The River

m2The river

I want to tell you  one of my childhood memories. But along with it comes a geology lesson, my view of the river and thoughts about the present state of our country.

The childhood memory becomes very vivid when I encounter these components:   The Columbia River, a windstorm strong enough to make whitecaps breaking over small swells and a barge going upriver.

In the 1960’s My parents purchased a 16 foot  Sabercraft ski boat with a 100-horse Johnson out board engine.  It was an indulgence they thought would provide years of family fun. My sister and three brothers were breaking into their preteen and teenage years and I was the littlest and would be around the longest to enjoy it.  The Columbia River was the most logical place to take the boat.  It offered endless recreational opportunities and was about a 45-minute drive from our family home in Walla Walla.

The maiden family trip would not be disrupted by a little wind and white caps on the river.  Dad put up the canvas canopy and securely snapped it into place.  He launched the boat off the trailer and when it was docked mom and all of us kids piled in.  Dad drove the boat at the no wake speed out of the harbor and then he gunned it, which made the bow rise high until he had it “planed” out and level.  The boat hit the swells with a thud but that just seems to make my dad wilder. He spotted the barge pushed by a tugboat coming upriver.  Huge waves were breaking across the front of the barge and the tug leaving a 4-foot wake.  He took our boat with his family across those wakes at too fast a speed.  After being launched in the air our little Sabercraft came down with a hard thud that caused us all to come up out of our seats and hit our heads on the canvas roof.  The engine died. The barge pilot must’ve looked back and seen us and we heard a loud blast of the tug’s horn.  With the engine restarted and all children checked for damage,  Dad gunned it again and drove the boat back across the wakes to come alongside the tug, waving his hand out the window at the pilot and speeding past.

You can see why this is childhood memory easily comes to mind. It was a scary thrill.m4

The Columbia is an important river to the Pacific Northwest. It is over 12,000 years old and had its origin in the great Lake Missoula flood of the Ice Age.

Stick with me here, this geology lesson will be short.

Western Montana was covered with a lake about 2,000 feet deep.  An ice wall built up blocking what is now known as the Clark Fork River.  The rising waters behind it weakened the wall and water burst through sending rocks, ice chunks and debris downstream which  left ripple marks on canyon walls and dug out the channeled scablands of eastern Washington and the Columbia River Gorge.m6

Our family used that boat for many years.  When everyone was grown up and out of the house but the youngest, me, the purpose of having a boat changed.  My dad sold off the little Sabercraft for what he paid for it and bought a 25-foot Bayliner with a underdeck cabin. It was his ocean bound fishing boat.  There are many stories about his driving this boat over the Columbia River Bar and into the ocean.  We also had many good times on the Columbia River near us. Charlie and I lived about 10 miles from the river and helped my aging parents launch the boat with its 400 horse VOLVO engine. With Charlie as the pilot and me as the deck hand we crept out past the no wake zone makers,  and he would gently urge it into higher speeds.  Much more relaxing than my dad’s driving.


The Bayliner was sold years ago.  Both my parents have passed. But the river, the winds and the waves remain.  The basalt formations revealed by the grating power of the ice aged floods still fascinate me a do the birds, the fish, the wind and the waves.

This mighty river once flowed free.  Salmon flourished as did animals that came to the river to eat the salmon.

The interference of man has changed the river and its surroundings.  The huge Grand Coulee project brought irrigation and electricity to the region.  More dams were built.  More water taken from the river, more control of the flow for electricity.  And the salmon were almost lost to us.

m7My sis-in-love Mary visited us this weekend. She is an avid kayaker and we planned to hit the water.  A freak storm with high winds and lightning nearly ruined our plans. I kept a vigilant watch on the wind speed, and Sunday I saw it dropping by the hour.  We loaded up the kayaks and headed to McNary Beach which is just upriver from McNary Dam.  As we looked out on the water, we saw how wide the river is at this place.  It is Wallula Lake, the water that is built up behind the dam to be spilled out or run through the generators for electricity. With our little 10-foot boats ready, we paddled upriver hugging the shoreline.  The wind stopped; the water became flat.  It gently lapped on the basalt lining the shoreline.  Canadian geese flew overhead.  Flowers grew in bunches just off the small sandy beaches.  Tiny silver fish jumped around us. A coyote stalked its prey on the bluff above the river.    Deer came to the shoreline to drink.  There were so many things to see, to feel, to hear.  My senses felt overloaded.

