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Touring the Columbia and Snake Rivers in the NW of US (II)

已有 928 次阅读 2018-10-2 22:37 |个人分类:生活点滴|系统分类:海外观察

 Touring the Columbia and Snake rivers of the Northwest US by boat (II)


About the turn of this century, the tourism people discovered the advantages of river cruise ships. These are simply smaller versions of the giant ocean going cruse ship accommodating two or three hundred persons instead of two or three thousands. They are basically floating luxury hotels traveling on major rivers of world. Since many of the scenic spots are often located within  short drives or simply along the river banks, travelers get to tour major attractions by using this floating hotel during the entire trip, unpack and pack only once during the tour. This is far more convenient than travel by land and in and out of hotels every day. For older travelers, this is the only way to go. During the past fifteen years we have used such service several times and have written about it in my earlier blogs x
 ( e.g. http://blog.sciencenet.cn/blog-1565-619454.html  or http://blog.sciencenet.cn/blog-1565-583372.html ). This fall we decided to try an American version of such tours operating on the Columbia and Snake rivers of the Northwest of the US. On September 21 we flew from Boston directly to Portland, Oregon, the start our tour. I was able to celebrate visiting the 49th state of the US since coming to America in1950 ( guess which is the 50th state I have not set foot in?)
The Columbia River is actually the second largest river of North America. It runs from east to the west emptying into the Pacific Ocean at Astoria, Oregon. The river was explored during the last two years of the famed Lewis and Clark expedition in 1805-06 with Astoria as the end point. A tall column was erected at the end point to commemorate the event. Astoria together with Portland export wood and agricultural products of the Northwest and Midwest of the US to Asia. These products were carried by freight barges/boats which were much more  energy efficient than railway carts which in turn were more efficient than trucks. 

Picture of wood ready for export

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Picture of Hotel and Boat

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Boat on the river

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Photo of the entire tour length from Astoria to Clarkson

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We also visited the St. Helen volcanic national park near the river which on 5/18/1980  exploded; blew up an entire mountainside; causing 230+ sq miles of destruction; and killed 57 people. It was the largest volcanic explosion history in North America history
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Before and After photo of Mt. St. Helen

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More photos of St. Helen

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Devastation of the volcanic explosion

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There are a series of dams and locks along the eastern portion of the Columbia River. These dame turned this portion of the Columbia River into a series of giant navigable lakes. But ships/barges have to go through locks to travel the whole length of the river


The Columbia River also crosses the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) near the Columbia Gorge area which in my opinion rivals the Three Gorges of the Yangtze River. The PCT is  The  west coast counterpart to the Appalachian Trail on the East Coast  of the US which our Children just hiked recently and written about in my blog http://blog.sciencenet.cn/blog-1565-1134679.html 

There are three major national atomic laboratories  in the US since WWII. The 
Los Alamos lab where I visited for two months in1973 and  where most of the scientific work for the development of the bomb were done; the Oak iRidge Tennessee lab where uranium were extracted; and the Hanford lab in Washington state along the Columbia River Where plutonium  were manufactured. The selection of the Hanford site was due to the presence of the Grand Coulee dam (for cheap electric power) and the river water for cooling the reactors. In 1943 the US government had to displace all the residents of Hanford town and built new housing for 50,000 workers and manufacturing facilities in a hurry and in  total secrecy. After WWII and during the Cold War, Hanford continue to produce 2/3 of the bomb material for thousands of nuclear devices. After the late 80’s when the SALT (strategic arms limitation treaty) were signed., the production facilities of the Hanford lab were shut down but effort now turns to the task of Cleaning up the different nuclear wastes created during the manufacturing of plutonium.. Here are some pictures taken at the Reach Museum of the town of Hanford where our tour group visited.

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IMG_2004.JPGIMG_2005.JPGThe Snake River is a major tributary of the Columbia. It also server as a portion of the border for the Washington and Idaho States. It is narrower than the Columbia and serves as the last 1.5 days of our tour
During that time we visited the NZ Perce Indian museum which chronicled the sad history of the Indian tribes of the Northwest of the US after the opening of the territory by the Lewis-Clark expedition. The history of the treatments the native Indians received from the US government and the European settlers thereafter  is a sorry one. The Indians were mistreated, killed, displaced, and robed of their land through broken treaties and war. Nowadays in trying to atoned for her past sins, native Indians are given many privileges by the US government. But this does no favors for the Indian descendants. Deprived of the need for education and work in  a competitive world and with too much idle times in their lives, they develop drug, obesity, and other health problems living on their reservations.

More photos of the tour and our friends, Professor Fa Wu and wife Jane Wu

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It  is a testament to the cooking and cuisine  on this ship. For seven days I did not think about or miss Chinese food.

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We returned home at midnight of 9/29 Saturday after traveling through the States of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. Satisfied but tired.       




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