Valerie Blessley's Millenium Harp Quest

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The Millenium Harp Quest Voyages 11-15 on "Andante"

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Quest Location 11 - Jenny Lake, Grand Tetons, WY - May 28, 2002

We are on the way home from Glenwood Springs, CO, where we attended our son Rigel's high school graduation. Watching your children on their landmark days is an amazing thing. It was mentioned during the ceremonies that he has the reputation of being "the artist" at his high school, and he has won the "Best of Show" award in the Roaring Forks School District Art Show the last two years running. Ok, so we're puffing up with pride a bit here.

On the way home to Washington state, we took an extra day's detour through the Grand Tetons. It was lovely camping there on the lake shore. We even had a wonderful fish dinner in a restaurant overlooking Jackson Lake. Casual elegance describes the lodge which is made with rough hewn timbers, and features a cozy lodge atmosphere, complete with a large, stone fireplace. As we dined, we watched boats coming and going along the lake and wished we had Andante there. After dinner, we strolled along the beach as the sun set. Mmm... romantic.

Bright and early the next morning, we set off for Jackson Hole, WY. There was a lake on the way called Jenny Lake, which is the headwaters of the Snake River. That river, if you don't know, is a large tributary of the Columbia River, which flows through Portland, OR. It seemed perfect to go to Jenny Lake, especially since our middle daughter, Jeanette, used to be called Jenny as a child.

After negotiating our way down a winding path carrying the harp, Val crawled out onto a rock in the lake. Mark came out there to give her Pikku Lintu, and then went back on the shore for picture taking, video recording, and talking with amazed tourists. While sitting there, playing for the water, the lake spoke back with its song, and Mark videotaped the making of a new tune, "Jenny Jingles." Jeanette was very much on Val's mind that day, since we were at a lake of the same name... almost. Val's dad, Rey Klemetti, used to call Jeanette "Jenny Jingles." Since the tune was of a bouncy Scandinavian sort, it prompted the name.


Quest Location 12 - City Docks, St. Helens, OR - June 8-9, 2002

Mark's brother, Scott, and his wife, Kathy, are in town for the weekend. So of course, what did we do? We took them on a USPS boat cruise to St. Helens, OR! This particular cruise was a tri-squadron cruise among the Ft. Vancouver, Portland, and Beaverton squadrons.

This one started out really rough for me, challenging my courage beyond my ability to resist terror. The harbor was full of waves about 3 feet high... small by Scott and Kathy's standards, but gargantuan by mine. Mark was doing his best to keep the boat on the smoothest course possible, and I did my best not to scream.

Finally though, I couldn't stand it any more, and began to panic. They tried to talk me through it, and I sat on the steps to the cabin holding back the tears and fears. When I was a bit more composed, we called our buddy Jack Cory on the radio. He and Judy were about a mile and half ahead of us, and told us the water had evened out a bit. I said, "Jack, this is Val, and I'm in a panic. Will the water on the Multnomah Channel be smoother?" Whereupon, a kindly boat owner radioed me saying, "Val, this is a boat on the Multnomah Channel. It's nice and smooth over here, so you'll be ok." Bless him. I begged Mark to take the channel route, though it'd take more time, and he agreed. As soon as we turned off the Columbia River into the Willamette River, the water calmed down considerably. The channel was even smoother.

The rest of the voyage proceeded without incident, and I even drove the boat for half an hour or so. Our kids, Tom and Jeanette caught up with us in their speed boat, Thirty Seconds, and we motored the rest of the way together.

When we arrived in St. Helens, we docked and joined all of our buddies. This group of people are the most understanding and compassionate people I have met in a long time. No one teased me or thought I was overreacting. Jon and Kathy offered to take me back home in their car the next day. Jack and others assured me that the weather would be better the next day and that we could get back home on smoother water. I was much relieved.


The next day was highlighted by a wedding in the gazebo in the park above the marina (we all blasted our boat horns at the end of the wedding), and a Mexican food picnic for Power Squadron members. Exploring the town was fun, as we had a poker hand competition going. At each merchant, there was a pack of cards, and we visitors were to draw a card each to put together the best poker hand we could make. Prizes awaited the winners back at the docks.


Henry and I had a jam session on the docks. He's a good guitarist, and is glad to find someone who can play music in the key of G with him. We had a great time. People sat around us under the shade structure and listened in spite of the squalls passing through from time to time.


