Sunday, May 16, 2010
'Where did YOU come from?"
The following is an article we have submitted to our local USPS newletter, so please forgive the rather odd tone. . .
This was a question Kristi and I received (more than once!) after having been tied up at the Bernert Landing docks for a few hours. This was a genuine question, as Viking Star was clearly and vastly the largest boat in sight. Located above the Oregon City Falls on the Willamette River, Bernert Landing is part of the Willamette Park in West Linn. It is very popular with ski boats, kayakers, a few wave runners, and today even a few model boats skimming across the water. This lady’s question was genuine in that she could not imagine how we got such a large boat on this part of the river. Given that the Locks at the Oregon City Falls had been open only a week and closed for a couple of years prior – it is easy to understand her concern.
This is our 3rd time to Bernert Landing public dock, and it is one of our favorite trips. It has a nice new dock backed by a wonderful park which is well supported by the local community. A short, though rather strenuous, walk uphill reveals several coffee shops, an old fashion general store (yes, groceries and hardware complete with wood plank floors!), and several restaurants ranging from Italian, to Thai, to a few Pubs. Bellagio’s Pizza will even deliver to the dock (and their pizza is very good). Finally, every evening, very friendly folks are walking the dock – making good conversation.
We really like this destination . Even though Highway 99e is just across the river, the traffic is somewhat light and slower at this stretch (compared to say Downtown). It is easy to hear the honking of geese and the jumping of fish over any auto traffic. Even the trains are few and not too intrusive. But best of all, to get here one ‘has’ to pass through the Willamette Falls Locks!
Based on a sizable investment as part of last year’s Stimulus bill – the locks are fully refurnished and operational this summer. They are open Thursday through Monday, just right for a long weekend. Whether you have never been through a lock, or are a veteran of the larger locks on the Columbia, the Willamette Falls Locks are a treat. 137 years old, it is one of the oldest operational multi-stage locks in existence in the USA. The lock masters are friendly (they consider it a privilege to operate these locks) and very helpful. Hail ‘Willamette Falls Lockmaster’ on VHF 14 to make contact and they will cheerfully guide you through. This lock has ropes already attached for you to use, just rig fenders. You also might want to wear gloves, or have a rag available to wipe your hands as the ropes can be a little dirty. Be prepared to spend about one and a half hours to lock up, a little under an hour to get back down.
Good dock, Good view, Good environment. Nearby shops, eateries, Pizza to the dock, friendly folks, and a piece of history to transit – isn’t this what Cruising is all about?
If you would like to take your turn at Bernert Landing, better plan on it this summer. The locks are funded through the Fall, but beyond that there is no guarantee. Though a core group of folks at the Willamette Falls Heritage Foundation (http://www.willamettefalls.org/) are working to secure continued operation and funding, there are no guarantees. Who knows? This wonderful destination could be lost after this summer – make sure you don’t end up missing your chance! (Or perhaps plan on bringing a smaller boat--there is a boat launch right here as well .) J