These past couple of days have offered some interesting and extraordinary insights into the world I live in. Either by reading, observing my surroundings, or asking the appropriate questions, I have come to be better informed about and secure in the knowledge that I can handle myself better. To begin with, I have been sitting out at our new reading spot by the Gorge where dog owners pick up after their pets and I can watch, when my nose isn’t in a book, boaters/kayakers try their luck in getting through the fast-flowing narrows under the Gorge bridge when the tide runs against them. From the safety of the banks of the Gorge Waterway, we get to watch this unfolding battle of man versus nature, numerous times over, with a growing sense of comic relief and momentary exhilaration, ultimately leading to some wry comments about the very public affairs of others! Intensive reading needs those breaks to bring us back to the bigger realities of life such as the struggle to overcome the power of nature. The feat is huge, the resources limited, and the outcomes are, at best, mixed. So what did I learn from this experience? One, boaters, especially those renting further down the waterway, often ignore the signs that warn about uber tides at the bridge. Two, some boaters are clueless as to how to read currents and paddle across or around them. Understanding that moving against the flow by nibbling at the edges is more promising than going up the middle doesn’t occur to the novice. Those who succeed in getting through are those who either arrive at a time when the flow is moderate – 5 knots – or in a tandem situation and know which side to paddle from. For those who fail comes the need to make shore, climb over some treacherously steep rocks to relaunch from the other side. From what I have seen this last while, plan B is never a guarantee. Belle and I took the opportunity to help a stranded couple haul their heavy, ungainly rentals over the rocks, only to be ‘rewarded’ with a couple of nasty bruises. While they were so thankful for our assistance – because they couldn’t have done it on their own – it took everything in my power to not remind them of the sign visible to all adventure seekers. Honestly, if I were new to the area, I, too, might ignore the warning in the desire to see what lay beyond the bore. But then, I had the distinct advantage of watching its titanic power from above on the bridge, so I wouldn’t be so foolish as to tempt fate. Then, there were the two hapless teens who couldn’t make it through today even when the current was slow. What they did was head to the ‘safety’ of the ledge, pull out a cellphone and ask a friend to come and bail them out. This blog is not complete without mention of the canoeist we saw the other day effortlessly maneuvering all the way through the strong current only to turn around and repeat the process. Must have been a training exercise or maybe just an occasion to show others that the seemingly impossible is doable only if you have skill or luck working for you.