Astoria, Oregon

Oct 22, 2018 - National Geographic Quest


Another beautiful sunny day greets us. Well no, not quite. This morning we saw the results of our closeness to the ocean, fog. All day the mist hung in the air obscuring long views and giving us the real Lewis and Clark experience. The mist didn’t turn to rain, just fine, tiny bits of water that hung above us in the sky.

The westward destination of Lewis and Clark is in view. We see the lapping waves of the Pacific Ocean from a hilltop that now houses the Lewis and Clark Discovery Center. We have passed the place of wretched cold and storms encountered at the far reach of their journey, named Dismal Nitch, by the Corps of Discovery. We walked among the replicated rooms that provided shelter and a home for the Corps over the winter of 1805 to 1806 at Fort Clatsop. Our modern conveniences stand in stark relief to the rugged barracks that kept the corps alive.

Sacajawea is honored and remembered in bronze. The course of the history of Lewis and Clark would have been completely different without the skills and knowledge of this young woman. Her presence must have seemed odd to these military men, at first, yet how they grew to depend upon her.

Today travelers depend upon other knowledgeable and skilled folks. These are the pilots of the Columbia Bar. The Columbia River Maritime Museum has world-class displays depicting the hardship and heroism of these pilots. The shifting sands of the Columbia River Bar are a hazard well acknowledged by mariners, for good reason. The hundreds of shipwrecks along the entrance to this river system give dire warning.

The Astoria Megler Bridge spans the mighty Columbia River. We traverse its 4.1-mile course with ease. Our inventions and technological progress along this river have occurred over such a short time span. 1805 - 2018 is less than 200 years. For thousands of years, the native peoples along this river have lived from its bounty. We have changed its course, speed, and productivity. As we look back over our time on the Columbia and Snake Rivers we see not only where we have been and what we have done but also the future. Where we go from here with this mighty river is the question we take home with us as we pack our bags and venture forth.

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About the Author

Marylou Blakeslee

Naturalist

For the past 20 years, Marylou Blakeslee has traveled the world sharing her love of wild places. She lectures on a number of topics from the bears and wolves of the Arctic, to the leopard seals and whales of the Antarctic, as well as the turtles and fishes of the Great Barrier Reef.

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