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Astoria, OR

I remember spending Sundays at home when we lived in a house.   I always felt challenged to find something different to do on Sunday in the winter, because otherwise there would be a tedious sameness to the day and by nightfall I would be feeling as though I had spent a day pacing a jail cell.

astoria-tower.jpgOne of the things I like about moving around more or less constantly is that when Sunday rolls around there’s usually something new to explore.   I’m not one for watching football, or walking the same walk with the dog.   Even in a little town like Astoria there’s a bouquet of novel things to see and do, so Emma and I headed out today while Eleanor stayed back to finalize Emma’s Halloween costume.

Astoria is sort of a tiny version of San Francisco, a town with a harbor, a long bridge, a steep hill, and lots of interesting Victorian houses.   Atop the big hill is Astoria’s version of Coit Tower, called the Astoria Tower.   Take a couple hundred spiral steps up to the top and you get a superb 360 degree view of town, the Columbia River, the Pacific Ocean, and the inland forests.

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Down by the river there’s a long multi-use trail that follows the river and reveals the remnants of a dozen canneries, several ocean-going ships anchored (waiting for a chance to go up the ship channel to Portland), a Maritime Museum, several piers covered mostly with restaurants, and a cute rickety old wooden trolley running east and west.

astoria-trolley.jpgWe walked most of the trail, down to Pier 39, and then picked up the trolley for the ride back.   You can ride as much as you want for just a buck — a bargain — and the volunteers who run it tell stories about the history of the waterfront as it rumbles and creaks along the rusty rails.

From downtown we headed over to Fort Stevens, a state park just up the road from our current campground.   I’d much prefer to have camped here, but cell phones are marginal in some of the camping areas and   given that we needed a lot of communication when we arrived, we opted for a safer location.

Fort Stevens is a large state park, with great bicycling trails, long stretches of beach, big dunes, good campsites, historic sites, views, and even a shipwreck.   The Peter Iredale ran aground here about a century ago, and the bones of the steel ship are still embedded in the dense sand just off the beach.   Stripped of just about everything and perpetually leaning hard to port, the Peter Iredale is a skeleton.   People walk up, snap a picture, and walk away, but I like to look at it a while and imagine how the ship appeared in life, and imagine what it was like the day it crashed ashore.

peter-iredale-wreck.jpg

And speaking of skeletons, Halloween is looming.   When we returned to the Airstream the costume was still in process, and it will be tough for Eleanor to get it done by Wednesday, particularly if we don’t have an electric hookup on Monday or Tuesday night to run the sewing machine.   We also don’t know where we’ll be for Halloween, but we are aiming at southern Oregon to meet up with another 7-year-old girl who happens to full-time in an Airstream.   More on that later.

One Response to “Astoria, OR”

  1. Clarke Hockwald Says:

    Cool, Rich…..glad you went to see the column and the shipwreck. I loved downtown Astoria. There’s a great bike shop there, too, called “Bikes and Beyond” that helped me out with a bent rear wheel on my Cannondale tandem. We had been navigating through a parking lot in our class c motorhome with our tandem bicycle mounted on the rear of the motorhome (side to side) when I began a turn a little too soon catching the rear wheel of the tandem on the bumper of a truck resulting in the rear rim being “taco’d”. Bikes and Beyond saved the rim and had it repaired in 4 hours. Enjoyed lunch at one the cute riverside restaurants, hiked to the top of the Astoria Column, and visited the shipwreck while the rim was being repaired..

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