Cannery Pier Hotel and the Astoria Column

My sweet ride. This was the real deal and when I slid into the seat, I could *smell* my childhood.
My sweet ride. This was the real deal and when I slid into the seat, I could *smell* my childhood.

First of all I’ll tell you about my night. I was not very hungry after eating gouda cubes and smoked salmon on crackers with complimentary Chardonnay, so I picked a place called Wet Dog Cafe & Brewery (there are a lot of breweries in Oregon), hoping for a tasty dessert. I arranged for a chauffer to take me there in one of the hotel’s three restored antique cars. I think he told me it’s a 1958 Chevrolet. My driver was a great guy who had been driving for the hotel for many years and probably would have been fun to ride around all night with, but in minutes he let me off. Once inside the Wet Dog, I was tempted by the marionberry cheesecake and since I was at a brewery, I had a pint of Bitter Bitch, because, who could resist with a name like that?

While I sat there I was watching the Bengals-Steelers game and saw Martavis Bryant pull off an astonishing forward somersault through the end zone to maintain control of the football. Did you see that? Wow. I was so impressed I had to tell the ladies sitting next to me. Before I knew it, we found out we were practically neighbors, and had made plans to move on to the place across the street, the very cool and chandelier-filled Inferno Lounge. My chauffer came back at the end of the night to get me safely home in that beautiful car.

I ran out of space yesterday to tell you about the post-worthy Cannery Pier Hotel & Spa. It’s more than you’d want to spend if you’re just traveling through, but highly highly worth it for a splurge. The photos will have to convey the beauty and quality and uniqueness of this place. It could get an entire blog post itself, but instead you’ll just have to suffer with a dozen photos.

The Cannery Pier Hotel & Spa at the end of a pier into the Columbia River.
View from my balcony
View from my balcony

The Lewis & Clark Bridge that I drive every day is almost the last bridge across the huge river. The Astoria-Megler Bridge is the last one, and it’s a doozy. At 4.1 miles long, it is the longest continuous truss bridge (the load-bearing structure is made of connected pieces forming triangles) in the United States. The whole hotel is on a pier out in the river, and my room was almost beneath the bridge.

Saturday evening was rather cloudy, but Sunday morning dawned spectacularly, and that made for some brilliant scenes for me to capture.

The Astoria-Megler Bridge from the balcony of my room in the morning sunshine.
The Astoria-Megler Bridge from the balcony of my room in the morning sunshine.
The Navajo getting an early start.
The Soujourn getting an early start.
Sojourn makes her way East up the river.
Sojourn makes her way East up the river.
On the land side of the pier, I spotted big ships glowing in the sun.
On the land side of the pier, I spotted distant ships glowing in the sun.
Here they are, at max zoom on my Nikon.
Here they are, at max zoom on my Nikon.
Later in the morning this tug came by, tugging.
Later in the morning this tug came by, tugging.
Close up of the tug
Close up of the tug Navajo.

I had a complimentary breakfast with fresh fruit and Greek yogurt and juice. The attendant even fetched me a larger plate when she saw I was having a waffle. I carried it all upstairs so I could continue to watch the view from my window seat. Finally I couldn’t lollygag in the gorgeous room anymore, so I packed up and headed out. With a day this beautiful, I had no choice but to head back to the Astoria Column that Mads and I visited in March on the first day of our road trip. I stopped first to take a photo of the Flavel House, which wasn’t open yet. Astoria is jam-packed with Victorian style homes and this one is one of the best. Built in 1884, it is now a museum, and something I’ll have to add to my next visit here.

Captain George Flavel House
Captain George Flavel House. It’s surrounded by trees, so hard to get a better shot.
Detail of the column. The closer you stand, the more remarkable it is.
Detail of the column. The closer you stand, the more remarkable it is.
The eye-catching Astoria Column.
The eye-catching Astoria Column stands on top of the hill.

It was still chilly, and on top of the hill the wind could get pretty brisk, but the sun was irresistible and plenty of others had the same idea as me. Soon kids were running to the gift store to purchase little balsa wood airplanes to launch from the top of the Astoria Column. I parked at a lower spot on the hill, and hiked up the grass to get a little exercise on my way up (parking at the top is $5 for the year if you don’t want to hike). Once I arrived at the column, I got even more exercise because there are 164 steps to the top.

