A cruise with some music

My honey and I tend to do a lot of activites apart, or in our own heads, but occasionally, we do go out on dates. The dates don’t tend to be things other folks find …romantic.

Thursday after work, I got on my bike and pedaled, not to home (20 minute commute) but to where some of our toys are stored (40 minutes of bike time). I must have hit a pot hole because a mile or so from her place as I was getting some interesting shimmies and rubbing. I have wheel truing in my near future.

Anyway, I pulled into the drive a few minutes before my honey got there – his food gathering attempt was in vain, our favorite Chinese restaurant was closed. We did some major combobulating of gear (leaving my bike, changing racks, etc), then drove off to gas up the car and stop at subway for a couple of meal deals. Then we headed to the Riverside Boathouse and unshipped the kayaks. It’s a short carry down to the floating docks where the dragonboaters and sculling crews were beginning to come in for the night, and we wiggled into neoprene and slipped our hulls into the water: his yellow, mine red.

We paddled across the Willamette and noted where the crowds were, and shortly headed upstream, passing several large boats at anchor, their crews relaxing on deck with a drink. Chatting a bit with the captain of the Luscious, a purple & red 54′ rig with a huge main mast, we found he was appreciative of finding kayakers with lights, and thought the headlamps we had on were curious. He takes the boat (ship?) up and down the coast, no further than Vancouver (BC, I assume). As we paddled away, we commented to ourselves that with that rig, we’d be sailing to Alaska or Hawaii.

Not far past the downtown area of Portland, we approached the construction of the new train/bike bridge. The west tower is up past the road deck, so (we speculated) the rest will be going up quickly, and then they’ll get going on the east tower. Completing our inspection, we turned and had a short sprint downstream, back the the crowds in waterfront park.

Symphony seats

Intermission was over, and the conductor of the Oregon Symphony Orchestra introduced some guest performers, and told stories we could not quite hear between performance pieces. The land bound audience was picnicking, sipping wine, chatting, and allowing their kids some time to skip stones in the river while the music played. The many boats moored up held small groups, complete independent of the size of the craft – a couple hung out in a large speedboat, and offered us snacks, a mob of 6 or more in a pair of canoes huddled around an anchor point, etc. we kept station, more or less, floating through the arts lovers, and trying to stay away from the kids on shore.

Alas, a trio of young boys got a hold of an aluminum canoe, and paddled out into the anchored boats and proceeded to scream at each other, threatening dunkings at the top of their voices. They’d been playing loudly close to shore, but after ten minutes of this out she we were, I powered over to them and asked them seriously and sharply if anyone was hurt, were they injured, is someone dying? They confusedly said no to all this, and so I pointed out that there was a concert going on and the people around them could not hear it. Then I paddled away. I assumed the applause about then was from something on stage, but my honey says it was the boaters around me. The kids stopped being annoying.

We got treated to some Swan Lake, complete with spotlighted ballet, though we were too far under the rise to see more than the impressive high jumps. And then they started in on the 1812 Overature, which was why I had made the arrangements.

I loved the story about the piece being a humdrum item that a Boston Pops conductor decided to dress up (and hopefully attract ticket sales) by firing off cannons on stage – pure genius. We never hear the piece without the firepower these days. Sure enough, after the orchestra did a fine job on the descants, the 218th Field Artillery, hanging out on the other side of the Hawthorn Bridge, started up their volleys. I’m not sure if it was the difference between hearing the music directly in front of us and the cannons downstream, but there was a bit of a lag – really didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the combination.

Meanwhile, while this was going on, the Luscious began parading across the river with a house-sized US flag hanging from the main mast, lit by spots. They turned near the bridge, shifted the lines and came back the other way, just as the piece was wrapping up in the final echoing booms, and then the fireworks started.

I’m not sure how this worked for people on shore, or even in larger boats, but from the water level, the fireworks were exploding around the full blue moon like a halo. Our angle was perfect. For a while, the Artillery on shore competed with the showy stuff coming off the barge, and gun smoke wafted around us.

It was 10pm and we still had to pull ourselves across the river, load boats, drive them to their storage area, unload & hang, change racks back, load my bike, and drive home. But it was a spectacular evening. Dinner, a cruise, the symphony, and a light show. What else can you ask for in a weeknight date?


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