Travelers Explore the Great Pacific Northwest

Bill Potter, '69, poses for a photo in front of the American Empress steamboat. "Meeting new USF alumni friends (during the cruise) was great," Bill said.

This fall, a group of Bull Explorers followed the path of Lewis and Clark as they sailed the stunning Snake and Columbia Rivers in Oregon and Washington aboard the American Empress steamship. 

"The beautiful, varied scenery was great – as were the cooler temperatures,” said traveler Ruth Roberts, ’71 and M.A. ’77, of Dover, Fla.

On top of being a chance to escape the Florida heat and see a new part of the country, travelers were pampered on their luxury paddlewheeler cruise ship that is part of the American Queen Steamboat Company fleet of riverboats. Cruising from Portland, Ore. to Clarkston, Wash., the group stepped back in time to explore the charming and peaceful towns along the river, and their numerous boutiques, pubs, wineries, parks, and museums. Along the way, onboard experts known as "Riverlorians" also imparted their knowledge of the history-rich Pacific Northwest region.

But the real star of the cruise was the view from the decks of the ship, which made its way through the Columbia River Gorge and diverse landscapes that included dense forests, powerful waterfalls, and steep canyon walls.

"The trees and mountains were beautiful,” according to Bill Potter, ‘69, who along with his wife, Bonnie, traveled on their first USF trip.

For Roberts and her husband, Paul, ’90, this was the second time they had traveled with USF on an American Queen cruise. The first time was in 2013 on a cruise of the Mississippi River, where they met Jeanne, ’70 and M.L.S. ’90, and Al Torrence, ’69, of New Port Richey, Fla. They hit it off and stayed in touch. Earlier this year, when they saw the Great Pacific Northwest cruise on the USF travel calendar, they knew they couldn't pass it up. They started planning their cruise together in January.

Their second trip didn’t disappoint.

“The gorge and falls were really spectacular,” said Jeanne. "The food was so very good and the service just excellent. We will keep up with the offerings for future trips."

For more information about the Bull Explorers travel program, and for a list of trips being offered in 2017, please visit

From left to right: Ruth Roberts, '71 and M.A. '77, Paul Roberts, '90, and Bill Potter, '69, give a "Go Bulls" while sightseeing.

Al Torrence, '69, visiting Multnomah Falls in Oregon.

The Columbia River Gorge