Mouth of the Columbia

On a free day not too long ago, it was cool, wet, and cloudy, so I decided that it would be decent weather for visiting the coast. So many times I have left my home in glorious sunshine, headed for the Pacific Ocean 45 minutes away, and find that the ocean in the Pacific Northwest usually creates its own weather. And usually that weather is wet, cloudy, and cold. My logic is that if the weather already bites at home, may as well go to the coast.

It rained almost all day long, and that was no problem. I had a rather enjoyable day.

I checked out the Astoria Column, but it’s closed during the pandemic. I checked out the museum at the old Bumble Bee tuna cannery on a pier. Usually the museum is closed, so I enjoyed learning about the early days of the famous tuna company.

I thought maybe this would be the day that I would FINALLY explore the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, which I hear is wonderful but so far I have never stepped inside. I decided first to cross the river to the state of Washington, then as usual I got distracted by trails until it was evening. I will have to try the Maritime Museum another day.

It is so wet here that these long strands of mossy stuff grow on the trees.
From the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center I could see the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. The trail is blocked, so visitors cannot get close to it right now.
The mouth of the Columbia River was well defended in the past, as you can see by the overlapping ranges of guns mounted at different batteries.
Battery Harvey Allen at Fort Canby is open for visitors to explore, but it’s in rough shape these days.
The weather around here eats iron for breakfast.
Concrete holds up better than iron, but with enough time Mother Nature will move in.
This wonderful old photo shows what it was like when it was constructed. Also notice the clear view to the Pacific Ocean. Trees and brush have mostly obscured this view. Oh, and look, there’s the lighthouse.
This door is shown in the B&W photo above.
I originally planned to use a couple of these doors in a separate Norm’s Thursday Doors post, but I decided to show the doors in context with the rest of the site.
Door connoisseurs may appreciate these rusty doors even embedded into a coast post.

The North Head Lighthouse is close by and that’s where I went next. The last time I visited this spot was in 2015 with my dear friend Mads who was visiting from Boston. We took a road trip up the coast. There is a nice little walk from the parking area to the North Head Lighthouse, with fabulous views along the way.

The Head Lighthouse Keepers residence is in good shape. There are multiple buildings here and two are available to rent for the night.
As the day drew to a close, the rain stopped and gave captivating views of the sea.
People were playing on the beach.
This is a photo I took in March 2015.
This is the photo I took last month. Wow! Like a picture postcard.
It has been beautifully restored. And, closed, due to the pandemic.
This building is almost unrecognizable from the last time I saw it. (Another door for my door post that didn’t happen.)
This is what it looked like in 2015.

With a little light left, I made my way off the Cape and back to the highway. The sun, having been absent all day, wasn’t ready to let me go. So I pulled over for some parting shots.

Classic Pacific Northwest Coastline.
Can’t go wrong with sun setting on water.
Goodnight world.

26 thoughts on “Mouth of the Columbia

  1. A delightful tour, Crystal. I like the way various sites pull you on. It feels like “I am here so I may as well go there.” One thing is for sure, you can never go wrong with having the coast as a destination, rain or shine. Peggy and I have visited several gun emplacements left over along the coast over the years, all the way down to San Francisco. Always interesting. –Curt

    1. I agree Curt. I am not much of a war history buff, but I do love history in general. I find these gun emplacements very interesting every time I find one. I guess it’s sort of like exploring ancient ruins, eh? I find the WWII history of the Pacific Coast fascinating, I think because I never learned any of this stuff prior to moving back here in 2007. I did not grow up learning how active our area was in war defense, and I think it should be taught in school. Especially to kids who grow up in the PNW like I did.

      1. The fear of a strike by Japan after Pearl Harbor was so strong that it led to the criminal incarceration of Japanese Americans as well as the building of all the coastal defenses. Have you ever been to Tillamook and visited the huge blimp hangar there. I highly recommend it if you haven’t, Crystal. The blimps were used for spotting any Japanese submarines that might have been lurking off our coast. –Curt

      2. Yes I have! In fact, that’s one of the exact stories I was thinking of when I wrote the above, that there was a blimp corps! ha ha! Also, why are school kids never taught about Japanese internment, when the roundup of US citizens was right here on the West coast?

