Valerie Blessley's Millenium Harp Quest

[Home | Models | Brochure | Cases | Recordings | Celtic Muse | Dr. Blessley]

The Millenium Harp Quest Voyages 16-20 on "Andante"

[Quest Main | Quest Voyages 1-5 | Quest Voyages 6-10 | Quest Voyages 11-15]

Quest Location 16 - River Place Marina, Willamette River, OR - August 5, 2002

Mark's parents are in town for a visit. They live in Connecticut, so they have not ridden on Andante before. Joyce, his mom, has been really excited about going on a boat ride, and of course, Mark and his dad, George, have been discussing all of the merits of the engine and equipment on the boat. Today we took them for a cruise down the Columbia River and up the Willamette River with the intention of eating lunch at the floating Newport Bay Restaurant in downtown Portland, OR. We thought we had surprises in store for them, and never anticipated that there would be any surprises in store for us.

We had a lovely brunch at Newport Bay. The food was wonderful, as was the service and the view. Mom and Dad regaled us with their stories, and we told them all about our boating adventures. We lingered at the table, watching the world go by. As we were preparing to leave, I took a walk around the circular restaurant to find the ladies' room. Lo and behold, our friends, Gary and Janice, were having lunch with their family on the other side of the restaurant.

I have owed Janice a piece of music for several months. She asked for my arrangement of a piece we both play, and due to a variety of computer glitches, I haven't been able to produce it for her yet. After our chat, and still feeling contrite about the arrangement, I decided to go and get Pikku Lintu and play it for her then and there... without warning. ;-)

Arriving back at our table, I told Mark that Gary and Janice were there, and my plan to play for her. We went to Andante out on the dock and got the harp. Taking her out of the case outside, I carried her through the restaurant to Gary and Janice's table. Mark followed, carrying the camera. Though it was a little noisy in the restaurant, I pulled a chair close to their table, explained the surprise adventure and my quest to their family, and proceeded to play for Janice. It was so much fun! As you can see, they too enjoyed the experience. Janice and Gary are such lovely people that I am thrilled that they have become part of the quest. She said that she had never expected to hear any harp music there and it had made her day. It made mine too.

Quest Location 17 - Rooster Rock, OR - August 18, 2002

Mark and I decided to take a private boating trip up the Columbia River towards Beacon Rock. The first and only other time I have ever ridden on a boat up the Columbia River Gorge was on our friend Bob's 17 foot Arima fishing boat. It was really choppy, and I was white-knuckling all the way, trying not to show how petrified I was. Finally, I asked Bob to turn around, and go to calmer water. I couldn't take the pounding that seemed not to bother him at all. Happily for me, he complied with my wishes, and took us to a calm place where we ate a nice dinner. Consequently, we never made it beyond one bend in the river that leads into the scenic area of the gorge. Of course, we have seen it numerous times by car, but Mark really wanted to go there by boat. I was praying for calm water.

I got my wish. The water was much calmer this day as we motored through the port of Camas - Washougal. We were now exploring new waterways for us, and I watched the charts carefully so we could navigate in the channel. All in all, it was turning out nicely.

Last May, when driving on I-84 towards Portland while coming home from Rigel's graduation, we had seen boats docked at Rooster Rock. Since the journey was taking longer than we expected, it became clear that we didn't have time to motor all of the way to Beacon Rock. Instead, we settled on finding the entrance to Rooster Rock and docking there for lunch. We did find it, and had to be extremely careful going in, since the water was so low. Once we arrived at the cove, the water was much deeper, but the channel was sometimes just 3 feet deep! They say in boating classes that when docking if it feels like you're doing it in slow motion, you're doing it right. Today was another case of that adage being correct.

We docked and prepared a typical boating lunch... tuna salad sandwiches and a cup of soup. Anything hot tastes delicious after you've been on the water. Relaxing in the cockpit of the boat, we decided to explore the park a bit. Mark carried Pikku Lintu up the ramp for me.

