Morning dawned with soft colors breaking through the clouds and mist on the bow of National Geographic Quest on the Columbia River. We were anchored overnight at Beacon rock, our second night in the area. This morning, after a hearty breakfast, we headed out for our morning excursions. Some headed for the hike up Beacon Rock, a steep volcanic relic of basalt that has switchbacks to the top and affords a wonderful view of the river and surrounding countryside. This rock was preserved by Henry Biddle, who recognized the importance of this rock in Lewis’ and Clark’s historic voyage and set about preserving it from the Army Corps of Engineers. Others chose to visit to the Columbia River Interpretive Center, which houses unique collections of Indian and Pioneer artifacts, old photographs, the world’s largest rosary bead collection, and a large selection of old tractors, trucks and mining and farming equipment outdoors. This center covers life in the area along the river, describing the activities and lifestyles of many that lived or traveled through the area.
We rejoined as a group for an al fresco lunch at Mountain View Orchards in Hood River with a view of Mt. Hood as our backdrop. Lunch was a delightful fresh mix of farm-to-table foods. We sat surrounded by pear trees ripe with fruit. After our respite, our coaches headed for our two afternoon destinations. WAAAM, the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum, houses a huge and varied collection of working planes, and cars. The other afternoon option was a hike to Mosier Tunnels along the historic original scenic drive. These tunnels were built to get through large rocks when building the original road, and after years of falling to disrepair when Interstate 84 was built, they were resurrected and restored by the Friends of the Columbia River group. Today they serve as a wonderful bike and hiking route high above the Columbia with sweeping views.
We watched sunset from the sundeck aboard National Geographic Quest before heading inside for our recap and dinner.