cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Among the scattered notes scribbled illegibly in my journal, tapped into the app on my phone, and mainly swirling through my head was the image of the quiet powerful earth moving force of the Salmon River I saw in northern Idaho.

I had followed this route along highway 95 after camping in the national Forest outside of New Meadows. As noted before, with some irony I was traveling part of the route I was reading in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Not too far north of New Meadows, the highway rounded a bend and started dipping down, following the route of a churning creek, maybe 15-20 feet wide, but like most of the waters I had seen in Wyoming, Colorado, and the mountain west, running wild with the large amount of melt off of later summer snow. The river was a churning loud machine.


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

The hoghway just kept dropping and dropping for miles, twisting, leaving the forest and entering that drier treeless tawny canyon country. At some point, the number of pickups parked along the road increased exponentially, and somewhere before Riggins, there was a place that looked like some sort of shanty town of shelters made fromt tarps where people were selling and cooking fresh fish. Along the road side it looked like one fisher person per 15 feet of space, elbow to elbow. I am guessing the salmon were running? I dunno, I am not a fisher person. I do regret not stopping to investigate more, it was definite StoryBox material.

I was too damn driven my my travel schedule.

Somewhere much farther, the slope of the road dropped, and what was once a creek, river, was now one of those wide stretches of ocean seeking water, that is almost more like a lake, especially with the shift of navigation from kayaks and floats to power boats and trawlers.


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

And this thing was still one decent size western state of reaching the ocean- it had along way to go, and looked almost docile compared to what was upstream.

But those looks are deceiving, because there is massive force in those big wide rivers, you just cannot see or hear it. Its why the Columbia is laden with those damns.


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

It was a stop at one of those (damn?) dams in Washington, Wells Dam, I saw this quote that I did write down in my notes.

“I wind through broad, golden valleys joined by streams, joined by creeks. I grow ever wider, broader, and deeper. I am the river.”
from the book Water Dance by Thomas Locker

There are so many metaphors we can toss from water and rivers, but this really firs me know, in thinking back on this journey, and how some things in us maybe do grow deeper, broader in us as we move downstream. It’s never the same, the display of energy changes, but maybe the force can grow.

I do not know why this came to me today, relaxing on a lovely fall day in a few miles reach of the Atlantic Ocean, where I plan to be camping tonight.

I am thinking of water, and time, and flow, and unexpected jumps in the river. Maybe it does not end up where it thought ti was going when water started rolling off the mountain side, but there are welcome surprises around the bends, warm pools, rapids, waterfalls, tranquility, and storms.

And it keeps on moving.

And I think of Pete Townshend’s song The Sea Refuses No River and this fills me more

I remember being richer than a king
The minutes of the day were golden
I recall that when the joint passed around
My body felt a little colder
But now I’m like a sewer channel – running lime and scag
Let me get at the master panel – let me at my stack
The sea refuses no river
And right now this river’s banks are blown

The sea refuses no river
Whether stinking and rank
Or red from the tank
Whether pure as a spring
There’s no damn thing stops the poem
The sea refuses no river
And this river is homeward flowing

I have seen a trace of strain
In other’s eyes, not spoken.
I must admit that I enjoyed their pain
But this time it’s me that’s broken
I demand for you and His
This must be the time
When we decide what freedom is
Turn water into wine

For the sea refuses no river
We’re polluted now but in our hearts still clean
The sea refuses no river
We tried not to age
But time had it’s rage
We’re washed over the stones
From babies into clones of the mean
The sea won’t refuse this muddy river
Nor deny the sulphurous stream

There was a fool in a dressing robe
Riding out the twilight hour
Lonely and cold in an empty home
Trying to assess his power
But now he’s like a stream in flood
Swollen by the storm
He doesn’t care if he sheds his blood
Let him be reborn

For the sea refuses no river
Remember that when the beggar buys a round
The sea refuses no river
And rain fills the gutters
No time for stutters
This is our chance
To sing and dance and to clown

The sea refuses no river
And rivers were sprung to drown
The sea refuses no river
No pecking code respected for the damned
The sea refuses no river
Whether starving and ill
Or strung on some pill
Just ‘cos you own the land
There’s no unique hand plugs the dam

The sea refuses no river
And the river is where I am
The river is where I am.

Yeah, Pete, this is my chance, to sing and dance and to clown… And the river is where I am, the river is where I am.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

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