As we travel upstream on the Columbia River, which forms the border between Oregon and Washington, National Geographic Sea Lion sailed upriver, bending toward the Dalles in the early morning. After breakfast, guests disembarked the ship and boarded buses to cruise down the Columbia River Historic Highway. The road was designed and built by Sam Hill and Sam Lancaster in 1922. Featuring smooth curves, gentle grades, and ornate, stone-carved guard rails, it eventually reaches the summit of Rowena Crest, a beautiful overlook situated 800 feet above the Columbia River.

Looking east from Rowena Crest, we traveled down the Columbia River Historic Highway toward Mosier Tunnels. The tunnels were built in the early 1920s and incorporate designs from Europe. They connect west to east on the Columbia River Historic Highway. One group took a longer path, walking 4.5 miles, and the other group hiked up to the tunnels and walked back. We saw bald eagles, turkey vultures, Steller’s jays, and several other birds. We also observed a variety of plants popping up for spring. Guests returned to National Geographic Sea Lion in the Dalles for lunch.

The afternoon started with a visit to the Draper Girls’ Farm, a third-generation, u-pick farm that grows a variety of apples, pears, peaches, cherries, apricots, blueberries, and strawberries. The farm also produces cider. The main attraction is a cadre of goats. Guests enjoyed cider tasting and a sample of fruit and jams before boarding the bus to the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum (WAAAM). This impressive museum contains over three acres of vintage planes, automobiles, motorcycles, and military equipment that, amazingly, all run or fly!

Returning to the ship, guests enjoyed a hot beverage and then joined staff on the bow of the ship as we transited the Dalles Dam and Lock. After dinner, guests joined naturalist Kyle Bowman in the lounge for a talk on the geology of the Columbia River basin.

Photographers: Patrick MacQuarrie and Kyle Bowman