Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Snake River

We arrived in Clarkson just a little late Friday noonish.  The group that was going to board the boat on Sat to go the other way was there, they were going to spend the night and board Sat morning.  So both groups went on the Jet Boat ride up the Snake River.  The boats are flat bottomed with bench seats for 3 on either side of an aisle, maybe 10 rows of seats covered by an awning.  I ended up sitting on the back of the boat, the lack of awning there gave me a much better view.  The Snake River gorge is pretty amazing, starting with rock formations, lots of little sandy beaches, some remote homes and places mentioned in Lewis and Clark's journals.  There is a spot they described that had a Nez Perce fishing camp.  Scientists went out recently with sonar and located the foundations of a long house and several teepees.  Near there we saw petroglyphs. 

Years ago the Federal govm't sold off pieces of land along the river.  These homes are so remote they are accessible only by boat.  Along they way we saw the gate of a big cattle ranch and trails in the hillsides from the cows and big horn sheep.  At one home the guide said the road over the mountain to town takes 1 1/2 hours and can get closed by snow.  So the family built a garage across the river for their car.  They take a boat across and can be in town in 20 minutes. 

The place we stopped for lunch is run by the boat company and is part of The Nature Conservancy.  There were some cool antiques there.  We had a good lunch and some folks went to sit under the shade of the apple trees.  I walked around the grounds then went down to the river where they had a nice sandy beach.  The kids from the Funster family and some other people were swimming.  I waded in, damn it was cold.

After lunch we went further up the river into the part they call Hell's Canyon.  It has very steep sides and got its name by how hard it was for the explorers to navigate.  On the way back the captain drove the boat fast, it was fun.  We slowed down a few times for rafters but still had a good ride.

We got back in time for dinner, Mom told the people on the boat that it was my birthday, so after dinner they brought a cake to the table and sang.  Nice gesture but the cake was no competition for the flourless chocolate cake.  We went back to our cabin and packed, we had to put our bags out in the hall so they could get them off the boat and have them ready for us when we disembark.  Saturday we had an early breakfast and a bus ride to Spokane, about 2 hours.  We saw huge farms as we moved from rolling hills to flat country.  Our flights were uneventful.  In Spokane we had time for a little bite to eat before we went to our gate.  Mom was so anxious to board that when they asked people  to come up and check roller bags she thought they were boarding ahead of us and rushed up.  She got right behind a man checking a bag, so close that when he turned around he almost knocked her over.  She was mad at him.  In Milwaukee  we had less time, so I parked Mom at the gate and went in search of coffee and snacks.  OMG, they had just started boarding when I got back and she was freaking out.  I wonder sometimes why she is always so pessimistic, just sure things are going to go wrong and ready to panic. 

Oh well, over all she enjoyed herself and we saw some pretty cool stuff.  We met a lot of interesting people, too.  All the nice young kids on the crew and all the other passengers with interesting back stories.  People like Mary and Richard, a retired orthopedic surgeon, who go to Malawi at least once a year to train new doctors.  Nothing fancy but enough that when a kid falls out of a tree and breaks an arm or leg it can be set properly and the kid doesn't end up crippled for life.  Or Carol and Bill from Colorado.  Bill cut timber for years, now they have some land they lease out to farmers and a small piece they work themselves.  Bill talked about the variety of berries they grow, esp about a type of thornless raspberry. Carol spins, knits and weaves.  They were just so laid back and friendly.  Then there was the guy with his 60 year old wife with Alzheimer's, it was so sad to see her just go along with this blank look on her face and vacant eyes.  She seemed to be enjoying herself, tho.  They were traveling with another couple which helped because the wife could not be left alone or she would wander.  I saw her one day in the lounge by herself.  She was looking for a coke, so I helped her get one, then took her back to her cabin.  The husband had taken a shower and she'd slipped out that quickly.

It was very interesting to see all sorts of people, some very active and fit, despite their age.  So many people older than Mom who get around so much better.  I wish I could know for sure what she experiences with her balance.  I know her inner ear is deteriorated, that's why her hearing is poor, and the doctors said it affects her balance, too.  Still I wonder how much of the hanging on and trouble with inclines, etc is real and how much of it is her paralyzing fear.  Anyhow, I was inspired to get back in better shape so I can keep traveling.    

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