Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Perfect Beginning

Our "big" vacation this summer was a return after three years to our favorite travel destination, Northwest Oregon. The big difference this trip was the knowledge that retirement and relocation are just around the corner, and so everything we saw had the flavor of knowing this: soon to be at home. On all our previous trips here we spent time in both city and country, traveling the length of the state from Portland to Ashland and all sorts of places in between. This time our new trip starter was fairly close at hand, about two hours north and west along the Columbia River, to the historic shipping port of Astoria. 

Whenever I research places to stay in a new town I go for the best we can afford (or are willing to stretch for). This time we let our gut reaction to the beautiful pictures on their web site lead us to the Cannery Pier Hotel. Built to resemble an old factory, the hotel rests atop 100 year old pilings and actually sits in the river. The rooms facing north have the feeling of being staterooms on a cruise ship and beside being beautiful and comfortable, have a front row seat for a busy schedule of all sorts of water traffic, notably huge international freighters coming and going right past your windows. 

Just arrived after a long travel day from Chicago, a quick change and a chauffeured ride to nearby Bridgewater Bistro in one of two classic cars owned by the hotel.

Our favorite kind of dining, sharing small plates. The river view seating and live pianist didn't hurt either.

The commons area in the hotel with the "cruise ship" view.

An elegant "state room" starts with a wonderful bed. 

A bathroom with a view (so you can soak in the tub and watch the river at the same time.)

The Astoria-Megler Bridge is four miles long as it crosses this mighty Columbia River, and prominent from many vantage points in town.

The first of many giant cargo ships that sailed by my window.

The "cruise ship" view from our own balcony.
After a restorative night's sleep and a great dinner, we set off to see the riverfront part of the town by walking several miles of the River Walk. We passed old and new, crumbling and restored. Because it was Sunday, and a holiday weekend, many businesses and factories were closed, but there was evidence of a vital economy in town (beside the tourist economy, that is.)

A mix of the old, the modern, and the return to nature.

A riverside town park with a viewing platform.



All manner of wildlife seeking their living...

The heron posed for me, but the seals under the docks just barked, and refused to come out for photos.

There are still canneries in town.

But everything is a clean and tourist friendly, too.

Most of the length of the river walk is also traversed by a trolley car line, so you need to keep your wits about you when crossing bridges.

The hotel had free bike "rentals," but we decided to forgo the possible hazards of riding for a more simple mode of transit.

A view of the Cannery Pier Hotel.

Maritime Memorial Park

The Red Building (that's the real name)

On Labor Day Monday we decided to give up a planned trip to famous Cannon Beach and just continue to enjoy Astoria for a while more before heading off to Portland. One of the most famous sights is high up on the top of the hill town at an elevation of 600 feet (in a town that is at sea level), where you get to climb an addition 164 step spiral staircase inside to reach the viewing platform. This is quite a workout for a somewhat "older" person such as myself, but I set aside my trepidations and went for it.

The Astoria Column

The view Northwest toward the Pacific

This spiral "sgrafitto" frieze is seven feet wide and 525 feet long and tells the story of 14 significant events in the history of Oregon and Astoria.

Wearing a porcelain giraffe necklace that I bought at the Sunday Market from artist, Eric Berlin.

The view South to Saddle Mountain

Young's Bay

A beautiful topographic map of the region. The shiny spot is the hill we are on.

Back at he marina and cruise ship docks, we watch the morning's charter fishing tours bringing in their catches and having them cleaned and packed to take home.

A too short, but wonderful introduction to a fascinating town.

Don't I look relaxed already?

Ready to move on to Portland, but this lovely place is now on our short list of what will hopefully be just a weekend getaway.

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