From the Blog

Chapter 16: Astoria Midsummer Scandinavian Fest, Part Two

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We spent a few hours at the Scandinavian Fest, eating Swedish meatballs and marveling at the wooden shoes (they are lighter than they look!) We headed back into town and went to the Columbia River Maritime Museum. Evidently, the “bar,” where the Columbia meets the Pacific is one of the most treacherous areas in the world. Wikipedia says since 1792, approximately 2000 large ships have sunk in and around the Columbia Bar. And frequently, the weather sucks, too.


The museum had lots of boats.


And lamps.


And canned seafood wrappers.


And more boats in perilous situations. I almost felt a little queasy just looking at this.


“This is no time for a swim Fred.  Stop being a putz.”


This is the WLV 604 Columbia Lightship docked outside the museum. They parked this “floating lighthouse” at the mouth of the river and it was in service from 1951 to 1979. They had 10 guys on this ship at all times. We were able to walk through it. It was a bit cramped inside for living space. And could you imagine trying to sleep through the foghorn? And I think I heard that this ship is not weighty and smooth like larger ships. It bobbed like a cork in the waves. Huuuurp!

Eventually, the lightship was retired and replaced by this LNB, also pictured. “Large Navigational Buoy.” I know you didn’t know what an LNB was.

After the museum, we headed back to the hotel to sit down for a while and figure out where to go for dinner. We were in the mood for Italian, so we decided to go to Fulio’s. We had to get there early because it was Saturday night and we didn’t have a reservation. The food was pretty good, but it felt a little too expensive.

It was still early when we got out, so we walked around town a little, then headed back to the hotel. We read the books we had purchased earlier and hit the hay.

The next morning, we checked out of the hotel and got a pastry at the Blue Scorcher Bakery Cafe. It was yet another example of a business doing it right. It was well located, it was a cute and comfortable, and Dave had the best coffee of the trip. A “dry” Americano. An espresso without much water. He talked about that coffee for hours.

We totally enjoyed Blue Scorcher. I love inspiring businesses. I want one too. We had a couple good-to-great coffee experiences on this trip. Astoria does not want for coffee or cafes.

So I have had a pot slowly simmering on the mental back burner…how do we get into this town? If we do coffee, we will have to do something different or better than what is already there. There are already a lot of people “doing it right.” But I also wonder what that downtown area might NEED. A breakfast place? A gourmet deli? A little grocery/sundry store? A local craft consignment shop? I am thinking about this.

After our pastry breakfasts and lovely coffees, we strolled over to the Sunday market.


It was bustling. I imagined spending my Sundays here.


We walked through each row of white tents as people were still setting up. It was a combination of farmers market and art fair. Quite nice.

From there, we got in the car. After seeing the photos and reading the stories of the sunken ships at the museum, I wanted to get as close to the Columbia bar as we could. We drove around to Warrenton and through Fort Stevens State Park. We were surprised to find a giant campground there. But it had hundreds of camp sites, all tightly packed, and lots of RVs. Not our type of camping. I’m glad we got a look at it so we know not to camp there.


The red arrow above points to this platform. They built jetties on the north and south sides of the Columbia so the river wouldn’t get lost.


From that platform, I took these photos. Note the blue sky.


Amazing. I wish we had more time to go for a walk here. But we had many stops to make before heading home.

South Jetty, Columbia River from Mile73 on Vimeo.

After getting as close as we could to the mouth of the river on the south side, we got in the car and headed north to Washington.


Look familiar? You can click the photo for enormo size. Taken by our Official Road Photographer, Dave.


I wanted to get to Cape Disappointment. This is where most unmoored ships had historically drifted and beached themselves. I like that the name reminds me of a Jewish mother from New York, “Of all the capes, you’ve been such a disappointment.”

We drove around the loop of route 100 in Fort Canby State Park. We stopped at a lighthouse. We thought maybe it was Cape Disappointment. But it wasn’t until we got to a map that we realized we had visited the North Head Lighthouse, on the ocean side. Cape Disappointment Lighthouse is on the river side.

We got out and went for a walk. Looks like maybe the ocean though the trees. Like it might be impressive or something.


Okay, pretty impressive.



North Head, not Cape Disappointment. I wanted to see the bar.  And where all the ships get wrecked.  Sigh.  We will try harder to get it right next time.


This is looking south, towards Oregon. I just want you to hold this image in your mind.

Then we drove to Long Beach, Washington, where we stood in front of the world’s largest frying pan. Because that’s what you do in Long Beach, Washington.


We went to Marsh’s Free Museum. By this time, I was getting a little tired and hungry. Which equals crabby and insufferable. But this place was surreal.


At this point, I was coming down from the coffee and sugar high, and I was realizing I had a 130 mile drive to get home. Remember that photo of the sunny beach looking south towards Oregon?


Ha. Cute, huh? We had one more place to stop before heading home.


Fish and chips. Across the street from the Maritime Museum. Very good. Get the half order. Even if you are hungry. You don’t need more than the half order. We both got a full order because I was we were tired and hungry and crabby. And I believe we both ate everything because it was good. But we felt like gluttonous piggies after.

We took a roundabout way, route 202, to 47, to 30, to get home. We just wanted to see what the woods looked like, and where the smaller roads lead.

We passed by the Jewel Meadows Wildlife Area. We did see some elk, but they were so far away that even with the zoom on my camera, there was no way to get a good photo. But here’s the last photo I took on this trip until my camera battery died. Night night, camera.


Oregon looks pretty good, don’t it?

Chapter Sixteen: Astoria Midsummer Scandinavian Fest Part 1, Part 2
Chapter Fifteen: Camp Creek, OR
Chapter Fourteen: Camping On The Coast, Part 1, Part 1.5, Part 2
Chapter Thirteen: The Gorge, Stonehenge, Hood River, Mt Hood
Chapter Twelve: The Oregon Coast
Chapter Eleven: Oregon Wine Country (hic)
Chapter Ten: Astoria, Oregon
Chapter Nine: Panther Creek Campground, WA
Chapter Eight, Green Canyon Campground, Mt Hood, Oregon
Chapter Seven, Spruce Run Campground, Coast Range, Oregon
Chapter Six, Bend, Oregon
Chapter Five, Seattle, Washington
Chapter Four, Mt Saint Helens, Washington
Chapter Three, The Gorge and Hood River, Oregon
Chapter Two, The North Coast and Astoria, Oregon
Chapter One, Waipi’o Valley, Big Island, Hawaii


  1. Looks like a fun trip. Is the shooting gallery with all the pinball machines still there in Long Beach?

  2. @Steve – Yes, but it was closed!

  3. Meredith says

    Bowpicker Fish & Chips. It must be good if it’s served from a boat, right? The “impressive” picture is really good!! Frame that!!

  4. I have been “stalking” your blog here since winter. I stumbled across it as I was trying to find advice on moving to Portland. I love it! Me and my Manimal will be up there the end of January if I can get the money handled right. Every post I read (and I have successfully read them all as of today) makes me want to jump ship and go NOW. Until then I rot in San Diego, and dream of Portland, and live vicariously through your postings. Thank you. Really, thank you!

  5. Thanks for reading, Red!

  6. Red
    Another blog about Portland that is descriptive with very good photography..I love this lady!

    I too really enjoy your writing Heather, (my wife calls you my online girlfriend..I am always telling her bout your very witty comments)

  7. Michael, if your wife starts reading, we would have a problem. ;-)

  8. Thank you so much!

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