|Written by Vivian McInerny|
|Monday, May 02, 2011|
When summer stretches the days long and lazy and the river settles low on its banks, Erika and Jake Kocon raise a glass — and the front wall of their floating home. With the push of a button, the divided glass wall rises, like a gussied-up garage door, leaving nothing between them and the river.
Kayakers paddle past. Ducks glide by. Across the Columbia River slough, a yacht turns seaward.
“I love sitting in the living room and on the deck watching the huge, enormous ocean-going vessels,” says Erika, a quality assurance manager at the Coca-Cola Company, from their Tomahawk Island home. “We have beavers and otters. All the ducks come around and they peck the algae off the sides of the logs.”
Other days, the Kocons hop in the boat tied just feet from their front door to play, or motor downriver to nearby restaurants.
On a floating home, say residents, you don’t simply watch nature, you are a part of it.
About 30 floating-home moorages dot the Columbia, Columbia slough and Willamette River in the Portland area, each with approximately 20-50 homes. The moorages are as distinct as any dry-land neighborhoods. Some are fancy gated communities with meticulously maintained ramps and docks and active homeowners-associations. Others feel more Huck Finn friendly. Some sit on busy waterways with bridge and city views. Others, tucked back on sleepy channels, face protected lands. The houses also vary in size and style from modest vintage cottages to grand 3,000-square-foot floating McMansions. Most residents are childless or have grown children but all share a passion for being on — or in — the water.