The mighty Columbia River is rich with natural and cultural histories and I explore it by sea kayak via the little known Lewis and Clark Wildlife Refuge.

Could there be a better escape from a simmering, sweltering summer than time on a river? A time for new and old friends to gather near Svensen Slough to check over their boats and put on proper safety gear like a PFD prior to launching on an incoming tide. It was a dreamy day as tide, wind and sun merged to perfection so that we might paddle a stretch seldom seen so close.

The Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1972 and consists of more than 20 islands stretching over 27 miles of river. The stretch is also a part of the Lower Columbia River Water Trail: a 146-mile, bi-state reach from Bonneville Dam to the Pacific Ocean.

In short order we crossed paths with an aerial show that was astounding: two mature bald eagles locked talons in a moment of rare romance as they intertwined, spun through the air – helicopter fashion – until just the right moment to break loose. It was an incredible view and we felt lucky to have watched it.

It was one more reward for our paddling efforts across the refuge – plus, finding a comfort zone on the glassy water where confidence seemed to grow with each paddle stroke. It was a day filled with summer’s glory, punctuated by intimate moments where nature’s touch restored the soul.

Editor’s Note: Grant’s Getaways is a production of Travel Oregon brought to you in association with Oregon State Parks, Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife and Oregon State Marine Board. Episodes air Fridays and Saturdays on KGW Newschannel 8 and Saturdays on Northwest Cable News Network.

about author Grant McOmie

Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.

In this Grant’s Getaway

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These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.

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  1. TJ says…

    You’re like Oregon’s version of California’s Huel Hauser. I like your videos though. I really want to go kayaking, especially there it looked very beautiful.

    Written on October 17th, 2010 / Flag this Comment
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