Three locks and two towns

Early morning approach to John Day Dam

Over the next three days, we ran from the Tri-Cities at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia Rivers, to Hood River, passing through the McNary, John Day and The Dalles locks. At The Dalles, we visited the excellent Columbia Gorge Discovery Center,, and were lucky to arrive in time for their live raptor program. We spent the third day in the windsurfing mecca of Hood River, a well-maintained town with many excellent brewpubs and restaurants. The winds were calm, so we didn’t see any windsurfers, but we enjoyed fabulous clear weather.

One of the advantages of the time of year we did the trip, apart from the empty docks and anchorages, was that the summer recreational lockage schedule was not yet in effect. We could pass through pretty much anytime during daylight. From May 15th through September 15th, however, recreational craft only can lock through on three-hour intervals between about 9am and 9pm. We often arrived at a dam well before 9am, and mostly were able to lock through without delay no matter the time.

Here’s our log from the Tri-Cities to Hood River. You also can display these on the map view.

05/05/12: Dawn
Underway for a couple of longer runs to meet friends and family in Hood River on Monday.
05/05/12: Tugs
We’re starting to see a lot more tug traffic now that we’re back on the Columbia. Here The Chief is heading downstream and the Wallace E. is working up.
05/05/12, 5:45am: Port of Wallula
05/05/12, Wallula Gap
Train passing as we enter Wallula Gap.
05/05/12: Car on slope
That car we saw on the slope on the way up now has two large X’s on it.
05/05/12, 8:45am: Approaching McNary Dam
The tug Chief just entered the locks with three barges headed downstream. Then they’ll turn the locks around for us to enter. And the tug Lassen, that we watched leave Ice Harbor the other day, is coming upstream.
05/05/12: Bridge up … sort of
The lockmaster didn’t open the bridge all the way. And it looked a little tight for us to fit.
05/05/12: Bridge clearance
They opened it a little more. As long as we stay centered up, we’ll be fine.
05/05/12: Spillway
View to the spillway from inside the locks.
05/05/12: Gate opening
05/05/12: Lassen
Lassen working upstream towards the locks.
05/05/12: Research vessel
Research vessel just downstream of the dam.
05/05/12: Navy jet
This navy jet screamed past low overhead, then climbed into the sky, flipping and looping, before heading north along Alder Creek Canyon. Apparently this is a fairly common path for Whidbey Island Naval Air Station jets to take en route to the Boardman bombing range.
05/05/12, 2:35pm: Windsurfer
05/05/12: Windmills
05/05/12, 4:30pm: Mile 328
Anchored for the night behind a small point that provides reasonable wave shelter and a suprisingly decent wind break. We really liked this spot–the scenery was dramatic; we could watch trains going by on both sides, and cars on the far shore; and several tugs passed while we were there. We were considering going on through John Day tonight and were glad we didn’t. In the hour after we anchored, three tugs were backed up waiting to lock through with others coming upstream.
05/05/12: Dusk
Windmills in the hills above us at dusk.
05/05/12: Moonrise
05/06/12: Sunrise
05/06/12, 6:45am: John Day Lock and Dam
Early morning sun lighting the gate support towers as we enter the locks. The lockmaster said it was good we came early as the winds can be very strong in the locks and he hates to see recreational boats bouncing about.
05/06/12: Sun disappearing
Losing the sun as we descend.
05/06/12: Bolt secure
Forget about a telltale line, this bolt isn’t going anywhere with that strip of metal attached.
05/06/12: Partial gate lift
As soon as we got through, the lockmaster was going to turn the lock around for the tug Clearwater to lock downstream, then the tug Invader would be coming upstream. To save time, he didn’t raise the gate all the way and figured we’d have about 40′ clearance.
05/06/12: Maryhill Museum of Art
Entrepreneur Sam Hill built this as his home in 1914. The structure was never completed and eventually he converted it to the Maryhill Museum of Art. now
05/06/12: More seagulls the pelicans
Until recently, pelicans have outnumbered seagulls. The islets off Miller Island tip the balance far the other way.
05/06/12: Celilo Bridge
Passing back under the Celilo Bridge.
05/06/12: Mount Hood
Mt. Hood dominates the skyline as we approach The Dalles locks.
05/06/12, 9:10am: Top of The Dalles lock
116 feet at the top
05/06/12: Bottom of the lock
And 38.6′ at the bottom.
05/06/12, 10:20am: Crates Point
Anchored for the night in a bight below the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center.
05/06/12: Dinghy landing
We landed the dinghy below the railroad tracks at the east end of the bight we’d anchored in. The going was relatively easy to get up to and over the tracks and into a meadow near the center.
05/06/12: View to anchorage
Looking back to the anchorage from the meadow.
05/06/12: The Dalles
View south to the city of The Dalles.
05/06/12: The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center
Outside the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, the Official Interpretive Center of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The facility was most impressive, both inside and out.
05/06/12: Gardens
A bicycle path, probably from The Dalles, leads up to and around the property’s beautiful pond and gardens.
05/06/12: Dramatic entryway
Entry to the center is through a glass and cedar hall with the Columbia River depicted on the floor. Jennifer is standing where we are anchored.
05/06/12: Red-tailed hawk
We’d arrived just in time to watch the live raptor education program. The birds in the program have been injured and are being rehabilitated. Some will be re-introduced back to the wild if they can heal. This red-tailed hawk had a broken wing.
05/06/12: Great-horned owl
The owl was blind in one eye.
05/06/12: Kestral
05/06/12: Native history
The displays included geological develoment, and native and European history. All were very high quality.
05/06/12: Mountain lion
05/06/12: Vintage car
05/06/12: Movies
Several movies were playing in the center. One that we particlarly enjoyed included footage and interviews with tugboat operators who ran barges on through the rapids on the Columbia before the dams were built. They looked absolutely nuts. In one shot, the tug was skidding sideways like a sprint car. For some of the rapids, the captains said you either got through or blew up an engnine trying–you just went flat out trying to get through.
05/06/12: Tug-watching
We were expecting to get hit with a substantional wake with this tug went by working hard upstream. But the wake was barely noticable–perhaps the current moderates it somewhat.
05/06/12: Dusk
The anchorage was a little unusual, but we loved it–the scenery was amazing. And at night, the trains and cars lit up the shore on both sides.
05/07/12: Morning sun
05/07/12: Lookout
The rock wall and lookout at the top of the picture likely is part of the Historic Columbia River Highway.
05/07/12: The Chief
The Chief working upstream. We’ve seen that boat a lot on this trip.
05/07/12: Victor Trevett grave
Marble spire on Memaloose Island marking the 1883 grave of The Dalles state senator Victor Trevett.
05/07/12: Approaching Hood River
05/07/12: Calm weather
Sailboat anchored in ultra-calm conditions off the marina.
05/07/12: Breakfast
Tied off and having breakfast on deck.
05/07/12: Toll bridge
The bridge over the Columbia at Hood River is toll.
05/07/12: Sternwheel
Huge sternwheel at the Hood River County Museum. The facility was closed for renovations.
05/07/12: Pedestrian bridge
Pedestrian bridge over the Hood River.
05/07/12: Big Horse Brew Pub
WWe’ll be meeting folks for lunch here later today. James’ parents, Rob and Andrea, have driven down from Victoria, BC and longtime family friend Mike Dilly is driving up from Eugene, Oregon. Hood River has something like eight or nine brewpubs–our kind of town.
05/07/12: Dinner
The wind stayed down and we had a great meal and evening in the cockpit.


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