Friday, September 20, 2013

Astoria, Oregon and The Wreck of the Peter Iredale

September 19, 2013

I have not known what time it is since I left home.  My watch is broken, Randy's watch is set for home time, the clock in the car...........who knows what time it is set no matter what date is on top of this blog as the published date, September 19, 2013  is the date these things on this post occurred.

We woke up at the Voss home in Port Townsend, Washington.  Within a short time we were all having coffee, then more coffee, and pastries for Randy, at a coffee shop not far from their home, on the route we needed to take south.  We hugged each other goodbye, and Randy and I were headed south to Oregon.

I have to backtrack about Oregon.  On the 8-week camping trip that my family took in 1959, Oregon was my favorite place.  I had never seen an ocean until then, and I really had not seen  mountains either.  The whole thing was overwhelming for a twelve year old, and all I wanted to do from that time on was to go back to Oregon and live there.  I planned to go to college there, find an Oregonian to marry, and that would take care of that.  It' a gorgeous state.

It didn't work out that way.  I've spent my life, so far, in Ohio, which hasn't been a bad place to live, but there's always been a soft spot for Oregon in my heart.

Today we drove into Astoria, and drove directly to the top of the highest hill in the city to see the Astoria Column.  This 125 foot high monument honors the westward movement of our pioneers, and also commemorates the end of the road for the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  There are 164 steps up to the top, and Randy climbed them all.  He waved from the top, and I lay down on a bench so I could see him when he arrived there. I think I climbed those steps in 1959 with my sister.

Randy waving from the top

  From the top of the hill where the Astoria Column is, we could see the bridges that connect local islands with the mainland. This bridge goes to Rt. 101 North.  We did get a bit lost this afternoon, and we drove over and back on this bridge.  It wasn't the worst mistake we've ever made, and it was sort of a thrill to be on such a long bridge.  The island is in Washington, and the state line is somewhere in the middle of that bridge.                                                                        
  In 1959 we would camp as close to the ocean as we could and stay a few days. One of my favorite places was Fort Stevens State Park, just a short distance from Astoria. Then,  I went to the ocean for the first time, and was overwhelmed by the size and power of it. I spent every minute looking at the Wreck of the Peter Iredale, rusting on the beach. This shipwreck occurred in 1906.  In 1959 most of the bones of this ship were still there, and the entire ship could be envisioned easily.  I have thought about this place for all these years, and it became a goal to get back one more time, before the entire ship has disappeared.

Or before I disappear......

Today we arrived.  Things look different now. The park is more refined and defined, but the dunes that lead down to that beach look the same.  The Peter Iredale, however, has aged and eroded, and is a shadow of its former self.  Just as I am.

I  confess that I stood crying on the beach today.  The beauty of the ocean , the sight of the dunes and that rusty old ship shell were just too much to take in all at once.  I was loving that little girl I used to be then, and remembering how she felt about this place.  It was all good, though. Check one more thing off that Bucket List.

For dinner tonight we had a gourmet meal at a downtown restaurant, and are about to sleep in the Best Western, also near to downtown.  This is a lovely little city with some historic houses on the hill that leads up to the Astoria Column.

Tomorrow we plan to start driving south on Rt. 101.  We've already been on that route for a good portion of the day, but now we will be by the ocean.  I don't see how we can possibly move very quickly when it is so beautiful.  Rain is expected, and that will be okay, too, I think.

There are lots of free-thinking people in this part of the country.  We like the "green" movement and the healthy food consciousness out here.  We have enjoyed seeing some of the visual displays of our freedom to express opinions, and I actually followed the first car for several blocks to try to read all the bumper stickers, and then finally just to take a they say, "It lasts longer."

You probably have noticed that we have turned south, and shortly you will notice that we will be turning east.  Not too soon, though.  There are many things yet to see between here and home.

Copyright:  KP Gillenwater 2013