Peter Kirk recently spent six days and five nights canoeing down the Willamette River from Eugene to Portland. His oldest child just started his first year at the University of Oregon, and this was a dad’s way of processing that transition. NewsChannel 21′ s Emily Kirk is Peter’s niece and caught up with him along his paddling journey.
” The Willamette River, I think, is just the heart of Oregon; it’s a huge river for drainage, ” Peter told Emily over FaceTime last week. ” The way it started out is, we used to canoe here in short segments, and I’ve always wanted to do the whole thing, so I’m linking it together in one big trip. ”
Kimberly Kirk, Peter’s wife, found a vintage Klickitat canoe with a Blitz-Weinhard design on Craigslist in Bend. Peter has been a Blitz-Weinhard beer fan and memorabilia collector for decades. The canoe needed a bit of restoration to get it back on the water, but Peter wanted it to be ready for his 170-mile journey.
” They were made in Portland for a period of time , and they quit making them in the ‘ 70s , so these were obviously a promotional boat for Blitz, ” Peter said.
He said back in the ‘ 70s and ‘ 80s , the Portland brand of beer, along with government officials, worked to protect the lower part of the Deschutes River.
” Together with the state of Oregon, Blitz came through and raised the money to purchase that land, and that was kind of the big Blitz campaign at the time was, ‘Save the Deschutes’, ” he recalled.
In his vintage canoe, Peter brought along a tent, supplies, a cooler and a sentimental paddle he used to use with his dad on many river trips.
He used the trip not only as a bucket list item to check off, but as a way to reflect on his relationship with his own son, and the hopes he has for him as he starts a new chapter in his life.
” It’s a way for him to grow as a person in a short period of time : being independent, away from home. So I think it’s a key time in life, and he knows the importance, and I think he’ll take it to heart. ”