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.
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!