Posts Tagged ‘US cruises’

It's Not Easy Being First

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

No one can say this more than Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Their transcontinental expedition was filled with unpredictability, natural dangers, and Native communities who were not ready to have anyone move into their territory. The story itself, without any embellishment, is dramatic with equally intriguing characters including Thomas Jefferson, a young Shoshone woman named Sacagawea, and a team of men known as the Corps of Discovery who faced a landscape that had never been navigated or mapped.

Why had it taken until 1804 to even start exploring the Pacific Northwest? It was a project that Jefferson had been pondering while living in France in the 1780s, knowing it could lead to huge opportunities for the very young United States of America. He also heard talk that King Louis the XVI of France was interested in exploring the region. While the royal had officially proposed a scientific expedition, Jefferson felt the French King had a political mission in mind.

Knowing the expedition was extremely dangerous, President Jefferson provided peace medalsto the Corps to introduce themselves to the various tribes they met along the way. But on the trail, it was Sacagawea and her infant son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, who slept wrapped on a cradleboard, that reassured the tribes that the group meant no harm.

Although Lewis and Clark are best known for laying the groundwork for westward expansion and creating the first maps of the region, their observations were also useful to scientists researching the natural wildlife the Corps of Discovery encountered. Even though they were never intended to be a scientific expedition, their work helps us preserve the indigenous species and natural landscape of the early 19th century.

Explore the natural landscape as the Corps of Discovery would have seen it on In the Wake of Lewis and Clark: A Voyage Along the Columbia and Snake Rivers Aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird. Book by November 1, 2010 and save $750 per person off your cabin!

Where would you like to go exploring? Please share. 

Cruising Through History on the Chesapeake Bay

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Don Shomette is recognized as one of the foremost authorities on the history of the Chesapeake Bay region. Here, he talks about his experience leading our popular Cruising the Chesapeake Bay tour. Click here to read Don’s full bio and learn more about traveling with him.

The American Glory moored in St. Mary's near two historic watercraft

The American Glory moored in St. Michaels. Photo: Don Shomette

Throughout my life, the Chesapeake has been a source of inspiration and delight that has never waned. Recently, I served as Study Leader on the Cruising the Chesapeake tour. After visiting Baltimore’s historic sites, we embarked the delightful small ship American Glory to explore the largest estuarine system in North America—the Chesapeake Bay. 200 miles in length, with 44 rivers feeding into its historic trunk, the bay was our home for the next week.

Our journey continued with stops at several key Virgina sites: Jamestown, the first permanent English colony in America; Yorktown, where American Independence was assured; and Williamsburg, the restored capital of colonial Virginia. Later that evening, we discussed how tobacco and colonial seaport development led to the growth of these cities.

An actor poses as Thomas Jefferson in historic Williamsburg

An actor poses as Thomas Jefferson in historic Williamsburg. Photo: Don Shomette

As we departed the Patapsco River for historic Yorktown, Virginia, I pointed out a remarkable site that can be easily overlooked. Fort Carroll, built on an artificial island before the Civil War by an unknown U.S. Army Engineer named Robert E. Lee, is now uninhabited and serves as a bird rookery.

Further north, the Eastern Shore town of Crisfield was literally built on oyster shells, where more than 1,000 oyster “druggers” once tied up. A century ago, this was a rough and tumble place where oysters were gold, men were shanghaied, and the gunfights and hanging judges rivaled even the Old West.