Oct 11, 2017 - National Geographic Sea Lion
Hood River, Oregon, is a delightful town. Its namesake, the river, runs from the slopes of Mount Hood north through the city to the mighty Columbia. Once a logging center, and still a major distribution center for tree fruits, Hood River has become the windsurfing capital of the world, and is the proud home of eleven (count ‘em, eleven) craft breweries, plus numerous wineries and wine-tasting shops. All National Geographic Sea Lion guests had opportunities in the morning to visit the town and sample its offerings. No one suffered from lack of coffee.
A small but hardy crew began the day with a walking exercise to the Mosier Tunnels, along a restored stretch of Sam Hill’s Columbia Gorge Highway. The walk rises modestly uphill, but it’s downhill on the way back, and it offers picture-taking views of nature, including the Columbia River. Inside the tunnels are openings to the river, a camera nut’s nirvana. Naturalist Grace Winer told walkers what they were looking at. And the weather held.
Most of the rest of us bussed to the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum (WAAAM), a remarkable collection of restored planes and cars (and trucks, motorcycles, gliders and tractors). The defining factor of this assemblage is the fact that every one of its items, some more than one hundred years old, is in running order, and actually is flown or driven at least once every year. Parades in Hood River are like no other! The museum is about two acres larger (33 percent) than it was at the beginning of the year, already filled up, with ultimate plans to expand further by another 40 percent. Clearly, this is one of the finest collections of its kind anywhere in the country, and even jaded modernists were enthusiastically impressed.
After spending some time in town, most of us toured the Full Sail Brewery, the first such artisan enterprise in Hood River (since 1987), and now one of Oregon’s largest and finest. Its best-seller is a superb amber, and some of us took credit for its sales! Then back to the National Geographic Sea Lion for lunch.
We spent the afternoon cruising down the Columbia River, in beautiful weather, listening to the historian’s “The Truth about Lewis and Clark, Part II,” and learning about cameras. We negotiated Bonneville Dam, the first dam constructed on the lower Columbia (1937) and the last of the eight locks and dams we’ve traversed on the Snake and Columbia Rivers. The disastrous fires in the Columbia River Gorge last month prevented us from stopping at Multnomah Falls, but we viewed as much of it as we could from the ship. We are headed for Astoria, Oregon, and another day of new adventures.
As we near the end of this exciting excursion, we have unanimous agreement that it more than lives up to its exciting promise of culture, history, and cuisine.