Downriver Dispatches

News of Western Wahkiakum County and Naselle


Karen Bertroch

Mike Matthews and bikes he built for himself and his wife, Diane.

One day Spring was coming and the next it was here. Plants are popping up and growing at a fast clip. Some of mine are already surrounded by grass I have to get after or the plants will never be seen. The rain gets the grass growing quickly so if grass isn't cut regularly, then it's a big challenge to get it under control. On the other hand, it IS spring! I received one of the lovely May flowers hangers on my back doorknob on May 1 and loved it. Thanks to the gremlins who hung it there!

Losing Diane: Last week in the Eagle I read Trudy Fredrickson's sweet obituary about her sister, Diane Gray. I loved Diane as a friend and as a lovely woman in our community. She always had a smile that made me smile. We were all blessed to know her. I read the news of her death on Facebook and wasn't even able to respond right away. She was a young woman who died too soon. We all wondered who the Life Flight helicopter had come to help the day she died. I think from now on, I won't just wonder, I'll say a prayer for the "unknown" friend because I wish I'd known she was on that Life Flight trip. I surely would have prayed then. In the future, I will pray and assume it's a friend on the chopper.

Weekend Report: When I arrived last Saturday to attend the Spring Festival at the Naselle Lutheran Church, I had a tough time finding a place to park! Yes, it's an annual event that's always well attended. I also realize we're hungry to see each other, to talk with friends in person and to be reassured that life will get better, if we just have patience. I got two new T shirts at the FAFF Community Center and paid the membership fee, too. Memberships are a nice way to show support for important organizations in our area. They help in many ways and hopefully, our membership helps them.

Photo of the Week: Mike Matthews: No matter the weather, rain or sun, I've noticed the cyclist who is most often going by my house on Loop Road. Since I moved to Loop Road, I have seen folks on their bikes, as well as walkers who go by on a regular basis. Thea Pyle used to walk by early mornings when I was in my yard. I would quickly catch up with her, walk and visit for a few minutes, then she'd go on and I'd go back to my gardening. She doesn't walk by anymore. I think of her when my butterfly bush blooms. She gave it to me when I had just moved into my house. She is another one who left us too soon. Cancer is far too prevalent in our valley. Others walk by now and I wave and say, "Good morning."

Then there's Mike Matthews, another story entirely. There is no way to catch up with him. He doesn't go by just once, he goes by at least twice, if not three times. And he goes by at an amazingly fast clip because he has a lot of miles planned for the day. This man is a serious biker. So serious he builds his own custom bikes. Before retiring, Mike was a teacher at the Naselle Youth Camp. He and his wife, Diane, bought a house on Altoona/Pillar Rock Road not far past the Burkhalter farm. Since coming here, they have traveled the area on bikes and in kayaks. They know the best biking routes and they know the best places to kayak, too. Mike is so well known that for years other bikers have called him to get information on where to ride that's quiet with little traffic. He will help others repair their bikes and he'll stop and help to repair a broken bike on the side of the road for folks he's never met before. He's knowledgeable about bike shops all over the Lower Columbia, too. I'm so pleased he thinks the 4.5 mile ride around Loop Road and Covered Bridge Road is one of the best rides because he goes by my house.

He and Diane have great biking stories, too. Mike has taken kids on long bike trips, camping at night and trying to get in 40 miles a day on Oregon Coast rides. He told me he's always liked riding on Puget Island in years past when there was little traffic, but it's more of a challenge now as the traffic has increased so much. Still the Islands have flat easy roads without hills so it can be a good choice for riding. Mike and Diane like to kayak as well. They sometimes put their kayaks in at the Oneida boat launch, then go out into the Columbia where they can visit the historic Brookfield and Frankfort sites. When asked why he likes biking so much, he told me, "I was inspired by my Dad. He was very active, always moving."

And Mike also likes being in good shape so that whatever he wants to do, be it hiking, biking, kayaking, or whatever, he can do it. His goal is to stay healthy so now at 75 years of age, he can still do anything he wants to do. By the way, Mike is celebrating his 50th year of biking. When driving out Altoona/Pillar Rock Road, you really can't miss their house. There's a bike holding up the mailbox. And there's a bike with a skeleton rider at their driveway, wearing a helmet of course, and a mask! Mike even has a bike set up in the basement so if the weather is really not suitable, he can ride it, stay dry and, of course, watch sports on the TV down there. He and Diane are some of the nicest people you'll ever meet, anywhere. So we're happy to call them neighbors out here in the Downriver part of Wahkiakum County. You can contact Mike at (360) 465-2320 if you have any questions about biking or kayaking in the area.

Senior Lunches in May: Lower Columbia Action Program, better known as CAP, is delivering take out lunches to Rosburg Hall for pick up on Thursdays between noon and 12:15 p.m. If you should like to participate in the CAP lunch program at anytime, please contact Diane Hollenbeck at 360-465-2991. The following meals will be served for the month of May 2021: May 6: pizza casserole, Italian veggies, strawberry parfait, May 13: pork chops and gravy, mashed potatoes, sliced carrots, sliced oranges. May 20: creamy paprika pork, mashed potatoes, tossed salad, sliced apricots. May 27: spaghetti & meatballs, orange glazed carrots, Caesar salad. The senior lunch club has two dates in May. On May 5, Cinco de Mayo was the theme, and on May 19, they plan a potluck. The lunch club is open to all seniors. Pay by donation. Lunches are always at Rosburg Hall at noon.

Please send me your news of events, or ideas for the Downriver Dispatch. Word for the Week: Family.


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