National Geographic Sea Bird passed through the lock at McNary Dam on a bright and beautiful morning. In the early hours, we departed the confluence of the Snake River and the Great River of the West, the Columbia. We were bound for Crow Butte State Park. Dropping the anchor near Crow Butte Island, we launched Zodiacs and headed to shore for hikes in sagebrush steppe country. Big sagebrush, rabbit brush, and Russian thistles (or tumbleweeds), lined much of our path. The warm afternoon air through and around the sagebrush became more aromatic as the temperature rose. Meadowlarks sang their flute-like songs and it felt good to walk the landscape we had been seeing by ship.