I have probably mentioned before that Portland Parks and Recreation sponsors van trips for seniors at a very reasonable price. Today’s trip was to Astoria, the oldest settlement (of US and British) in the Pacific Northwest at the mouth of the Columbia River. Named for John Jacob Astor, who had a vision of a trading empire, the settlement had a rough start in 1811-13. (Read about the start in Philip Stark’s Astoria.)

First lunch.

Astoria lu ch

The boat above was originally a fishing boat–now it houses service of fish and chips–the fish is whatever the catch of the morning, and delicious. My friend Jean and I had additional eating plans, but we ran out of time.

Of the many sights, we chose to start with the Columbia River Maritime Museum. I like the architectural rendition of ocean waves.

Maritime Museum

Inside were stories of shipwrecks and rescues and exhibits of old maps, maps that not only showed large empty spaces on the continent, but also creative fictions of an imagined northwest passage, California as an island, and Quivira, a place which if it existed, did not contain the gold expected.  Also there were meticulous records of areas that were explored and recorded, sketches of the explored part on an otherwise blank page.

The difficulties of navigating ships through the sand bar created by the force of the Pacific waves against the exiting Columbia River at the 5-mile wide mouth were explained and illustrated by video. Especially harrowing was the video of the pilot transferring from his small boat to the incoming ship in need of his assistance.

There were the expected photos and models of ships and other equipment.

Astoria diving gear

The only inside photo I got was of this 1940s diving gear.

The museum was large enough and interesting enough that we spent most of our allotted three hours in it, saving everything else we had wanted to see for another trip.

A sidelight.  I had a 2002 travel guide for reference. When it was written, admission to the museum was $4.00 for seniors. We paid $12.00. I had expected increase, but not that much.

Of course the area is scenic.

Astoria Columbia

Astoria River View

The mountains in the distance are Washington state. The five-mile bridge that connects OR and WA is the longest [some qualifier that I don’t remember] in the US.

Astoria bridge

A view of the bridge at museum level.

Astoria Bridge 2

And a view from atop Coxcomb Hill (600 ft.), the site of the Astoria Column.

Astoria column

Some hardy souls walked up the 168 steps; most of us stayed on the ground and viewed the wrap around mural of history of explorations in the northwest.

Next on my agenda is getting back to some quilting projects that have been languishing.






Filed under travel

7 responses to “Astoria

  1. What a fascinating day out. Sounds like the time just flew by. I love a good museum. Thanks for sharing this one.

    • We stopped in Astoria on a repositioning cruise a few years back. We chose the excursion that included a cooking demo at Baked Alaska and a wine tasting elsewhere. The owner/chef at Baked Alaska sells a line of nice seasoning mixes under the name Chef Daddy and is saving the profits for his daughter’s college education. Lots of other fun stuff in their gift shop, too. Will check out the museum on our next visit!

    • Portland Parks and Rec is so cool!

  2. Thanks for sharing, this way I can travel and visit foreign countries comfortably on the computer!

  3. dezertsuz

    What a wonderful place to visit. Some things you mentioned reminded me of Mystic Seaport, CT.

  4. Sue

    Astoria is so beautiful…time for me to venture northward again. Thanks for sharing the travelogue! I love the notion of California as an island. Turns out it’s sort of true!

  5. My husband and I got a Groupon and stayed in one of the historic hotels downtown Astoria. Elliot Hotel I think. Has a wonderful rooftop. We especially love the column – and Astoria has some good brewpubs. You had great weather!

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