Tag Archive | Oregon

Astoria Weekend: A Fort and a Column

Day 3, Sunday, May 26, 2019

Sunday morning of our Astoria trip, we found a little breakfast place called Arnie’s Cafe, just south of Astoria (in Warrenton) and stopped for a bite. The food was delicious, and there was no wait! We must have gotten there at just the right time though because it got busy after we were seated!

After breakfast we headed to Fort Stevens State Park to explore. I have blogged about Fort Stevens before, home of the Peter Iredale shipwreck, and a historic battery dating from before World War I. We checked out the beach first, and of course explored the shipwreck! The kids had fun writing their names in the sand and looking for shells and interesting rocks. Unfortunately, this stretch of the beach, on the open ocean, isn’t known for having many intact shells.

The kids took off their shoes and waded in the water, despite the fact that it was a pretty cool day! That’s par for the course in the Pacific Northwest I suppose, having your hood up and tightly cinched around your head, while wading barefoot in the ocean. It was windy!

After we had our fill of the beach, and needed to warm up, we headed over to the battery. The Fort Stevens battery was built between 1863 and 1864, an earthwork battery meant to stand as a sentry to the threat of invasion by sea, and to stand guard over the mouth of the Columbia River.  They were more concerned about invasion by the British though, as there were long standing territorial disputes in the region. The fort was expanded and the current concrete batteries were constructed in 1897.

Thankfully, invasions never came, but the battery was shelled by a Japanese submarine on June 21, 1942.  The shells fell harmlessly away from the fort, and no damage was done; the Fort Commander did not allow his men to even return fire.  The battery was decommissioned after World War II and the guns were removed by 1947; it became part of Fort Stevens State Park. It is open to the public, and young and the young at heart can climb up on its walls and explore its rooms and stairways.

And if you are like me, you can step off a step, suddenly discover you stepped wrong, twist your ankle, fall down, and skin your knee. Yep. Not often, but sometimes, I’m a real klutz. Oops. It really hurt! Of course, it also hurt my pride as the flash of pain left me unable to get up for a few minutes, and the nice man down below watched me hit the concrete and called up to ask if I was ok? Yeah… I will need to sit here on my butt in the middle of the path for a minute though! I was undeterred in my adventure seeking, and not willing to give up on our day, so I soon powered through the pain and walked it off. OUCH!

Our next stop for the day was the Astoria Column. Built in 1926 as a way to showcase the history of the area and its discovery in 1811, the column is 125 feet tall and has an internal staircase rising 164 steps to the top. You can buy balsa wood airplanes for $1 at the Visitor’s Center; the kids enjoyed climbing to the top of the tower to launch them off the top. What fun and the views are spectacular!

That evening, we endured a long wait at Buoy Beer Company, but the kids were entertained by the plexiglass in the floor that allowed them to watch a huge male sea lion lounging on the dock below. The adults were entertained by the ability to enjoy a beer anywhere in the brewery, so we could relax with a cold one while we waited for a table. The food was amazing – I loved my fish and chips! The Champagne IPA was delicious!

Our last adventure of the day was to catch the sun lowering in the sky, and to drive over the Astoria-Megler Bridge into Washington. The bridge was opened in 1966 and is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America at 4.067 miles long. The sunset was beautiful, and a nice end to a great long weekend, as the next morning it was time to head home and back to real life.  What a wonderful getaway!

President’s Day Weekend 2020

It’s late, and time for bed, but I just wanted to check in.  I got home a few hours ago from a wonderful, fun, relaxing, energizing weekend in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.  Jeff and I spent the weekend at Champoeg State Park in a little cabin; it was just what I needed.  Here’s to a short work week!

P.S. And a happy belated birthday to my favorite President, Abraham Lincoln.

 

Astoria Weekend: Lewis and Clark!

Day 2, Saturday, May 25, 2019

Astoria, Oregon

After visiting Seaside, we decided to head over to the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park.  I have visited before, but Jeff and the kids had never been there.

Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery spent the winter 1805-1806 here in this approximate location; they named their camp Fort Clatsop.  When the expedition left the West Coast in the spring of 1806, they gave Fort Clatsop’s structures to the local Native Americans and the fort was eventually reclaimed by nature. A replica was built when the site was designated as a National Historical Park in 1958, but sadly it 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.

We checked out the museum in the Visitor’s Center, with its artifacts.  Beaver hats and pelts, a Coastal tribe canoe, grasses and foods that the Native Americans in the area used, as well as historic muskets and examples of clothing that the expedition members would have worn.  It is always interesting to revisit a place.  We also checked out Fort Clatsop, and the kids enjoyed exploring it.  There wasn’t much space for 30 people to spend a cold, rainy winter!  Jeff and I enjoyed wandering and following after the kids, relaxing and reading the signs.

The kids did the Junior Ranger program and got their badges; just in the nick of time too, because it started raining pretty hard!  I didn’t really take many photos since I had visited there before, and apparently I was more into taking selfies!  For more about the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, see my previous post.

That afternoon we went to the Fort George Brewery for pizza and some beer; while we were waiting for a table we checked out some of the nearby shops in downtown Astoria.  The pizza was delicious, and everybody was happy!  Jeff and I tried a couple different beers, it was nice to do some sampling and see what we liked.

