Saturday I turned 46 and went down the road apiece to Astoria, Oregon. I stopped right away at a viewpoint and looked down on our rural valley, about an hour drive north of Portland, Oregon. From there I could see the industrial mechanisms of the local economy, in the form of lumber and pulp mills, and the Port of Longview.
The next thing that caught my attention was a sign that pointed the way to a toll ferry. I did not need to go wherever the ferry would take me, except that I have been randomly discovering quite a few small ferry crossings on the many Oregon rivers, and it’s become a new interest of mine. Sadly, I did not ride a ferry that day.
In no time I was in Astoria, the city built at the mouth of the Columbia as it pours into the Pacific Ocean. I took a few photos near the mouth of the river, which is filled with sea faring ships, of course, since it’s a safe harbour when the ships are not en route. Then I stopped for lunch at the Rogue Brewery on Pier 39. I drove on the pier to get there!
At the Rogue Brewery I veered away from the “Dead Guy Ale,” and the “Yellow Snow IPA,” and tried the “8 Hop IPA” and some homemade clam chowder (fresh clams, obviously). I somewhat recklessly agreed to become a citizen of the Rogue Nation and raised my right hand and took the pledge. I got a card that entitles me to a free pitcher of beer on my next birthday, but not this one. I talked with another woman traveling solo who is from Idaho like me, and has been roaming the West Coast since November, she said, trying to decide whether or not to retire. When she left, I talked with the couple on the other side of me, who were having a great day because the grandparents had the baby and they were free for awhile. They were both Air Force veterans like me and I quickly gave my VA-is-the-best-thing-ever spiel, and answered some questions and gave them my contact information.
Next I went to check in at the Cannery Pier Hotel & Spa. This place looked great online, and is *so* much better in reality. The service was personal and genuine. They learned my name in the first greeting, and from then on never asked again what room I was in. I told them it was my birthday and they wished me a happy birthday every time I passed the front desk (and even checked in with me the next day at breakfast, to see if I had enjoyed my birthday. I had.) I took a dozen photos, and I’ll share them with you in my next post.
There were about two hours of daylight left, so I left the place and went to find the sea.
First I got distracted by this garage covered in scavenged buoys. The woman who owned the home there said the garage was built at the same time as her grandmother’s home, which had been where we were standing before she tore it down to build her new home. “But Grandma loved her garage and it reminds me of her, and I just can’t bring myself to take it down yet,” she said. “We had a pile of these buoys that we had found, and one day we hung them up. Now people drop them off and we keep hanging them up.”
Then I was distracted again by a sign giving directions to the Army Cemetery. The road passed through what had clearly been an Army outpost years ago. Though it is entirely civilian now, one can’t ever erase the stamp of the federal government. It had the feel of a military base still. At the end of the road I found the humble Fort Stevens Post Cemetery, founded in 1868, according to an informational sign, when the first burial was Private August Stahlberger, who fell in the river and drowned while under the influence. It was also closed for repair.
Finally I found the beach. I honestly tried to pick out just the good photos, but… I fell in love with them all. It was an exquisite view in the January afternoon, as the sun shed her last rays on us ocean-loving humans.
On the way back to the hotel for their 5 pm wine, cheese, salmon and crackers, I had to stop again for photos. These reflections were still discernible in the very last vestiges of light at about 4:40 pm.
I went up to my room and changed into my new Christmas dress that I had only worn once so far. I enjoyed the treats downstairs, then came back to my room to try out a new whiskey that I received as a birthday gift. Have I mentioned that I’m a whiskey drinker? A co-worker has been lauding this scotch for some time, and since I was reluctant to spend the money to get it, he bought me a bottle for my birthday. I highly recommend this one. Then, since I wanted to get a photo of my dress for Tara, I took about 75 photos in the bathroom mirror and failed them all. By the time this one was taken, I was totally cracking up at my own ineptness. But at least I got a fuzzy picture of my dress. It’s a sweater dress, so fuzzy is appropriate.
29 thoughts on “Birthday in Astoria”
Belated Happy Birthday Crystal and what a great way to spend it! You look great in your birthday dress – I nearly wrote ‘birthday suit’ 🙂 [does ‘birthday suit’ mean the same in the US I wonder?] Beautiful photos of the ocean – I love her so much too!!
That is too funny! YES we have the same meaning for birthday suit. I have to say I never expected that I’d be posing in my birthday suit on my blog…but hey, we all do our own thing online right?!
Thanks for the compliment on the ocean photos. It was so pretty that evening.
Happy Birthday. Still looking good. Not a bad location for a home town. Some great pictures, especially of sea and trees
Thanks Derrick! Forty-six years young! Glad you like those landscape photos. And who can resist the sunlight through waves?
Thanks for the day trip and happy birthday!
Glad you could come along, Andrew! If you’re here next year, I’ll share that Rogue Brewery pint with you. 🙂
I am checking the airline schedules right now!
🙂 This post made me happy. What a great birthday, with lovely images and cracking up. And – we were born in the same year, one that ages gracefully. 😉 Here’s to the generation, cin cin! Have a great year and don’t forget to return for your next birthday.
yes! I have a girlfriend in Phoenix with whom I exchange that same sentiment: age gracefully. Thank you for your comments. 🙂
Belated Happy Birthday wishes from me too and thanks for that great post!!! And the Whiskey sounds great too!!!
Thank you so much!! That Japanese whiskey was so delish.
