I could not have described it any better - Cape Disappointment boat launch. As one arrives at the "new" launch site, the first thing one sees is a big black rock. At first I thought it might be an asteroid, but as I was soon to find out, it was the new fish cleaning station.

It looks like it was designed by a midget - or at least for a midget. Aren't people getting taller? The old fish cleaning station was made from stainless steel and had two water spigots. In a pinch, four people at a time could fillet fish while taking turns under the spigots. The stainless steel could be sanitized with a quick spray of bleach. This black monolith is something else. It has a single fancy spigot and the stone "table" has these neat engravings that are perfect to catch fish bits and bird droppings, not to mention bacteria by the bazillion. My guess is that one could not get the necessary permits to sanitize this work of art. Also, did I mention that it was very short? Hopefully, next time a 6-foot artist can be commissioned.

The next things one notices are the fancy shrubs and trails that used to be part of the lower parking lot. This "improvement" has taken about 50 percent of the spaces that were available in the lower parking lot. In addition, because much of the upper lot is now being used as a parking lot for the shuttle service to the interpretive center, there is a net loss of more than 30 pickup/boat trailer spaces, which were in short supply before the makeover. To make matters even worse, about a third of the trailer spaces in the lower lot were filled with single vehicles, even though single spaces were available by the restrooms. Guess one could not budget for "trailer only" signs with all the plantings and artwork.

The third thing I noticed was a new sea wall to protect the boat launch from wave/wake action. Except for the large hole in the wall which allows a good deal of the wave energy to still reach the dock, the structure looks good and sturdy and should last until the next boat runs into it. I especially liked the spikes on top of the wall that discourage seagulls from "resting" on the structure. One can hardly wait for the greeners to jump on this inhumane act against wildlife and I can only guess at how much it will cost to correct the situation. Also, I am glad that money was not wasted on a "No Wake" sign. Who knows how much artwork would have needed to be sacrificed if money had been wasted on a sign?

Not all is bad at the big "D," however. The two narrow boat ramps that are barely wide enough to hold an 8-foot-wide trailer and go almost to low tide have not been changed. While I was hoping for a wide three- or four-lane ramp that went all the way to low tide, maybe even with an extended dock - given the "improvements" that were made above, I am thankful that the powers that be did not fix the ramps. (I am sure polished brass ramps would have provided real entertainment value for those watching pickups slide toward the Graveyard of the Pacific.)

I was taught not to criticize unless one had a better solution. Here it is - next time somebody decides to make things better for a fisherman, try asking a fisherman for advice first. The result may not be as pretty or "culturally correct," but the result will be something that is functional and the cost will be just a shade or two under a couple million dollars. For the present, however, I am thankful that someone recognized my cultural deficiencies and had the foresight to put some needed culture into my life. Lord knows that most fishermen suffer from this same deficiency.

Lyle Heimbigner


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