As the sun was rising in the east and the full moon was setting in the west, our trusty ship the National Geographic Sea Lion made her way upstream on the Columbia River toward the first activity of the day, transiting through the lock at Bonneville Dam. It was an exciting first step in our day’s activities. Soon after successfully exiting Bonneville Lock, we continued a short distance upriver to our anchorage for the day, near Cascade Lock. After lunch we boarded Zodiacs for a short ride to a small marina, then onto coaches for the afternoon’s activities: Multnomah Falls, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, Beacon Rock, and the Columbia River Interpretive Center. So, after a full day, another wonderful dinner, it was time to relax, get a good night’s sleep, and prepare for another full day of exploring along the mighty Columbia!
National Geographic Sea Bird
Our morning began alongside the dock in our final port of Clarkston, Washington with a glowing sky and flocks of migrating waterfowl inscribing Vs through the air. After breakfast, guests boarded 34-foot-long jet boats for an excursion along the Snake River to its confluence with the Salmon River, fondly known as the River of No Return. Along our journey we saw bighorn sheep, great blue herons, common mergansers, belted kingfishers, Canada geese, petroglyphs, wild turkeys, columnar basalt, swimming mule deer, and a bald eagle flying with a large salmon. We also enjoyed fortuitous timing and witnessed a fisherman hook an eight-foot-long sturgeon. After a long battle, he finally pulled it to the shallows for his whole family (and us) to see. As evening approached, we settled into the lounge for our final series of educational talks, featuring Nez Perce storyteller James Spencer and winemaker Coco Umiker, both of whom illuminated important contexts of the beautiful basin. Following our wine tasting with Coco, guests set off for their final on-board dinner. After dinner, we bid farewell through photos. Our photo instructor showcased a mosaic of moments from the week, otherwise known as the Guest Slideshow. Included in the slideshow were praying mantises, birds of prey, sunsets, and staff members being goofy, as per usual. We couldn’t be more grateful for our time together, all of us, during this last week of October 2022.