Bill Moeller Commentary: Uppers and Downers — Sometimes Days Just Go Like That


Uppers and downers seemed to follow each other over last weekend.

They started with a “downer” when the column I had submitted for last Thursday had already been used.

Chalk it up to vintage memory? 

It left me — and The Chronicle — without a column to run and, consequently, no payment for it at the end of this month.

Things then switched to the other side of the spectrum when my son Matthew and I took our kayaks to the eastern part of the county to explore more around Scanewa Lake, the body of water behind Lewis County’s dam on the Cowlitz River.

We wanted to explore the river’s upper end, where the shorelines would become closer to each other, but that didn’t happen.

The lake stayed wide and, therefore, remained less interesting. Besides that, the usual upriver wind started blowing — as it generally does at this time of the year — and we knew we’d have to fight it on our way back to the launching site.

But, surprise, surprise, after we switched direction to face and fight the wind, we discovered that we continued to slowly drift downstream when we stopped paddling! 

The current of the river itself was still strong enough to overcome the wind, a condition much in our favor.

Later, after the kayaks and gear were stowed away, we wanted to see if there might be a launching site further upstream where the water would become narrower and we found just such a landing in Cowlitz Falls Park, about 5 miles upstream from where we were.

The launching area is a little steeper than the one we had used, but — with proper assistance — I should, in the future, be able to be inserted into and removed from my kayak without too much damage.

We agreed to not attempt such a procedure at the time because we still had over 90 miles to get back home, which brings me to the second part of our “up” adventure.

Matthew had paid for the gas and did all the driving so I suggested that, since on the previous day I had seen people entering through the remodeled doorway of what we affectionately call “The Shanghai,” I’d pick up the tab for us to stop and see if any changes had been made to our standard order — pork fried rice and a crusty chicken, divided equally between two plates.

Before I go much further, let me say that very little remains of the internal arrangement of the “old Shanghai” that we remember.

What used to be just a front wall is now a display of glass windows from sidewalk to ceiling. And the original individual booths have been removed completely. While that alteration may be the first one you notice — and which may get some complaints — is it really a negative thing? 

I look at it as the initial statement that this is not the “old” Shanghai.

Other restaurants call themselves “Chinese” but I have to say that I feel their menus seem to have adjusted over the years to cater to American tastes and to this customer have become pretty much nothing more than copies of each other.

Oh, I’ll get some feedback for that observation.

In closing, did we like what we received? Oh, yes. Will we be back? Silly question!


Bill Moeller is a former entertainer, mayor, bookstore owner, city council member, paratrooper and pilot living in Centralia. He can be reached at