As we reached the top of the ramp, some park rangers stopped and asked us if we had seen a 3-year-old boy wandering alone. We had not. Apparently he had slipped away from his family, and a search was on. I decided to sit on the nearest picnic table and play my harp, in hopes that the sound might attract the boy away from the water if he were near us. For the next 10-15 minutes, I played the harp there, praying the little one would be ok. No one else came by looking for him, and we can only presume he was found unharmed. No news is good news?

Quest Location 18 - USPS District 32 Rendezvous - August 23-25, 2002

Every summer, the area squadrons in the US Power Squadron meet somewhere for a District 32 Rendezvous. One Squadron fixes Friday night dinner, another Saturday lunch, and a third Saturday dinner. Activities are planned for the day on Saturday, and everyone goes home on Sunday morning. Ft. Vancouver, our squadron, had the assignment to make Friday night dinner. At the planning meeting, they talked about making tacos. I made the mistake of saying "Frito Pie is easier and delicious." Of course, being from New Mexico, and their being from the Northwest, I was the only one in the room who knew how to make Frito Pie. It's like a taco in a bowl... fritos covered with chile, cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion. YUM! It's a staple in school lunch rooms.

I ended up making 5 gallons of chile for the Friday night dinner, and we fed 49 people. It was amazing. There was almost nothing left over, and I received dozens of compliments on the meal, much to my relief.

Afterward, we cleared a space, and started playing music. There are some musicians in the Portland Chapter. I had played alone while waiting for the others. A little girl was totally taken with the harp. She would clap her tiny hands and reach for the strings while I played, leaning over in her stroller. Finally I invited her mom to let her come close enough to touch the strings, and she plucked and strummed as much as a 1-year-old can do. We took pictures, and I gave her mom a Harping for Harmony pin to give the little one when she got older. Who knows, Pikku Lintu may have ignited a flame in a little 1-year-old heart that day.

On Saturday, Mark introduced me to a woman named June, whose sister we had met last year in Fairbanks, AK. She's the local pedal harpist and harp teacher in Fairbanks. June also plays the harp, though she had given it up as a teenager in favor of the guitar. She wanted to be able to sing with her music. I told June about Pamela Bruner and her singing with the harp, and when the jam session began on the docks again late in the afternoon, June took Pikku Lintu and played along with the guitarists with her. What a great time.

Quest Location 19 - Northwest Outboard Trailer Sailors,

Hadley's Landing, OR - September 21, 2002

Today Mark and I had planned to cruise to Beacon Rock. The picture is from the Beacon Rock State Park web site

Actually, I had a gig and would meet Mark and some friends, Kathy and Jon, at Beacon Rock. They'd take my car to our marina and pick up theirs. In theory, it was a really good idea. In practice, it turned out to be a really frustrating day. The water in the Columbia River Gorge was way too rough, and they had to turn back and go to the Port of Camas / Washougal. Mark called me, as I was driving through town, and told me to put my plan on hold because they couldn't go to Beacon Rock. I decided to go shopping to kill some time.

Another complication was that they were cruising with another USPS member, Ron, and had to coordinate plans. No one wanted to stay overnight at Camas / Washougal, so I was told that they'd call me with another plan. "Don't drive to Camas after all." Again, I shopped, growing more frustrated, and feeling more and more left out.

Finally a plan was made to cruise to River Place Marina on the Willamette River in downtown Portland, OR to stay overnight with the Beaverton Chapter of the Power Squadron at the marina. By this time, 5-6 hours of waiting had passed while they cruised from place to place. These rivers are BIG! The only positive thing for me was that I had been able to drop by Shenanigan's, a restaurant on the river, have a drink and a fruit and cheese platter, and watch Andante go by on plane, which I had never seen. But they were so far out in the river, they missed me waving my napkin. :-( Now I was heavily invested in my pity party.

