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 Lion
From our docking in the Dalles, Oregon, guests from National Geographic Sea Lion traveled in buses along the Columbia River Historic Highway up to Rowena Crest. Commanding views from Rowena Crest highlighted the rapid change in vegetation from the temperate rain forest climate to a semi-arid steppe climate. Leaving Rowena Crest, guests next arrived at the Mosier Tunnels. Built in the early 1920s, the tunnels incorporate designs from Europe and connect the west-to-east passage on the Columbia River Historic Highway. One group of guests hiked 4.5 miles east while the others hiked west up to the tunnels and walked back. Along the way our guests spotted turkey vultures, Steller’s jay, scrub jay, and a variety of plants beginning to wind down for autumn and winter. The afternoon started with a visit to the Columbia Discovery Center; we enjoyed a raptor presentation, as well as fascinating exhibitions on the natural and cultural history throughout the Columbia River Basin Gorge. Leaving the museum, guests were invited to visit Rock Fort where Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery camped on both their outbound and return journeys from the Pacific Ocean. Next we returned to National Geographic Sea Lion , where guests joined staff on the bow as we transited The Dalles Lock and Dam. Afterwards we enjoyed cocktail hour, recap, and dinner. We finished the evening with an expert presentation on smartphone photography from our certified photo instructor, Chelsea Mayer.