Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Top of Oregon at the End of the Columbia

July 8-12, 2017
Astoria, Oregon

Surrounded by the Columbia and Young Rivers, Astoria is a beautiful little port town with an artsy yet sophisticated feel. This is our second visit, and once again I didn't give us enough time to see everything.

When I couldn't get reservations at Ft Stevens State Park for our four night stay, I was happy to return to the Lewis and Clark RV Park and Golf. The 9-hole course provides beautiful open views from the front-in sites. Although we don't golf, we really like this park. Gravel roads and sites, level with 50 amp FHUs, fast park WiFi, propane for sale, friendly staff and perfectly maintained grounds. The bullfrogs serenade every night.

Another sweet view.
Sunday we spend some time along the water at Ft Stevens SP, but don't visit the fort this trip. While the site of the Peter Iredale shipwreck is crowded on this Sunday afternoon, we find few others at the Wildlife Viewing Bunker. 

Abandoned on the Clatsop Spit in 1906 where she ran aground attempting to reach the Columbia River in a severe storm.

A very popular location.
Clouds roll in over the Columbia River.

A quiet beach along the river. 

The Columbia meets the Pacific around this corner.

A single singer joins us along the shore.

Wildlife Viewing Bunker - looking very bunkerish - but the grass is so high there is no visibility from inside.

Past the bunker the path meanders through tall grasses.

The path narrows as the grass gets taller.

Tumbled splinters from nearby decaying docks become a spongey walkway along the beach. 
Astoria watches huge ships from all over the world pass by on the Columbia River. It looks somewhat like a parking lot from shore.

Near the RV park I enjoy another eagle sighting. I don't think I could ever tire of seeing these beauties.

So majestic.
Monday we again make a day trip recommended by friends Laurel and Eric. Across the Astoria-Megler Bridge, we turn west to Cape Disappointment to visit the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. It is a wonderful center, and well worth the $10 per person and $5 parking. A short quarter mile trail up the hill takes us to a beautiful viewpoint and the museum dedicated to telling the full story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. 

I always think of their exploration just being the two of them with Sacajawea. Instead, there was a large group of 33-50, including Clark's slave, York. 

The center does a wonderful job of "walking you through" the nearly 4000 miles of their journey. From manufactured boats, to Indian ponies, to canoes they dug out themselves, to walking, we travel with them to a cold and inhospitable Dismal Nitch on November 15, 1805. There is a lot of information on the areas they crossed and what and who they saw. Try This options at each exhibit are well done and enhance the education in a fun way. We try most of them!

When it came time to return east they had an historic discussion on which route to begin. Historic in that both York and Sacajawea were included in the decision. I like that :-)

A personal panel for us - last summer we were at these head waters in Three Forks, Montana :-))))

I am unsuccessful in loading more than one layer of cargo in the dug-out canoe :-(

The first collection of books to cross the continent, the captain's collection was carried by the expedition's men, including three portages of the Columbia and one at the Great Falls of the Missouri.

In addition to the books, large trays of hundreds of new flora were carried by the expedition. Information that would fill new books in the future.

Difficult to get an inclusive photo, this exhibition explained in several ways how they fed themselves. The menus differed depending on the game and plants of each area. The squares on the board show how far away they could shoot certain game, and how many people each could feed. The modified abacus allows you to count how many of your expedition you could feed from a day's hunting. 

In addition to the horses, the expedition traded for other useful items including baskets and leather bags. This is a Chinook Spruce Root and Beargrass basket.

One of only a few original pieces from the expedition, this hatchet head was carried by Sgt. Patrick Gass.

Planning to return along much of the original route, the men buried caches of supplies for use on the way back. All were found and used  - all without GPS or metal detectors :-)))

The center provides amazing views of the cape from the second floor,

and the outdoor platform.

This beautiful First Order Fresnel Lens served as the Cape Disappointment Light from 1856 to 1898, then moved to the North Head Lighthouse where it served until 1935. It was displayed outside until it's last move to the Center in 1975.

Turning the ceiling into art.

Cape Disappointment Light reflected in the panes of her old lens.

Not the pessimist one might think.

Automated in 1974, her light still guides ships.

In need of some TLC - a tourist gives a hug to help out.
From the center we drove to Oysterville to pick up yummy smoked salmon and oysters - another spot-on recommendation from our friends!

The clearing skies enhance the beauty of this little place on the Willaby Bay.

A stop for lunch and a long drive on the beach in Long Beach rounds out our day. Once past the busy" entrance" area, we have a nice stretch of beach to ourselves.

There's a lot to see in this area, and one of the places we didn't see last time is the Astoria Column

Completed in 1926 by artist Attilio Pusterla, the column depicts three historic events of the area: the end of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Captain Robert Gray's discovery of the Columbia River, and the arrival of the ship Tonquin. Painted in a spiral, the mural would be 500 feet long if flat.

