Our Final Days at Bonneville

Bonneville Dam and Hatchery

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

As our days come to an end volunteering here at the Bonneville Fish Hatchery the work continues. We are finally getting some rain and a little wind which causes leaves to fall. Many leaves but the leaf blizzard is just beginning. More leaves falling creates more of a mess to contend with to keep the grounds neat and tidy. Lots of visitors coming by private auto, school bus or tour bus means our supply of brochures and handouts need constant replenishing. Many of those handouts are reproduced in-house where Jil and Connie run the copy machine almost on a daily basis.

Toro Workman in foreground pulls Gravely leaf vacuum over paved grounds

We are still cleaning up the rose beds and dead heading rose bushes as needed. Connies been digging out wayward blackberry plants out of a planter near their RV. If left alone the berries would take over the bed- not a good thing. We’ve also been removing ivy from the visitor center and mechanical building walls. New planter tower boxes are being built by Jim which means the plants in the old towers are being transplanted until the new ones are ready. In other words just trying to keep ahead of maintenance of the planter boxes/ planter beds before winter arrives.

One thing for Jil and I have yet to get used to is how late the sun comes up at the hatchery. It’s not only the sun rising later in the morning in October but the proximity of 3000′ walls of ancient lava cliffs that block the early morning sun. During the last part of October sunshine doesn’t reach the fish hatchery until after 0930 am. Going out at 0700 hours to open the visitors center requires the assistance of a flashlight.

“Seining” the input pond= using a net to push fish up into hatchery

The coho salmon that were put in the spawning polls several weeks ago are finally “ripe”, meaning the female’s eggs are ready and will easily release from the egg sac in their body. The first eggs are going to cascade hatchery. Cascade has brought their own egg buckets and transportation. Those eggs are mostly destined for indigenous peoples hatcheries once the fish hatch into fry. I guess those folks don’t have a lot of success or patience to raise eggs to the hatch stage. Jil again was asked to assist with spawning so she and Deanne manned (ladied?) the buckets of eggs combining eggs and milt, mixing, placing lids of the buckets of eggs and taking them to the waiting pickup truck for transport back to Cascade Hatchery.

Spawning coho salmon/ biologist taking tissue samples from coho

I’ve been helping around the hatchery performing various tasks. Jim’s been pretty sick and we hope that Connie can nurse him back to health soon. When I’m not helping visitors find a place in the hatchery they want to see, I’m attempting to keep the place looking nice- the constant leaf blizzard is just starting but consumes a lot of my time.


Jil and Connie working salmon eggs in the incubation building

Meanwhile I’m preparing our motorhome and our Surbaru toad for travel. Fluids checks out OK, tire pressures adjusted, clean windshields- check. We also will bring a full tank of fresh water and empty our grey and black tanks just before we leave so all we’ll need on the trip home is electricity to power our devices, tv’s, and electric heaters for the anticipated below freezing nights.

If you are interested in visiting more of the Columbia Gorge area I invite you to review our past blogs located in the blog archives section beginning in September/October 2018 and September/October 2019.

We have several important appointments waiting for us back at home so we’ll be packing up, levelers up, toad hooked up and engines revved up on October 26. We’ll take three or so days to travel home so we can enjoy the scenery.

I’ll end this entry with a little “boxer” dog humor:

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