Tag Archive | Lewis and Clark

Astoria Weekend: Carousels and Fishes

Day 1 & 2, Friday & Saturday, May 24 & 25, 2019

For Memorial Day weekend, Jeff and I had an opportunity to meet in Astoria for the long weekend. It was so much fun!

I left work a little early and drove down to Oregon in heavy, agonizing traffic. Blech. I was expecting it, since it was Memorial Day Weekend, but that part was not fun…  I got there about 7:30 and Jeff and the kids were already there, even though they had to drive more miles. There’s a benefit to not having to drive through Seattle! I was excited to see them, so I quickly forgot about the long drive. That evening was pretty quiet; we drove around Astoria a little bit to get our bearings before dark.  I have been there before, but Jeff never had.  After dark, we got some snacks and had a relaxing evening in the hotel room, catching up.

On Saturday morning we decided to start our day in Seaside, a touristy little beach town on the Oregon Coast about 20 miles south of Astoria. With kids in tow, we made our way to Pig N’ Pancake – a kind of themey IHOP type place that kids love, because of course, they have lots of kid friendly meals. They also have adult friendly meals, including a Kielbasa skillet and a Taco omelette, in addition all sorts of pancakes, crepes and blintzes! Something for everyone and our server was friendly and attentive.

Me and Jeff with Lewis and Clark

We wandered through downtown Seaside, and saw the historic carousel parked within an odd mall type structure, packed to the gills with touristy shops. We did find t-shirts and sweatshirts for reasonable prices to remember our visit. We saw a man making giant bubbles outside so that kids could play in them, and so parents could buy the kids their own giant bubble wand and bubble recipe. The kids ran through the bubbles for a while, but we didn’t buy the wand.

Right on the beach is the Seaside Aquarium, a small aquarium with over 100 species of fish and marine animals.  Interestingly, this little place is one of the oldest aquariums on the West Coast, in operation since 1937.  The building that houses the aquarium was originally built as a natatorium (that’s a fancy word for a building that houses a swimming pool), and piped water in from the ocean just steps away and then heated it.  The pool went belly up during the Great Depression and the aquarium took over the building.

The Seaside Aquarium is small and no frills.  You won’t find fancy staff demonstrations or huge, involved habitats, and large pavilions.  You will see small tanks, a touch tank and basic laminated cards with information about the animals who live there.  And you will find the seals.  The aquarium has eleven harbor seals who live there.  They have a tank right up front and visitors can feed the seals fish purchased there, but be careful!  These seals have learned that the best way to get some treats is to get your attention, and they will stop at nothing.  Each seal has its own schtick, including water slaps, belly slaps, twirls, jumps, squeals and even splashing the visitors!  Each seal has their own method, and apparently they are all self-taught and have not been formally trained.

The aquarium has bred these seals in captivity and was the first to successfully breed harbor seals; some of them are fifth or sixth generation!  The Seaside Aquarium also hold the record for the oldest harbor seal in the world; Clara died in 1979 at the age of 35.

The aquarium also has a tsunami fish; the last surviving specimen of five striped beakfish that lived for more than two years in the partially submerged hull of the Japanese boat Sai-shou-maru , after the boat went adrift during the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.  The boat washed onshore at Long Beach, Washington on March 22, 2013, after traveling more than two years and 4,000 miles from Japan. They could not release the beakfish in northwest waters, due to the threat of it becoming invasive so far from it’s native habitat; it is now on display here.

It was an interesting visit and didn’t take long.  We checked out the tanks, fed the seals and managed to not get too wet!


Circus Trip 2018: Pompeys Pillar NM

Day 9, Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Livingston, Montana was just a one night stopover, although I would have liked to have spent more time around Bozeman and Livingston.  I had already been in Montana for a week, and although I could have been happy exploring there for several more weeks, the purpose of my trip was to see more than just Montana!  So, moving on…

I got on the road about 9 am, and headed east on I-90.  I did stop at a rest area in Grey Cliff, Montana to sort out a few medical insurance details, and talked to a friend on the phone.  It is nice that it is so easy to stay connected these days!

