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Voyage of a Summer Sun
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“The story is the Columbia River, not the canoe and me, but I’ve learned that friends can’t hear me tell about the river until they know why I was out there. This is not an adventure story, though some adventure was unavoidable, and I didn’t set out to find myself if I could help it. Nor did I launch the trip with a large point to prove. It was a voyage of discovery, and its telling is the uncovering of surprise on a river I thought I knew…” —Robin Cody, from the prologue

On a June morning in 1990, high up in the Canadian Rockies, Robin Cody pushed his sixteen-foot Kevlar canoe through tall grass and mud to launch it on peaceful Columbia Lake, the nominal source of the river that heaves more water into the Pacific ocean than any other in North or South America. For the next eighty-two days, Cody would portage massive dams and revel in the rapids as the great river plunges 2,700 feet in 1,200 miles before reaching the river’s mouth in Astoria.

Cody’s canoe sneaks up on the bear and moose and raptors and beavers who make a living on the Columbia. He drops in on riverpeople: the trapper, the wind surfer, the archeologist, the lock operator, the native woman who grew up at riverside in a dwelling of tule reeds. With a generous and infectious spirit, Cody draws us into the mysteries of a much-altered and regulated river that is still, at heart, a life-giving place.

This first OSU Press edition of Voyage of a Summer Sun—winner of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Book Award and the Oregon Book Award, and an Oregon State Library choice for “150 Books for the Oregon Sesquicentennial”—includes a new afterword by the author.

Table of Contents

  1. Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Acknowledgment
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  1. Contents
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  1. Prologue: Where Things Come From
  2. pp. 3-12
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  1. 1. Headwaters to Golden: The River Awakening
  2. pp. 13-30
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  1. 2. Golden to Redgrave Canyon: Bear-Scare and Water-Fright
  2. pp. 31-46
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  1. 3. Kinbasket Lake: He Saw What Was Coming
  2. pp. 47-66
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  1. 4. Mica to Revelstoke: Loon, Rain, and Oompah Music
  2. pp. 67-82
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  1. 5. Arrow Lake: This Is Why You Do It
  2. pp. 83-100
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  1. 6. Free-Flowing River: Keep the Wet Side Down
  2. pp. 101-118
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  1. 7. Lake Roosevelt: We Were the People
  2. pp. 119-136
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  1. 8. Grand Coulee: A Man Has No Idea
  2. pp. 137-154
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  1. 9. Change a Big River: Rattlesnake, Milfoil, and Carp
  2. pp. 155-172
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  1. 10. 'Nchiawana, Columbia: We Live in Two Worlds
  2. pp. 173-192
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  1. 11. Hanford: Nobody Knew What We Were Making
  2. pp. 193-210
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  1. 12. Turning for Home: This Is Our Mother, This Country
  2. pp. 211-228
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  1. 13. East Gorge: Still in the Brown Country
  2. pp. 229-244
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  1. 14. Celilo: She Who Watches
  2. pp. 245-264
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  1. 15. The Urban Waterway: To a Clearing in the Wilderness
  2. pp. 265-282
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  1. 16. The Pull of Tide: So Big and So Soon
  2. pp. 283-302
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  1. An Afterword
  2. pp. 303-308
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