The slimmest of crescent moons hangs low in the east as National Geographic Quest makes her way downstream on the Snake River, bound for its confluence with the Palouse River. We are in the heart of the Columbia River Basalt Province, and layer upon layer of basaltic lava flows step up, forming high cliffs on either side of the river. The buff grasses of autumn contrast beautifully with the brown-weathered basalts. A pair of great blue herons fly high above the river as the rising sun turns the few clouds vivid pink and orange. Soon we arrive at the mouth of the Palouse River and begin our day of adventures, visiting Palouse Falls and taking Zodiac cruises up the river. We also launch our fleet of yellow kayaks, a popular option.
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.