Daily Expedition Reports

Daily reports from our days in the field


  • Blackfish Sound and Alert Bay

    The morning was all soft weather and cool temperatures, and as is usual aboard National Geographic Sea Bird the day just got better and better! We were cruising north along Vancouver Island and entered Blackfish Sound where we encountered a large number of Steller sea lions hauled-out on the rocks. I counted 40 before they started diving into the water and I could not keep a good count. We watched the sea lions for a while and moved further into the sound where we found ourselves in the middle of a huge humpback whale picnic. The humpbacks put on a great show for us by breaching, slapping flukes, waving pectoral fins, and generally cavorting like kids at a picnic. Humpback whales surrounded us! We could see them from fore, aft, and amidships.

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  • Hells Canyon and Snake River

    This morning we explored via jet boats the Snake River into Hells Canyon.  Under sunny skies, we observed mule deer, wild turkeys, rocky mountain bighorn sheep, and the stunning scenery of the canyon.  With our well-versed drivers, we learned of the human history, natural history and geology of this austere landscape.  It was a magnificent day to be exploring from a river vantage point. 

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  • Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park

    Desolation Sound was named by Captain George Vancouver when he first surveyed the area in 1792. Now a very popular place for boating in the summer months, the sound is quite the opposite of “desolate” and teeming with life—both in the water and on the shore.

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  • Astoria

    On our final day on the Columbia River, we experience many firsts for our expedition. The Pacific Ocean. A temperate rainforest. Rain! History abounds here, and educational visits to interpretive centers and museums fill our day.

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  • Clarkston / Hells Canyon

    As the sun began to climb over the horizon, National Geographic Quest found herself pulling into port in Clarkston, Washington. At the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers, this marks the end-point of the journey. It was fitting to arrive here as the sun began to sneak up over the hills behind the city, seeing how we had sailed over 460 river miles and through 8 locks to reach this port. It is because of those 8 locks and dams that this area – Clarkston’s twin city of Lewiston, to be exact – has the distinction of being the most inland ocean-going port on the West Coast.

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  • Hood River, Cascade Lock, Bonneville Dam

    At about seven o’clock this morning, we arrived at Hood River for our first round of adventures for the day. After breakfast the guests split into two groups, one going to the WAAAM Museum, and the other for a walking or biking adventure on a historic scenic highway, near the Mosier Tunnels. Both groups had the chance after that to sample some local beers, and get a tour of the brewery. Then it was off to Cascade Locks, lunch on board, and off again either to Bonneville Dam, or Multnomah Falls and Bonneville Fish Hatchery. Our final activity for the day was traversing through Bonneville Lock, our last lock of the journey down the Mighty Columbia!

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  • Desolation Sound

    This morning dawned misty and beautiful, but the weather cleared as the day went on. We started the day in Desolation Sound Provincial Park with expedition landing craft tours and kayaking. Because of the low tide, we saw a lot of marine life: moon jellies, Olympic oysters, blue mussels, and a variety of sea stars were accompanied by kingfishers, eagles, flickers, black oystercatchers, great blue herons, glaucous-winged gulls, and Bonaparte’s gulls.

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  • The Columbia and Snake River Locks

    In the rosy pink dawn, National Geographic Quest cruised upstream on the Columbia, the great river of the west. The intense pink in the clouds reflected off the calm surface of the wide river. Today we relaxed and enjoyed passing through several locks on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. We took pleasure in leisurely time cruising up the Columbia and onto its largest tributary, the Snake River, which we will follow to our destination in Clarkston, Washington. Over the course of the day, we watched for wildlife, marveled at the ever-changing scenic views, and also enjoyed special treats from our bartenders and galley crew as well as educational presentations from our expedition staff.

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  • Maryhill and The Dalles

    It was another marvelous sunshiny day in the Columbia River Gorge today. The sun rose over hills parched from the summer season, and the lightening day revealed a view of Mount Hood on the Oregon side of the river. Exploration of the region delivered us to one of many vineyards for a tour and tasting. Divine orbs thrive in the arid clime, themselves sipping upon the irrigated waters of the Columbia. Visiting Sam Hill’s Maryhill Museum, we saw a collection of native basketry, both beautiful and practical works of art. Whether walking the nature trails, biking, or exploring museums, fresh air and sunshine where enjoyed by all.

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  • Columbia River Gorge

    This morning we woke to another delightfully warm, sunny day on our adventure. The sky was filled with hues of pink and yellow as the sun rose above our ship. The expedition on National Geographic Quest today had several fascinating points of interest, including visits to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, the Maryhill Winery and the Maryhill Museum in the afternoon. A highlight of the journey included seeing and learning about over 20 plants that were collected and documented carefully during the Lewis and Clark Expedition, such as ponderosa pine, broad leaf lupine, grey rabbit brush, and arrowleaf balsamroot.

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