The next morning I left Joel sitting in front of a book store and I explored downtown Astoria.There are many interesting Victorian homes dotting the hills. One way to know that a city is past it’s prime, is how many of the old buildings remain. If a city is prosperous, old gets replaced by new rapidly. It is only when the old becomes classic (at about 60-70 years) that people want to protect it. If the city has prospered, there may not be much left, if the city has declined – the old remains. One thing you don’t see here is any midcentury modern.This goat lives right downtown. She has her own little hillside but is kept out of the kitchen garden by a fence and gate – otherwise there would be nothing left for the homeowners to eat.One of the most beautiful Victorians is now the Historical society museum.This brought me great joy! Unfortunately it was too early in the morning, so I never got inside.This kind of flowering hanging basket is something that would easily work in LA, unlike these wonderful street planters that need too much water and moisture in the air.Lovely old commercial building.As well as a theater, that is being used for live productions.I didn’t go in, but what a great adaptive reuse, from county jail to museum!Blue Heron
We left the Columbia Gorge and headed north west. On advice of our friends in Astoria, we took the 5 Fwy up into Washington and backtracked into Oregon. Either way, Astoria is isolated out on the northwestern point of the state.
What once was a vibrant port town is now a sleepy, funky area.This is the most common sight, The Astoria-Megler Bridge. Probably the original bridge to nowhere, it goes across into the Olympic peninsula. Today it gets a lot of use, but probably not enough to justify it’s cost, or the cost of constant upkeep. (notice the white huts – they are repainting there). It is very clear to see why this is now the symbol of the town.What used to be a bustling port, fisherman and fur trading town is now simply a ‘holding tank’ for the large cargo ships from Asia. These are waiting for an open berth at either Vancouver WA or Portland OR.The original Hotel Astoria, an eight story Beaux Arts building is one of the tallest buildings on the Oregon coast. Built in 1923, it is a symbol of a busy prosperous town. Another claim to fame is that an antenna on the roof in 1948 is the birthplace of cable television. An ingenious resident figured out how to get reception from Seattle and run a cable to his own home. Of course friends and neighbors wanted in on the invention.
As Astoria declined, the hotel closed and the town declined as well. In 1984, the vacant building went through an adaptive reuse process and reopened as low income apartments
Aside from the bridge, the big landmark in town is the Astoria Column. Vincent Astor, great-grandson of John Jacob Astor (for whom the town is named), in conjunction with the Great Northern Railway commissioned and built this town. Based on Trajan’s column in Rome, this tower commemorates important dates in Oregon history. The nascent Cable TV antenna moved here as well. Inside are 164 spiral stairs, yes I climbed them, despite my fear of heights. The climbing wasn’t bad, the observation deck was a little more difficult for me.No way would I lean out over the railing like these people did!! It was a very windy day, many people came up with little bolsa wood airplanes and sent them soaring down. Most caught the breezes and gracefully glided down, some quite a distance away. The view from the column
Then it was on to Fort Clatsop the final stop for Lewis and Clark on their expedition. One thing I learned there is that Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, the son of Sacajawea, led a very interesting life, unlike his mother, who died young after returning from the trail.
We took a lovely walk out to the Netul River TrailThe pilings are the remnants of a busy industrial port that fell into disuse. Today it has been reclaimed by nature and is part of the park. Throughout Astoria you see more old unused piling than any active sea port.
We left Portland and headed east into the Columbia Gorge. Our first stop – Multnomah Falls.All one waterfall. We got there early enough so that the bridge had no one on it. 20 minutes latter, it was packed with people.
We took the challenge and hiked the mile and a half to the top. We were told there are 11 switch-backs, there were more like 15. Here’s the view from the top.No I didn’t lean over the edge of the railing to take a picture of the falls, fear of heights! But as a Californian starved for water, even a small fall in the river is worth taking a picture.
We went on the Fruit loop about 30 local farms have created a map and gave it this wonderful name. We stopped at about 5 of them and tasted peaches, hard ciders and a loganberry pastry.I’m a sucker for a large hanging basket of flowers.Love the arrangement of the chairs.Unfortunately the Glassblower was closed. In the distance you can see Mt. Adams in WA.Lavender fields with Mt. Hood as the backdrop.In the evening we sat on the deck and watched the sunset over Mt. Adams. The red is due to a local forrest fire, which we saw the next day.Took this from the car, yes, it was very close to the highway. We did see helicopters collecting water in the river and dropping it on the fire.Hiking on Mt. Hood, well, actually taking a leisurely walk.Which necessitated a little rest behind the lodge.
Our next stop was a total surprise out in the middle of nowhere. The Maryhill Museum.An Italian style mansion in the middle of the desert.Complete with gorgeous lawns and gardens.And an incredible view of the Columbia.
The art was nice, completely out of character with the area. The locals love this place, understandably so. An island of culture. They recently added a new wing and have many local events here. This is one of the things I love so much about traveling in America – you really have no idea what is around the next bend in the road.Leah
A fun thing when traveling is buying souvenirs. I really don’t need any more chocthkies lying around the house. On the other hand, if I buy yarn or fabric to make something, I get double the joy. Can you tell by the colors that these are destined to become sweaters for my granddaughter? Yup, she loves purple and pink.I don’t ‘need’ another warm cowl, but this yarn and this pattern, Inspira, just called my name.
Got to get busy!
Had a wonderful 10 day vacation in the Pacific Northwest. So now I really have a lot to share, starting with Portland.Yes, obligatory photo op. Portland is weird, in a very nice way. We took a tour on this pedicab, our driver (and photographer) was quite the aging hippy. What we experienced that was so unusual was hot sunny days.
The line of people waiting for a donut, I took pictures, do not need the calories or the carbs.I do like the neon sign they have.It was fun to see one of these brewcycles, this was early in the evening, I wonder what they looked like by the end?Saturdays and Sundays in the summer this place is packed.One of the many bridges over the Willamette river. I would love to see the center ‘elevator’ section go up. I can clearly see the counterbalances on both sides.
Beaux- Arts are very well represented.As is industrial Art Deco.Wonderful old water tanks on the roofs.A fabulous mosaic owl on the floor of a store. Today they sell wonderful handmade items. This used to be part of the West Coast chain of Pharmacies – Owl. One can find all kinds of relics of this chain up and down the coast.After the Vanderbilt’s built the largest private home in America in Ashland NC, the name Biltmore came to mean elegance and wealth. We have a lovely Biltmore Hotel here in downtown LA, this looks like an older, simpler example.This sign is clearly from the days when no one cared about anything PC. We have a Chop Suey sign in little Tokyo, I guess that was a common name for a Chinese restaurant, what isn’t common is “Hung Far Low” that seems to be the punch line to a joke.A few of the 700 food stands. No, we didn’t eat there – there is no where to sit and I do enjoy our food trucks in LA, but lets be honest, I’m sure there is good food to be found here, but there is only so much one can do with a tiny little kitchen.This is Portlandia – no one ever sees here cuz she is up on the 5th floor of a rather ugly 1980’s building. No one ever looks up.I preferred these two elephants in one of the many green parks.
We also ate good food, enjoyed good beer and saw other wonderful sights, then it was on to the Columbia River Gorge.Leah