Tuesday, August 18, 2015


After we left Umatilla, we went through another lock at the Mc Nary Dam and on into Lake Wallula. Then on past the mouth of the Snake River to Dock at Richland. We docked at a big public park and Mary was waiting at the dock. What a wonderful reunion. We took my mom and walked down to the Red lion where Mary was parked. Their restaurant was closed so we drove just a short way to a place and had soup and sandwich. It was so good to see Mary again. Her Mom is 95 with dementia. She is living in Canton McKinley Home, the old high school has been turned into assisted living. It's where Doris went to HS so she thinks she's back in school and loving it. She has kept mostly good memories and Mary says is happy. Mary's brother Mike still lives in Canton and looks after Doris, although his wife Helen is in the last stages of pancreatic cancer. Sounds terrible. 
After lunch we took my mom back to the boat and Mary and I just sat up in the park and chatted. She had some weed that Steve grows and we sat out at a park bench and smoked a little. How wonderful to be able to sit out in public and do what we have hidden for years. Mary coordinates all sorts of social services for the kids in her school district and their families. There are special programs for the spanish speakers and migrants as well. Her daughter Kerri lives close and does developmental assessments on ages 0 to 3, then refers families in need to resources. Mary's son Ryder lives in Richland and works at the Red Lion in Pasco. He is the head of catering. He and his wife Whitney divorced a couple years ago, she never seemed to be satisfied, but now he has a nice new girlfriend, Jackie, and he seems much happier. Karina has just moved a couple hours away somewhere with a nice boyfriend who is finishing his education on computer programming. He had an offer from the firm where he interned for a job once he graduates. I think Mary said Melanie is now 15, so still in HS.  She never mentioned what Steve or Kerri's husband are doing.   

So wonderful how some things never change. Same old Mary, same sense of humor and positive outlook on life. She seems to have such a huge impact on her community and enjoys the work she does. She and Steve have been married 37 years and are still happy. I needed to be back on board by 5:30 so we took some pictures and said out goodbyes. I shed a few tears, it was a lovely afternoon. The park was shady and full of people swimming, fishing, kayaking and generally enjoying the river. 

We headed out of Richland, back to the mouth of the Snake. We went into dinner and while we were there the Captain announced we were going to have to stop a while and wait for another ship to come west through the Ice Harbor Dam. Right at the confluence of the rivers was Sacajawea State Park. We were able to pull in and put just a short gangplank down. After dinner they said we could get off and look around, that the captain would blow the horn when he was ready to take off. So after dinner I got off with the Murthas and some other folks. Another nice park, no one else there at that hour and we walked around and looked at the trees. Next thing I know I hear MEOW and here come a little black cat out of the underbrush. She was small, probably young but wanted to rub against our legs and even stood up and put her front paws on my leg to be petted. There were birds and such around and she wasn't skinny but seemed used to getting people food and followed us around a while. So I ran back to the ship and got one of the rest vest girls to smuggle some bread out of the kitchen. Took it back over where we'd first seen her and put it out, she ate some right away but still followed us when we started back to the ship. She tried to go over the gangway, but the crew stopped her. She was all black with a fluffy tail and gray eyes. Little Sheba.

We ended up waiting almost 4 hours. I asked the captain about it this morning. I was on the top deck watching him guide us into the lock at the Lower Granite Dam, the last one before Clarkston. Once he had the boat in position, they tie her on to a type of post imbedded in the wall that floats up with the water level. The captain took me on the bridge and showed me the charts around the Ice Harbor Dam. All the way from the confluence to the damn the channel is dug only wide enough for one vessel. A tug with 4 big barges was coming into the locks from the east so first we had to wait for them to go through and come down river through the channel. Then the captain said it should have been our turn but some faster fishing vessel got priority to come west after the barges. So we had to wait. But the captain did his best and docked at the park so we could get off instead of floating somewhere else.  

When it got dark, we came back on board. They were setting up a game to see who could finish the lyrics of songs. My mom was a contestant so I stayed in the Mt Hood Lounge and watched. Everybody had a good time and a few of the folks knew a lot of lyrics.

 After the game we went to our room and about 10 o'clock we finally started to move. They went top speed through the night to make up time so we're only about 1 hour behind schedule this morning. I'm going down Hell's Canyon in a speed boat while Mom packs. We'll stay in Clarkston overnight, then head for the airport at Spokane early in the morning. When we woke up this morning I came down to the lounge to get coffee and there was no cream so I went to the dining room to ask. Just then the new chef came out. He had come on board a few days ago and our food improved so much after that. I told him how much better things were and all he wanted to do was apologize for the first few days. They really train the crew to be polite. Yesterday Mom realized the cabin kids had taken her second blanket away by mistake. So when they were cleaning I asked for another. The steward asked if we'd like duvets instead, duh! Seems we were in the cheap seats with the cotton blankets, but he brought duvets that were heavenly. Lemony pancakes for breakfast and some sort of lunch on the river. 

Also when I was up going to the dining room I noticed 2 of the deck hands out working on the lines. The end of one was so badly frayed so they wrapped the line in tape where it was still good, then set up a hot knife and cut off the bad part. So interesting. It's been restful for me, mostly people are nice with interesting back stories. My mom's social interactions are a little awkward at times. She is so self centered that she wants to tell people every little boring detail about her life and has trouble showing any interest in what others are saying. Sometimes she doesn't hear conversation, especially in the dining room or where there is other background noise, so she'll go off on a tangent. Most everybody is real patient and I try to fill in for her. Sometimes she gets crabby and tells me that she hears, but later she has no clue about things that have been said. I also figured out that the running monologue she keeps up about what she's doing and "I think I'll get my hat", etc is just her thought process out loud. Thank god for therapy. I learned to be Margaret Mead and sit back and watch what's going on rather than let it irritate me. I got stuck right next to a super snooty last night for dinner, she carried on conversations with everybody else but never said a word to me. She was so demanding of the wait staff, waving her arms to get them, just pointing at stuff rather than asking them, never said thank you. I said something to her about did her mother want more wine and she just snapped "she's not my mother". Never clarified but these 2 women look so much alike, one with spikey fake red hair the other with spikey natural white hair. So I just smile inside thinking how much more I'm enjoying it all. 

I saw something on face book about when you see the snooty women in the grocery the best thing to do is say "excuse me, do you work here". Believe me I'm going to use that. It has been wonderful, Mom and I have gotten along well, we have seen some fantastic stuff, the people have been interesting, I've rested and relaxed. Tonite we pack and put our suitcases out at bedtime and we'll fly out of Spokane in the morning. I miss my monkey butts.     

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