Sunday, June 29, 2008

Weekend Road Trip to the coast!

This weekend we decided to take a road trip to Astoria, Oregon and tour the surrounding area!
Our first destination when we reached Astoria, was to cross the Astoria-Megler Bridge which crosses the Columbia River, from Oregon into Washington. The Astoria-Megler Bridge is 4.1 miles long, making it the longest continuous truss bridge in North America.
Picture from the Oregon side of the Astoria-Megler Bridge
View from the car on our way into Washington. While driving across the bridge we saw 2 bald eagles! On the way back we saw only 1.
Our first stop after we left the bridge was "Dismal Nitch". Currently it is a rest stop and has a visitor's center with brochures. When Lewis and Clark were making their journey to the pacific along the Columbia river in 1805, they stopped at this spot, while a winter storm made them unable to continue along their way. Clark noted; "As our situation became Seriously dangerous, we took the advantage of a low tide & moved our Camp around a point a Short distance to a Small wet bottom at the mouth of a Small Creek (Megler Creek), which we had observed when we first came to this cove…About 3 oClock the wind lulled and the river became calm, I had the canoes loaded in great haste and Set Out, from this dismal nitch where we have been confined for 6 days…"
Our next stop was Fort Canby State Park in Ilwaco, Washington. The park is 1881 acres. In 1805, it was this location where Lewis and Clark finally reached the Pacific Ocean. They say that you are more likely to see a black bear, river otter or bald eagle here, than you would in Yellowstone.
There are 2 historic lighthouses. Cape Disappointment which is the oldest lighthouse still operating on the West Coast. It began operating in 1856. We didn't visit this lighthouse because it was quite a hike for kids to reach.
Instead we visited the North Head Lighthouse, which was built in 1898, and is known as "the windiest lighthouse on the West Coast".
The North Head Lighthouse
The kids looking out to the ocean from the lighthouse area
View from North Head Lighthouse. You can see the North Jetty on the upper right of the photo and from the upper left is the Columbia River where it enters the Pacific Ocean. There was a ship headed out to sea when we took the photo.
On the way back from the lighthouse we saw these steps built into the hill. They lead to the Lighthouse Keeper's House. The house is currently used as a vacation rental through Fort Canby State Park for $377 per night with a 2 night minimum.
After leaving Fort Canby we went further north along the Washington Coast and stopped to play on the beach in Long Beach, Washington where there wasn't a single cloud in the sky.
A family of flip flop feet!
Ryley building sand castles!
Pelicans on Long Beach!!!!! I was so excited to see pelicans at the beach! I've never seen them before and on this beach there were TONS of them.
Tori and Sarah with their hearts drawn in the sand
Family photo to commemorate our first beach trip in 2008!
Ryley buried in the sand. He deemed himself the "talking head".
Ryan, Ryley and Tyler
Sarah buried in the sand and trying to keep sand from getting in her eyes (it was really windy)
Brandon buried in the sand as well.
Tyler buried in the sand!
After playing at the beach for a few hours we headed into downtown Long Beach in search of fudge (we found some delicious Peanut Butter Fudge) and salt water taffy!
Photo in front of a huge frying pan they have along the main downtown strip! A gal that lived in the house directly behind the frying pan came and offered to photograph our family so we could all be in the picture! People in Long Beach were very friendly -- great place to visit!!!

After leaving downtown with bags of sweets we headed to Fort Columbia State Park. It is one of the few coastal defense sites left in the United States that is still intact. Fort Columbia was completed in 1904 and was set up to defend the coast during World War I and II. We spent about an hour touring the grounds and the abandoned gun batteries and buildings.

Fort Columbia's many buildings -- on the far left is the barracks. The front, center building was the "guard house", which now serves as the public restrooms. Other buildings include administration building, office quarters, commanding officer's quarters, hospital, non-commissioned officer's quarters, quartermaster storage, a fire house, hospital steward quarters and an ordinance storehouse.
One of the abandoned gun batteries called Battery Ord.
Another abandoned gun battery called Battery William Murphy. It was completed in June of 1900 and is still in excellent shape.
The kids on the front steps of the barracks.
After we finished touring Fort Columbia we headed back over the Astoria-Megler bridge and checked into our hotel!
We stayed at the Best Western Lincoln Inn in Astoria. You can see the bridge in the background of this photo! The service at the hotel was great, the rooms were clean and everyone was very friendly and helpful!
After checking in, we cleaned up and then headed into Astoria's Pier 39 for dinner at Rogue Ale Public House (one of our favorite places to eat on the coast-- we've been to the one in Newport, OR). It is located in Astoria's oldest and largest waterfront building known as the "Hanthorn Cannery". You can find out more information about the brewery and their many locations at

The Road Ale Public House, with its plywood driveway (looking down between the boards you can see the water)
Having dinner! The best part about this casual brew pub is they start you off with a sample of their homemade ales. Matt and I had a sample of their Rogue Red Ale (it was good, but a bit too bitter for my taste). For the kids they give samples of their brewed root beer! The prices are reasonable, the food good and kids' meals are served on a Frisbee (instead of a plate) that the kids get to take home!
The scary wooden bridge that leads to the restaurant. I was sure our bus would fall through!
After dinner we drove around Astoria checking out the sites, took the kids out for ice cream at Dairy Queen and then headed back to the hotel to play in the pool for a couple hours.