The next problem was that our source of information had the wrong date, the marina was full when we all got there, and there was only docking space on the outside, which would make for a very rough night. To ice the cake, one of the engines on Ron's boat coughed and gave out... an ignition problem. He wasn't going anywhere soon. While our friend Jan walked the dog, Kathy and Jon rescued me and my harp from utter frustration and near tears, and helped me get to the boat. They took my car back to our marina while Mark and I tried to figure out what to do. Jan stayed on board for the rest of the adventure. Since we were passing the Multnomah Channel on the way back, we decided to cruise over to Hadley's Landing, one of our favorite places. The docks were full to capacity... except for one spot where a 28 foot boat had just left. Andante's 28 feet long! Soon we were being welcomed by the NW Outdoor Trailer Sailors (NOTS), who were having a cruise at Hadley's Landing. It was a fortuitous ending to a very frustrating day.

The NOTS invited us to stay the night and eat breakfast, and all the while were teasing us, certain that our boat was really 32 feet. I had promised a dockside concert in exchange for their hospitality, and brought out Pikku Lintu. With only the light of a Coleman lantern, I proceeded to take them from Ireland to Scotland, to Finland, and back to England on the strains of the harp strings. My performance was occasionally punctuated by one question. "How long is your boat?" My reply, "Still 28 feet." All laughed. When we were all relaxed, and all of my Harping for Harmony pins were given away, I reluctantly finished my concert, and we drifted to our various boats for slumber.

In the morning, we were up bright and early. I ripped a page from our boat log, and wrote "Still 28 Feet!" in big letters, and fastened it onto the rails on the bow of Andante. As people stirred and walked the dock, we could hear chuckles as they read the sign. We had made a whole lot of friends that night. In fact, we joined the organization, which is one of the busiest cruising groups on the rivers. They are great people who made our day and made us feel right at home. Pictures of Pikku Lintu and me with the NOTS on the dock appeared in their next newsletter, along with a great story. The Quest is getting better and better known. By the way, almost none of them have boats small enough to trailer any more, and most of them are over 28 feet. ;-)

Quest Location 20 - Battle Ground Lake, WA, September 14, 2002

Harper Tasche has just left our house to go back to Seattle, and we were a bit disappointed that he was unable to stay longer. So, a get-away is was order. We packed our camper for an overnight foray to Battle Ground Lake, a beautiful little lake in a volcanic caldera. Our little dog, Bridie, loves to go camping with us, and even though the weather wasn't the greatest, we set out for a night in the woods. It's ironic. Our house is in the woods, but getting into a 6-foot camper on the back of a pickup truck and camping near a lake in a different "neck of the woods" is a get-away.

The picture is from the Battle Ground Lake State Park web site

When we had a canoe, we would bring it up to this lake. Our son, Rigel, loved swimming here as a little boy, climbing on floating logs and diving into the water. The lake is a favorite local summer picnicking spot, and fishing location. One of our favorite features is the walking trail around the lake. It's beautiful northwestern scenery here, and the best campsites overlook the lake. A benefit of fall and winter camping is that those sites are easy to get.

After a cozy night in the camper, we took a walk around the lake. I collected Big Leaf Maple leaves the size of dinner plates to take to school with me on Monday. Before we left, we took the harp to the picnic area at the end of the road pictured here. I played and improvised for the lake, which needed blessing. It has had problems in the past with being polluted by visitors and unsafe for swimming. Right now, it's safe for swimming and has been for a couple of years, but I wanted to bless the waters with the harp. The lake responded with giving me a song, which Mark attempted to record on his pocket memo machine. I'm not sure if I'll be able to transcribe it, but I will when I have some time. If not, then it was a gift just to hear the music from this magical place.

[Home | Models | Brochure | Cases | Recordings | Celtic Muse | Dr. Blessley]

[Quest Main | Quest Voyages 1-5 | Quest Voyages 6-10 | Quest Voyages 11-15]