It was Memorial Day weekend. I was driving north on Highway 101 when I passed Warrenton and saw the gorgeous sights of Astoria. There was the Astoria-Megler Bridge to my left, the city’s hills to my right, and the mighty Columbia River running through it all. The setting sun bathed everything in shades of orange and gold. The biggest, toothiest, geekiest grin came across my face as I approached. My co-pilot on that particular mission looked over, saw the smile and said “You’re just glad we’re going through Astoria, aren’t you?”
As a matter of fact, I was. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by pretty much everything having to do with Astoria — its history, attractions, architecture, museums, and overall atmosphere. So I knew a day in the quasi-coastal town was in order.
I woke up at 6:29 a.m. to a text message from my buddy, informing me that he wouldn’t join me on the Epic Day Trip to Astoria.
I initially saw a chance to cancel the trip and head back to bed. I thought to myself, “Self, you need the sleep; you could use a relaxing day after your whirlwind week; and you have a lot of freelance work to catch up on. Would it be the worst thing in the world if you took it easy today? … Wait, what are you thinking? It’s going to be a beautiful day, you’re geeked for this trip, and you’ll find a way to make all those freelance projects work. You better lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it, you better never let it go! You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow!” *
* See? I even talk to myself in full paragraphs! And quote Eminem, apparently.
So off I went.
Before I go on, might I put in a good word for the ever-amazing Heather of Mile73.com, who provided me with a ton of great recommendations, resources, tips and tidbits. She made an already good day truly epic. Thank you, Heather!
The first stop was the Goonies House. I’ve long wanted to see the fabled house, but it just hasn’t happened. Until today.
There are few consensus-builders among 20- and 30-somethings like “The Goonies.” I’ve only ever met one person who hasn’t liked “The Goonies” — and, honestly, once I found out, I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did with my ex. That should have been a glaring red flag right there.
So I was happy to hike up to the house for a quick photo and pay my respect.
From there, I stopped by Blue Scorcher for a cup of coffee to keep me warm as I walked along the waterfront. I don’t know how anyone can amble along the gorgeous Columbia River waterfront and feel anything but at peace with the world.
This building stopped me dead in my tracks. It was my Graceland.
If you can tell me why I’ve included this photo on my blog, congratulations: We’re new best friends! [Two not-very-vague hints: 1) I absolutely adore Blind Pilot, and 2) This was the setting for Blind Pilot’s video for “Go On, Say It.”]
I walked back to the Columbia River Maritime Museum to get educated about the river that has been a neighbor to me for nearly 30 years.
The museum covered a ton of fascinating aspects of Columbia River, including but not limited to: the history of shipwrecks at the mouth of the river; how Astoria used the fishing boom of the late 1800s to achieve Cannery Capitol of the World status; and how the river itself has evolved over the past 400 years.
My brain was full after nearly two hours, so I met a friend/former coworker for lunch and beer at Fort George Brewery and Public House. The burger was good, the beer that washed it down was even better, and what followed topped it all.
We walked over to the brewery’s taproom, which doubles as a rec room full of fun games.
We first played foosball — Edward is apparently something of a master, crushing my dreams of joining a “Community”-inspired foosball team. Then we took turns cornholing — seriously, that’s a thing. My dominating bean bag toss performance gave me some modicum of revenge for the foosball butt-whooping.
We worked off lunch and beer by heading out to Cape Disappointment and the North Jetty. What I wouldn’t give for a full day or weekend to explore this beautiful little corner of the world.
We walked as far as we could onto the jetty. We would have hiked to the end, if not for the setting sun. I’ll make it out there one of these days.
So we walked back to the car and drove back into town. Edward pointed out the Astoria Column and how it had been decorated for the holidays. Naturally, I couldn’t say “no” to checking it out.
And that was the day. I drove home happy I had done so much, pleased with how the day had gone, and tired at the thought of everything I’ve done in the past several days. Seriously, you’ll never call me “boring.” Earlier this year, my idea of a good time was to go home most nights and relax. That has certainly changed in recent weeks.
If you force me to find something to complain about, it would be that Bowpicker Fish & Chips was closed. I was looking forward to trying the popular fish spot, but no matter: I still accomplished most of what I set out to do and feel good about crossing this goal off the list. As Akon would say, “Still counts!”
Besides, there’s always next time.