Quest Location 13 - Cook's Marina, Portland, OR - June 11, 2002


It was a beautiful night, and I had a harp lesson scheduled. I called my student, Bob, and asked him if he was interested in having a harp lesson on the boat. He eagerly agreed. Mark and I took Pikku Lintu (my 30 string Rhapsody) to the boat, and pulled her out into the boat house row channel to have a nice view. We had a quiet dinner in the cockpit under our new camper back canvas. It's like a living room on the water... our veranda on the back of Andante. Cool winds were blowing, and we watched the boats go by. Ah, this is the life!

At about 7:30, Bob appeared with his Stoney End 30 string harp, and he joined us on Andante. It was my first-ever lesson on the boat, as well as Bob's. Something about being on the water added to the pleasure of the lesson. We always have a great time, and this was no exception. Bob is working on expanding his repertoire of Early music, as he is very active in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). He's pictured here with his first lap harp as his persona, Conchobhar Clairseoir, (pronounced Conor.) A computer wizard, Bob has a very nice web site dedicated to his SCA activities.

As the lesson progressed, we explored ways of arranging tunes, and worked on Celtic ornamentation, two of our favorite topics. While the sun set, our lesson wound down. We always go over time! But neither of us really wanted to stop playing harp on the boat. Now we have decided that Bob should go on another Quest location with us, motoring to a select spot. We'll see what we can arrange.


Quest Location 14 - Tomahawk Bay, Portland, OR - July 4-6, 2002

This is the weekend of the Antique and Classic Boat Society's annual boat show at Tomahawk Bay. Mark and I decided to enter Andante in the show, as we are new members of the ACBS. We rented a slip at the marina for the night of July 4th, because there is a huge fireworks display on the river, and we'd be able to see it from the boat there. This fireworks display is noted to be the largest west of the Mississippi River, and though we have lived in the area for almost 10 years, we had never seen it. Our daughter, Jeanette, pictured above, and her family wanted to come down for the picnic and fireworks, as did some of Val's friends from work -- Jan and Phil. Our one-year-old granddaughter, Alora, had a wonderful time exploring the boat. She learned some new climbing skills too.

Dinner the night of the 4th was a great barbecue off the deck with little red, white, and blue lights hanging from the canvas top. The evening cooled off on the river, and there were gentle breezes. Our guests were good company and we had a wonderful time. When it came time for the fireworks, we listened to the simul-cast music and watched one of the most wonderful 45 minute displays we had ever seen. It rivaled the fireworks display at the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.

The next day, we moved our boat to another dock in the marina while Mark was "home" for lunch. Val, being on summer break, had stayed at the boat all morning, relaxing and basking in the warmth. It was very interesting to be "on vacation" in another city which was just 20 minutes from home.

Our little dog, Bridie, became very used to the routine on the boat that weekend, but didn't much like the hot metal ramps. She was rewarded for bravery by a young lady at the Marina store, who gave her a fancy red, white and blue doggie 4th of July neckerchief.

On Saturday, the ACBS Boat Show began. Andante was the only 70's model boat, and people would say, "Look at that great old Carver!" Of course, she couldn't really compete with the antique wooden yachts that were there, but she did hold her own. Val played the harp for many, many people that day, and since Andante was backed into the slip, every passer-by saw the harp painted on her transom. Several people stopped in to see Pikku Lintu, and hear about the harp quest.

All in all, it was a very relaxing, satisfying weekend. We learned a lot about classic and antique boats, and met a large group of other wooden boat enthusiasts. Now we have antique yacht envy, but think that will have to wait a bit. We still love Andante, and will keep her a while yet. One of our dockside neighbors for the weekend is a boat surveyor, which is like a house appraiser for boats. He pronounced Andante to be the "best Carver" of her vintage that he had ever seen. That's a great compliment for neophyte boaters like ourselves.


Quest Location 15 - Columbia River High School, Vancouver, WA - July 21, 2002

This weekend was one during which Val played the harp in honor of the loved ones of Mark's boss, Dr. Doug Forgey, and other friends who have battled with cancer. There was a "Walk for a Cure" sponsored by the Cancer Society, and the Forgey Sportsmed & Rehab Center had a booth. While Mark gave chair massages to attendees and walkers who came to the booth, Val played relaxing music on the harp and told them about the Quest and Harpers for Harmony Foundation. It took us both back to the days when Mark was a Massage Therapist using harp music as a relaxing background during his massage sessions.

Besides being a benefit for the Cancer Society, we were able to "spread the gospel of the harp" as Marion Fouse, Val's harp teacher puts it. A harper from northern Washington was there, and sat and played the harp a bit, as did a few kids who were at the event. All in all, the music helped people relax and cope with extreme temperatures on the track at the school.

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