OK, so the main reason I wanted to visit Astoria, OR was because I love the 1985 movie that was based in and filmed here. But we’ve found so much more to enjoy in this town: from Lewis & Clark’s 1805 winter camp just a few miles from our own RV campground, to breweries with sea lion viewing glass floors; from the awe-inspiring sight of the Columbia River meeting the Pacific Ocean, to the awesome tuna fish and chips served out of a converted wooden fishing boat.
We’ve been here 5 days now, and it’s really been a great mix of gorgeous natural scenery, rich history, and a vibrant town. With great coffee and food. Let’s start with Lewis & Clark. Rita and Charlie were interested when they learned they could earn another Junior Ranger badge at the National Historical Park of Fort Clatsop, a replica of the Corps of Discovery’s winter encampment before they returned East after making it to the Pacific. They’ve heard about Lewis & Clark since we stayed at the Columbia River Gorge, but seeing the fort, and the river and ocean, and the canoes, and a map of their journey from St Louis, has impressed them a bit more. Plus, a lot of things are named after Lewis & Clark, including our RV park. We drove across the 4 mile long Astoria-Megler Bridge to visit Cape Disappointment in Washington, where the dogs got to run around on the ironically-named Waikiki Beach, circled with pieces of bleached, beached trees. We all took a steep hike to the Cape Disappointment lighthouse, with incredible views of the ocean and wide Columbia River, framed by rolling forested hills. It was sobering to see the Coast Guardsman on duty and realize the Columbia River Bar, where the two powerful bodies of water meet, and which was known as the Graveyard of the Pacific, is still perilous.
I spent the morning working at a comfortable local coffee roaster and shop under the towering Asoria Bridge, and then we all visited to the Astoria Column. Constructed in 1916, the spiral murals on the column commemorate the history of Astoria and the mouth of the Columbia River. It has amazing views even at the base of the Column. We walked the 164 winding steps up to reach the top, and the kids got to throw balsawood planes over the side. Someone’s backyard is full of them.
We’ve also visited an endless Pacific beach with the skeleton of a hundred year old shipwreck; the WWII and Spanish-American War bunkers side-by-side at Fort Stevens, with a bonus heard of elk roaming across the marsh; the Columbia River Maritime Museum with a lighthouse ship (never heard of one!) you can explore; rode the 1913 trolley along the Rails-to-Trails Riverwalk; admired lots of beautiful Victorian houses on some incredibly steep streets; and seen gorgeous sunsets, a moon rise, and a rainbow from our campsite. There has been some rain, and a lot of mosquito hawks, but not much else to complain about.