July 24 2016 – Brunch Cruise along the Columbia River Gorge

This morning we returned to Cascade Locks to board the Columbia Gorge

Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler, Cascade Locks, OR - 2106-07-24for a brunch cruise along the Columbia River.  This sternwheeler

Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler (Sternwheel and Rudders), Cascade Locks, OR - 2106-07-24The ship’s sole source of propulsion

was built by Norris Boat Works in Hood River, OR and is a faithful reproduction of the sternwheeler Bailey Gatzert. 

Bailey GatzertCirca 1910

and is the only sternwheeler cursing the Gorge today.

As part of the boarding process, we had to show a photo ID and then, according to a sign at the head of the gangplank needed to have our photographs taken.

Photo ID Requirement Sign, Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler, Cascade Locks, OR - 2106-07-24

While the sign looked official, the real reason for the photos had nothing to do with “security” … but, rather was a ruse to have photos of each party which they would then try to sell to them during the cruise. 

While still alongside the pier, we had a great BRUNCH accompanied by a never-ending supply of Champagne-laced mimosas … and later a variety of deserts.

2016-07-24 - Dick and Debbie on Columbia Gorge Brunch Crusie, Cascade Locks, OR

Leaving the pier on an almost mirror-calm morning, we could see dozens of laser sailboats and their skippers who were participating in the 2016 Laser North American Championships, still sitting on the beach waiting for the currently non-existent winds to pick-up.

Laser Sailboats Waiting for the Wind at Cascade Locks, OR - 2106-07-24

The ship headed east, upriver,

Columbia River Gorge Brunch Cruise (a) - 2016-07-24for several miles toward Wind Mountain (1,903 feet)

Columbia River Gorge Brunch Cruise (d - Wind Mountain) - 2016-07-24which was visited by Lewis and Clark on October 30, 1805.

Several jet-ski water craft zoomed past us

Columbia River Gorge Brunch Cruise (e - Wave Rider) - 2016-07-24while a trio of kayakers were expertly surfing the wake of our vessel.

Kayakers Surfing the Wake of the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler  (a) - 2106-07-24

Kayakers Surfing the Wake of the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler  (b) - 2106-07-24

Kayakers Surfing the Wake of the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler  (c) - 2106-07-24

While I was in the ship’s pilot house

Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler (Pilot House), Cascade Locks, OR - 2106-07-24to see its set-up and equipment

Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler (Pilot House Helm), Cascade Locks, OR - 2106-07-24the Captain was ready to come about and head down river.  In the middle of the turn, a father and his young son entered the pilot house .  The Captain invited the boy to sit in his seat and center the servo-lever to put the vessel on a westward heading back down the middle of the river.

Captain letting aYoung Boy Steer aboard the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler's Cruise - 2106-07-24

We considered trying for an iconic pose

Titanicbut ended up settling for something less dramatic!

2016-07-24 - Debbie aboard the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler, Cascade Locks, OR' 2016-07-24 - Dick aboard the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler, Cascade Locks, OR

While gulls soared above us

Gull Overheaad on the Columbia River, Cascade Locks, OR - 2106-07-24and a waning moon lingered overhead

Moon over Cascade Locks, OR - 2016-07-24we have a great view of Table Mountain and the Red Bluffs

Columbia River Gorge Brunch Cruise (b2 - Table Mountain) - 2016-07-24

Columbia River Gorge Brunch Cruise (b4 - Table Mountain) - 2016-07-24whose near-vertical south faces are testament to massive landslides in the past … referred to as the Bonneville landslide

While there is some scientific controversy as to the actual date, the year 1100 A.D. had often been cited as the date of the Bonneville landslide.  More recent work using radiocarbon dating and lichenometry has suggested dates between 1500 and 1760 or between 1670 and 1760.  These younger radiocarbon ages permitted a possible link to the 1700 Cascadia earthquake.  However, more recent investigations using radiocarbon dating and dendrochronology show the landslide occurred around 1450, more than two centuries before the great earthquake.

The Bonneville landslide sent a large amount of debris south from Table Mountain and Greenleaf Peak, covering more than 5.5 square miles. The debris slid into the Columbia Gorge close to modern-day Cascade Locks, Oregon blocking the Columbia River with a natural dam approximately 200 feet high and 3.5 miles long.

The impounded river formed a lake and drowned a forest of trees for about 35 miles.  Native Americans may have been able to cross the river on the dam or, as their oral histories say, a bridge.  Although no one knows how long it took, the Columbia River eventually broke through the dam and washed away most of the debris, forming the Cascade Rapids, themselves submerged in 1938 by the construction of the Bonneville Dam several miles south of the course of the river before the landslide.

Passing Cascade Locks to our port (left), we passed under the Bridge of the Gods (which we’d crossed both of the past two days to cross the Columbia River from Washington State to Cascade Locks, Oregon … and which we’ll cross tomorrow in our motorhome as we head for the northwest Oregon coast).

Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia River at Cascade Locks, OR - 2016-07-24

Bridge of the Gods (from Underneath - a) over the Columbia River at Cascade Locks, OR - 2016-07-24

Bridge of the Gods (from Underneath - b) over the Columbia River at Cascade Locks, OR - 2016-07-24

Constructed in 1926 the Bridge of the Gods takes its name from a Native American myth describing a large natural rock bridge over the Columbia River at the bridge site. The bridge was originally 1,127-feet long but was lengthened to 1,856-feet and raised in conjunction with the construction of Bonneville Dam downstream from the site. The bridge is a fine example of cantilever technology in Oregon as well as a major crossing of the Columbia River.

Looking back we could see where the Cascade Rapids used to exist (to the left in the following photo)

Location of former Cascade Rapids and Locksand the Cascade Locks (on the right)

Columbia River Gorge Brunch Cruise (c - S.S. Legacy in Cascade Locks) - 2016-07-24which shipping traffic used to … and still does … travel from Portland as far as Lewiston, Idaho on the Snake River, where we’d been less than a week ago.

We passed by a group of anglers who were anchored with their rods in the water where the Eagle Creek empties into the Columbia to port and

Anglers Fishing at the outlet of Eagle Creek - Columbia River - 2106-07-24fishing docks to starboard, reminiscent of the methods historically used by Native Americans to take salmon and other fish from the river

Salmon Fishing Piers (c), Columbia River near Cascade Locks, OR - 2016-07-24

As we approached the new Bonneville Dam

Bonneville Dam Generating Plant on the Columbia River - 2016-07-24a rock with a green channel marker where a ship was once went aground and sank was pointed out by the Captain.

Columbia River Gorge Brunch Cruise (f - Rock Hit by a Vessel) - 2016-07-24

To the south of the dam were the current locks (one of six … three each on the Columbia and Snake Rivers between Portland, OR and Lewiston, ID).

Bonneville Dam Locks on the Columbia River - 2016-07-24

Heading back to Cascade Locks, Ospreys soared

Osprey (k), Columbia River near Cascade Locks, OR - 2016-07-24

Osprey (i), Columbia River near Cascade Locks, OR - 2016-07-24

Osprey (h), Columbia River near Cascade Locks, OR - 2016-07-24we wondered about the efforts needed to install electrical high tension lines on steep hill tops bordering the Gorge

Power Line Poles atop a Hilland we spotted two lucky fishermen who were returning to their cars with their catch.

Successful Anglers

Leaving the ship we noticed a large, multi-colored section of petrified wood near the parking lot.Petrified Wood, Heart of the Gorge Dock, Cascade Locks, OR - 2106-07-24

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