At 6:30 this morning, as the sun was rising, National Geographic Sea Lion entered The Dalles Lock, the seventh of the eight locks we will navigate on our way down river to Portland. As we left the lock chamber and approached the city of The Dalles there was a spectacular view of Mount Hood, with the city glowing in the foreground! After tying up to the dock and eating another hardy breakfast, it’s off to a very full day of exploration of this area of the Columbia River Gorge. First a view of the gorge from Rowena Crest, 700 feet above, followed by walks to and through Mosier Tunnels. Then off to lunch at the Grag Rat Hut, a drive around the “Fruit Loops” area, down to Hood River for a kite-boarding demonstration, finishing with a visit to the Columbia River Gorge Interpretive Center! What a Day!
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.