Sunday morning we were divided. In Matt's room were the early risers. They awoke by 6am, went to breakfast and were full of energy by 7:20. In my room, we slept in until 7:20am and then headed to our continental breakfast around 8am.

After checking out of the hotel, our first stop was the Astoria Column. It was built in 1926 on top of Coxcomb Hill - the location of the first permanent settlement west of the Rockies. It is a historical monument and the only one of its kind in the world.
The column is painted with 14 scenes commemorating important events in the history of Astoria. The column is 125 feet high and from the inside there are 164 steps that you can take to the top. UNFORTUNATELY- we didn't get to take the stairs because there was a large sign on the door that said "CLOSED FOR REPAIRS".
Photo of some of the artwork on the column --this one commemorating Lewis and Clark arriving in Astoria in 1805.
View of the column from the parking lot.
Indian Burial Canoe that was at the top of Coxcomb Hill
We left the Astoria Column and headed to Fort Stevens State Park. The fort was built during the Civil War and was fired upon by a Japanese Submarine in 1942 (attack lasted 10 minutes) making it the only US fort to be fired on since the war of 1812.
Fort Stevens is the largest state park in Oregon and has 4000 acres. It is a great place to take bikes as they have miles of paved bike trails throughout the entire park.
Battery Russell that was in the line of fire of the Japanese Submarine
The kids on top of Battery Russell
Touring the abandoned gun battery
Brandon "checking out the view"
We spotted a pair of deer as we were driving through Fort Stevens State Park. This one was nice enough to let me take its picture!
Hull of "Peter Iredale" on the beach in Fort Stevens State Park. This British schooner washed ashore in 1906. It is popular among tourists at the park, all you have to do is follow the signs that read "shipwreck".
The kids in front of the decaying hull. It was fun checking out all the muscles and barnacles attached to the base of the ship!
After leaving the shipwreck we drove down to Seaside in an attempt to get some lunch. We've been told Seaside is a great place to visit, and has a wonderful promenade, HOWEVER, when you drive a 12 passenger van, and you try to visit in the summer, it is ABSOLUTELY impossible to find parking anywhere near the promenade. "Near," meaning within a mile or two. So, we took a quick 30 minute tour of the promenade by vehicle and went to Cannon Beach with the hopes of having a little better luck.
Well, the luck part kicked in and after about 10 minutes we were able to find parking "although we cheated and parked in a lot we shouldn't have". Buy now we were all REALLY hungry, so we walked across the street to Rotisserie Lumberyard and Grill. After giving our name, we waited patiently for about 45 minutes for our "table for 8". After 45 minutes, and watching 7 families get seated within 10 minutes of their entry, Matt went to check on our "table for 8". He was told it would be 5 minutes. After 7 minutes (we were now timing) they called a party of 6 who had come in after us. At which point Matt was told they had accidentally skipped us and we would now have to wait for a large table to empty or we could wait and be seated separately as 2 tables of 4. We chose to leave, as we figured an hour of waiting was long enough.
We then walked a few blocks, to another restaurant that looked like it could accomodate us. We entered the lobby and waited to be seated. We'd been waiting about 10 minutes for someone to come and greet us when a lady walked up behind Matt and I told Matt that there was someone behind him (he was blocking a doorway into the main dining room), and I was thinking she just wanted to get by. As Matt moved to the side, the restaurant hostess walked up, and the lady asked how long for a table of NINE. We didn't have a chance to ask for a table for us yet, and not only was I starving, but VERY grumpy now and made it clear to the lady that we had been waiting and had not put in for a table yet. She apologized, told the hostess we were there first, and Matt asked for a table for 8, to which the hostess said it would be about "10 minutes". She then proceeded to seat the party of NINE. After 15 minutes of waiting, and no hostess in sight, I decided our LUCK had run out and we left the town of Cannon Beach, headed back up the highway to Seaside where we found a Quiznos, ordered "to go", and ate while we drove south to Ecola State Park.
Ecola State Park's first claim to fame, once again goes back to 1806, when Lewis and Clark arrived there to spot a beached whale with the intent to bring back plenty of whale blubber to survive on, since food rations were low.
We finished our lunch, then headed to Indian Beach so the kids could play for a few hours in the sand before we had to head back home!
The kids digging in the sand while I watched the surfers in the water (note: this is apparently a hot spot for surfers in Cannon Beach, however they must be nuts as the temperature was 67 degrees and windy. The water was surely in the low 40s)
Matt throwing the football to the boys!
Our football players prepping for the upcoming season!
After playing for a few hours on the beach we headed home!

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