Success on the river: He did it! On Aug. 9, Matt Honor of Wenatchee reached his goal of paddleboarding the length of the Columbia River. The 23-year-old special education teacher at Eastmont Junior High School put in at the river’s headwaters in British Columbia on June 11. His final take-out spot was Hammond, Ore., about five miles downriver from Astoria.
“It was the farthest I could go and still be able to portage out,” he said.
Honor thinks he’s the first person to paddleboard the length of the big river.
Since paddling through Wenatchee in early July, Honor said, his biggest challenge was high winds in the Columbia Gorge. He experienced gusts in the mid 30-mph-range and had to camp out on a small, unpopulated island in the river for three days, waiting for the winds to die down.
When he reached Hammond, about 7 p.m. on Aug. 9, he was met by friends. He described the final exit from the river as “uneventful.” He visited friends for a few days and picked up his car, which had been left in the Portland area.
Heading out of the big city was awkward after traveling slowly on the river for a total of 460 hours.
“Driving around Portland late at night, I was having a hard time getting up to 35 mph, so it was kind of funny,” he said.
A story on Honor’s trip down the Columbia was published in The Wenatchee World July 10.
A peachy fire: Bridgeport Mayor Marilynn Lynn and her husband Rick must subscribe to the saying, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” Only in their case, it would read, “When a van fire burns up 2,500 pounds of newly picked organic peaches, make ‘a giant peach and alpaca poo compost.’”
That’s what they called it in an email updating an Aug. 9 vehicle fire on Blewett Pass that destroyed their one-ton van and all those peaches that were headed for a farmers market in Seattle, along with dozens of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) boxes.
In a telephone interview with Marilynn, the Worm discovered she really IS as cheerful about surviving this uninsured loss of fruit as the email sounded.
A week after the fire, she was counting her blessings.
First, that two complete strangers stopped and put their own lives at risk to crawl under her van with fire extinguishers to try to put out the fire — despite the billowing smoke and flames. “That sort of unselfish act of bravery for someone you don’t know is beyond words,” she said, adding, “Who does this?”
Second, that the volunteer Dryden Fire Department responded so quickly and finished the job, reminding her to be grateful for the dedication her own volunteer firefighters.
And third, that her customers who didn’t get their peaches responded not with anger or irritation over the inconvenience, but rather true concern for Rama Farm, and how it would survive the ordeal. Many who had been scheduled to pick up a fruit box donated it to the farm and did not want a refund. “When they talk about that connection between farmers market customers and farms, it is a real, genuine thing,” Lynn said.
As any small farmer knows, losing that much fruit at the height of harvest season is bound to be a financial burden. But instead of counting her losses, Marilynn talked only about how the whole experience served to remind her that there are so many good people out there — some trained volunteers, some customers, and some complete strangers.
Detroit, Wash.?: Wall Street Journal editorial board member Stephen Moore worries that Wenatchee might go the way of the Motor City … i.e., into bankruptcy court.
In an Aug. 8 essay for the conservative content service Newsmax, Moore builds a list of “20 Cities That May Face Bankruptcy After Detroit” (http://tinyurl.com/nj7mjyd) and puts the Apple Capital at No. 19 — above Woonsocket, R.I., and behind Vadnais Heights, Minn.
That’s a giveaway that Moore’s list is organized alphabetically, not by risk. He puts Wenatchee in the mix due to the city’s 2011 default on debt for the Town Toyota Center public arena, plus “ongoing financial issues due to the default,” and goes on to bash public-sector unions and single-parent families as contributors to urban financial woes.
But the Public Facilities District that oversees the Wenatchee arena has since paid off investors, settled litigation and established a voter-approved sales tax to help pay off the $42 million debt. As a result, the city won’t pay a dime into the Town Toyota Center from its 2013 budget, Mayor Frank Kuntz said.
“I think they’re using old data from prior to Town Toyota Center being fixed, prior to having all the litigation being settled,” the mayor said. “We’re running a balanced budget and trying to get our reserves back in place. We’re fine financially.”
‘Airloom’ veggies: The in-flight magazine of Horizon Air turns its attention to the heirloom food movement here in the Wenatchee Valley. The magazine’s August edition sends writer Karalynn Ott to Cashmere Cider Mill, Pybus Public Market and Spencer Fruit Organics in search of food the way it used to be grown. You can view the magazine in an online edition at http://tinyurl.com/kzlh2h9.
This week’s Worm was compiled by reporters K.C. Mehaffey and Jefferson Robbins. Got a tip? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.