After passing through another lock and dam during our sleep, we awoke heading eastbound on the Columbia River. Our morning adventure was at Crow Butte State Park, an island in the middle of the river that is a beautiful example of a sagebrush ecosystem. Using Zodiacs to go ashore, we hiked through the hills covered with flowering sagebrush, tumbleweed, and hoary tansyaster, and we observed darkling beetles digging their holes in the sandy soil. A great horned owl was also present in the campground loop, as well as many small birds. Our hike ended with a delicious treat of spiced apple cider. We headed back to the ship for lunch and cruised further up the Columbia River. Midafternoon brought us through the McNary Lock and Dam, where we saw an abundance of wildlife along the riverbank while entering the lock. The frolicking groups of mule deer almost seemed excited we were there, curiously following the ship and watching as we passed into the lock. Beyond the lock, more cruising brought us to the confluence with the Snake River. We entered and headed east, passing through the Ice Harbor Lock during dinner. Our day ended with naturalist Kim Baldwin’s presentation about birds in the cozy forward lounge while we gently continued our way up the Snake River.
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.