Patit Creek and Whitman Mission

Sep 23, 2019 - National Geographic Quest

Today was one of transition here in the Pacific Northwest. On this autumnal equinox, we traveled from one season to the next, from the last day of summer to the first day of fall. And we traversed climates as well as well, crossing from the arid and treeless Columbia River Plateau to the lush and green temperate rain forest surrounding the city of Portland, Oregon.

During our daylong trek by motor coach, we stopped at several points of interest along the way that reminded us of other, earlier transitions in past days.

Our first stop was at the Patit Creek Campsite near Dayton, Washington. Here the Lewis and Clark Expedition camped overnight in May of 1806 as they headed eastward to St. Louis after wintering at the mouth of the Columbia River. From an elevated vantage point, we enjoyed identifying the silhouettes of our favorite members of this extraordinary 33-member expedition.

Next up was a visit to the Whitman Mission National Historic Site. We recalled here the tragic affair of those killed in an attack by the Cayuse people in 1847. We tried to envision the hardships of the hundreds of thousands of our countrymen who, in subsequent decades, made the arduous journey past this mission outpost on the Oregon Trail. We gathered around a covered wagon “prairies schooner” and tried to grasp the enormity of the challenges faced by the pioneers who risked everything for the chance of a better life for themselves and for future generations. Some of us then climbed a nearby hill for a commanding view of the surrounding landscape; others lingered for a moment of quite reflection at the mass grave of those killed in the Whitman Massacre.

After a delicious lunch in Walla Walla, we continued our journey to Portland. Just before dinnertime, we glimpsed the object of our desire: the sleek and welcoming National Geographic Quest. Our transition was complete!

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About the Author

Jim Rawls


Jim Rawls, a native of Washington D.C., received his B.A. with honors from Stanford University and his Ph.D. in history from the University of California, Berkeley. He grew up in Washington State where he developed an early interest in the land and peoples of the Pacific Northwest. A Fellow of the California Historical Society and a recipient of the National Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Texas, Jim has taught at UC Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and Diablo Valley College. Since 1995 he has served as a historian with Lindblad Expeditions on voyages along the inland waterways of Alta California, the coastal waters of Baja California, and the Columbia and Snake rivers.

About the Photographer

Adam Maire

Naturalist/Expedition Diver

Naturalist, underwater videographer, captain, and historian, Adam Maire is dedicated to exploring around the globe with a goal of researching, documenting, and teaching others about the beauty, the power and the importance of the earth’s wild places. With degrees in animal science, history and a Scuba Diving Instructor certification, he is passionate about finding extraordinary ways to help others understand the links between the worlds that exist both above and below the surface of the ocean. As a temperate and cold-water diver, he is able to capture video and images of rarely seen marine life to create real connections with the underwater world.

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