Aboard American Empress: Visiting Stevenson, Washington

ABOARD THE AMERICAN EMPRESS—On Wednesday many of the cruisers on the Columbia River Gorge met Janet. Actually she was much more under the river than on it. Our Victorian-style paddle wheeler docked at a rather rustic-looking Washington town named Stevenson. Once more on the free hop-off, hop-on bus, we stopped at the Bonneville Lock and Dam, the same complex we had passed through on Tuesday. Some cruisers proceeded along the top to overlook the locks. We joined …

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Aboard American Empress: Tuesday on the Columbia River

ABOARD AMERICAN EMPRESS–Tuesday on the Columbia River – Throughout our third day today, our paddlewheeler was followed by a great white ghost. The snowy pyramid form of Mount Hood seemed to be always hovering in the back yards of all the forests and towns on the Oregon side while we progressed smoothly along the river. Many cruisers arose at 6 then made their way to the top-deck River Grill for “Locks and Lox,” a special breakfast to …

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Aboard the American Empress: We wake to fog in Astoria

ABOARD THE AMERICAN EMPRESS-Monday night on the Columbia River—Our morning curtains opened to nothing but bright fog today. Allegedly our boat had arrived at the historic town of Astoria, Oregon, where the river meets the ocean in a never-ending contest of wind and waves. The paddle wheeler was quiet and safe, but we couldn’t see a thing through the haze. After breakfast, sunny details quickly began to emerge through the atmosphere, and we boarded one of the …

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Aboard the American Empress: We begin our trip in Portland

ABOARD AMERICAN EMPRESS-Sunday night on the Columbia River – My wife and I flew into Portland, Oregon yesterday and taxied across the river ($40) to reach a hotel in Vancouver, Washington. Our first night of the American Empress experience was actually a recently refurbished Hilton, which served as a sort of land-based rallying point for cruisers and some crew members. The Empress herself was already resting at a nearby dock, her paddle wheels immobile for the time …

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Rolling on the River-Preparing for a cruise along the Columbia and Snake Rivers

Sara and I are not precisely sure what to expect on our upcoming cruise. My wife and I are veterans of many an ocean voyage. Either she or I or both of us can count as many as 60, covering nearly all parts of the globe and always far from our home in the U.S.A. But this one will be different — a river cruise, and one not one flowing in an exotic location like the Danube, …

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S.S. Legacy Cruise: Saying farewell to a wonderful voyage

ABOARD THE S.S. LEGACY – Sometimes magic happens. Nothing you can really plan.  Even if you make all the best arrangements in the world, some trips just don’t quite come together as hoped. Maybe the food isn’t to your liking; the shore excursions too tough or too tame; entertainment rather bland or not your type; crew members inattentive or rude; fellow travelers tend to be prima donnas or grouches or know-it-alls. Maybe your room that looked so …

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S.S. Legacy Cruise: Visiting Maryhill Museum of Art, built by Sam Hill for his wife but she chose not to live in the French-style mansion

ABOARD THE S.S. LEGACY – Sam Hill wouldn’t have had to ask me twice to live here. Perched high on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River, the French-style mansion was designed to have eight suites and enough room for 250 dinner guests. The opulent home was built by Hill for his wife. But she never lived here. Her loss. Our gain. Today, the impressive structure is now the Maryhill Museum of Art. The “Mary” part of the …

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S.S. Legacy Cruise: Nez Perce

ABOARD THE S.S. LEGACY – Why do dogs go through the ritual of tail sniffing when they encounter each other? Because they are looking for their own tail. At least that’s the tale that Nez Perce speaker White Bull told on our S.S. Legacy cruise. Sounds about as good an explanation as any other. “We are a very childlike people and we have stories for why things are the way they are,” he said. “Those stories are …

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S.S. Legacy Cruise: Multnomah Falls beautiful in any season

ABOARD THE S.S. LEGACY – Admiring the magnificent Multnomah Falls, I was taking photos from different angles when a young lady approached and told me I should see the awe-inspiring cascade in autumn. “When the leaves have changed colors, you would not believe how beautiful it is,” said Heather Williamson from nearby Portland. She and her friends like to take the short 30-minute drive east from Portland to the falls for hikes and have seen the 611-foot-tall …

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S.S. Legacy Cruise: Stopping at beautiful, expensive comfort station

ABOARD THE S.S. LEGACY – Build a modern highway through a breathtaking part of the country and you’ll soon realize that you need something else for all those motorists. That’s right, construction of a “comfort station” began soon after sections of he Columbia River Highway opened. But this is no ordinary bathroom stop. “These are probably the most beautiful bathrooms you will ever go to,” said Ryan Downs, heritage leader of the S.S. Legacy. On a shore …

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