National Geographic Quest
When we woke this morning, we were met with an almost completely different environment than the one we’ve traveled through the last few days. We had arrived at the town of Hood River, in the Columbia River Gorge. The slopes on both sides of the Columbia were covered in Douglas fir, ponderosa pines, bigleaf maple, and Oregon white oaks. And the weather, too, had changed. It was rainy and dark with clouds. This is exactly what one should expect at this time of year when moving westwards across the great Cascades Range toward the Pacific Ocean. After another wonderful breakfast, we took a short Zodiac ride to the dock in Hood River and then rode in coaches to several great sites in the Hood River area. Some of us went to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center. This museum has excellent interpretive displays on the local natural and human history. Naturalists Grace and Linda led nature walks outside of the museum. Another group went to WAAAM—the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum. The buildings of this museum cover about three acres and house dozens of fully functional and beautiful classic airplanes and cars. It was a fascinating walk down memory lane for many of us. We enjoyed a catered lunch at the Crag Rat Hut, overlooking the picturesque Hood River Valley, with its extensive apple, pear, and cherry orchards. We then returned to the ship, dodging the rain and wind as best we could. From the warmth and comfort of National Geographic Quest , we journeyed further down the Columbia River to experience the Bonneville Lock, our eighth and final on this voyage.