The sun rose in a nearly cloudless sky to find National Geographic Sea Bird at anchor beside Crow Butte Island. Overnight, we had passed through the lower Snake River and into the Columbia, “the Great River of the West.” This middle section of the Columbia was a major crossroads of fishing and trade for the people who lived here, even thousands of years before Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery passed through. Uplands such as Crow Butte were sacred areas to the local Umatilla tribe, and with their blessing, it is now protected as a park and campground. After morning hikes in the park, we continued our downriver journey alongside layered cliffs of basalt, dry grassland hills, and irrigated orchards and vineyards. This is a major transportation corridor to the West Coast with road, rail, and barge traffic. We dropped nearly 200 feet through dam/locks until we were less than 100 feet above sea level as we anchored opposite The Dalles, Oregon.
National Geographic Sea Bird
O! the Joy! Hmm, we needed to rethink that one this morning, as we woke to a rainy and blustery Astoria. What this weather did give us was a taste of historic authenticity in relation to the Corps of Discovery and their experiences here in the winter of 1805-06. Our first activity this morning was amongst the magnificent exhibits of the Columbia River Maritime Museum. This world-class facility tells the story of the mighty Columbia and the treacherous results to mariners when the river shoves against the incoming tides of the Pacific Ocean. As our day progressed, we crossed the Astoria-Megler bridge to the state of Washington. At the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center the winds continued but the rain subsided, and we enjoyed a sun-drenched afternoon with an option to walk a forest trail down to Waikiki Beach. The sun and sand were a siren to us and we made an additional stop at the North Jetty to get a water-level view of the waves crashing against the rocks of the Cape Disappointment lighthouse. The day turned out anything but disappointing.