From the National Geographic Sea Bird in the Pacific Northwest
Oct 6, 2012 - National Geographic Sea Bird
The Dalles on the Columbia River
The day started off innocently enough. Cruising down the Columbia River through the darkness, National Geographic Sea Bird was making good time westward toward The Dalles our next stop and the beginning of our exploration of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
But then the river and its traffic took control; we got slowed down by traffic ahead and ended up with ‘bumps in the night’. Nothing unsafe of course, as the captain and crew skillfully guided the ship into the John Day lock with precision. But we found ourselves along side the towboat Cascades and her four barges. That meant we were squeezed together in an almost hard to imagine how tightly packed towboat-barge-ship of exploration sandwich! When the towboat moved out of the lock, her prop wash made the lock an early morning, before sunrise washing machine!
We continued downstream again and several hours later at sunrise we approached another lock at The Dalles. Sure enough, we had the pleasure of joining Cascades and her barges in the lock once again. This time it was in daylight, with the rising sun behind us and a beautiful view of a pinkish Mt. Hood out ahead of us. This time we were treated to a close up look at the complex work aboard a Columbia River towboat. That was a special treat!
All that river traffic caused a little delay in transit times, but we didn’t care. Because awaiting us at the dock was the whole town of The Dalles. It was a celebration! In fact, it was the grand opening of the new Lewis & Clark Festival Park at the new Union Street port of The Dalles dock facility; and National Geographic Sea Bird was the centerpiece. How cool!
We also got a look at the terrific Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, while some guests bicycled back to the ship along the Waterfront Trail. Others explored with staff naturalists and our historian. In the afternoon, we explored the Maryhill Museum of Art and enjoyed a wine tasting at the award winning Maryhill Winery. The museum was hosting a car show on its grounds and there was some serious horsepower on display.