Astoria, Oregon

We got up early this morning and we were out by 830AM.   Alan was up with us and we ate cereal and yogurt and talked with him.

The new plan, just concocted last night, is to drive to Astoria, Oregon today.   The original plan was to go back to Portland for a second night but we’ve seen Portland and it wasn’t particularly nice to us whereas Astoria is a new adventure.   I’ve only been to Astoria once, years ago, but my memories of it are positive.   It sits in Oregon on the south side of the Colombia as it pours into the Pacific Ocean after draining a land area the size of France.   I remember an amazing looking bridge and an observation tower.

Alan tells us that many wealthy people from Portland would go out to the coast to a town just north of Seaside where the highway we’ll be on will intersect with the coastal highway 101 route.  Sounds interesting.

Soon, with hugs and good wishes dispensed, we’re off with some quiche from Sasha’s coffee shop along for a lunch snack.

My iPad maps the route out of Eugene and onto the 5 north and that makes things easy for us.   Eugene is more complex this way than one might suspect.

Driving was smooth if, perhaps, a bit boring as interstate highways are wont to be.   When we got to Beaverton, Oregon (suburb of Portland to the west)  and were ready to turn west towards the coast, we were considerably further along that I’d thought we would be so a lunch stop was postponed until we might see something of interest. 

It arrived, eventually, in the form of a rest stop called ‘Sunset’.   For those of you remembering that I wrote about Sunset yesterday, please forgive me.   I’m writing this three days after the events and things are beginning to get mixed a bit after so much constant travel and stimulus.   I don’t want to hear any whispering out there in the peanut galleries about   “alzheimer’s”.

So, we pull into the rest stop for a brief walk and a rest and discover that it is adjacent to a walk in the forest behind the stop.   Cool!   We put on suitable shoes and grab the quiche to nibble on and wade in.   40 minutes later, we’re out again having seen  lots of great Pacific Northwest flora.   The trail was well maintained but it’s winter and several trees were down over the trail which we had to clamber around.   It was a great walk and a lot of nice photos were taken.

Then we took off again heading west towards the coast.   The road dead ended into highway 101 at Seaside which is a nice touristy beach town.   We drove around soaking it up for 30 minutes or so and looking for a Starbucks but we never found one and, eventually, we headed down the road towards Astoria.

We found a coffee shop in Warrenton, which is just before Astoria and we did our now standard thing.   We grabbed a coffee in the local Starbucks and scoped out the motels in Astoria via booking.com.   Soon, we had one and I called and talked him down $10 for the night.  It was $80 which was more that we’ve been paying but, hey, it was just by the river, had a view of the Astoria Bridge and it had sea lions singing everyone a concert all night.

We checked in and then went for a look about town.   First call was the Astoria Column.   It’s on top of a big hill overlooking the town and you can walk up in it (164 steps worth) and then you come out onto a little platform behind a railing that goes all the way around.

This was the first time I’d realized that Colette has a sometimes thing about heights.   She said she began stressing out half way up the column and there was no way she was coming out onto the platform once we’d ascended all the way.  So, I left her inside the door peeking out and took both our cameras and took a bunch of shots.   Then she and I walked back down slowly and she was fine.

When we got down to the ground, we were still on the top of a high hill with excellent views and it was just coming up on sunset so we stayed and watched the show.   I watched for the ‘green flash’ but I didn’t see it.

After the column, we drove into town and had a good look around.  Astoria’s an odd town.  A bit run down like it is struggling economically and it certainly looks as if there’s been no new money put into the downtown in many years.   It also has an isolated feel like one can’t quite figure out why it is there where it is.   Like, what sustains it?   And, it has a counter-culture vibe like, say, Port Townsend.

Colette and I walked up and down the main street and stepped into a combination coffee bar and book store that looked fun.   While we browsed, we couldn’t help but hear the loud banter at the coffee bar between three or four people.   They were going on in a humorous way about drugs and vibrators and all sorts of bizarre things.   It made for interesting shopping; I’ll give them that.   Both Colette and I found a book we liked and bought it.   I got a copy of Jack Kerouc’s, “On The Road” for $8.00 that I was quite happy with.

A bit more walking and then it was back to our hotel room on the third floor up above the Colombia River and the Sea Lion concerts.  Have to say, I loved the view out the window where that were several ships anchored sitting very high because they were empty.   I assume they were waiting to go upriver to take on loads of ore for Japan or some such.

dennis

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