Earlier this week, (when the weather was still mild not wild), we traveled south for a few days of vacation in Astoria. Our home base was a lovely boutique hotel built on an old cannery pier on the Columbia River. We woke each morning and drank our coffee watching the sea lions and the ships go by. There are worse starts to a day.
We perused the shops downtown, ate at the restaurants and visited the boardwalk along the waterfront.
And found some history at the Flavel House, which was built in 1886, and reminiscent to me of the House on Haunted Hill. (I wouldn’t visit alone after dark.)
There’s history to be found in this town to be sure. Lots of it. The first and oldest American colony on the Pacific Coast, Astoria was founded in 1811 by an expedition sent by millionaire John Jacob Astor (who never set foot there by the way.) He had made his money in the fur trade in New York, and sought to expand his enterprise world-wide, including a base on the rugged Pacific Coast for trade with China. The expedition was both by land and by sea. The two parties were to meet up at the mouth of the Columbia to set up a trading center; this only four years after Lewis and Clark returned from their famous trip. In hindsight, Lewis and Clark made it look easy. Astor’s men didn’t fare as well. Many were lost and died violent deaths on Astor’s venture, though they did manage to establish the short-lived colony before the British took it over. The area remained under ‘joint occupation’ by the Americans and the British until today’s borders were established in 1846. (For more fascinating detail on its history, read Peter Stark’s book, ‘Astoria.’)
To see history of another kind, go to Fort Stevens Park and visit the shipwrecked Peter Iredale which was grounded off the coast in 1906. In fact many ships have been lost where the Columbia meets the Pacific, in an area known as the Graveyard of the Pacific.
And now from sea to sky. We visited the 125 ft. Astoria Column, built in 1926 and standing 600 ft. above sea level.
I bravely climbed the 164 stairs inside its narrow spiral staircase.
I even ventured outside at the top, for the few minutes I could endure standing on the exposed narrow platform, where the views below were wonderful. Bob was pleased to stay behind and now I know why.
Our third day and it was time to head home, but not without swinging by Washington’s Long Beach, the longest beach in the world, according to the sign. (Uh-huh.)
By then the winds and waves had picked up considerably and the birds were grounded. So were we.
It was steadily pouring by the time we made it home, and stormy weather would be with us for days to come. The high winds even shut down several Oregon beaches where we had stood the day before, including the Peter Iredale beach at Fort Stevens Park.
Timing is everything.