Our day, on National Geographic Sea Bird, started in a quiet, peaceful, serene silence characteristic of an overcast day on the water. We awoke to find ourselves approaching the Columbia River Bar, where the mouth of the river meets the expansive sea, just outside Astoria, Oregon. It is here, in this infamous place, where there is a great danger for passing ships. Many of which have met their end in treacherous ways, due to unfavorable weather conditions and the shallow sand bar. But today the waters were calm and the sea life was in full action with swimming sea lions and harbor seals. Also, birds such as Heerman’s Gulls and Brown Pelicans were flying around the white breaking waves over the sand bar. The only posed threat was the slight rocking of the ship, disrupting the balance of the enthusiastic yoga participants in the morning stretch class.
With the ending of class at 7:30 a.m., breakfast was served and deck bystanders shuffled down to the dining room for the next stage of the day, eager for the trips to come... Just about 9a.m., our motor coaches swept us away to Fort Clatsop National Park, where the Expedition Corp of Discovery spent the winter of 1805-6. First, there was a short film that explained the native views of the local tribe that helped Lewis, Clark, and the Corps members. Then we headed outside to view and tour the reconstructed fort. During which a large Barred Owl flew overhead as a sign of good luck to the awe-inspired people below, lucky enough to look up and spot it. Also, a bird, named the Red-napped Sapsucker, was seen insect hunting on a tree near the fort. Some found the grouping of elk in the fields, near the park, to be the most captivating sight after we departed. The Columbia River Maritime Museum was the next stop on our list of places in the heart of downtown Astoria and right on the stretch of river where the coast guard is located. Two wonderful docents split up the group and took us around teaching the history and local culture surrounding the river bar and life at sea as well as the river.
Lunch was served on the ship. We munched on the trio of sss-soup, salad, and sandwiches while Lee took us through the gamut of activities for the afternoon. Kayakers had an opportunity to paddle up a small river channel and check out the house boats with our third mate, Nissa. Linda was taking a group of Zodiac cruisers in search of wildlife, before her afternoon photo coaching. They saw many eagles! The rest, and biggest group, opted for the trip to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment, the Astoria Column, and town, with Grace and Harry. A humpback whale was spotted! As the sun moved in the sky and the bright light of day changed into the evening glow, we all returned back to the ship to gather for cocktails, snacks, and lively conversation in the lounge recapping the day’s events. Before we knew it, dinner was served and the food presentation and tastes surpassed expectations. A fantastic first full day of the trip!