      3. I really like that huge blimp barn!
        I think that I was in college before I learned about the internment, Crystal. I had friends whose parents or grandparents had been interned and who had lost their farms. –Curt

  2. Some spectacular shots in this collection and some really nice doors too 😉
    What stands out for me the most is how time and the salty ocean air can wear away and break down anything we humans can build. Nature always wins in the end.
    Great post!

    1. I love your perspective, Norm. It’s good to remember that no matter what we do, there’s this force bigger than us. Mother Nature is the closest thing to a god I’ve got, and I am definitely humbled. Thanks for stopping by, and I’m glad you like these doors!

    1. Oooh, textures. Now I’ll be keeping textures in mind when I have my camera. Thanks for that perspective. Oh my gosh, yes!! Giant spiderwebs from Shelob! I never even thought of that. I had to scroll up to the photo and stare at it and think of spiders this time. Should have put that one up for a Halloween post…

    1. Thank you for visiting and commenting! Yes, it’s so fun to get the extraordinary photos when I go to the coast. Just the ocean simply existing is a photo-worthy shot, you know? I like your avatar of the sewing machine. I will tell you that the first thing I ever sewed for myself was on a machine just like that. I was about 8 years old at the babysitters (like you!) and bored, and the babysitter said it was ok if I played with the treadle sewing machine. I was given some material and scissors, and I imagined a simple dress for myself, with a skirt, and topped with a bib, then I cut it out and sewed it up. When Mom arrived, I had a new outfit. She thought I was BRILLIANT! ha ha. She even had me wear it a few times (probably so she could brag to others) When I learned how to actually sew, I found that it was more complicated. 🙂

  3. When you get a chance, definitely check out the Columbia River Maritime Museum. There’s a Coast Guard 44′ Motor Lifeboat stuck up on the wall in a diorama. I’m a bit biased, but I think it’s awesome. I actually knew a guy that helped design the display and it took quite a bit of doing.

    1. Of course you are biased, based on your military service, and you should be! That’s super cool to have some knowledge of the backstory behind getting the diorama put together. I’ll be thinking of you and your friend when I see it. And yes, I will see it eventually. I have been intending to go there for some time now.

  4. How wonderful that your day ended with such a beautiful sunset. It was like a gift. I marvel at those doors and how the harsh environment is corroding them. Such a beautiful restoration of the lighthouse. I wouldn’t mind spending a night or two in the light keeper’s house.

    1. Yes, a gift. I hadn’t thought of that. After all the rain, the last scene from the day was no rain and a great sunset. Just like you, I’m sure I would love to stay at the lighthouse keeper’s house. It’s just steps away from the lighthouse. I think it would be wonderful to have that bluff to yourself on a warm summer evening when the tourists have gone. It might be a good writer’s retreat or romantic getaway too, because there is nothing much in the surround grounds but trails. In another visit, I was able to spot migrating whales from there, too.

  5. I have photos of the lighthouse from our 2004 trip . . . still one of my favorite lighthouse settings. Not sure I like the dark roof (it was red when I was there) and it looks like they added something atop the side building that wasn’t there when we visited.

    1. Yes! I noticed that addition too. It’s clearly noticeable when you compare the two photos above. I like the new look of the lighthouse, but not sure if that’s because it looks so good being refurbished and cared for, or if I like the new colour scheme. There is something about red… I agree with you about the setting here, that it is exceptional. I like the short hike one has to take to get to it, which is beautiful, and also builds anticipation.

      1. Your photos from that trip are excellent! And you got up close to the other lighthouse too – lucky. And that weather…so nice. The low rays of the sun really make that lighthouse stand out.

      2. Thank you. We had little time there, but I got to throw some balsa wood planes from the top of the Column (you buy them at the entrance and they are biodegradable). In case you didn’t know, clicking on the photos and then clicking again gets you 100% view. The idea was to have all the writing and pictures on the column be visible and readable.

        And yes, it was late afternoon, and the light helped. I wish we had more time, but we rushed through because we wanted to get to Aberdeen and find a motel before nightfall.

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