There is such diversity in this place. In the thousands of years this river has cut through the cliffs, the land, the basalt rock, the vegetation, the wildlife has co-existed.  They live in benefit of each other.

We saw none of this when we drove into the park.  We only saw a big river.m8

When we drove out of the park I looked back.   I no longer saw the same river.  I saw flowers, and little fish and deer, the rocks that jutted out and the trees growing along the banks.  And there, a salmon surfaced.

If only we saw individuals.  If we did not see race.  If we saw every  human being as unique; that we truly need one another to exist…what if…..

Dear Lord, can we have another chance?m5

Published by Carol Clupny, author The Ribbon of Road Ahead: One Woman's Remarkable Journey with Parkinson's Disease

I am a middle aged woman with Parkinson's Disease. When I was first diagnosed I spent a lot of time researching the disease. Seeing a video of a man in the advanced stages of the disease attempting to get out of his chair and then "freezing" as he tried to walk across the room got me off my butt and moving. Great adventures on the Camino de Santiago and with TEAM Pedaling for Parkinson's across IOWA, as well as the day to day adventures of life have lead me to writing. My first novel, a memoir, was published early 2019. It is called, you got it THE RIBBON OF ROAD AHEAD. Living with the degenerative neurological disease Parkinson's, ULTREIA is a word that guides me. I have chosen it as the name of my business ULTREIA BOOKS. It comes from Latin and old French and means "unfailing courage". In the old days, pilgrims would call "Ultreïa" to each other as encouragement "Go up, go further!" Nowadays we would say "You can do this thing". It takes courage to live with Parkinson's. May I face each day with unfailing courage. Ab Here is more about me; I was living an active lifestyle riding horses, hiking, climbing and snow skiing when at age fifty I was diagnosed with Parkinsons. Retiring from my career as a speech-language pathologist I decided to “take to the road” to battle the disease. My first steps, walking out her door to the mailbox, lead to trekking over 1000 miles of pilgrimage trails on the Camino de Santiago in France and Spain. A dusty bike discovered in the garage resulted in four rides on the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa with the Pedaling for Parkinsons Team. These adventures inspired me to write a memoir The Ribbon of Road Ahead: One Woman’s Remarkable Journey with Parkinson’s Disease. I blogs about my everyday life as a middle-aged woman in the mid-stages of Parkinson’s disease. My honest, humorous, and casual narrative style brings the reader to an intimate understanding of my resilience and acceptance. My blog, sharing the name of my book ”The Ribbon of Road Ahead” can be found at After completing a Masters of Science in Speech Pathology from Eastern Washington University I received certification in School Leadership and Administration from Lewis and Clark College. I provided speech pathology services and later became a program director completing 32 years in the wide geographic expanse of eastern Oregon. Active in the Oregon Speech-Language and Hearing Association I received honors of the association and the presidential award for work on recruitment and retention of speech and hearing professionals. Il presented numerous papers and projects at local, state and regional professional conferences. I was appointed by Governor Ted Kulongoski to two terms of the Oregon Board of Examiners of Speech Pathology and Audiology, the state’s licensing and consumer protection agency. Since my diagnosis in 2008, I has become active in the Parkinson’s community as an advocate, an Ambassador for the Davis Phinney Foundation and support group facilitator for Parkinson's Resources of Oregon. I was appointed the regional patient representative for the Parkinson's Foundation’s Women with PD TALK study. In September of 2019 the Michael J Fox Foundation selected me to participate in the Parkinson’s Policy Forum in Washington DC. As an attendee at the World Parkinson Congress in 2016 in Portand, Oregon, I presnted a poster session examining the decision making process for patients considering deep brain stimulation. At the 2019 WPC in Kyoto, Japan I presented a poster on vision concerns of women with PD and lead small group discussions. Myr book The Ribbon of Road Ahead has provided many speaking opportunities for Carol. In 2019 and early 2020 she visited 24 support groups in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and California to share her thoughts on living well with the disease. In addition, she has presented talks for The Center on Aging in San Francisco, Parkinson's Place in Las Vegas, Northwest Parkinson's Foundation in Richland WA and virtually through their HOPE online program. In late 2020 I rejuvenated her voice and narrated her book. It became available as an audio book in 2021. As part of this project I read stories over the airwaves on RadioParkies Australia with DJ Madonna and in Great Britain with DJ Johnny Parky. She and her husband Charlie have two adult sons. They live on a small hobby farm in eastern Oregon. Contact Information: Carol Clupny PO BOX 128, Hermiston, OR 97838 (541) 720-4256

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