Yesterday our voyage began in Portland, Oregon, as we embarked National Geographic Sea Bird, our home for the upcoming week of cultural and geographical exploration in the Columbia River basin. Overnight we sailed 85 miles downstream to Astoria, Oregon. Protected in the harbor next to the established shipping channel, we were only a few miles from the Columbia River bar. This area of shifting sands, complicated currents, and surging surf is where the flowing river waters meet the stormy northeast Pacific Ocean. This also was the ultimate goal of Lewis and Clark leading the Corps of Discovery in the fall of 1805. "Ocian in view, O! the joy..." Clark wrote, not fully realizing the difficult winter and return trip they faced in the next year. Our trip along this river is much more comfortable in our modern era, but is still full of adventure, discovery, and exploration for our group of travelers; already a family of new-found friends.
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.