Astoria through Florence

After we toured the Columbia Maritime Museum, we all headed down the Oregon Coast to Cannon Beach, Oregon. On the way we sampled some fish ‘n chips from a cute little red food stand that sold tuna-only fish ‘n chips. The jolly toothless information guide had told us that tuna-only fish ‘n chips was incredible, and so we tried it. I liked it, but I was getting a little tired of fried food in general by that point, so maybe my ability to appreciate its finer qualities was inhibited.

We spent over an hour at Cannon Beach, and my main physiological memory of that event is of trying to not pee all over myself. There was not a bathroom in sight, and this pregnant person needs to relieve herself regularly (frequently, even). I had to bump, bump, bump my bladder up and down a flight of stairs to reach the beach, and by that point I was feeling desperate. Nevertheless, we were right in front of the famous Haystack Rock, everyone was having a blast, and I couldn’t bear to interrupt the fun by insisting we cut it short and head for the nearest facilities. So I spent our beach time squeezing and smiling. 🙂

Abe was delighted to discover sand crabs in the tide pools. There wasn’t a whole lot in the tide pools because the tide was in, but the sand crabs were fun.

After we finished at the beach, we drove down the coast to Tillamook, Oregon–home of the Tillamook Cheese Factory! Of course we stopped in for a tour, sample cheese, and ice cream cones.

After Tillamook, the sunny day turned rainy. We spent the rest of the day driving down in the rain. We wanted to stop and play in the tide pools along the way, but we were rained out.

In the evening we arrived at Florence, Oregon. Candace is a whiz at finding amazing restaurants, and following her advice we went to the Homegrown Public House had the best meal of our trip. Plus, they were so kid friendly! They gave us half of the restaurant to ourselves (because it was nearly 8 pm and the restaurant was half-deserted and about to close anyway–but still!), and they even had a bucket of miniature unicorn toys for the kids to play with.

This is my stunningly delicious, vegetarian hippie pie.
Abe’s salad.

By the time we were done with dinner, it was late and we had to say goodbye to the Martineaus, who were heading back via Portland the next day. We had sooooo much fun caravaning with them and made plans to repeat the experience in two years (when my baby production years will be, by the grace and great mercy of God, finally over). We have hopes of ending our next trip with an Alaskan cruise. We can dream, can’t we?

Abe and I still had to drive about an hour or so to Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. I felt God’s hand that night because we drove into the completely dark campground after all the camp hosts were off duty, and there were no signs telling us where to go. We just drove around making random (well, seemingly random–God was definitely with us) turns until we discovered a parking lot in front of the yurt neighborhood. Unlike Fort Stevens, the deluxe yurts at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park were in a walking-only zone. In the daytime we discovered that the setting was unreal. At night time, it was darling with little waist-high lamps lighting the way to our yurt.

The only issue was that we did not have the access code to our yurt and there was no internet for me to pull up the email with the code. After some miracle, I suddenly pulled it up, and we were able to unload everyone into the yurt. We felt exuberant at being able to spend the night where we had planned. And again, the yurt had a gorgeous skylight so we could look at the brilliant sky while we fell asleep.

Here are some pictures of our yurt from the next morning.

(Mary is pouting because I brushed her hair. I actually asked Abe in all sincerity the other day if hair-brushing counts as child abuse. I have been wondering what has been making her act so crazy and defiant lately, and my first thought was that the daily torture of having her hair brushed had pushed Mary over the emotional edge.)

This next picture is the view from our yurt porch. We woke up in the morning and discovered we had been sleeping in front of this!!!

Our double deck on the yurt and the view of the river from the deck.


The Columbia Maritime Museum

After we toured Fort Clatsop, we headed over to join the Martineaus at the Columbia Maritime Museum. This was a highlight of the trip for us. We loved learning about the dangers of the Columbia River bar, which I only appreciated because Abe and I had recently watched The Finest Hours.

Had I not watched the movie, I hope I would have left the museum with some appreciation anyway. There have been thousands of ships wrecked trying to navigate into and out of the Columbia River from the Pacific. This juncture is called “the graveyard of the Pacific” and is thought to be the most dangerous river mouth in the world. The coast guard at Astoria is one of the best trained coast guards in the country, and they are remarkable men and women. I am grateful we have such heroes among us.

The kids mostly appreciated how interactive everything in the museum was. After we were done with the museum, we boarded a retired boat outside of the museum and toured around. It made me slightly seasick just being on the anchored boat. I have no idea how the coast guard does it.

Battery Russell and Fort Clatsop

On Monday morning Abe and I packed up everyone early because Ammon woke up early. He probably woke up the entire yurt neighborhood, so we hustled to get everyone in the car quickly. With some hours before attractions opened, we went to the camp info center and talked to the most delightful information man.

He had no teeth, a jolly personality, and heaps of enthusiasm for his hometown. He convinced us that we had planned our itinerary all wrong and should spend the morning in Astoria. We altered our plans accordingly.

First we went to Battery Russell, which happened to be in the campground. Up until 9/11, it was the only place in the U.S. to have ever been attacked by a foreign power since…I forget the statistic. But apparently the Japanese fired on Battery Russell during WWII, and the captain in charge had everyone hold their fire. Because the U.S. did not return fire and give away the position of the fort, no lives were lost.

Today the fort creeped Abe and me out, although the kids seemed to find it interesting. It is completely abandoned, dark and dank, and a perfect place for people to do drugs and other things. I found a condom on the floor. Also, there are sheer drop-offs and warning signs to make sure your kids don’t fall down one of the drop-offs. We left pretty quickly.

Then we toured the also-now-closed army base there. It was inhabited by elk.

After saying hello and goodbye to our woodland friends, we headed to McDonald’s for a drive-thru breakfast. Our reliance on these quick meals is probably why I gained so much weight on the trip. Yikes.

Anyway, after driving through for our speedy breakfast, we headed to Fort Clatsop National Monument, where Lewis and Clark spent a terrible winter. It was so cold that they could not hunt except for a handful of days in a 175 day stretch (although my stats might be off because I am remembering this weeks later). They survived by eating maggoty meat. They only saw the sun six days in that whole winter (again, the stat is old and questionable in my brain).

The point is, they were a type of hardy that I can barely comprehend. The fort was very interesting, and I would have loved to have spent more time there. The ranger said we were the quickest tourists she had ever seen. (I thought we were speedy, but everyone else must spend an hour or more because I thought we did the place at least a little justice in our forty-minute stop!)

On the trail between the visitor center and the fort.
Lydia found an enviable stick which she was loathe to give up.
Mary is doing one of her power poses.