Great Ambition

"It's a rough life, but someone's got to live it!"

Twelve years and still going!

This is the continuing story of our new life as River Rats on the Columbia River aboard our Trimaran Transporter houseboat we named Great Ambition.

If you want to see how we got here (and hints on how you can do it too) see Great Ambition, the beginning.

Click here to go to the archive of our twelfth year.

Click on this link to see the latest!

Click here to see a map of our travels!

Click here to see what happens when we have a flood!

Why I write this blog.

If you like my backgrounds click here.

Lori came by, again giving me warning ahead of time.

At first it looks like it's going to be a clear sunrise.

And then it clouds up.

A nice foggy sunrise.

A floatplane came by and I was sure he was going to land, (shouldn't it be "water?") but he cranked it up and kept on cruising by.


I've been trying to catch a plane in the moon for quite a while now. This one came close, but not quite!

Just before sunrise.

And finally the real thing.

A floating home being moved up the river.

Sunrise. So beautiful.

Another nice sunrise.

A foggy sunrise. It looks like it's out of focus, but that is just the fog.


We walked over to Big Oak marina and got this shot of Mount Hood over the covered moorage.



Sunrise. You can see the sun slowly moving south towards that telephone pole. Once it gets there, it bounches back and summer is on its way.

Foggy sunrise.

A pair of Bald Eagles lounging in the sun behind the marina. I love being able to see Bald Eagles from the back deck of my home.

So I had this crazy idea. I put in these dual bulb fixtures this year, connected them to the 12V lighting circuit for the house and screwed in a pair of 12V LED bulbs. They work great, but as they only have a single SPST pull chain switch to turn the pair on and off, they are not dimmable at all.

But what if I could figure out a way to turn just one light bulb on? I poked around on the web and found a three position pull chain switch and figured out a circuit that would work. When the switch is in the position shown, both lights will be on because the 12V will go to the bulb on the far right, but the current will also flow through the diode to light the inner bulb too. But when the pull chain switch is yanked, the middle setting will be chosen, so the inner bulb will get 12V, but not the bulb on the far right, the diode will block all current flow, so that bulb will not be illuminated. And if you pull again, both bulbs will go out. The parts have been ordered, stay tuned to see how it goes.

An interesting rowing setup that lets you row while facing forward. I wonder where you get this system?


The sun is getting very close to the power pole. It won't touch it, but it will get close. Then, summer here we come!


I got my parts in from Spemco and Digikey. It took just about 15 minutes per light to make the change, but now three lights are dimmable!

A pair of Bald Eagles right outside my back door. Sounds like a song...

Sunrise. You can see the sun slowly approaching the telephone pole.


It keeps moving closer to the telephone pole.

We got just a dusting of snow overnight. This is the driveway for Big Ugly

The sunrise keeps moving south.

And moving...

So pretty!

Someone is taking a bunch of crap to the dump.

And just a few minutes later somebody is towing a junk boat upstream. I wonder if it's going to the dump too?


Another nice sunrise.

I found that there was a Google Street View taken on the Multnomah Channel right past Sigler Cove in the spring of 2017. Actually, it goes all the way from the Willamette Falls to Saint Helens, and so if you click in the Willamette River anywhere between those two points you might figure out how to take a vitural cruise down the river. Here is our slip about 8 months before we moved in.

I used the app to watch the Christmas Ships do their Saturday night show at Saint Helens, Columbia City and the Columbia Riverview RV park on the Washington side. We did this one year in the Arecales. It was fun, but now we'll just watch from a distance.

Here they are in front of Columbia City, just downstream of Saint Helens.

Here they are in front of the Columbia Riverview RV park on the Washington side. I remember this being a long drive from Columbia City in the dark, but we had RADAR so there was that!

And finally, the show is over around 8PM, so they all return back to the Saint Helens city docks to spend the night. Tommorrow is a pot-luck lunch at Coon Island, then they come by here in the evening. We have our party all set up, we can't wait to see them!

And here they are. What a show!

A coyote on the far bank on Sauvie Island.


Sunrise with just 5 days left before Solstice.

Sunrise. Just 3 more then the days start getting longer. Notice that the sun is rising on the other side of the telephone pole. I never saw this last year, but it was cloudy most of the days before Solstice.

Christmas day, and look who came by! Ski Princess Lori and her husband Wade.


The sun is coming up right at the telephone pole just 5 days after winter solstice. This was a tough shot because the auto-focus wouldn't work with the fog,


One of the Christmas Ships came back from Portland, Nauteak. That lamp looks Fragile, it's Italian ;-)

A pair of Bald Eagles just behind us in the trees overlooking the parking lot.

I think this is an awesome find, and I mentioned it earlier. You can do a virtual cruise up the Willamatte River using Google Maps using the water version of Street View.

I became interested in where Nauteak was going so I searched for her with my app. And what do you know? Nauteak is part of a small cadre of Christmas Shippers who decided to join the 2nd annual Lower Columbia Christmas Ships at Rainer and Longview. It's a two night show, so that means she should be back on Sunday.

And here they are on Saturday night cruising the homes off Fisher Island.

So then the Christmas Ships spent the night at the moorage at Fisher Island (you can still see a few late risers sitting at the docks). The next morning I watched closely to see who was leaving when. And there goes Nautique, headed back this way. The big question is, since it's pretty late, will she make it back to Portland tonight, or will she have to overnight somewhere else like Saint Helens or Coon Island?

Now she is leaving the Rainer/Longview area. It's a long slog at six and a half knots.

Here is Claire B. heading into the gravel quarry slough, moving at 3.7 knots.

And suddenly she drops to 0.6 knots! To quote Hillary, what happened? I just happened to check the AIS at exactly the right time to catch this, Claire B. went aground on the corner of Multnomanh channel as she tried to get back to the quarry. She finally extracated herself and returned back to the quarry with apparently no damage, since she went out again as soon as her barge was filled with gravel again.

Kind of a cool boat name!

This time of year we don't get many good sunrises, but this one shows that the sun is on its way back to the north, thank God! While this winter hasn't been too bad (no snow yet) I'm happier when it's nice and warm outside.

A few minutes later, proving that the sun is still moving on a southern track.

A tug pushing some floats upstream.

A muted sunrise.

We got a little snow, and while it's not visible on the ground here, it can be seen up on the West Hills towards Portland.

A Blue Heron taking a ride on a log drifting down the channel.

We've been following Onboard Lifestyle on YouTube and I'm so bummed that they got stuck in Westport for the winter. They tried getting out of Seattle in time to reach a warmer climate, but got pinned down by the weather. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate Westport, but there is literally nothing to do there in the winter and even the food shopping choices are horrible. Their predicament made me think of this old truism.

The Scappoose fireboat cruising up the channel.

A really nice sunrise.

Looking closer at the sunrise, you can see that the sun has moved quite far in the month or so since solstice.

Another nice sunrise.

And the sun has moved even further north.

A little later I got this shot with my new iPhone. It sure came out nice.

A pair of tugs headed up the slough on what looks like a mission of some kind.

And a little later they come back with their "catch."

A Bald Eagle flew right past our front door, but I couldn't wake my camera up in time to catch his face, so you have to look at his bum. He's carrying a fish, which you can see if you look closely.

The full moon over the channel. Can't get this view living in town!

To be continued...

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