My destination for the day was Pompeys Pillar National Monument.  I imagine many of you haven’t heard of it, so here’s the scoop.  Pompeys Pillar is one of the smallest national monuments in the United States, encompassing only 51 acres, and protecting a natural sandstone pillar that juts out from the flat land around it.  It was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1965, and upgraded to a National Monument on January 17, 2001.  In case you are wondering, Pompeys is officially spelled with no apostrophe – let that get your inner grammar geek worked up!

Pompeys Pillar Sign-posing

But why is it so special?  Pompeys Pillar marks the spot with William Clark and his crew – half of the Lewis and Clark expedition – stopped on their way back east during the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  He came down the Yellowstone River after making it all the way from present-day St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean via the overland route, and found this place.  He and Lewis had split up for a few weeks; Lewis and a team of 9 men further explored the Marias River while Clark continued down the Yellowstone River.  They were to meet up again in early August.  Its exact location may never have been known, except Clark carved his name into the pillar, along with the date – July 25, 1806.  It is the only known visible evidence of the expedition that remains today.  I was there a day too early for the anniversary!



Pompeys Pillar was named for the son of Sacajawea, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, a little boy who came along on the expedition strapped to a cradle board; he carried the nickname Pomp, or Pompy.  Clark originally named the site Pompys Tower, but the name was changed in 1814 when the official history of the expedition was published.  Native Americans have been using the area for about 11,000 years; it is located about 25 miles northeast of Billings, Montana.  Native Americans had carved on the pillar too – pictographs of animals in the area and other symbols.

The day I was there was another scorcher, but despite the 90 degree temps I still climbed the steps to the top of the pillar – the views are incredible!  It is 150 feet high, so you can see the river and the landscape for miles around.  I saw the spot where William Clark inscribed his name and date; it is protected by a plexiglass plate now.  Previously, it had a metal grate protecting it; that grate can be seen in the Visitor’s Center today.

Me with William Clark’s Inscription


William Clark’s Inscription

It was threatening rain when I was wandering around outside, but I still walked down to the Yellowstone River after I climbed the pillar.  There was so much sand on the banks – I wasn’t expecting that.  And even though the signs promised snakes; I didn’t see any. There were a lot of mosquitoes though!  It started to rain as I was headed back to the Visitor’s Center, so I feel like my timing was great!

Me on the bank of the Yellowstone River


Dark clouds over the Yellowstone River

When I left Pompeys Pillar I continued on my way to my destination for the evening – Sheridan, Wyoming.  The GPS took me on a shortcut to get back to the freeway, and I spent about 15 miles bouncing along slowly on a well-maintained but dusty gravel road.  The road had some great photo ops, with abandoned homes, prairie sunflowers and birds.  It was cool!



I crossed into Wyoming a little after 6 and stopped to do some sign posing – Wyoming has a pullout so you can park and get out for pictures with the sign – thanks Wyoming!

I made it to Wyoming!

I checked into my campground shortly before 7 and chatted with my neighbor – a woman traveling solo from Cincinnati, Ohio.  She looked and dressed like a hippie, but complained a lot about the hippie culture of Oregon, where she had been most recently.  You can’t judge a book by its cover.  She was a bit odd, but it was nice having some company while we drank some wine.

It was a nice day, and I was now in my 4th state of the trip!



Oregon Coast 2015: Lewis and Clark Were Here!

The Lewis and Clark National Historical Park

As I’m sure you remember, Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery departed in 1804 from St. Louis on a two year mission to map the United States’ newly acquired territory, find a route to the Pacific across the continental U.S. and establish an American presence to prevent Britain and other European powers from making claims.

Lewis and Clark National Historical Park is located at the site of the 1805-1806 winter camp of the expedition, known as Fort Clatsop.

