En Route to ONP
While Norman and I have visited many national parks, we have never managed to make it to Olympic National Park in Washington even though we have been within easy driving distance on many occasions during our lives. After college in the late 70’s, I lived in Seattle for eight years and Norman, coincidentally and unbeknownst to me, lived in Pullman for the same period of time. In 2001, we made a six-week 6,000-mile western parks driving tour and still didn’t get there. We’ve now been living in Oregon for four years — less than six hours away from the ONP, and we thought it was about time we included this park in our travel itinerary.
These days we don’t have the stamina nor the inclination to make 6, 8, or 10-hour daily drives in order to reach our destination. So for this trip, I planned a week-long adventure. I generally look for opportunities to visit other places along the way. At the northernmost edge of the Oregon border, Astoria is a reasonable 3 1/2 hour drive from Eugene and seemed like the logical first stop. The last time we visited Astoria was during our 2001 western tour and we had always wanted to return to learn more about it. In addition, we have friends in Astoria that we have been hoping to visit for awhile.
First, however, just south ofAstoria we made a quick side trip to Seaside, another iconic Oregon beach town. Much like Santa Cruz in California, the main downtown area is filled with kitschy shops and various entertainment arcades including a carousel. Santa Cruz has its Boardwalk whereas Seaside has its Promenade, better known as “The Prom” which is currently celebrating its Centennial. Midway along the Promenade is the Turnaround where you will see a statue of Lewis and Clark labeled “End of the Trail”. The monument commemorates their 18 month, 4,000-mile journey from Saint Louis to the Oregon Coast.
As you can see, it was a typical Oregon summer day at the beach — cool and cloudy preceded by a little bit of rain.
You can’t make a trip to the coast without thinking about getting some seafood. We stopped in at a Seaside classic, Bell Buoy, with its vintage neon sign. They offer some prime canned fish that is difficult to find elsewhere. We figured this would be a good addition to our traveling pantry so we picked up a selection.
Finally, it was time to become reacquainted with Astoria and find out how it has changed in the past 20 years. Among other attractions, Astoria has a couple of very well-known breweries. One of these is Fort George located in a building erected in 1924 which started out as an auto service station. It stands on roughly the same site as the original Fort Astoria. We enjoyed a couple of delicious pints sitting out on the upstairs deck with a great view of the mighty Columbia River. Then it was time to settle in to our AirBnB, relax, and prepare for a full day of exploration in Astoria.