The column is 125 feet tall with a spiral staircase inside that leads to an observation deck at the top. It was built with financing by the Great Northern Railroad and Vincent Astor, and was dedicated in 1926. It’s steel and concrete, and the outside is an unbroken spiral history of this area, told in pictures. I was interested in how the murals were made, so I looked it up. “The artwork was created using a technique called sgraffito (“skrah-fee-toh”), an Italian Renaissance art form,” says the column website.

I stayed at the top a good long while, though it was windy as heck and somewhat cramped. Adults and children alike launched their tiny planes, and we cheered them on as they often soared to unexpected distances and for great lengths of time before gliding silently to a stop. Anytime a plane landed nearby, someone at the bottom would scoop it up to try their own launch. The original owners didn’t care, because no one was about to make that climb a second time.

After that I decided to head back home. I stopped at Coffee Girl on Pier 39 on my way out of town. Named after the original coffee girl who sold coffee to the cannery workers at the Bumble Bee Seafood pier, the coffee was handed to me across the original coffee counter. Pretty cool.

A view of the city of Astoria from the column.
A view of the city of Astoria from the column. Columbia River on the right, Youngs Bay Bridge across Youngs Bay to the left, and the Pacific Ocean in the distance.
Youngs Bay
Youngs Bay and Warrenton, Oregon across the bridge.
Mt. Rainier off to the northeast (because I had to include a volcano!)
Mt. Rainier off to the northeast (because I had to include a volcano!)
Me, squinting in the sun.
Me, squinting in the sun.
An Indian boat display at the far end of the parking lot.
An Indian boat display at the far end of the parking lot.

30 thoughts on “Cannery Pier Hotel and the Astoria Column

  1. Firstly You look amazing and gorgeous in the first picture ❤ Secondly I fell in love with the car and the color, the moment I saw the pic. I hope you enjoyed the dessert.

    I would love to go to that spa, the fireplace, the wood smell and the view of outside just makes it even more special. I just love cozy places in the winter. The view from the top is breathtaking. I wish to visit Oregan once in this life 🙂

    Much Love

    1. I am in love with the state of Oregon. I was born here, but moved away when I was 10 years old, and didn’t come back till I was 37. There was a Japanese exchange student who stayed with my family for a week when I was in high school, and he said everyone he knew wanted to go to Oregon because there was a TV show in Japan that was set in Oregon. During the running of the show, there was a big surge in tourism from Japan, apparently, ha ha.

      Well, I must visit you in England once in this life. That’s where you live, right? Can you believe I’ve never been there? Crazy. I wonder what it would be like to visit a country where I can actually speak the language! ha ha. If it ever happens, I will try so hard to find you so we can meet.

  2. It looks like a wonderful getaway, although more so because of the very cooperative clear skies. Good timing.

    A cannery. How quaint.

    The details on the column are terrific. Details like this and a volcano, all in one blog post. Well done, Crystal.

    (It would be remiss of us if somebody didn’t mention your great outfit for the jaunt over to the Wet Dog. So let it be me. A great look!)

    1. …AND a volcano!

      You are right: the weather made it so much better. You are also one who knows that one is safest when expecting the weather on the coast to be grey and wet this time of year. But you know, unexpectedly gorgeous January days are not so uncommon, even in the worst weather place I’ve ever lived, which was Eureka, CA.

      Thanks for the compliment on the outfit. I am not a clothes-horse by any means. I can’t stand shopping. I typically wear my clothes till they are clearly out of style and fading. But just last month Tara and I were downtown and I spotted this dress in a window display. Tara and I guessed it was probably $200 or $300 based on the looks of the shop, and then we went in to see who was right. It was $90. So The lady pulled it out of the window and I tried it on and as you see…a rare impulse purchase turned out well. I found the red belt and some red tights to match, and viola! an outfit was born.

    1. Hm. You make an excellent point. I guess we have to define lollygag for Crystal as a possibly different meaning than for another person, ha ha. I do tend to be an active little spirit, don’t I?

