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Class of '69 Micro-Reunion

Long Beach, WA, October 5-6, 2013

Celebrating the Completion of Jim Gregoire's Cross-Country Hike

Click here to see the photo album!

As featured in Bill Charrier’s President’s Letter in September, one of the highlights of P’69 activities this fall was a micro-reunion in, of all places, Long Beach, Washington.


Long Beach is a small but historic beach community in far southwest Washington, and it happens to be near the destination of JIM GREGOIRE’s 4,200 mile hike across America. Jim started the final leg of his trek in mid-September in Pasco, along the Columbia River in central Washington. He hiked past Yakima and crossed the rugged White Pass in the Cascades between Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier. He returned to the Columbia near Kelso, Washington; and then followed roughly the route of Lewis & Clark’s Corps of Discovery to the mouth of the Columbia near Astoria, Oregon.


Jim’s family, friends and P’69 classmates BILL and ANNE CHARRIER, BOB ANDRE, BRUCE and APRIL DEBOLT, and RICK and CHRIS KITTO, gathered to greet him at Cape Disappointment, on the north side of the river near Long Beach, on Saturday, Oct. 5. The Cape was named not by Lewis & Clark but by a British fur trader, Lieutenant John Meares, who had sailed south from Nootka Sound in 1788 and saw the cape, but missed discovering the mouth of the Columbia.


Headquarters for the greeting party was the Lighthouse Resort just north of Long Beach (www.Lighthouseresort.net). Early arrivals enjoyed a dinner gathering Friday at the Pelicano restaurant in view of the scenic harbor at Ilwaco, Washington. We probably have never seen so many fishing vessels in the same place at the same time.


On Saturday, Oct. 5, Jim’s son "Young Jim” and his wife Jen, and classmate Bob Andre, joined Jim for the final hiking leg of his journey. Others, after a light breakfast in the Tower at the Lighthouse Resort, met Jim and the other hikers at the foot of the Discovery Trail in Ilwaco for a pleasant hike across the cape following the same route Captain William Clark and a company from the Corps of Discovery had taken on the day in November 1805 when they first made it to the Pacific Ocean. The weather for the day was spectacular, a far cry from Jim’s experience a week earlier when he had to take refuge for two days in the face of torrential rains dumped on the Pacific Northwest by the remnants of a Japanese typhoon.


After witnessing Jim’s triumphant placement of "toes into” into the Pacific Ocean—seven years after his "toes into” the Atlantic Ocean at Portland, Maine—we proceeded along the cape to tour the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment State Park.


Saturday evening we gathered for a reception at one of the Lighthouse condos featuring Washington wines hosted by Seattle resident Bob Andre. Highlights of the gathering were Jim’s commentary (and quiz) about his entire hiking experience, and Young Jim’s wittily narrated video taken during the day’s hike.


Then we celebrated Jim’s achievement with a dinner on the heated patio of The Depot Restaurant in Seaview, WA (www.depotrestaurantdining.com) The Depot in its early days really was a depot on the railroad that ran the length of the peninsula hauling oysters, passengers and mail. We savored wild game appetizers in recognition of Lewis & Clark’s favorite food (elk!); a choice among lower Columbia salmon, The Depot’s signature "Southern Comfort Pork” or a vegetarian creation by Chef Michael Lalewicz; and select Washington red and white wines.


Sunday morning we were treated to brunch at the historic Shelburne Inn in Seaview, established in 1896 as a retreat for visitors to the Washington Coast from Portland (www.theshelburneinn.com), "English in style but with a distinctly American twist.” Host David Campiche is a renowned expert on wild mushrooms, so nearly all of the brunch offerings featured these delicacies.


Our featured (and surprise) guest for the brunch was Rex Ziak, author of the definitive book In Full View about the critical days in November and December 1805 when Lewis & Clark had reached the mouth of the Columbia but had not yet decided to cross the river to Oregon (and build Fort Clatsop) for the winter. Rex and his wife Keiko joined us for brunch and entranced the group with stories about Lewis & Clark and the historians who have written about them.


Originally we had planned to cross the river again Sunday afternoon to visit the recreated Fort Clatsop (www.nps.gov/lewi), where the Corps of Discovery spent the cold and wet winter of 1805-06, but the fort was closed due to the partial shutdown of the federal government during the time we were there. But recalling the blessing from Saturday’s dinner, one of Jim’s favorites, "this is the day that the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”


B. R. D.


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