Performing a Service
October 20, 2013
A while ago, someone on FaceBook posted the question "What
advice does the older generation have for someone about to enter
his 30s?" I said "Floss. Invest - a minimum of 10% every
paycheck. Keep in contact with your friends - they'll be the ones
with you when things get hard." Then I said "Ha ha, just
kidding. They'll have replacement teeth in just a few years, hyper
inflation will eat any savings you have, and your best friends will
be people you've never met in person."
Paul Helbert was one of my best friends. We'd conversed over email
and FaceBook for a couple years. He gave me one of my most prized
posessions - a handmade, cigarbox
ukelele.We never met, but we enjoyed each other's company.
Paul took ill and died earlier this year. His wife posted his status
on FB, and I'd read the posts with tears flowing. I had no idea
why the death of this man, this stranger, affected me so much.
I went to Sail
Oklahoma in October, Paul's family was there, too. They did
a wonderful eulogy, and at the end, his wife, Sharon, brought out
a box filled with little baggies Inside the baggies was a small,
paper teabag filled with Paul's ashes. She said nead the end, Paul
had a wish of paddling all the rivers of the world and she asked
us to help make his dream come true.
I took a few bags and brought them back to Oregon. Here's what
happened to them.
I started at the Boathouse on the Yaquina River. It was a beautiful
fall day - a perfect day for being on the water.
A glorious day indeed. A pair of cormorants were sunning themselves
on a stump.
Even Waldo, the resident heron, came out to whatch Paul and I paddle
I like to paddle between pylons and such - there's lots of them
on the Yaquina.
I could have just put the teabag in the water, but I wanted to
scatter the ashes.
Back in the Boathouse, I had a brilliant idea. We mixed a few of
Paul's ashes in the epoxy of a boat we are building - he'll be able
to go adventure for years to come.
Next stop, the next morning, was the Siletz River. I put in at
Hee Hee Illahee park and paddled upstream in the morning mist.
Another glorious day adn another audience - three deer getting
a morning drink.
Bon Voyage, Paul.
As I drove through Newport, another deer came out - this guy was
Up by Lincoln City is D River - the shortest river in the world.
I've driven over it a thousand times and never stopped to check
out out. If you look hard enough, you can see the ocean under the
I spread Paul's ashes over by a patch of water plants. There's
a possiblity those are Arrowroot - what used to be called Wapato,
a very important plant as it was pretty much the only source of
starch for the natives.
Back in Salem, I launched at Wallace Marine Park and paddled up
the Willamette River for a bit.
A line of ducks came out from shore to watch us paddle past.
Four rivers in a weekend. That's a pretty good start, Paul.