Cruising the Columbia: On Beauty
Welcome back to my UnCruise Adventure series, where I will be featuring one post per day from my seven days on board the S.S. Legacy, cruising the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Today’s post, On Beauty, was written at the end of day two, which was my first full day on board the Legacy and during which we visited Bonneville Dam, made a brief stop at the Vista House overlooking the Columbia Gorge, and then visited Multnomah Falls.
Cruising the Columbia: On Beauty
Oregon is stupid beautiful. I can’t put it any more eloquently. Today was ridiculous.
I woke up at 6:30am this morning—a half hour before my alarm was to go off. I don’t know why I did’t just roll over and go back to sleep–you know, like any sane person would do at that hour. But for some reason I chose to shuffle over to my window and peek outside (one of the best features of the S.S. Legacy is that the windows open directly to the open, wrap-around deck). This is the first thing I saw upon fully opening my eyes:
Needless to say, I didn’t go back to sleep. In fact, instead I put my robe on (robes are provided, thank goodness) and ran around the deck in said robe, taking photos. People laughed at me. I did not care. I watched as we passed through the Bonneville lock, unashamed by my state of undress.
Soon after the lock, I put on some real clothing went to breakfast, during which I was served my new favorite thing–an orange that had been griddled. Or bruleed. Or in some way burnt on top so that the sugars caramelized. And oh my goodness, was that good. Of course, that wasn’t the entirety of the breakfast. But I had to mention it because really, it was a revelation. I shall be griddle/brulee-ing oranges as soon as I return home.
Our first stop of the day–and of the trip–was a dam. The Bonneville Dam, to be specific. Lots of damn jokes were made. But really, even the dam was stunning. As was the story that goes along with it (come in close, boys and girls, and learn of a time in our nation’s history when we actually paid people to build things we needed. People worked, people bought food, people ate. Hydro electric power was made. It was a magical time.)
Then made our way towards The Vista House (it is important to note at this point that when on an UnCruise, all excursions are included. How great is that?) The Vista House is basically the most stunning rest stop in the world. Really. It was originally a rest stop (and still has restrooms. I checked). And I love rest stops. There was also one damn good view (ok, I’ll stop with the dam jokes now. Promise.) Observe:
As we drove down the mountain from Vista House, we passed towering mountains riddled with waterfalls. Yes, waterfalls. Just, you know, falling there. Being watery. Along the highway.
And then we went to an actual waterfall (as opposed to all of those fake, roadside waterfalls)–Multnomah Falls. It was a short, point two mile stroll up to a bridge spanning said waterfall, through the most green greenery I’ve ever been fortunate enough to lay my eyes upon.
I walked to the bridge, took a bunch of photos, and was generally jealous of the people there who were clearly visiting as a Sunday family outing. Jealous, that is, because they clearly live close enough to such natural beauty to make it a day trip. Note to self: move to the Portland, Oregon area.
We were back on the boat by 1:00 this afternoon, and even if this is all I that I get to see all week, I’m happy.
I’ve been writing this for hours. Surprised? After all, it’s only a couple hundred words long. But there’s a problem with writing on board the Legacy–I keep getting up and going outside and taking photos. An hour or so ago, I stood at the bow of the ship for a good twenty minutes, watching as we sailed around a random rock outcropping. I just now got up yet again, because I turned my head to the right—where the open window to my cabin is located—and saw a high hill crowned with windmills and a freight train whistling along the river. Every second the scenery changes, but it is always smack me in the face, shut up beautiful.
Earlier tonight, while most everyone else was having dessert, I snuck out of the dining room early to go up to the third deck to take photos. I ran into one of the crew. He had a camera and was shooting in the same general direction. He smiled at me and we had a brief exchange:
Him: Did you see the view of Mount Hood from the stern?
Me: Yes. It’s what brought me out.
As he scurried towards the rear of the ship, camera in hand, a thought occurred to me, and I yelled out:
Me: Don’t you ever get tired of seeing it?
Him: No. Never. Never never never.
I don’t think I would, either.