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I Love the Deschutes: Upriver, Downriver and In Between 

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How lucky am I? The Deschutes River flows through my backyard. Everyday, I watch the geese and the ducks, sometimes the swans, float by as I work in my home office. It's magical when the sinking sun bounces off the rippling river under the willow tree and sets my living room asparkle. My dog is endlessly entertained by the beavers, otters and minks and I never have to worry about filling her outdoor water bowl. Occasionally, neighborhood boys set crawdad traps from my dock. I frequently paddle from my backyard up to McKay Park, down to the Newport Bridge and back again. I can say with 100% confidence that I have logged more river miles on the Mirror Pond run in the past eight years than anyone in the world. I am intimately familiar with the channel of best flow, the submerged rocks above the Columbia Park footbridge, the underwater pylons below the Drake Park footbridge, the swan nests, the water level and the silt buildup in Mirror Pond.

Over the years, I have also collected the following out of our river: a love note in a beer bottle, a leather statue of an ibex, a plastic frog, an Aerobie Flying Ring, a license plate, a horseshoe, a lawn chair, a couple flip flops per summer, several pumpkins, a few unmanned floaties, 20 softballs, 39 tennis balls and approximately $5.75 in recycling. A couple of weeks ago we reported to the Bend Police a picnic table going down the river. It is still hung up on the buoy line in front of the Newport spillway. Why someone felt compelled to launch the table, presumably from McKay Park, and why no one has removed it, I don't know. I love the Deschutes River and I think we should all appreciate this treasure that flows through the heart of Bend.


RIVER FESTIVAL TIME

Now is a great time to honor our river. Saturday September 13 is a "Day for the River", all 252.2 miles of it from Little Lava Lake to the Columbia River. The free event organized by the Deschutes River Conservancy is scheduled from 1-5pm in McKay Park and will celebrate clean water and healthy wildlife, fish and vegetation. There will be canoe and kayak demos, fly-casting lessons, a birding hike, kids' activities, a beer garden (with proceeds going to help the river), food vendors, local bluegrass and river-related booths. The DRC is a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring streamflow and improving water quality in the Deschutes Basin. For more information, visit www.deschutesriver.org.

UPRIVER

Farther upriver, the festivities continue with Sun Country Tours offering the Big Eddy Thriller raft trip at a discounted price of $25 (www.suncountrytours.com). Wanderlust Tours will conduct a guided canoe trip from Dillon Falls to Slough Camp for the discounted price of $20 (www.wanderlusttours.com). At the Sunriver Marina, there will also be a "Family Fun Extravaganza" stand-up paddling event that includes a free clinic and a 4-mile race or tour (www.standuppaddlebend.com).

On Sunday September 14 the wet fun continues with the sixth annual "Rumble on the River". Raft and kayak races will take place on the quarter-mile Big Eddy run through Class III rapids. For more information, contact Patrick McCullough at 541-390-5178 or Travis Busack at 541-280-7224.

DOWNRIVER

On Labor Day weekend, I joined a group of friends on a two-day rafting trip down the Lower Deschutes from Warm Springs to Maupin. It was my first time exploring that part of our river. It's beautiful in a dry and stark way, different from the flatwater stretches I've paddled between Wickiup Reservoir and Benham Falls. Cold, clear water tumbles through sagebrush country dotted with osprey nests.

This coming weekend, you can also celebrate this stretch of the Deschutes on Saturday September 13 in Maupin. The free, all-day festival held at the Oasis Riverview Campground includes $20 raft trips leaving every hour, fly-casting demonstrations, used rafts for sale, a 5K/10K walk/run, live music, local artists presenting fish and river art, food vendors, a silent auction and raffle prizes. For more information, visit www.maupinoregon.com.

On September 14, the Deschutes River Clean-Up is being held from Harpham Flats to Sandy Beach. Volunteers wearing closed-toe shoes are needed and gloves, bags, grabbers, boats and PFDs will be provided. Orientation starts at 8:45am and the clean-up will be followed by a free barbeque lunch at 1pm. For more information, contact Silas at All Star Rafting at 541-395-2201. The Oregon River Games follow from 1-3pm (www.oregonrivergames.com).

This weekend, whether we're rumbling in whitewater, casting a fly or meditating upon a swirling eddy, let's give the Deschutes a little love.

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