The Willamette River is a tributary of the larger Columbia River and runs through the industrial heart of the little known town of Oregon City. In this city, along small pockets of this river are a few mini communities which aims to take you away from the hectic day-to-day life that surrounds it. I headed to one of these pockets; an enclave of houseboats, moored on the river below a busy railroad and next to a paper mill plant. Why? To experience my first time on a houseboat!
But first finding this place was no easy feat. There were no signs and most of the area was surrounded with factories and warehouses. The only marker was a small rocky parking lot amidst all the industry. This was definitely not the best place to get lost. And certainly not the kind of area I’d normally visit. But there is a silver lining. The enclave of houseboats turned out to be very serene and beautiful. And luckily after some effort, we found it.
On one side of this very busy railroad was the parking lot and on the other side was the boardwalk to the houseboat. It was a dangerous crossing. In fact, it is here that I almost got hit by a train. But that is a story for another day. Once you safely crossed over the rails and head down to the bottom of the ramp, you’ll end up here on the boardwalk. Our houseboat was just behind the one with the greenhouse.
This brown one was our two-story houseboat for the next few days. The photo above doesn’t show the upper section since the houses were moored very closely to one another which made photographing it very difficult. This closeness also meant that your neighbor will hear and see most everything you say and do. The inside is cozy, but small. There’s even a fireplace, full sized stairwell leading to the upper section, and a loft space; a lot of features for such a small place.
The best part of this houseboat, or any houseboat, is its deck which leads directly to the water. This is the reason most people rent and live on houseboats. Our deck on the river wasn’t big and we had a view of the paper mill plant on one side, but it was sunny-ish and peaceful, just enough to properly relax.
However, we were too lazy to take advantage of the water. Kristi did very briefly take the row boat out. Jet skiers kept passing by as the currents they created swayed our houseboat back and forth. Fishermen were out hoping to make a catch. And the resident ducks kept hounding us for food and then diving for what we threw in the water. While we just lounged on the deck with cocktails in hand hoping to get a feel of the illusive Oregonian sun.
Renting a houseboat is easy. This is especially true in Seattle where I live and where they have some of the best looking ones I’ve seen. They’re also quiet popular in Amsterdam in which they are widely used as hotel rooms. But I came to Oregon City to a houseboat on an industrial part of the river because there was something else special here. What? The surrounding area is filled with different antique malls and village to explore. And for the bargain hunter or antique lover, this is like a piece of heaven. At least, it was definitely an added bonus to the house boating experience.
The antique villages are popular and abundant in the area. Most of the villages have shops that also doubles as the owner’s homes. These homes have been partially transformed to store fronts that sell antiques. Some even added restaurants where the homeowners prepare meals for their guests. Mixed-in with these refurbished houses were a few commercial buildings that house actual antique dealers for higher end items.
In fact, Amanda found a sapphire ring in one of these stores. It was the exact style she had been looking for, for many years. A truly perfect find!
Back on the houseboat, we again sat on the deck watching what’s left of the fainting sun disappear as the misty clouds roll in and slowly cover the paper mill plant in the distance. We sit in silence and enjoy the quietness of life. While my house boating trip was neither great nor awful, it was worth the experience. Just remember that houseboats do sway from time to time, the space inside are typically small, and it is usually moored very close to the neighboring houseboats. But if you love water activities and are willing to look pass these shortcomings, then staying in a houseboat would be just perfect for you."If you like this post, you might like these, too:"