Stepping Away

Dear Liza,

It has been hot in Portland lately (though not as hot as some parts of the country). Also, Auntie Bridgett has been working very hard on her art fairs, an upcoming show at the SideStreet Arts Gallery, and her new Zine. We decided to take a few days away to cool off and re-charge.

So we took a road trip! Driving north along the Willamette and then west along the Columbia, we came to Astoria. This still-busy port town was founded in 1811 as a fishing and shipping port, the gateway between the US northwest and the rest of the world.

We had a nice lunch at the Fort George brew pub, enjoying sandwiches, cider, and other people’s kids and dogs, and then walked down to the wharfs.

We found an interesting installation showing the history and culture of the people from Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Denmark who came to Astoria in the 1800s as farmers, lumbermen and fishermen. It included images of the maypole, viking ships, flags of the countries, weird and funny trolls, birch trees, and other iconic images.

This piece of advice was given by recent Astorians and can apply to all of us.

“As your ancestors’ sole reason for being, embrace the virtuous and use your gifts with purpose and generosity.”

We wandered some more along the shore and then decided it was time to cross the Columbia River for the next part of our adventure.

We drove up and up to the high point of the Astoria-Megler Bridge, then swooped down like a rollercoaster to the lowest part, just skimming the white capped waves. Whoosh!

I will tell you what we found over there tomorrow.


Grandma Judy

The Coast with Grownups

Re-employed Country Bear running a shooting gallery

Dear Liza,

It has been so hot here in Portland, people are either staying inside air conditioned buildings or getting out of town to stay cool. On Sunday, Auntie Bridgett, Grandpa Nelson and I headed for the coast. It was 100 degrees in Portland, and 70 in Seaside…so, good call.

We drove to Seaside, which is a pretty little touristy town on the beach. There are dozens of shops selling salt water taffy, tee shirts, and souvenirs, as well as bumper cars and a tilt-a-whirl. There is bad traffic and limited parking.

But there is also a beach, with long lovely dunes and beach grass, which is what you get to keep when you don’t plant your dunes with ice plant. The weather was sunny on the dunes, but just over the waves and coming onto the sand was this weird blowing fog…it made everything delightfully spooky. The tide was way out, so there was LOTS of beach. Not many sand castles, though.

Creeping beach fog

Lovely dune grass









The fog and sand were wonderful, but we here getting hungry, and headed into town for some lunch at Sam’s Seaside Cafe, a pleasant enough diner (though later I began to question their refrigeration). There is a little river that flows through town and rental boat that go along it. Rowboats and swan boats were for rent….both looked like too much work!

Swan Boat Fail and Rescue

We drove on up to Astoria, and it was a very different visit than I had with Katie and the cousins. We didn’t visit the wreck of the Peter Iredale, the Tower, or the Battery.

Wandering in the old downtown area, we looked at the cool 1924 architecture and contemporary art. The Riversea Gallery had really beautiful work, including some by Portland artists and friends Dawn Panttaja and Jesse Reno.

The John Jacob Astor Building

Walking along, we saw some young men and women wearing colorful clothes with bells on their legs… Morris Dancers! The Morris dance is a traditional Irish way of celebrating spring, with dancers, drinking and fun. In old Ireland, troops would travel around the country. July seemed late for celebrating spring, but this fellow said in America, they go a bit longer.

Morris Dancer









It seemed time to head back towards home, since we had an almost two hour drive. Auntie Bridgett’s stomach was feeling queasy (was it the Cole Slaw? We may never know) and Grandpa Nelson’s feet were tired. We drove along the Columbia, our California eyes amazed at all that water just running free.

The Columbia, just rollin’ on….

At Kalama Bay, where there used to be a ferry to take railroad cars across the river, the McMenamin Brothers have build a NEW resort…not a re-purposed old building, as they usually do. We enjoyed the bright fourth floor bar, but from the inside looking out…coming inland this far, the temperature was back up into the 90s.

Auntie Bridgett had a fizzy tonic to try and settle her stomach. Snacks and drinks and we were on our way home, to watch baseball and fall asleep early.

Always fun art at McMenamin’s

I hope the weather breaks soon! I am longing for my nice cool Portland.


Grandma Judy