Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spring beach break, Part 3: Astoria

We had been planning to head south to Newport to visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium, but the night before we changed our minds. The 2-hour drive there and back (4 hours total) did not sound particularly appealing! So we regrouped and decided to venture 1 hour north to Astoria instead. The only challenge that remained was selling this to the kids. They adjusted but not without a little bit of protest. Chris, in particular, had been looking forward to eating at the Otis Cafe (see link above)! I reminded Mike about how little he likes last-minute changes of plans and marveled at how easily the kids acquiesced in the end. (We sold Chris finally by telling him we'd go for lunch in a pub instead.)

After the relatively quick drive up toward Astoria, we stopped first at Fort Clatsop, the winter encampment for the Lewis & Clark's Corps of Discovery in 1805-06. We wandered around the excellent interpretive center first. As many of you know, our two youngest boys rarely spend a day without dressing up in costume...so they were delighted to discover the period costumes in the center.

Meet Lewis (Kieran) and Clark (Nick)--Nick kept saying "I wanna be Clark!"

The European clothes didn't last well in the weather,
so the explorers ended up adopting native clothing

Chris in costume :)

Lewis pointing the way

Over there! No, there!

In front of the statue

Then we ventured outside to check out the fort (it's the second replica of the fort built on the site--the last one burnt down in 2005).

The fort
It rained nearly every day the group lived at Fort Clatsop--no surprise to any Northwesterner! We learned from watching a film in the interpretive center that the corps left the fort to the Clatsop tribe when they left. Chris has been studying Lewis & Clark and watching the Ken Burns documentary in Social Studies, so our visit to Fort Clatsop was timely. We bought a book of Lewis & Clark's journals for him in the interpretive center gift shop.
Kieran, Mike, and I at the fort

Nicholas entertained us by making "lemonade" at the fort:
Boat launch into the river

Doesn't Chris make me look short now?

Captain Clark!

Kieran and Mike

Next we went to the Wet Dog Cafe and Brewery for lunch (which is right on the water), where Chris naively chose the Hot Chick Burger, with "Chicken Strips, Buffalo Sauce & Bleu Cheese Crumbles." I suggested that he ask the server if it was spicy, but he must have forgotten. Boy, was it spicy! I think he just wanted to say "Hot Chick Burger!" I had a tasty halibut burger, and Mike had the blackened tuna caesar salad.

Wet Dog Cafe
 We took a brief trip to Lucy's Books (which was smaller than we remembered), a small independent bookstore downtown. Lucy's issues a regular newsletter (which we receive) and regularly hosts readings and other events. We skipped the Astoria Column this time because of the dreary weather (next time!), even though we were eager to check out the mural about Robert Gray (Chris' middle school name).

Next we went to the Columbia River Maritime Museum, which is regarded as one of the best museums in Oregon. We all enjoyed it!

One of the most amazing exhibits was this Coast Guard boat mounted up in the air,
along with a fascinating video about heroic Coast Guard rescues
 I don't know whether it was the cheese pizza and french fries at lunch, or the fact that it was a museum, but Nick went into full active mode. He was buzzing around so fast from exhibit to exhibit that I barely got to read anything until I could get Mike to relieve me. At one point, when he was in a tugboat simulator (working all the controls), an older couple tsked-tsked and stalked off. Clearly, they were not lovers of children! He wasn't doing anything wrong--just being exuberant and energetic.

The museum had an excellent exhibit about the sea voyages to Vietnam, in addition to the bridge of a World War II navy destroyer. I think that was Nicholas' favorite part:

At the helm

Kieran taking a turn, with Nick in the chair

Museum admission included a self-guided tour of the Lightship Columbia, which was stationed at the perilous mouth of the Columbia from 1951 to 1979.
Lightship Columbia
On deck of the lightship

Anchors aweigh!
We had a lovely day in Astoria (in spite of the rain) and found it to be a nice one-day jaunt from Rockaway. 

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