National Geographic Sea Bird passed through the lock at McNary Dam on a bright and beautiful morning. In the early hours, we departed the confluence of the Snake River and the Great River of the West, the Columbia. We were bound for Crow Butte State Park. Dropping the anchor near Crow Butte Island, we launched Zodiacs and headed to shore for hikes in sagebrush steppe country. Big sagebrush, rabbit brush, and Russian thistles (or tumbleweeds), lined much of our path. The warm afternoon air through and around the sagebrush became more aromatic as the temperature rose. Meadowlarks sang their flute-like songs and it felt good to walk the landscape we had been seeing by ship.
National Geographic Sea Bird
O! the Joy! Hmm, we needed to rethink that one this morning, as we woke to a rainy and blustery Astoria. What this weather did give us was a taste of historic authenticity in relation to the Corps of Discovery and their experiences here in the winter of 1805-06. Our first activity this morning was amongst the magnificent exhibits of the Columbia River Maritime Museum. This world-class facility tells the story of the mighty Columbia and the treacherous results to mariners when the river shoves against the incoming tides of the Pacific Ocean. As our day progressed, we crossed the Astoria-Megler bridge to the state of Washington. At the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center the winds continued but the rain subsided, and we enjoyed a sun-drenched afternoon with an option to walk a forest trail down to Waikiki Beach. The sun and sand were a siren to us and we made an additional stop at the North Jetty to get a water-level view of the waves crashing against the rocks of the Cape Disappointment lighthouse. The day turned out anything but disappointing.