The Columbia And Snake Rivers Aboard Un-Cruise Adventures’ S.S. LEGACY, Part Two

Continue with Peter Knego on Un-Cruises’ recently launched 88-guest SS LEGACY on one of the ship’s heritage-rich Columbia and Snake River voyages with visits to Crown Point, Multnomah Falls, the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center and a scenic day on the river.

Un-Cruise Adventures

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All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2013 unless otherwise noted.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

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Espresso machine!
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Early risers’ brekky getup: bagels, muffins, fruit, cereal and strata.

When I awoke, the SS LEGACY had just cleared the Bonneville Dam lock and was preparing to berth in the now permanently flooded Cascade Locks at the eastern end of the Columbia Gorge. My first stop was the Lounge for a quick lesson in operating the espresso machine for a custom cappuccino to accompany a Greek yogurt parfait from the early riser’s spread.

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Klondike Dining Room, facing aft.

From there, it was down to Deck 2 and the 96-seat Klondike Dining Room, which sports classic saloon-like decor with textured paneling and hammered tin ceilings. With plenty of space for all, either at large round tables for six or booth seating on the perimeter, meals in the Klondike are always open-seating.

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Broccoli and cheddar strata.

I ordered the daily special for breakfast: a delicious broccoli and cheddar strata.

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Gangway board.

At 8:45, I slid the magnetized peg for cabin 308 from “aboard” to “ashore”. The first of two included excursions would be taking us to the Vista House and Multnomah Falls.

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Reflections of Cascade Lock and The Bridge of the Gods.

As the coaches gradually filled, I stole a moment to capture the SS LEGACY in the tranquil waters of the lock, moments before the sun’s first rays broke over the Cascades.

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Overlooking Crown Point.

Our first stop was Crown Point, some 733 feet above the gorge, where the the domed, octagonal Vista House provides sweeping views.

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Vista House.

Designed by Edgar Lazarus, the striking Art Nouveau monument was completed in 1918 and houses a museum and gift shop. In 1974, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

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Columbia Gorge from Crown Point.

The wind was whipping up a frenzy as I paused to take some photos of the gorge on a spectacularly clear afternoon.

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Multnomah falling.

On prior visits to the Columbia Gorge, fleeting views of ribbon-like Multnomah Falls had teased my camera lens from the decks of passing cruise ships. This would be my first up-close encounter with the famed falls.

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Sign of the times.
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Upper and Lower Falls.

From the temporarily closed visitor’s center, a short trail leads to the Benson Footbridge, which crosses 108 feet above the lower portion of the falls. At 608 feet, Multnomah is the tallest waterfall in Oregon.

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Lunchtime featuring turkey focaccia with awesome arugula.

At 11:30, it was all aboard as the SS LEGACY edged out of the lock for a short voyage to the Washington side of the Gorge. Just as we finished up lunch, she was pulling up to the tiny town of Stevenson.

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S.S. LEGACY at Stevenson, Washington.

Since the government shutdown impacted security at the Bonneville Dam, our originally scheduled afternoon excursion was substituted with a trip to the Columbia River Interpretive Center on the outskirts of Stevenson.

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Demo on the Stevenson, Washington side.

The center features a number of large working models, including a giant salmon-catching wheel that filled the greater part of a two story exhibition hall.

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Aft from starboard wing on the Columbia.

We returned to SS LEGACY at 3:15. Soon, our handsome ship was motoring eastward as the dense rainforest gave way to chaparral and meadowlands.

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Starboard Deck 3 promenade aglow.
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Golden gorgeousness.

I’ve done a variety of American river cruises, from the Upper to Lower Mississippi and Ohio and each has its highlights but none compare to the Columbia and Snake. Between the lush, rugged Gorge, the striking basalt formations, snow-capped volcanoes (Hood and Adams) golden hillsides and fascinating locks, there is never a dull moment.

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Stttrettching on aft Deck 4.

At 4:00 PM, a stretch class was held in the sheltered portion of aft Deck 4.  Meanwhile, I did my best to work off extra helpings of breakfast and lunch on one of the ellipticals. In addition to two small ellipticals, the LEGACY has a pair of stationary bikes.

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Nuclear secrets leaked via by Heritage Team members Ryan and Kenne.

The post-dinner presentation about the Hanford, Washington nuclear site was as enlightening and entertaining as it was distressing. Instead of a dry presentation, Heritage staff member Kenne took on the role of fictional Captain Charles Donovan (based presumably on the real life General Lester P. Graves) who was assigned the task of building the world’s first (and at the time top secret) atomic site at Hanford, Washington. The Trinity test and Nagasaki bombs were built at Hanford and after decades of inadequate safety procedures, it remains the most contaminated nuclear site in the U.S., repeatedly leaking waste into the Columbia River and into the atmosphere.

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Pesky Barnacle, facing forward.

A group of us ended up in the Pesky Barnacle on aft Deck 2 for shots of whiskey and serious card playing. Seating 18 guests, a placard on Pesky’s wall beckons to “Adventurous women, lost men and all those who are searching”. Well, we found it!

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Booozin’ and card chicanery in the Pesky Barnacle.

The Barnacle offers round-the-clock, unlimited whiskey, scotch and on-tap beer as well as card tables and board games.

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Guillotine lock.

When we finally stumbled out of the Pesky Barnacle, the SS LEGACY had entered John Day Lock where its guillotine-like gate was closing behind us. Soon, we would be transitioning from the Columbia to the Snake River.

Monday, October 7, 2013

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Locking up.

This would be a day to unwind and savor all the Snake River had to offer, with the increasingly arid shores of Washington now on either side.

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Geology 101 with Chief Mate Kevin.

Un-Cruise days on the water, be they at sea or on a river, are leisurely and for the most part, un-scheduled. One welcome exception was Chief Mate Kevin’s Geology presentation in the Lounge at 11:30. As divinely crafted basalt formations loomed on either side of the ship, Kevin enlightened a full house on how such magificence came into being.

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Super gyro.

At lunch, it was all about a fresh chicken gyro drenched in homemade tzatziki.

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Port Deck 3 prom, facing aft.

Afternoon events included a galley tour and a craft class.  Outside, the majesty unfolded as a blustery wind whipped across the open-tiered layers of the handsome SS LEGACY.

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Colors of the Snake.
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Golden vista.

As fellow guests stretched, curled up with a good book or chatted over a favorite cocktail or glass of wine, I took another romp on the ellipticals and savored the scenery.

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S.S. LEGACY “resting” at Clarkston.

After dinner, the SS LEGACY tied up at Clarkston, Washington under a dazzling panorama of stars.

End of Part Two

Much More To Come…

Special thanks: Martin Cox, Sarah Scoltock

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego

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