Today began at 0630 with an earlier-than-usual wakeup call. Such a call was welcomed throughout the ship as it indicated that we would soon begin our scenic cruises of the Palouse River. Expedition Leader Anna Kayes made the call to push-up the morning’s operations as a means of enabling increased wildlife discovery, and her decision bore fruit immediately. On our cruises, we saw a group of peregrine falcons atop massive basalt spires, a coyote patrolling the hillside, a mule deer stirring from its slumber as the sun poured into the canyon, a lone golden eagle perched majestically, and a flock of ring-necked pheasants running among the sage bushes. Following the cruises, many among us took to the sundeck for a later-than-usual stretch class.

The morning’s second activity was a bus cruise to Palouse Falls. The ride to the site was illuminated by naturalist Kyle Bowman’s accounts of the area’s geology. The “state falls” of Washington, Palouse Falls are a grand spectacle. Rock doves whizzed throughout the valley, their flocks dancing on the breeze. My favorite part of the day was the view of the autumn colors in the canyon. Ambers and reds accented the blues of the river nicely.

The afternoon’s highlight was Zodiac cruising through the Lower Monumental Dam of the Snake River. The lock dropped us some 100 feet, and from the cozy confines of our expedition craft, we could hear every creak and groan of the machinery. Such a perspective gave us an appreciation for the craftsmanship on display. Now we await Kyle Bowman’s evening musings on the area, a presentation that is sure to delight. It was a good day!