After Auntie Katie, the cousins and I finished exploring the wreck of the Peter Iredale and brushing the sand off our feet, we headed further into the Fort Stevens area to something marked on the map as The Battery Russell.
This is a series of rooms, platforms, observation stations and gun emplacements that was installed by the Army in 1890 and was used until 1910, de-activated, then re-activated in 1941 to 1945. It held two 10-inch rifles with 30 ton gun barrels, designed to defend the coast from enemy bombardment and guard against beach invasions.
The guns have all been removed, and what is left is a fascinating combination of stark grey concrete and swallow’s nests surrounded by wild roses and blackberry bushes. There are stairs and ramps, cavernous rooms and pits, where groups of kids (including cousins Jasper and Kestrel) can play Capture the Flag or Hide and Seek.
There are signs posted: This area contains pits and deep drop-offs. Watch your children! So naturally, the kids took about two minutes to figure out where the pit was, then ran around like kids do.
When the other kids left, the cousins made up other adventure games. Auntie Katie’s role was a villain who had captured Kestrel, but Kestrel had more energy and kept escaping our dungeon. Eventually Auntie Katie and I (her loyal minion) rounded up the captive and her friend (Jasper0 and hauled them off to the next adventure.