You can climb to the top of the 126 foot column. Not me, but you can!

The technique is called sgraffito.

Lovely detail.

Replica of native boats used by the Expedition on the Columbia River.

A few weeks ago we were at Saddle Mountain, visible to the southeast.

Wonderful views of the Astoria-Megler Bridge.
The River Walk is busy along the pretty harbor. We enjoy a tasty lunch at Baked Alaska before heading home.

Yummy field greens and the best Calamari I've had in ages.
I can't believe our time in Oregon is over for now. We'll be back late next month to witness the Solar Eclipse, staying in the shadow. But Wednesday we move on to Olympia, Washington, where we'll meet up with another traveling couple.


  1. Love your pictures. It's like they were taken in our backyard since we visit this area so often. Thank you for sharing ... again.

  2. That L&C Discovery Museum is one of the best I have seen. Fort Stevens sure is hard to get into...we could only get nights midweek...all our weekends along the coast are at private parks!

    1. Even planning months ahead that was my experience as well. We love the Oregon SPs but ended up not staying in one this time - and I started making reservations in October.

  3. Dave always tried to walk around the Peter Iredale on each visit. Sometimes the tide would not let him.

    1. There were some folks on the other side, the water didn't look more than ankle height. Seeing the photos, it's weird to see so little of it left.

  4. Did you see any of our fellow Oregon State Park interpretive hosts out at the Peter Airedale? There were a couple out there the day we went. You guys did a great job of checking that area out! We definitely need to go back. 😊

    1. We didn't see them in the parking lots or near the wreck, they might not have been there that day. There's so much to see around there - we didn't even get to Canon Beach this time!

  5. I always think of how they made that trek across the US without water proof clothing or the warm boots we wear these days. Love the fluffy/racing dog photos!

    1. All those explorers and pioneers made some amazing journeys - and now we just hop on the interstates!

      She's a happy girl :-)

  6. It's very exciting to see where we'll be next week!! I, too, have Laurel and Eric's recommendations. Can't wait to see it all. Thanks for showing us the way:)

    1. It's such a beautiful place - and it will always be the place we bought our first Keene's :-))))

  7. Sooo pretty and soooo full of history...what a great combination! The Astoria Column is amazing! Just the mention of smoked salmon made my mouth water. We haven't had really good smoked salmon since we visited the Canadian Maritimes years ago.

    1. They do a great job of incorporating the history of the area in many places. I wish I had gotten more of the salmon at Oysterville - it was some of the best we've had.

  8. Love the name – L:ewis and Clark Golf and RV Park. Makes me laugh to think of them seeing it. But Oh boy if state park reservations are that tough. Do they allow you to make them a year in advance? Florida allows 11 months and if you don’t sign up on THE day, forgetaboutit.
    Love your little seed eating bird. I don’t know western birds but I’m thinking finch of some sort. Hope Laurel comments and tells us who he is. Great eagle shot. It’s it wonderful to see them all over the country now.
    Though I’m not a fan of what happened to the Native Americans as a result of Lewis and Clark, the center does sound like a really fine history lesson with the kind of detail we like. Guess they won’t take you along if you can’t load more than one layer of cargo. Love the story of the books and seeing them. I’m taking some of my books on my journey too. Wonder if he was “over weight” because of them the way Winnona is??
    As I’ve said before, Cape Disappointment isn’t one. Love your pictures and the hat. Did Bill get one?? Thanks for the pictures of the column’s beautiful mural. Just thanks for this post all around. And especially for what may be my favorite picture of Tessa just getting ready to take off with wet paws in the sand. Great shot!!

    1. It's so fun to have you along to all the beautiful and fun places we get to visit. The Center focuses on the important role the native tribes played in the success of the expedition. I kept thinking - I bet they all regretted it later :-( Now that I know how much they took with them, and brought back, I'm not surprised there were so many men - to carry all that stuff! I love it when Tessa does that "get ready" pose :-)))

  9. You did an AMAZING job of taking us through the museum! I loved reading your post and seeing your photos, and reliving our visit there in June. We enjoyed all of the interactive exhibits, too -- I wasn't able to stack much more cargo than you did without tipping over the canoe. :-) Your photo of the lighthouse through the beautiful original Fresnel lens is so artistic. So glad you enjoyed the smoked goodies from Oysterville. Next time we're in Astoria, we'll try Baked Alaska for lunch on your recommendation. So much fun to get tips from friends! :-))) (And of course, Tessa on the beach is absolutely adorable. What a happy little being she is!)

    1. Thanks Laurel! And thanks for another great recommendation. That was our favorite day in the area :-)

  10. Such beautiful and interesting places. I am missing the PNW for sure.

    1. It's the best place to spend the summer for us :-)))