River Stories from Local Writers

halfwaytohalfwayBend resident Dick Linford made a living running rivers for 41 years, and for most of those years people told him that he should write a book about his experiences. It wasn’t until attending Ellen Waterston’s writing class, The Story You Came to Tell, that Linford entertained the idea. Waterston convinced him that he could, and should, write. So he wrote a story and sent it to his friend and fellow outfitter Bob Volpert, who in turn wrote a story and sent it back. Four years later the two had enough stories for a book: Halfway to Halfway and Other River Stories.

“It took us longer than it took Tolstoy to write War and Peace in longhand,” said Linford, “but we did it.”  The compilation contains 31 stories by and about river guides and outfitters. The tales are not the typical stories of treacherous whitewater, daring expeditions and narrow brushes with death; Linford and Volpert went for the more offbeat accounts of interesting characters, stranger-than-fiction events, bad decisions and ironies that capture the unique river guide subculture. As one reviewer said, “These stories are so far off the wall that you know they must be true. No one could make this stuff up.” 

The two authors wrote about half of the stories, and fellow guides and outfitters furnished the rest. “These are the kind of stories that old timers tell each other after a few beers. They aren’t necessarily what we want our clients to hear or read,” Linford admits. For example, there is a story about the ritual of burning underwear to make it snow, of guides “borrowing” a  company raft to run a 60-foot dam and of a guide hitching a ride with a man who thinks he’s towing a 1955 Chevy Bel Air…but isn’t. There is even a ghost story.

Halfway to Halfway has gotten excellent reviews and is doing so well they are planning a sequel: Halfway to Halfway and Back: More River Stories.

Halfway to Halfway is available at Dudley’s and Between the Covers in Bend. It is also available in soft cover and ebook form on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. dicklinford@echotrips.com, www.echotrips.com.

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