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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Grateful Traveler: Enjoying an American River Cruise

Take an un-cruise across the nation.

Take an Un-Cruise voyage

By The Grateful Traveler, Vikki Moran

Un-Cruise Adventures boast small ships, BIG experiences and, I would add, laid-back adventure and charm.
Intuitively, Dan Blanchard, owner and CEO, knew how to create hands-on explorations in some of the most inspiring places in the Americas. Utilizing small ships to offer the adventure/experience has been his life’s dream. Now celebrating 20 years of small ship cruise adventures in 2016, Un-Cruise Adventures operates from offices at historic Fishermen’s Terminal in Seattle, Washington, and Juneau, Alaska, taking guests into areas inaccessible to large ships and providing excursions that are exclusive, unconventional, and quite different from the more traditional river cruises.
Our trip on Un-Cruise was the Columbia, Snake and Willamette Rivers Cruise, aptly tagged Lewis & Clark – Wine Country – Pioneer America Cruise.

Who should go?
If you love local cultures and unique life experiences, know for sure that this desire certainly drives the itinerary. Promoting environmental protection and responsible travel also is key to the core mission and belief of this uniquely American company. The folks who want to get off the beaten track and not leave the States right now are well-matched for this particular cruise.
History buffs will find it is a pleasurable way to experience some of the sites & sounds witnessed by explorers Lewis and Clark (without the hardships of their journey, which is chronicled on board with facts and legends). Listening to experts bring the famous journey to life while sitting in the lounge after dinner with a glass of local fabulous wine selected earlier in the day on an excursion, can make a history lover out of all of us. You may even end up some evening as I did, in the Pesky Barnacle Saloon on board having a game of poker and a glass of whiskey.
Exploring eight different locks during our journey was impressive and quite educational. The Columbia River Gorge national scenic area and Multnomah Falls were breathtaking. You also appreciate the Columnar cliffs in Hells Canyon, and Palouse Falls, as well as Mount Rainier, Mount Hood, Mount Adams and other volcanic peaks of the Cascade Range. The shore line in the journey changes before your eyes from the most lush to the most barren. It is a feast for the photographer in us all, for sure.
Wine lovers will enjoy the numerous wine tastings, tours, pairings, and presentations. The winery excursions are frequent, with some great insights later on board on the wines and vineyards we visited. Experts guide you on a discovery of the premier wine region’s craft that is becoming so important to the wine aficionados worldwide. Tours at Washington and Oregon wineries and visits to their tasting rooms fit nicely into the day-to-day sightseeing and history of the Northwest, from a hosted and lovely lunch in Walla Walla and Terra Blanca Winery & Estate Vineyard to the very picturesque Maryhill Museum and Winery and more.
Near the very end of our week, we walked Cannon Beach in Oregon. Haystack Rock is one of Oregon’s most identifiable landmarks, home to vibrant tide pools and assorted birds. It rises 235 feet from the edge of the shoreline. At low tide, you can walk right up to Haystack and find colorful sea stars and other fascinating tide pool life in its intertidal expanse. Puffins can also be observed and photographed on Haystack Rock. If Cannon Beach is not on your “bucket list,” it certainly should be. It was a fitting culmination to enjoying the other end of our beautiful country.

The S.S. Legacy
The Northwest embraces the American West spirit and encompasses the dramatic contrast of stark natural vistas and hand-of-man achievements. We cruised over 900 miles roundtrip from Portland, Oregon for seven relaxing nights on board the S.S. Legacy. The vessel is an 88-guest replica coastal steamer, which only adds to the feeling of slipping back to the Lewis and Clark era. The food on board was simply wonderful. Each day, breakfasts and dinners were served with expert ease and five-star restaurant quality. Lunches often followed us on our excursions on shore and were equally wonderful. At night, the wine and cocktails flowed to the delight of everyone pooped out from a long day of exploring the American West. Other cruises offered by Un-Cruises include Hawaiian Islands, Alaska, Costa Rica and Panamá, Galápagos Islands and more, each with their own adventure qualities.

Favorite recipes of the Grateful Traveler from The SS Legacy

Chocolate, White Chocolate Chip With Cranberry Cookies

2 cup flour
½ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 each eggs, room temperature
1 cup dried cranberries (or dried tart cherries)
1 cup white chocolate chips

• Sift flour, cocoa powder and baking soda together. Set aside.
• Cream butter, sugar, brown sugar and salt together.
• Add eggs. One at a time, ensuring they’re fully incorporated.
• Add dry, sifting ingredients. Scrape bottom of the bowl.
• Add fruit and chocolate chips.
• Scoop with 2 oz. cookie scoop.
• Bake at 325°F for 8-12 minutes, based on preference (8 for chewy, up to 12 for crunchy)!
Recipe by: Cathi McGloghlon, Pastry Chef, SS Legacy Un-Cruise Adventures

Honey Lime Vinaigrette

4 oz. apple cider vinegar
1 oz. shallots, minced
2 tbs Dijon mustard
3 oz. honey
1 oz. lime juice zest from one lime
6 oz. canola oil
• Combine apple cider vinegar, shallots, Dijon mustard, lime juice, and lime zest in a food processor.
• Slowly add canola oil.
• Add honey to preference.
• Add salt and pepper if desired.

Rosemary Yukon Gold Potato Soup

1 celery stock
1 onion
1 carrot
2 oz. thyme
1-2 lbs large Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
2 oz. rosemary
16 oz. vegetable stock
salt and pepper
• Sauté onion, celery, carrot, and thyme.
• Add vegetable stock and diced potatoes. Bring to a boil.
• After potatoes are fully cooked, puree in a blender.
• Add salt and pepper to taste.
• Garnish with rosemary.

Vikki Moran
Vikki Moran
Vikki Moran is a travel writer and the founder of the Grateful Traveler.

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