Nearby to Fort George Brewery is the Reveille Ciderworks; one day I’ll visit there and try their ciders!  It just wasn’t in the cards that day because the kids were more interested in pizza than some of the “weird food” they have at food trucks.  Traveling with kids is a change of scenery for me!  That said, I was still able to get a couple of oyster shooters at Fort George – nobody else wanted any – it was so strange because they are so delicious!

 

 

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!

 

A Stop in Historic Jacksonville

It was the third day of our Southern Oregon long weekend and we were headed to Jacksonville!  Jacksonville, Oregon is a historic town just 5 miles outside of Medford.  It experienced a huge boom in 1851 and 1852 when gold was discovered there, and the town became the principal financial center for Southern Oregon at the time.  However, the gold dried up, and so did the town, especially after the railroad passed it by in 1884.  It remained the county seat until 1927, but the economy of the town drastically declined.  As a result of the decline, progress bypassed Jacksonville and a large number of the commercial and residential buildings were left intact.

The Old Drug Store

The Old Drug Store

Now the large number of historic buildings are the stars of the town, drawing tourists to the quiet downtown.  The main street is lined with shops, selling a variety of art, local clothing and handmade jewelry, and fair trade products.  Jon and I visited in 2011, and loved the relaxed little town so much that we couldn’t wait to come back.

A Historic Saloon turned Coffee Shop

A Historic Saloon turned Coffee Shop

We had lunch at the Bella Union – a restaurant in a historic building downtown.  The Bella Union began as a restaurant and saloon in 1864, and operated until it burned on April 14, 1874.  After that it was home to many businesses; a machine shop, saddle shop, saloon, deli and finally a restaurant and saloon once again.  The present restaurant has been in business since 1988.

The outdoor patio at the Bella Union Restaurant

The outdoor patio at the Bella Union Restaurant

I had a turkey cranberry sandwich and vegetable soup; Jon had steamed clams and salad.  Both were delicious.  We sat outside on the patio in the warm shade and enjoyed a relaxed conversation with Jon’s parents.  After lunch, we shopped a bit, and then headed off for our next adventure – wine tasting!

A Bite at the Oregon Caves Chateau

Once we had toured the Oregon Caves, it was time for lunch in the historic Oregon Caves Chateau!  The Oregon Caves Chateau was built in 1934, in order to provide the tourists visiting the cave with lodging and meals.  The Chateau was designed and built by Gust Lium, a local contractor with no formal training.  His talents were recognized by the Forest Service, and he was responsible for several projects within the Siskiyou National Forest in Southern Oregon, where the Oregon Caves are located.

The Chateau is six stories tall, built over a steep ravine.  The location makes its appearance a bit misleading, because when viewed from one direction, you can see all six stories, but from the front entrance, only the top three stories are visible.  The Chateau has 23 guest rooms, and also houses a dining room and coffee shop.  In front of one of the entrances to the coffee shop is a courtyard with a pond.

A Side View of the Oregon Caves Chateau – the Coffee Shop is the door on the bottom left

A Side View of the Oregon Caves Chateau – the Coffee Shop is the door on the bottom left

The style is considered National Park Rustic, with cedar siding on the exterior of the building, giving it a shaggy appearance.  Inside, the Chateau has the largest public collection of Mason Monterey furniture, made by the Mason Manufacturing Company in the 1930s.  Much of the furniture is in original condition, although some has been restored.  Although we didn’t stay at the Chateau this time (one day I will!), the rooms all maintain their original appearance, with steam heaters, and no telephones or televisions.  Some people would call this dated, but I appreciate the intention of making sure there are places that stay true to history.

The fireplace in the lobby of the Oregon Caves Chateau

The fireplace in the lobby of the Oregon Caves Chateau

But this post is about the coffee shop.  It was completed in 1937, with birch and maple counter tops on a counter that snakes around the dining room and vinyl stools, and it is almost entirely original!  The knotty pine paneling is original, but the oak parquet floor that was constructed in the 1930s had to be replaced with a tile floor after a 1963 flood.  We were there for a late lunch, so it wasn’t that busy when we got there and we were able to get 4 stools all together.

The Oregon Caves Chateau Coffee Shop

The Oregon Caves Chateau Coffee Shop

They serve typical diner fare with a Northwest twist, but their signature items are the milkshakes and malts!  They make them from real, hard ice cream and there is a long list of flavors that you can choose from.  I am a purist, so I went with the chocolate.  Each milkshake is huge, arriving in a full glass that is as big as the stainless steel cup it is made in.  YUM!

Delicious Chocolate Milkshake!

Delicious Chocolate Milkshake!

I ordered the bison burger, which was perfectly made (I asked for mine medium rare) and fries.  Jon had the Chef salad.  They have a variety of other burgers and sandwiches, chili, chicken strips and meatloaf.  Although the menu is pretty heavy on the meat, there are some vegetarian options, as well as a vegan burger.  And you can substitute a gluten free bun on any of the burgers or sandwiches.

My buffalo burger and fries!

My buffalo burger and fries!

I really enjoyed just sitting on the stool, eating my burger and shake and chatting with Jon and his parents.  It was a real treat to enjoy a meal in this historic setting, and it reminded me that we need to take the time to just slow down and see and experience what is right in front of you.

Have you stayed at the Oregon Caves Chateau or dined there?