Our adventure began last evening in Portland, a.k.a. the Rose City, as National Geographic Sea Lion passed under a series of bridges (the City of Bridges is another of Portland’s nicknames), a few of which were raised to provide clearance for our antennas which reach 47 feet above the waterline. We make our way down the Willamette River to the confluence with the mighty Columbia, turning to port to sail down the Columbia to our anchorage from Astoria.
The weather in Astoria is most unusual – no fog, no rain. Lovely cumulous clouds and blue skies. This is perfect for visiting Cape Disappointment (so named by British navigator John Meares in 1788 because the entrance to the Columbia was too rough to enter and explore). Here, we visit the Lewis and Clark Discovery Center, an excellent introduction to the Corps of Discovery, a story which we will follow throughout this voyage. A beautiful day to enjoy the expansive views of the Pacific and the infamous “bar” – the mouth of the Columbia River. Hundreds of ships have met their end trying to cross it. A visit to Waikiki Beach (yes, Waikiki Beach here in northern Oregon) tops off this outing.
The Columbia River Maritime Museum is one of the great maritime museums of the world. We begin with a hands-on presentation about the coast guard and their training and rescue operations. A lot of fun and full of information. For example, which would you rather take onto a life raft, a mirror or water? A mirror! It can catch the attention of ships and even aircraft. There is time to explore the museum after the presentation.
The Astoria Column is a hidden gem. Sitting on Coxcomb Hill, 600 feet about town, the column rises 174 steps (for those who choose) above. Whether you climb to the top or not, the views in every direction are magnificent.
Back on board, we cast off from the dock and head back up the Great River of the West, towards the scenic Columbia River Gorge.
What a way to begin our adventure!