Happy Birthday, Crystal, be it ever so late. (grin) I would have wandered through your little town on my trip along the coast two falls ago. I cut across from Longview on my way to Astoria, right before Longview had its tornado. I’ve been meaning to do a blog on Astoria ever since. My uncle taught high school band there for years and my grandmother passed away in the town. Fun photos, including you in your Christmas dress. Cute on the Japanese scotch. No wonder you had a time of it getting the photo you wanted. 🙂 –Curt
Damn, you found me out. No wonder, indeed.
After spending my time in Astoria this weekend, I came to the conclusion that I need to spend a lot more time there if I want to see all the cool stuff. Luckily, I live about 45 minutes away, so it’ll be easy to come back often.
🙂 And, as I recall, Crystal, the drive over to Astoria from your home is quite beautiful.
It is so nice. As I drove, I was thinking that I wish my commute to work was that direction. All these lovely country farms and horses in meadows, and tree-covered mountains and water everywhere (with volcanoes in the distance). Oregon is where it’s at.
Pretty cool that you came through two years ago. I think I’m living in a pretty sweet spot right now, at the end of that bridge. I’m 10 minutes from I-5, two hours from Seattle, an hour from Portland, 45 minutes from Astoria, and the sea, and surrounded by so much beauty. Hard to believe I deserve to live such an amazing life.
It is the same way Peggy and I feel about where we live, Crystal. We wake up every morning with a smile on our faces. Any chances of a job in Astoria? Our son Tony wanted his next Coast Guard assignment to be there but it looks like it will be back east. –Curt
You know, I would seriously consider a job there. First I need to finish up my 30 with the feds. Then I’ll be free to go work someplace that’s not so stressful. Being assigned there with the Coast Guard would be awesome.
Hard for me to imagine 30 years on any job. 🙂 –Curt
Awesome pictures!! You make place I may never see come alive. Glad you had a great birthday weekend.
Thanks for taking a look, Kim! It was a fun weekend and the weather cooperated, too, which is not a given on the coast in January.
Belated happy birthday, Crystal. Sorry I missed it. Just never seem to catch up. You are 2 years younger than TS and 3 older than his sister. Good grief, that makes me old enough to be your mother! I loved the way you celebrated your birthday. Sorry you had to do it by yourself though. If I could drive that far, I’d celebrate the same way. Always wanted to do another run at Sylvia Beach house in Newport but your room looks more luxurious and a private chauffeur to boot. 🙂 That scotch could make taking a selfie kind of tricky. At least you had fun with it. I took a trip to Astoria with the Senior center and it was sadly lacking in views. Always wanted to go back and actually see the town. We saw 3 breweries. How much can an old lady drink at lunch time for goodness sake. I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. Wondered how you did with the ice storm and getting Tara back to school? Your photos insure the fact that I want another run at Astoria. Great job.
Oh Marlene, I didn’t know you were pining for a visit to Astoria. We can certainly make that happen one of these days, if you are ok with staying the night at my place. That will break up the travel time, since it’s only 45 minutes to Astoria from my house. I hear the museums there are really good and I didn’t make the time to see them. Three breweries in a day? That’s probably not the best plan for out of town visitors, in a place so interesting as Astoria. One can visit breweries any time. Traveling alone has its advantages, as you have probably discovered, so I’ll take the good with the bad. The chauffeured antique car was certainly a treat, and also came in handy, since I had a wee too much to drink out with the ladies at Inferno that night. They are from St. Helens and we made plans to meet up again at some future date.
I was with the senior group and we had a driver but most of us don’t drink a lot at once and not quickly. Then we need lots of bathroom stops. The kid said he’d take me and ended up there with the ex to get her out of here. Small doses is all I can handle. I’ll make it there sometime and now have a better reason to go. Maybe one day I’ll be able to drive again. A trip like that was nothing 6 years ago. I like traveling alone too. Hate having to ask someone to drive me anywhere because we all have different rhythms and interests.. You understand. I wanted to look around downtown and at shops and the quilt store there. I just love looking. I can’t even drive to your house alone yet. Darn it all. That’s cleaned up for public viewing. 🙂 I’m glad you had a good birthday and didn’t run into a problem with the snow and ice.
YAY! A travel / birthday post combination! Don’t you just love to explore new places? It’s the unexpected finds that are treasured … Grandma’s garage covered in buoys, the cemetery, and that wonderful hotel!
Your photos are wonderful, especially the one of you laughing.
Happy, happy belated birthday!
You are right, Laurie, the unexpected finds are the treasures of every trip I think. It also helps that people like you and me can talk to anyone, so we get the background story, like Grandma’s garage. The lady was very interested in me, my weekend plans, where I came from. She took a long time thinking up great eateries I had to try out. Yeah, I liked the one of me laughing, too. It’s hard to get a candid selfie, but it was to the point of ridiculousness by then, and I was beyond trying to pose for the photo. I wish I had a video of those 15 minutes. 🙂 And honestly, it wasn’t the whiskey, just that it’s really hard to hold the Nikon still, and at the right angle, and get it to focus, etc. I kept getting photos with towels or the spigot in perfect focus, and me all blurry. I was talking to the camera, “No! Not the towels!” After the fact I realized I should have focused it, changed the setting to manual, and then tried. Ah well.
Happy belated birthday crystal. X
Thank you so much! I had a wonderful time and even made new friends. 🙂
Sounds like a good trip x