Friday, 17 June 2016


We arrived in Astoria late afternoon--or evening time, as far as our body clocks were concerned.
From our hotel, we had two conflicting goals: I could hear the sound of sea lions from the nearby docks and wanted to go and see them; the kids had spotted a playground up the hill. In the end, my husband took the kids to the playground while I went to take pictures of sea lions. 

We ate dinner at the Ship Inn because it had a British selection of dishes on the menu. This was fine, if lacking in presentation. My bangers and mash came with the onion gravy piled on the sausages, while the mash was kept separated in a little bowl. To get to the Ship Inn from our hotel, the Comfort Suites, we walked two miles along the river walk. This is lovely, and it runs alongside the old fashioned trolley tracks, which gives the kids a bit of extra interest, while my husband and I were fascinated by the very British-feeling flora of brambles and foxgloves. Unfortunately, our kids were too jet lagged and out of sorts to appreciate it, and we had to more or less drag them the last mile. On the way back, we promised them a stop at an ice cream place if they were happy, and that worked a treat. 

The following morning, we all woke up East Coast time and were kept awake by the barking sea lions. At 5:30, I officially gave up and took the kids down to the hotel pool. Afterwards, we had breakfast and my husband went for a run while the kids decided that now they wanted to see the sea lions, so I took them down the pier to watch them jostle for space and yell at each other--the sea lions, not the kids. Well, mostly not the kids.

 A woman from the Sea Lion Defense Brigade (there is a contentious relationship between the sea lions and fishermen in Astoria) told us that these were all young males who had not yet gone south to mate.  On our way back, we stopped in the breakfast room for hot chocolate, and it was here my daughter managed to lose both her jacket and cardigan--the only long-sleeved articles of clothing she had. 

That made for a rather chilly visit to Fort Clatsop, where Lewis and Clark had spent the winter before returning back across the United States to report their findings to Thomas Jefferson. We had seen the Lewis and Clark trail sites when we were in Great Falls, Montana, so we are making a point of seeing where they reached the goal of their journey: the Pacific Ocean. However, it was too cold and wet to linger at Fort Clatsop, which seemed like it would benefit from more exploration. Thankfully, when we returned, the cardigan and jacket had been handed in at the hotel's front desk.

Many films have been shot at Astoria, most famously The Goonies, and the Goonies' house was just up the hill from our hotel. It's one of a group of houses up a private drive and tourists aren't permitted to go up and take pictures these days, but it's visible from below.

Back in the hotel room, we watched the opening sequence of the Goonies on the iPad, then went to get lunch from the Astoria Coffeehouse (and Goonies Shop) which we ate in the playground from the day before. As it turned out the playground was at the school used for Kindergarten Cop. (School was out for the summer, so the playground was open to the public.) 

On the way back, we found a baseball in the brambles next to the baseball diamond. We were lacking a bat, but that didn't stop the kids improvising a game anyway--which resulted in my daughter leaving her cardigan behind again. 

Duly inspired by our surroundings, we went to the Oregon Film Museum, which is housed in the old County Jail, the location of the Fratelli's jailbreak at the start of the Goonies. Their getaway car is on display, parked next to the entrance.

This is a very small museum, but very fun. Lots of Goonies' memorabilia, but the real highlight is the movie set area where you can shoot your own scenes in the getaway car, or at the hotel of the Shining. You get five 'takes' and these are then emailed to the address of your choosing.

Just across the road is the Flavel Museum, where Mikey's father works in The Goonies, though the kids were more impressed with the street itself (8th street) which takes you up a surprisingly steep hill.

As the Film Museum hadn't taken long, we headed up to Astoria Column, which stands on the hill above Astoria and offers incredible views of the entire area. It's a beautiful monument, in and of itself, but what really elevated (no pun intended) this experience was the giftshop's gimmick of selling flimsy balsa-wood gliders for $1 which you can then fly off the top of the column. (Allegedly, the wood breaks down into mulch in no time, so this isn't as environmentally hazardous as it sounds.) The spiral staircase up to the top was not for the fainthearted!

With this done, and half the afternoon still stretching before us, we retrieved my daughter's cardigan for the second time and decided to drive across the Astoria-Megler Bridge to Washington and Cape Disappointment--where Lewis and Clark actually reached the Pacific before deciding they'd rather spend the winter in Oregon (though the Cape got its name from a trader some years earlier). Appropriately, the Lewis and Clark interpretive center was closed, due to open the next day, so we missed out on the history lesson, though we took a very pretty (and very steep) half mile walk to the lighthouse.

Afterwards, we had dinner at the Wet Dog Cafe, which we had passed on our walk the evening before. We went purely on the basis that we liked the name, but it turned out to be a brilliant place. Great food, better theming, and one of the best kids' menus I've seen (as well as the expected colour/activity sheet, there was a scavenger hunt to find random things in the decor. Oh, and a good selection of food.) Plus an obsession with beer--most of the desserts revolved around beer. Including a variety of beer ice cream flavours. We didn't try them.

Safely back in our hotel, complete with daughter's cardigan. Tomorrow, we head to Florence!

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