Today we have reached the westernmost point of our voyage, Astoria, Oregon, just inside the mouth of the Columbia River, “the Great River of the West.” Astoria is the oldest American immigrant settlement west of Saint Louis and north of California, where John Jacob Astor sent parties overland from the east and by ship from the south to establish a fur trading post on the west coast of North America. Only a decade after the treacherous mouth of the river was first navigated by American Captain Robert Gray in his ship the Columbia Redivia, and just a few years after Lewis and Clark spent the winter with the Corps of Discovery in nearby Fort Clatsop, the area played a key role in the politics of the early 1800s. The United States, Britain, Spain, and Russia were all vying for territory and influence in order to create lucrative trading relationships with the Indigenous people. Now a popular tourist destination and artist community, as well as a transportation and maritime hub, the colorful history of the city reflects the topsy-turvy world of politics and economy throughout the last two centuries.
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.