I'll never forget that magical summer day in 1989 when I hit the waters of the famed Columbia River Gorge for the first time. I rented a place right on the water in Rowena about 1/2 mile west of Doug's Beach (it was great to be able to leave my stuff rigged up). Being of the female persuasion and out there alone, it was perfect for my first time because it offered me a bit more security. I rented from two homeowner/windsurfers who gave me lots of good sailing informaiton. I was able to get out on the water and gain some confidence before heading out to other beaches. The river, quite wide where I was at, was exhilerating. I remember thinking my first reach out, "Wow this is a lot farther across than it looks." And then on the reach back, "please let me make it back to shore." After sailing there for days I built up my endurance and confidence to hit some of the other spots. On one blustery day, liquid spray was everywhere and I understood why helmets are a good idea. I headed out from Rowena, but the wind (the strongest I'd ever seen or sailed) let me have it. I was thrown in hard several times. I watched in amazement as the wind picked up a guy's whole rig and tossed in down river like tumbleweed. I crashed again and the wind picked my rig up as I raced to catch it. I never swam so fast in my life. I ended up beached down at Doug's. I couldn't make it back so my walk of shame was complete. Humble pie is good to eat. I think back fondly and never forget the warm fuzzy feelings the Gorge gives me. I was only able to stay for a couple weeks. It was terrible leaving wanting more....
All I could do is plan my next getaway. I was determined to spend a lot more time the next time. Part of this plan was having no attachments before my next trip (exceptions made for windsurfers only). The reason being is that all my girlfriends were tied down with their boyfriends and/or families and could never get away. If you are female and don't have any sailing buddies, you must want it bad enough to go alone because if you wait for a friend to go with you'll never go. Of course, I met someone ( a non-sailer) one week before I was to leave for a summer in the Gorge. As it was, he talked me into going camping on the north shore, and I left like 3 days late (pretty much a sin when your place at the Gorge is paid for and waiting).
So I headed off to the glorious Gorge where I was able to spend the whole summer. This was such a blessing. This time, I rented a converted apt. on the back side of some local sailors house. I was able to meet a lot of locals, and head out to most of the spots and have some serious righteous fun.
One of my goals from my first trip out was be good enough to sail with the "big boys" at the famed "Hatch and Swell City." Mission accomplished. I never had such adrenaline rushes as I did the day I headed out in the big swell on my 8"6 Dill and 2.9 Rushwind. I remember being in the trough, and the big swells surrounding me with guys jumping all around and one guy even flew right over me. Then I started praying, "Lord please help me get back." Oh my gosh, getting my first air off the swell and hanging onto to it. The feeling of accomplishment in my book was immense.
I was lucky enough to get some photos of me sailing. So now every time I look at the photos framed next to my bed, I remember the radical times spent with the wind and lots of smiling faces. And on those no wind days, the time spent hiking the waterfalls planted all over the mountains, mountain biking, camping and even canoeing on the river fills me up to satisfaction and helps direct me to plan my next trip.
When I came back from my summer out in the Gorge, the guy I met before I left was still ready and waiting. From there another passion grew and I conceived my daughter at 27. What an amazing thing being a parent is. The only downside for me was that I was no longer able to take off and sail any time I wanted. I now had this tiny person to bring up. I couldn't take her to the beach and go out sailing without someone else to help. That's one of the main reasons I got into windsurfing, I could do it by myself. It seemed every time I had a sitter there was no wind and visa versa. I became a real wind-deprived windsurfer. I watched the flags flapping knowing I couldn't go. I became quite irritable. I think I could now understand how an addict might feel when their fix is taken away. After a few years passed and my daughter became more independent, I was able to get away again. The pure pleasure found flying across the water feeling the wind at your back. There's nothing like it. Don't get me wrong, I love to do all sorts of things, but windsurfing is my favorite. Nothing can fill its spot in my heart and soul. I'm again planning my next trip to the Gorge.
Always ready to chase the wind. Jenny J.
Share stores of your big days, soul rejuvenation experiences; moments that defy time.
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