Sunday, August 17, 2014

Summer 2014 Peninsula and Astoria Trip

Summers here are heavenly and all too short. Already nearing the end of another summer.

This summer started out with some great gardening and continues as I write this post. So far, I have harvested about $200 worth of organic produce and I am using only half of my potential gardening space this season.

We "remodeled" the main bathroom. That is another post later.

Earlier this year, hubby purchased a weekend in Astoria package at a charity auction. We decided to make our summer vacation out of it and drove the 101 around the peninsula on the way to Astoria.

We stopped in  Sequim Bay State Park for picnic lunch. The park is really nice with short, well maintained trails, nice picnic areas overlooking the bay.

Before checking in to the cabin, we toured the Makah Cultural Museum.
This is a really nice museum and cultural center and a must-see in the area. The area is territory of the Makah tribe and they are so gracious to open and share one of the most beautiful land in the USA to the public. In my opinion, visitors need to take an earnest effort to learn about and give the utmost respect to the culture and the land.

We stayed in a cabin at the Hobuck Beach Resort. The cabins are great and the beach is phenomenal. We wish we could have stayed at least one more night. We relaxed in the cabin and played in the sand. We walked (and ran) along the beach, searching the tidal pools for sea anemones, hermit crabs, barnacles, clams and crabs. We made sand sculptures and drawings.

The hike out to the point on Cape Flattery is moderately challenging and the trail is well-kept. The overlooks are awe-inspiring.

This is the most north-westerly tip of the continental 48 states.

Note that these Cape Flattery photos, I did not re-touch them. Only used a UV filter on the lens and did composting for landscaping and cropped. It is really that beautiful.

Ruby Beach was our late-lunch stop. We have been to Kalaloch and Beach 2 and 3? in the past. Most everyone that has an opinion of the beaches is of the opinion that Ruby Beach is the most beautiful. I did think it was beautiful but, not any more or less than the others. It is a small beach, rocky and a good elevation change to get down to it.

We took an unplanned stop at Fort Columbia. Hubby had visited years ago before we moved here, and I wanted to give it a go. Very informative, and  cool place to visit. The interpretive signs are kinda willy-nilly stuck in the ground at odd places and the park requires a lot of up and down and climbing up steep hills but the military base is pretty much like it was. I enjoyed walking about, and found myself imagining the feeling of wool socks in laced up leather boots as I marched up and down the misty hills and stairs a midst the crumbling concrete and steel. The salty sea-wind in my face and the barracks at my back.

The Astoria Commodore Hotel is a bare-bones, retro/modern place in the heart of downtown. The service is extraordinary. The beds are fairly comfortable. We booked the river-view suite. A corner room with a queen and full couch with a full bath in the room. Most rooms are MUCH smaller with community bath. Amenities in this room included a shower/bathtub, toilet, sink, toilet paper, shampoo / conditioner / body wash in a dispenser in the shower, tissues, towels, a throw-blanket, TV/dvd (we did not use), table fan (very quiet), clock/radio/sleep-center with ipod station. That's it.  It was very noisy the 1st nite due to the drunks hanging out in the street under the window (historic single pane windows here). The next night was typical road noise. They do offer ear plugs if you need them. The location is great and the building is cool. It is walking distance from just about everything to do in Astoria. I would surely recommend the place for a superior location, charm, service, price as long as you don't expect the modern amenities in-room and can tolerate a historic building downtown with all its sounds.

The Columbia Maritime museum is really good and a must-visit.

BlueOcean Thai is soooo yummy. The Bowpickers fish and chips boat is a must. Check the twitter feed for hours as they are subject to change and bring cash. I thought it was the best fish and chips style fish I have had and although their tartar sauce is great, I thought it was phenomenal with malt-vinegar. The chips are just steak fries from a bag and fried in the fish oil which does make them taste good.
42nd street cafe has good light breakfast. Pig n Pancake has good big breakfasts.
Fort George has 3 opportunities to dine and brew. The Pub is pretty much a pub. The tasting room is located in the brewery itself. It is intimate and urban-rustic with a light selection of nosh. It has a view of the operations. The restaurant is above the Pub and offers outstanding 3 sides of picture windows of the town and the river. It has pub tables, a few small seating arrangement but mostly heavy wood and metal family-style tables. A selection of games adds to the atmosphere. The beers - typical Oregonian IPA hopsy stuff. I am not a fan and should have expected as much. They did have one wheat and 2 stouts that I could enjoy. The food on the other hand was super fab! Smoked salmon spread with pita, apples and carrots - WOW especially on the apples. Elk burger cordon bleu style was tasty and the herbed mashed potato fried blobs were good but would have been fab with some tillamook cheddar in there ;-). The wood-fired pizza - super delish! Carrot cake - yum!

Astoria column - The artwork on the outside is wonderful but, the climb is not worth it not to mention that they just let people go up and down without any kind of traffic limitation - hazard waiting to happen.

Flavel House - nice house, not huge but not tiny either. It is nice but really not a must-see.

We spent 2 nights and felt like we don't ever need to go back. We did everything in one day. It is nice though if you want to get away to a small town that has great walking downtown, a decent river walk and great maritime museum, good food. I do suggest staying downtown as you can walk anywhere. The shops are cool (if they are open). There was an arcade a few blocks down. Yeah, a real one with Donkey-Kong and everything - old school kind - that was totally awesome.

On the way back we visited Cape Disappointment State Park. Also, a must see but give yourself at least a half day. Don't miss the North Lighthouse area. Renting one of the keepers homes in January I expect would be an adrenaline inducing experience.

We had to jot up into Long Beach for a late lunch before heading out. Bobs Chowder is a tiny tiny 9-seater tucked away in a "museum" just off the main drag. Menu is simple. Chowder is pretty much it besides fish and chips and crab rolls. I found the clam chowder good but a too thick and plain for my gold star stamp ( I like mine less potato-y and with more fresh herbs). The smoked salmon chowder on the other-hand was just knock your socks off good. Fish and chips also good as well as the tarter and the slaw had a surprisingly good twist with the addition of cranberries. Super friendly folks.

Then back on to home.

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