  3. Great photos here too. BTW, I forgot to say I loved the dress. You did get very lucky with the weather for this time of year. Another week later and it wouldn’t have worked. 🙂

  4. wow Crystal, I loved this post.You should write travel guides if you don’t already. I started it yesterday then ran out of time, so I made a point to come back today. BTW, love the shot of you and your sweet ride! LMA

    1. Thank you!! sorry about my long posts. I’m a writer, and you know how that is, sometimes it’s hard to get the whole story out in fewer words, ha ha. I’m glad I tempted you to come back later for the rest.

      That car is the best, isn’t it? I should have taken a photo of the inside. The seats were wide and sank down, just like I remember old cars. It “felt” so heavy, like when the door was closed: thunk. I was rushed with memories when I sat there. A really neat touch and I’m glad the hotel takes the time to keep those old cars in good condition for the guests.

    2. Oh, and thank you for the compliments on my travel writing. I would love to have that as my job. One of my best friends has been telling me for years that I should find a way to do a travel show on cable. That, too, would be a blast. How does one get into a field like that anyhow?

  5. I must say, you know how to ‘treat’ yourself, Crystal. I truly admire your ability to get out and about on your own. Have you checked out the maritime museum in Astoria? It is really good. _Curt

    1. Thanks, Curt! I’ve been running around on my own for the longest time, starting on my first international trip to Cabo San Lucas when I was 19 and didn’t speak two words of Spanish, ha ha!! Add to that my preference for backpacking alone, and I guess most of my traveling has been solo. One great thing is that I can then be really flexible, and often other people adopt me into their group, and I’m just one person so it isn’t much trouble. Once in Japan I met a group of ladies getting geisha photos done and it sounded really fun. I didn’t have a reservation like they did, but they talked me into coming anyway. We asked the ladies running the portrait studio, and they decided they could squeeze in just one more person. So even though traveling alone lacks the ability to share each moment with someone else, I do find occasional benefits too. Plus, there are scary moments, like when I get lost, and then I am the one who rescues me in the end, and I can say, “What a clever woman I am!” 😉

      I have not visited the museum, but have had it highly recommended by another blogger (actually I think it was Jenny from Bulldog Travels). It is on the list for sure.

      1. It’s obvious you are comfortable traveling alone, Crystal. I’ve always enjoyed going solo as well, and often have. It takes a certain kind of personality. I did find the six month solo bike trek I took became a little long. 🙂 –Curt

  6. Someday I am going to say “Crystal, what is the name of that cannery / hotel you went to for your birthday?”.
    I will go to this place!!! I just loved everything about this post.

    1. Yay!! I’m glad you enjoyed it. And yes, it’s is a lot of fun for me when a reader gets to go to a place I’ve talked about. One of them went to the Bed & Breakfast in Yachats, OR I visited a couple Christmases ago. It’s a valuable endorsement, and bloggers can spend a lot of time on “advertising” a place. If you go to the Cannery Pier Spa & Hotel, you can count on me showing up to crash your dinner party, ha ha. It’s only 45 minutes from my house.

    1. It’s the same camera, yes, but a different lens. That awesome zoom lens died on my trip to Chile. We will have to go lens-shopping with you, maybe. If we end up anywhere near a camera shop, we can go in and ask questions. yes, I really do love the artwork on the column. I would like to see a documentary of it being made, you know?

    1. Thanks for taking a look, Cee! I’m glad you’ve had a chance to stay at the Cannery Pier Hotel, and know what I’m talking about when I say it’s worth a splurge, ha ha. Do you live in the PNW?

  7. These are brilliant pictures, Crystal. I don’t have many of Astoria, but I think we drove across it once when I was a teen. It is a scary bridge to cross as I remember. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Marsha! The bridge is scary to some, but I think it’s fabulous. Every year there is a city-sponsored raced across the bridge and back. They close it to vehicle traffic and open it to walkers and runners. I can’t believe I *still* haven’t done that, but I will!

      1. Just don’t look down, Crystal! I’d do it once, but I don’t think I’d make a habit of it. Hopefully I’d finish before they opened the bridge! 🙂

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