Early in the morning, we transited the Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River dropping approximately 100ft and then had a lovely brunch. We arrived at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers and took Zodiacs ashore to the Sacagawea State Park. The Confluence area was significant to the Indigenous people of the region for millennia as a place to gather and trade. This particular spot was also historically significant to the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which camped here in October of 1805 and surveyed the confluence area. Half of us started with a visit to the REACH Museum with exhibits on the natural, cultural, and scientific history of Hanford Reach and the Columbia Basin area, while the other group took in Sacagawea State Park, the interpretive center, and the Confluence Project installation by Maya Lin. We then switched so everyone could enjoy both sites.
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.