Morning activities were a choice of a 2.5-mile nature hike, or a 5-mile longer hike. The 5-mile hike was a lovely trek on the first scenic highway in the United States: Route 33. Mr. Sam Hill, lawyer and entrepreneur who wanted access to local waterfalls and scenic views, created the pass. He and his engineer, Sam Lancaster, designed a road of gradual grade, wider areas around corners, and one of the first guardrails. Our section was for walkers only, giving us great views. Ponderosa pines, big leaf maples, and colorful poison oaks were along the trail. Later in the day, we explored the Columbia River Discovery Center, a wonderful interpretive museum with a garden of plants identified by Lewis and Clark. A pond behind the center brought grace to the beautiful garden.
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.