’s back deck overlooks a charming river and their garden features an interesting array of paths, convincing me all the more that I love walking a mysterious warren of paths between drastically raised beds and that I like to see a variety of materials used, and that I forgot to do a blog entry about our visit in Seattle to the Tilth garden with  its enjoyable paths.

paths and raised beds at Duffy’s Irish Pub

The paths at Duffy’s Pub.. Some garden designer’s articles say you must, to be tasteful, stick with the same material throughout a garden, but I find this much more fascinating.

Almost across the street from the pub sits one of my favourite tiny cottages or shacks. Further up river, we stopped at a nursery in Skamokawa.  Twas quiet and off-season but I enjoyed the view of plants for sale on a dock….Allan pointed out it’s a rare nursery where you can shop by boat.

adorable shack………………and the dock at Skamokawa Gardens Nursery

Eventually, after a detour down a scenic narrow road, we arrived at the small town upriver and bought tickets for the “home and garden” tour and read the descriptions of the four homes and gardens on offer.  A sense of doom settled over me, as the descriptions were all of the houses with no detailed mention of the gardens at all.  Any avid gardener would describe the gardens well.  The houses may have been historic, but that was not clear from the information sheet and I realized that while I very much enjoy a tour of, say, Cannon Beach cottages, I don’t like seeing houses whose owners just sound like they are proud of their possessions.  The closest thing to a garden description was someone waxing enthusiastic about their river view deck.  So, feeling rather mean but being as nice as could be, we got our money back from the ticket vendor and cancelled our tour mission!  And now…what to do!?

I remembered my recent email enquiry to owner Lisa Mahnke of Evergreen Terrace Garden this side of Longview, and that the nursery was open in August by appointment only, and called her…and she agreed to let us in!  So the afternoon was gloriously saved and after a drive up the amazingly steep gravel road to the almost-secret nursery we were rewarded with a personal tour of the woodland paths around the enviable lake…and there, among many very cool plants, I saw a Dichroa febrifuga…and indeed, she had one for sale in a pot!!  So from years of forgetting my desire for that shrub, to being reminded of it by Dan Hinkley that very morning, I suddenly had one of my very own!  (Not to mention, of course, several other choice plants…After all, I had to make it worth Lisa’s while to open the nursery for us.)

Dichroa febrifuga in the ground, and MINE in a pot

(Above) the gardens at Evergreen Terrace, including a so-desirable little lake. I think she said the tree in above right foliage close-up is a cutleaf Alder…very striking but it would never have fit into our car.

Evergreen Terrace is creating an amazing “henge” garden which we did not see because it’s at a lower level of the nursery, but I remember it from a visit years ago.  The nursery’s website has some good photos of it. [2012 note: The website seems to be gone, and I can’t find any information about or not this wonderful nursery even exists any more.  The henge garden was a Stonehenge like display of huge rocks enhanced with plants.]

Plants acquired from Evergeen Terrace: Morus ‘Nuclear Blast’, Azara microphylla (two, for clients), Gunnera prorepens (a tiny stoloniferous gunnera from New Zealand), Cryptomeria knaptonesis (white tipped, will grow in shade), 2 Athyrium filix-femina ‘Dre’s Dagger’ (a striking fern), and Dichroa febrifuga.

On the way back we stopped at a cafe/hotel/elderhostel kayak place in Skamokawa, where I’d eaten good sandwiches before and did again. For some reason I completely failed to photograph the picturesque network of boardwalks along the river behind the buildings.

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