Six days in Astoria, Oregon flew by. Our list of "things-to-do" was long but first and foremost was hooking up with some friends we had not seen in a while. First up, was to visit with some New Orleanians who now call Bend, Oregon their home. Judy and Lili, swung over to the coast for a night and we were lucky enough to spend an evening with them and then extend our visit to the next day for a walk on the beach (with their adorable pup Gracie) and lunch the next day.
Pretty soon the campground filled with laughter when four of my high school pals from the International School of Brussels (and their families) filled the campsites around us. I have not seen these girls for 26 years and it was like old times. We reminisced, laughed, joked, and best of all made plans to reconnect sooner than another 26 years.
But in between all the “friend-time” we took in some of the Astoria sites - the best one being the Columbia River Maritime Museum. Wow, is that a cool maritime museum. Usually, I get a subtle roll of the eyes from Betsy when I bring up visiting yet another maritime museum. And rightly so, I'm the first to admit that I go a little overboard with maritime museums and NEVER pass one up. That amounts to visiting roughly 30 of these sea faring, ship-laden places during the two and a half years the RV has been rolling. What convinced us this one was different was the modern mix of exhibit and artifacts interpreted with modern technology – especially the life-size rolling U.S. Coast Guard ship that plays out a dangerous rescue on the treacherous Columbia River Bar.
|The Columbia River Bar has earned the nickname "Graveyard of the Pacific" as more than 2,000 ships have sunk and over 700 people lost their lives on what is known as one of the most dangerous bar crossings in the world.|
|The U.S. Coast Guard lifeboat 44300 was the first of a long line of specialized surf rescue boats designed to perform duties on the Columbia River Bar.|
|The museum has six galleries displaying over 30,000 objects including this trawler.|
|A self-guided tour of the lightship Columbia is included in the price of admission. The ship was in service from 1950 - 1971 and stationed five miles from the mouth of the bar. The seventeen crew members manned the boat to light the way for mariners.|
The campground we choose was Fort Stevens State Park which had great beach access, plenty of hiking trails, and tons of history – including a ship wreck.
|Protruding the wide beach is the wreck of the Peter Iredale - a four-masted barque steel sailing vessel that ran aground in 1906.|
But just down the road is Fort Clatsop – the winter home of the Corps of Discovery Expedition led by Lewis and Clark. The explorers were exhausted and running low on supplies by the time they reached the Pacific Ocean. The explorers spent 106 days at the fort, of which, it rained every day but 12. During their stay they traded with the Chinook and Clatsop Indians and spent the winter describing the plants and animals in the area as well as making detailed notes about the tribes’ culture, appearance, and living conditions.
|It was only fitting that we visited on a day that it was raining.|
Astoria provides lots to do for visitors of all ages. For us, the best activity was seeing old friends in a new place.