Thursday, November 7, 2013

Oregon Vacation Day 4 - Winding Roads, Goonies, and Shipwrecks

On Monday, We decided to head back to the Pacific coast along a different route and with a different destination in mind. We were headed for Astoria, the northernmost town on the Oregon coast. It sits near the mouth of the Columbia River. Our drive took us north of Portland into Washington, near Mount Saint Helens and then back into Oregon across the Lewis and Clark Bridge.

We enjoyed seeing some of the industry located along the river. The logging operation was really interesting, probably because we don't have logging in South Texas. Heck, we don't hardly have trees. The Lewis & Clark Bridge was under construction and there was quite a bit of traffic backed up to cross from both directions. I will also note that, even though we traveled near Mount Saint Helens, we did not see it because, once again there was a heavy cloud cover and rain. In fact, the reason we chose today for our drive to Astoria was because there was supposed to be less rain out in that direction.

From there on the map it looks like a fairly straight drive on US 30 to Astoria. What is not evident on the map is that US 30 goes in, over, and around the Cascades. It's a scenic drive that can only be described as hugging the side of the mountain.

Now, you should know that we are from the coastal plains of South Texas. We're used to driving on long, flat highways. The standing joke in Texas is that we've got miles and miles of miles and miles. I should also tell you that my husband suffers from acrophobia.
Acrophobia (akrəˈfōbēə) An extreme or irrational fear of heights.
Since we did not realize that this was such a high and winding road, he was driving. The nature of the highway was such that there was no place to pull off and change drivers. It would have been possible to stop at one of the scenic overlooks and change drivers, but that would have required him driving onto a parking lot that hung over the side of the mountain. It's likely that would have been more catastrophic than just talking him through the actual drive. I can't tell you how much I wanted to level my camera and snap a photo of him gripping the wheel like it was trying to get away and sweating profusely. As soon as we got to a little town that had a place we could stop safely, I took over the driving duties and he was able to relax and NOT look out the window.  So, once I started driving, there are no photos of the drive. Taking a picture would have required looking out the window.

Astoria has several attractions that we wanted to see. We are HUGE fans of the movie Goonies which was filmed in Astoria. So, naturally, we started at the Oregon Film Museum.

The Oregon Film Museum is located in the former Clatsop County Jail. Goonies fans may recognize this building as the site of the jailbreak scene at the beginning of the movie. I have to say I was a little disappointed in this museum. It really has very little memorabilia on display. It's main features are cut outs of the Goonies. They have the costume worn by Jonathan Ke Quan as the character Data.

We did enjoy the opportunity to have our mug shots taken. My friend and fellow grandma blogger, Grandma Kc who blogs at AmaraLand, asked about our height difference yesterday. She wondered if I was extremely short or Grandad was very tall. The answer is yes to both. I'm less than 5'1" and Grandad is 6'5". That's a height difference of 16 inches. Here we are trying to look serious for our mug shots.

By the time we finished at the museum, it was mid-afternoon and we were ready for some lunch. The attendant at the museum recommended The Wet Dog Cafe and Astoria Brewing Company which sits right on the waterfront. No seriously, you actually drive out onto a dock and park. The view was stunning. Astoria is a deep-water port and it is seriously busy. We could see seven ships anchored offshore.

We ordered lunch. I had half of a roast beef sandwich and a cup of the most delicious sun-dried tomato and blue cheese soup. Patrick had the build your own quesadilla with chicken and Italian sausage. Then we split an individual Marion berry Cobbler which came with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream on the side. Delicious! We had never tasted Marion berries before. The waitress described it as if a blueberry and a raspberry had a baby. She was right. It was soooo good!

I really wanted to see the Astoria Column which sits above the city on Coxcomb Hill and provides beautiful panoramic views of the Pacific Coast and the Columbia River.We could see it from the waterfront. I volunteered to drive up, but Grandad thought it didn't look too high so he wanted to drive. MISTAKE! It's way higher than it looks and, again, the road has a steep drop off on one side all the way up. When we got to the top, I took over the driving for the rest of the day with no argument from Grandad.

Here's what the Astoria Column web site says about the view from the top:
Majestic views of the countryside surrounding Astoria are the great Pacific Ocean to the west and the mighty Columbia River to the north. Snow-capped volcanoes of the Cascade Range rise to the east and Saddle Mountain reaches to the sky on the southern horizon.
As you can see, the view was slightly different on the day we were there. We were actually inside the clouds and could see very little. I didn't even bother to climb to the top of the column. I would not have been able to see anything. But, I did take a photo of the winding staircase inside. We stopped at the gift shop and ran into a couple from Ohio who are staying at the same condominium where we are staying, a trip of 135 miles each direction. The four of us were the only visitors at the top of the hill while we were there.

Next on the agenda was a trip to see the wreck of the Peter Iredale at Fort Stevens State Park. The four-masted ship ran aground in heavy southeast wind in September of 1906. The impact was so hard that three of her masts snapped off on impact. She's been a tourist attraction ever since. As we drove across Young's Bay, the drizzle turned to driving rain. By the time we got to the beach where the Peter Iredale sets, the parking lot was covered in mud and a walk across the sand dunes to the wreck was out of the question.

I love the story of the shipwreck and the subsequent rescue of her crew from the Oregon History Project. Not a soul was lost.
After he was helped ashore, the red-bearded Captain Lawrence, stood stiffly at attention, saluted his ship, and said “May God bless you and may your bones bleach in these sands.” He then turned and addressed his men with a bottle of whisky in his hand. “Boys,” he said, “have a drink.”
Once we abandoned our attempt to reach the shipwreck, we headed back to Welches and our warm, dry condo. The drive through the mountains on Highway 26 was rainy and foggy. But Highway 26 is a much better, although less scenic, drive. We were both happy to get back to the condo that night.


  1. A long day with some great sights. Fear of heights must be awful. Glad he didn't panic (too much)! Your lunch sounds delish - must go prepare supper.

  2. You are certainly seeing some beautiful scenery and eating some amazing food, too! Thanks for the mug shots -- so glad you included them! I bet you guys look cute dancing together!