Cruising the Columbia and Snake Rivers (July 4-14, 2022)

We planned our own pre-cruise adventure which we centered around two fun things: a reunion with Ann and John, old friends and our bowling partners in Japan in the early 1970s; and dinner with the son and future daughter-in-law, Pete and Rebecca, of our old friend Pat who we first met in Fort Lee, Virginia, right after we left Japan.

Ann and John met us at the airport the night of July 1, no small feat considering we arrived an hour and a half late into a zoo of a crowd at the airport, no doubt fellow July 4 travelers. Ann and John slept us, fed us, and showed us around the beautiful Portland area. They took us to three overlooks where we got beautiful views of the river we’d soon be cruising. The best part of the visit was looking at Ann’s photo albums of Japan, seeing their oriental keepsakes, and laughing and reminiscing about all the fun we had had all those years ago. One story lead to the next; one memory brought on another. Besides being bowling partners, Ann and I taught English as a second language at a Japanese junior college, substitute taught at the high school, and taught GIs basic skills at the Army’s education center on post. We have kept up via Christmas letters all these years with just one in-person visit when they came East some 25 or so years ago.

We met our traveling buddies, Walter and Cleone, and Pete and Rebecca in the hotel lobby at 4:00 for a drink the afternoon of the 3rd. Once Walter and Cleone’s old friends arrived to join them for dinner, they broke away and went to eat. We had never met Rebecca and had only met Pete three times before, so it was brave of them to accept our invitation. We had a nice dinner downtown and enjoyed hearing about how they met, their upcoming wedding, careers, future plans, and travels.

Today, July 4, was get-this-party-started day. We cruisers had all been in-processed at our Hayden Island hotel yesterday afternoon, so today it was just a matter of transferring to the vessel, American Cruise Line’s American Harmony, which involved walking out the side door of the hotel and right onto the vessel. Easy Peasy. Our room is large and bright with plenty of room to tuck away all our things. Walter and Cleone are right across the hall, so it will be effortless to coordinate and clarify plans.

We pushed off around 2:00 after a nice lunch in the dining room and then spent a relaxing afternoon with mandatory safety drills, a lecture on the Astorians, a briefing on tomorrow’s itinerary, cocktails, dinner, and entertainment (a tribute to Ray Charles). Sunshine, soft breezes, and gorgeous scenery were icing on the cake.

We docked in Astoria around 9:00 PM and waited for it to be dark enough for the fireworks that just happened to be organized on a barge right off the stern (back end) of our vessel! Talk about a memorable way to end the holiday weekend!

… Bits and Bobs …

Our vessel was launched in 2019, has 102 rooms, and a capacity of 190 passengers.
There are around 140 passengers this cruise.

Hayden Island is one of four main islands in the Portland metro area.

The Astorians, BTW, were the first fur traders to arrive in the Northwest.
John Jacob Astor, a German immigrant and America’s very first millionaire, sent two groups of clerks to the mouth of the Columbia River—one by sea and the other by land.
(Those traveling by sea got there first.)
Their efforts were the beginning of what would become the Pacific Fur Company.


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