An overcast morning greeted National Geographic Sea Bird as it perched alongside Lyons Ferry State Park at the confluence of the Palouse River. Guests departed by Zodiac to Lyons Ferry to meet the coach for Palouse Falls State Park. As the first Zodiacs departed, the sun broke through the clouds to shine down on the ship. The sun continued to shine while guests visited the Palouse Falls overlook. The spring melt was evident as the falls frothed with water. A variety of animals were spotted at the park, including ravens, raptors, and even the yellow-bellied marmots that have taken a liking to the watered lawns. After returning to Lyons Park, guests split up to go birdwatching or kayaking around the park and the surrounding marsh. After lunch, Zodiacs departed for the headwaters of the Palouse River. To access the river delta, drivers needed to navigate through the areas of shallow sediment deposited by the ancient Missoula floods. Zodiacs passed the Marmes Rockshelter, an important finding in human history that demonstrates evidence of trading and cremation in early humans. As the Zodiacs moved up the river, a large flock of American white pelicans were discovered. We watched as the large birds glided above our heads. As the ship departed Lyons Ferry and moved toward the Snake River, the evening transitioned into presentations and supper.
National Geographic Sea Bird
In the morning, passengers aboard National Geographic Sea Bird visited the beautiful Multnomah Falls and the Bonneville Fish Hatchery. The falls, located on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge, provided a stunning backdrop for the excursion. Guests were thrilled to see the waterfall in person. It is considered one of the most beautiful and popular natural attractions in the region. The falls were particularly breathtaking due to recent rainfall in the area, which created a misty, ethereal atmosphere around the waterfall. Perhaps the most unbelievable part of the morning was the weather; many of us wore shorts as we admired the snowcapped peaks beneath warm, bluebird skies. After the falls, we navigated downhill toward the Bonneville Fish Hatchery. Named for the adventurous Benjamin Bonneville, the hatchery’s most famous inhabitant is a guy of adventure himself. Herman the Sturgeon is over 80 years old, and he has survived the construction of a dam, pollution, a kidnapping attempt, a stabbing, and even an explosion. Despite his age and hardships, Herman remains a beloved icon of the region, and efforts continue to protect and conserve his species. After a delicious lunch, we hiked the Mosier tunnels, where guests were excited to go birdwatching and learn about the rich history of the tunnels. Much like Herman the Sturgeon, those trapped in the tunnels during the blizzard of 1921 endured great hardships, but they, too, have become regional symbols. Soon after, the ship cruised toward Portland for disembarkation. As we made our way along the river, passengers were treated to stunning views of the surrounding landscape, including the iconic Portland skyline. Naturalists Jesse Humbert and Larry Prussin provided commentary on the history and culture of the region, pointing out landmarks and answering questions from the passengers. As the ship drew closer to Portland and our expedition draws closer to its finale, the memories made on this final day are sure to stick with us for years to come.