take in the coast
on a one-day tour
A Panamax vessel plows the Columbia River channel
It’s been official for years:
as the North Head Lighthouse at Cape Disappointment stands watch.
The Columbia-Pacific region is now a major tourist destination
STORY & PHOTOS BY DWIGHT CASWELL FOR ACTIVE LIVES
When friends and family are visiting our region, they’ll want you to show sels were at anchor below us (both handysize and Panamax, they had learned
them a good time. They will also ask questions like, “Why do you live here?” that morning); balsa wood gliders drifted down from the top of the Column,
– especially if they’ve just spent a day driving in the rain. plunging into the lawn at our feet.
A one-day tour of the area, adjusted to the visitor’s interests, is my Next we drove 25 miles upriver to Westport. I wanted them to see the
answer. Some may want to go fishing or clamming, or they may be interested Columbia up close, from a small car ferry. As we turned off U.S. Highway 30,
in history or good restaurants. We have all in abundance, of course, but I a stream of cars rushed past us from the opposite direction. I accelerated,
always emphasize scenery, because we live in one of the most beautiful fearing that we would miss the ferry; when we got to the dock it had just left.
places on the face of the earth. Impulsively, I gave the horn a couple of light taps. The skipper looked back
But where to take them? No one is going to entirely agree with my choic- and reversed the ferry so that we could board.
es, but the nice thing about living in Astoria is that you can hardly go wrong. I don’t know if that is standard operating procedure, but I do know that
My guests have usually decided to visit the Oregon Coast on the way to Asto- it made an impression on Bob. He is used to big cities. He would never
ria, so I know they’ve seen plenty of beaches and haystack rocks, and have think of flagging down a departing Amtrak train. For the rest of the day,
On a clear day, visitors who climb to the top of the Astoria Column can see for miles.
already toured the Tillamook Cheese Factory. That makes things simpler. Bob kept repeating, “I can’t believe it; they actually came back for us.”
Lately, I was visited by Bob and Barbara, who live My friends had already been impressed by place
near San Francisco. She is a retired hospital administra- names like Cape Disappointment and Dismal Nitch.
tor and gourmet cook. He is a retired professor and an
No one is going
Now I got to impress them with my ability to pro-
expert on James Joyce, jazz and psychoanalysis. It had, nounce other unusual names: “We are now leaving
unaccountably, rained for their entire trip, through Ash-
to entirely agree
Cathlamet; the next town on our itinerary is
land to the coast, and all the way to Astoria. Sure
with my choices
Skamokawa, here in lovely Wahkiakum County.” I had-
enough, “Why do you live here?” was one of their first n’t included the Washington side of the river just for the
questions. Astoria and I had a challenge on our hands, of where to go, place names, however. I love the landscape, though it
but fortunately, the weather showed signs of clearing.
but the nice thing
lacks the drama of the coast. The first time I saw these
The night before their tour, I insisted on setting wooded rolling hills and pastures, I was immediately
their radio alarm to go off at 8:30 a.m., tuned to 91.9
about living in
transported back to my youth, when I was an exchange
FM. Bob likes to sleep in, but I insisted. He had to be student in Denmark. How familiar the land must have
awake and alert for Joanne Rideout’s Columbia River
Astoria is that looked to the sons and daughters of Scandinavia who
Ship Report at 8:49. There are lots of good programs on
you can hardly
our local stations, but no program says “Astoria” quite Next: the charming Port of Ilwaco, and then on to
Katie Schaffer of Oregon City and Andrew Larsen of Hammond
like the Ship Report. And Bob and Barbara would short-
the North Head lighthouse, with its grand view and
view the mouth of the Columbia from the South Jetty observation tower.
ly be spending time beside, on and over the Columbia. bracing winds. Back to the car and a short drive to
We drove to the Pig ’N Pancake. “The what?” they Waikiki Beach, a superb setting for the Cape Disap-
said. “A local tradition,” I replied. I knew that, laden with calories and choles- pointment light.
terol, they were less likely to be critical of the weather. Showing signs of By now, evening was upon us. We’d skipped lunch – it hadn’t seemed
clearing doesn’t mean that much. necessary after our big breakfast – but now we were hungry. Bob and Bar-
Next stop: Fort Stevens. If Bob and Barbara were more interested in histo- bara are used to excellent cuisine; they dine out a lot. We have a lot of fine
ry, we might have stopped at the fort itself, Battery Russell or the remnants dining in our area, and I decided to put our best dining foot forward. I
of the Peter Iredale. Instead, we went to the observation platform at the believe that not even Coast Weekend’s “Mouth of the Columbia” restaurant
South Jetty, where we watched ships passing between us and Cape Disap- reviewer would disagree with my choice: The Shelburne Inn, just up the road
pointment. There is no better place for experiencing the meeting of one of in Seaview, Wash. I often have the always excellent “pasta du jour” in the
the world’s great rivers with the Pacific Ocean. pub, but this time we had a superb meal in the restaurant, with an admirable
Next stop: The Astoria Column (driving past the Flavel House, of course, pinot noir recommended by innkeeper David Campiche.
for a little history). Nobody felt like climbing the Column, but that hardly By the time we waddled out of the Shelburne, I was sure my friends real-
mattered. It was, for the moment, a relatively clear day, and we had a spec- ized why I choose to live here. And if there was any doubt, it evaporated as
tacular view of southwest Washington and northwest Oregon. Merchant ves- we drove over the Astoria Bridge, the lights of Astoria glittering before us.
The Astoria Column on a typical February day A car leaves the ferry in Cathlamet, Wash. Westport, Ore., is in the background.
6 | MARCH 2010 | ACTIVE LIVES | www.dailyastorian.com/activelives
MARCH 2010 | ACTIVE LIVES | www.dailyastorian.com/activelives
| Page 2
| Page 3
| Page 4
| Page 5
| Page 6
| Page 7
| Page 8
| Page 9
| Page 10
| Page 11