June 21-22, 2011 – Northern Oregon Coast Continued
Today is the first day of summer and our second beautiful sunny day in a row – Yeah! The sun shone all day today and it got into the mid 60’s. We visited Fort Clatsop which is part of the Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Park. The Historical Park consists of 12 individual areas around the mouth of the Columbia River and 40 miles along the Pacific Coast that mark the success of key parts of the Corps of Discovery’s mission. Fort Clatsop is where Lewis and Clark spent the winter of 1805-06 at the end of their 4,000-mile trek across the newly acquired Louisiana Territory. There is a replica of Fort Clatsop as it looked that winter.
We watched a living history program on old muskets. They described how the musket worked and then fired one.
We also took a short nature hike with a ranger who talked about the plants and trees in the area.
On the way back to our camp site for lunch we saw a bear in the campground and were lucky to get a picture.
After lunch we went kayaking on Coffenbury Lake just down the road from our camp site.
It is a small lake surrounded by woods and had lots of Indian Pond Lilies. Some of the lilies were blooming.
A ranger told us that a family of otters lives on the far end of the lake but we were not lucky enough to see them. As we were taking the kayaks out of the lake at the dock a lady caught a huge steelhead trout – about 24 inches long. Her son, who looked about 3, was so excited and held the fish down while mom went to get something to put it in. He was so cute - he kept saying – “look at the fish my mom caught”.
Today is also the anniversary of the Japanese shelling of Fort Stevens during World War II. A Japanese submarine ventured into the mouth of the Columbia River and shot 9 shells at Fort Stevens. The shells did no damage and no one was injured but put a big scare into everyone in the area. The commanders at the fort did not fire back as they did not want to give away the position of their batteries. This was the only time an enemy has fired on a military installation on US soil since the war of 1812. The park had a ceremony by one of the batteries today but we did not attend.
Another great day – and we are so glad the sun is shining!
Wednesday was another cool and overcast day. We went to Astoria and toured the Flavel House Museum. This was the home of Captain George Flavel, one of Astoria’s most influential citizens in the late 1800’s. Captain Flavel was a noted bar pilot on the Columbia River and a prominent businessman. The house was completed in 1886 as a retirement home for Captain Flavel and his wife. We enjoyed touring this beautiful 11,600 sq ft home that still had a lot of the original furnishings. The carriage house contained the gift shop as well as a horse carriage and sleigh.
We drove to the Astoria Column on Coxcomb Hill. In 1925 the president of Great Northern Railroad, along with other businessmen and scholars had the Astoria Column built to salute Astoria’s explorers and early settlers for their role in the expansion of the US to the Pacific Coast. The 125 ft tall tower has bas-relief artwork on the exterior depicting events in northwest history.
There is a spiral staircase in the center with 164 steps to the top. The view from the top is beautiful even on a cloudy day.
We could still smile after climbing all those steps.
We had some great fish and chips for lunch at this shop in this old bowpicker boat.
After lunch we went to the Columbia River Maritime Museum. This is a great museum covering maritime history on the Columbia River. There were models of many early ships and steamboats as well as full size fishing and Coast Guard boats. There was also a very interesting temporary display on Vietnam War era “bunk art”. Canvas bunks from troop ships that had soldier’s names and hometowns as well as doodles and artwork on them were displayed. Soldiers on their way to Vietnam helped pass the time and ease their homesickness by leaving their marks on the bunks. We were not allowed to take any pictures inside the museum but looking through the front windows you can see one of the Coast Guard Cutters on a rescue mission displayed.
We also toured the Coast Guard Lightship Columbia, which is a floating lighthouse designed to serve where a major aid to navigation is required, but where the depth of the water or other conditions make construction of a lighthouse impractical. From 1892 until 1979, a lightship marked the entrance to the Columbia River. This lightship was essentially a small town anchored five miles out at sea. Everything the crew needed had to be on board. The crew of 17 worked two to four week rotations, with ten men on duty at all times.
This is a great museum and we would recommend anyone visiting the area to stop and see it.
We took a tour of Astoria aboard “Old 300”, a 1913 streetcar completely restored by volunteers from Astoria.
The rules for the street car were prominently displayed.
At the end of the streetcar line we walked out on a pier and found these male sea lions lounging on the dock. Male sea lions go south to California to find a mate – the unsuccessful ones return here to mope.
This is the height of relaxation!
We had a great day even though the sun did not shine – at least it didn’t rain