Allyson Johnson

Pieces of my Mind

Archive for the month “February, 2020”

Travels with a Tiny Teardrop Trailer – Day 4 (cont.)

20191019_171813doc2

After a day  that included a museum tour, retail therapy, and beach walking in late afternoon sunshine, we make our way back to our campsite, looking forward to sitting around a campfire sipping wine while Bro fixes those delayed hamburgers on the Titanic‘s outdoor kitchen BBQ.   We get the fire going strong, the outdoor kitchen is activated, the burgers are ready to go and the wine is poured – and Bro has rolled out the awnings just in case. 20191020_095047(0)web

And a good thing, too.

Almost as soon as we have sat down in our camp chairs, we get another dose of Oregon weather. the sun disappears, the clouds roll down with the event of the day.  This time, it’s hail.  Serious hail.

 

Even Bro’s brave little moppet of a dog is awed by the onslaught.  But thanks to the strategic awning, the Titanic‘s  indomitable propane tank, and (let’s admit) the excellent wine, we are undaunted.  We sip, the burger sizzle, we  eat them inside the Titanic, where we are warm and dry.  The fire is the only thing dampened by the weather.

Will it rain on us all the way home?  Will we be able to reload those bikes we left behind at Bro’s house?   What route will we take back to sunny (we hope) California? Stay tuned!

 

Freeway Free in Oregon: Exploring Astoria

[AKA “Travels with a Tiny Teardrop Trailer – Day 4 (cont.)”]

20191020_132703docAstoria is way out on the furthest northwestern tip of Oregon, at the mouth of the Columbia River. It is the oldest city in the state of Oregon, founded in 1811, and named for John Jacob Astor, the New York investor whose American Fur Company founded Fort Astoria at the site. (Yes, the Waldorf-Astoria in New York is also named for him.)  In bygone years Astoria was a bustling harbor, with schooner after schooner fighting her way past the dreaded Columbia River bar to pick up timber, fish, and furs, dropping off supplies and merchandise for the well-to-do families of  trappers, fishermen, and lumberjacks.

The Victorian heart of the city was demolished by fire in 1922.  This happened to coincide with the peak population – above 14,000 – so there were resources and energy to rebuild in the Art Deco style of the 1920’s.  Fortunately for architecture buffs, the population began a steady decline shortly after rebuilding, as port activity moved inland to Portland, and northward to Seattle.  The last fish cannery closed in 1980, the last lumber mill closed in 1989, and the railroad service was discontinued in 1996.  This left Astoria with a population of under 10,000, no funding for demolition/modernization in the town center, and plenty of warehouse space for the brewpubs and artist cooperatives which began to move in.

20191020_154102webWe stopped for lunch after our museum visit at the Rogue Public House, a brewpub located in a re-purposed fish cannery out on a pier just down from the museum.  We enjoyed their boutique beer, plus an excellent pizza and salad.  Then we took advantage of a temporary cessation of rainfall to stroll the delightfully un-restored, un-modernized, un-redeveloped downtown.

The downtown is haunted by the ghosts of retailers past:  the signs for JC Penney and Sears still deck the storefronts, though the shops underneath are now boutiques such as Garbo’s Vintage Wear, Purple Cow Toys, and Arachne’s Hand-Crafted Yarns.  Our favorite was FinnWare, a wonderful collection of Scandinavian design and décor, made even more special by a flotilla of Christmasy items sparkling and spinning on display.

We also stopped in at several of the art galleries which line Commercial Street, just to gawk at the creativity on display and wonder who actually puts these things in their houses.  The Riversea Gallery was particularly comprehensively amazing.

20191020_134111webAt one end of Commercial Street is the wonderful wedding cake-like Liberty Theatre, located, of course, in the Astor Building.  (See photo above.) We were visiting in October, so the Box Office was spectrally staffed.

After an hour or two of strolling and shopping we had had enough retail therapy and headed for the beach.  The sun was actually shining as we hit the sand at the tip of Oregon.  We could see the remains of the Peter Iredale rusting peacefully in the distance, one of the victims of the treacherous Columbia River Bar.

shipwreck

Will the sunshine stay?  Will we be able to use the outdoor kitchen on the Titanic ?  Or will we head back to that cozy brewpub as refugees?  Stay tuned!

 

 

Freeway Free in Oregon – the Columbia River Maritime Museum

[AKA: Travels in a Tiny Trailer – Day 4]

20191019_143112webIf you are going camping in a tiny trailer, and you left your bikes at home because the forecast call for a 99% chance of rain,  better hope you can find some indoor activity to pass the time!  If you are camping at Ft Stevens State Park you are in luck, because you are only a short drive from the quaint town of Astoria, [more on this later] and its Columbia River Maritime Museum. 

 

The CRMM is an amazing little museum with exhibits including early navigational charts, an IMAX theater showing films from Jacques Cousteau and others, a comprehensive map of shipwrecks at the mouth of the Columbia River, and a sea-sickness-inducing recreation of what it is like to be on a Coast Guard cutter going out to rescue mariners during a Pacific storm.

20191019_123504webIf you are going to spend some time in a small museum on a rainy weekend, it helps if  Executive Director happens to be an old friend from college.  Dr. Samuel E. Johnson and I had more than a few memories dating back to our freshman year Ballroom Dancing classes together. (I took the class to fill a Physical Education requirement; I suspect Sam took it because at that time the ratio of men to women at our college was officially 3.5 / 1, and it was chance to meet girls.)

In addition to being a very good dancer, Sam is an accomplished raconteur and a dedicated evangelist on behalf of his museum.  Sis, Bro, C and I spent a couple of hours being fascinated by a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum, coupled with stories of plans for the museum’s future expansion and enhancement.

If you go, plan to spend a couple of hours exploring, especially if you take in the IMAX film.  You might not get the hands-on tour, but you won’t be sorry for the visit.

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: