Morning finds National Geographic Sea Lion securing to the dock at Vancouver, Washington where we disembark to embark our comfortable coach, the “National Geographic Land Lion”. We continue our expedition up the Columbia and Snake Rivers in our new form of transport. The closure of the lock at Bonneville Dam will not stop us!
Traveling from west to east, we traverse varied and scenic landscapes, from the edge of the great temperate rain forest of the Pacific Northwest, through the dry forests east of the Cascade Mountains, to the semi-arid shrub steppes of eastern Washington. People have left their imprints here for thousands of years, from the rich cultures of the many native groups; to the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery and the eras of American and European explorers, trappers and colonists; to the building of the great dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers; to the present-day renaissance of food and wine.
We pass Multnomah Falls, Bonneville Dam, cross over the Columbia River from Washington to Oregon via the Bridge of the Gods, pass the Dalles and the associated dam, Maryhill Museum and John Day Dam. By this time, we are in the rain shadow of the Cascade mountains and into the semi-arid shrub-steppe ecosystem. Few trees can be seen, they are replaced by extensive wind farms that rely on the reliable local winds. We continue past the McNary Dam and Hat Rock, an important Lewis and Clark site. Throughout the morning, historian Harry Fritz provides an ongoing commentary, putting all the we see into perspective. Naturalists Rob Edwards and Larry Prussin add information about geology and natural history.
From Hat Rock we leave the river and head inland, back into Washington. Agriculture, most of it irrigated, covers much of the landscape. The topography is characterized by rolling hills. Our “farm to table” lunch at the Walla Walla Steak Company keeps us happily well fed.
Moving through the hills of eastern Washington, Harry Fritz continues his presentation series with “The Truth About Lewis and Clark: Part Two” as we make our way to the Hampton Inn in Lewiston, Idaho. Looking down from the hotel, we can see the Clearwater and Snake Rivers, both important geographies in the Lewis and Clark story. Dinner at Tomato Brothers restaurant in Clarkston, Washington ends our rewarding day.