Lewis and Clark National Historical Park

Lewis and Clark National Historical Park

In true Pacific Northwest fashion, it was a rainy winter. There were few dry days when the expedition was camped here. The group was able to prepare for the return trip the following spring, by creating a new stockpile of salt for preserving food, hunting and gathering other food, and trading with the tribes in the immediate vicinity. But the journals that exist from the period indicated that it was a claustrophobic, cramped, dreary time at Fort Clatsop. Many of the men came down with colds and the flu.

Fort Clatsop Replica - Built 2007

Fort Clatsop Replica – Built 2007

Interestingly, the winter camp was originally on the other side of the river, in what is now Washington. However, the food sources were minimal there, as the elk had moved higher into the mountains. Moving the camp was discussed, and each member of the expedition was able to vote on the move. It is widely believed to be the first time a slave and a woman were granted the vote in American history.

Inside Fort Clatsop

Inside Fort Clatsop

The expedition got on their way in March 1806 for the long trip back east. Fort Clatsop’s structures were given to one of the tribes and the fort was taken over again by nature. A replica was built when the site was designated as a National Historical Park in 1958. Sadly the replica burned in 2006; a replacement was built in 2007. The replica is thought to be historically accurate, having been built from sketches and descriptions that Lewis drew in his journals.

Living quarters for enlisted men

Living quarters for enlisted men – not much room!

Although not one of the larger sites in the National Park System, it is unique in many respects. There are several sites that make up the historical park, which is a partnership between the federal government and both Washington and Oregon State parks. The original winter camp on the Washington side of the river is protected, as well as the site on the beach where the expedition made salt to preserve their food. Approximately 191,867 people visited the park in 2011.

This particular site can be seen in about an hour – it is pretty surprising to see how they crammed over 30 people into such a small space. I can’t imagine the cabin fever of a cold, dark winter in that environment!

I would have loved to hike there – there is a 12 mile hike between the fort site and the historic Salt Works on the beach. Unfortunately, we still had a long drive ahead of us so we needed to get on our way…

We had one more stop on our drive home though – a mid-afternoon meal that would qualify as a very late lunch, or very early dinner. We went to the Rogue Brewery!

Rogue Brewery - on the pier in Astoria, Oregon

Rogue Brewery – on the pier in Astoria, Oregon

I have never been to a brewery where they give you an appetizer sample of beer, but right after we sat down, our server brought out samples of their Morimoto Soba Ale.  It was very unique, and delicious!  When we ordered, I told our server what kinds of beer I like, and then let him pick the sampler I tried. I’d say he did pretty well. I tried the Mom’s O Mix, the Chipotle Amber Ale, the Dead Guy Ale, and the Double Dead Guy Ale.

My taster tray at Rogue Brewery

My taster tray at Rogue Brewery

I had a bowl of their clam chowder – it was delicious! It was super-creamy with lots of chunks of clam, potato and celery and served with yummy bread. I also had a salad. I loved the salad, but found that the dressing, a balsamic vinaigrette, was too acidic for me – it made my tongue raw! This has happened several times, so I wonder if I’m not just becoming too sensitive to the acidity in salad dressing. Fortunately, I don’t have the same bad luck with wine!

Clam Chowder at the Rogue Brewery

Clam Chowder at the Rogue Brewery

Rogue Brewery is located out on the pier in Astoria, which means you drive across an old, one-vehicle-width bridge onto the pier. It was definitely a strange experience! The brewery itself is located in an old cannery building, which they have tried to maintain in its historic state. The restrooms are mostly original, and require a walk through an old warehouse area which gives you a great view of what this building once looked like!

Rogue Brewery - quiet at about 3:15 pm

Rogue Brewery – quiet at about 3:15 pm

I also was able to get a few good pics of a barn swallow perched on the railing of the pier outside the window. It was a great place to have lunch!

A barn swallow on the pier outside the Rogue Brewery

A barn swallow on the pier outside the Rogue Brewery

After our meal, we got back on the road for the long, and fortunately this time, relatively traffic free drive home…

Have you ever been to any of the Lewis and Clark expedition sites around the country?