Monthly Archives: July 2012

Fort Columbia State Park, Washington

Often when a person thinks about going to Long Beach, Washington, it includes playing around on the beach, maybe going to see Fort Canby and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. But did you know there’s another fort in the area?

Heading out the alternate route of Hwy. 101 on the way to Astoria is Fort Columbia.

If you’re in a hurry or paying more attention to the tunnel coming up on the highway, it’s easy to breeze right by the fort. I’m a little embarrassed to admit we’ve done it many times. Until we had time to take it slow and easy one weekend and finally took the opportunity to stop.

I had heard very little about this fort, everything in the area seems to be focused on Fort Canby, so I guess I assumed there wasn’t much at Fort Columbia. I was dead wrong. Not only are there gun emplacement facilities, but there is also the beautifully renovated homes that were built to house the soldiers, their families and supporting businesses. It was truly a small community, just like any other town.

The 593-acre site is located on Chinook Point in southwest Washington, situated overlooking the mouth of the Columbia River. Building began in 1896 and was completed in 1898. Confusingly, various websites as well as signage at the park itself seem to contradict each other as some say it was active in 1896, some in 1989 and some in 1899. Whichever it was, it was an active military site until 1947. It was turned over to the State of Washington in the 1950’s and is now a day-use park but some of the facilities can be rented as vacation houses. There is also a museum and visitor’s center.

There are several informational signs around the property explaining the various buildings, ruins and gun sites. Some of the signs have tags, the little squares that you can access with your smartphone, and it brings up tons more information on your smartphone, including an audio tour.

Kids love spending the day running around the batteries, in and out of the tunnels, using flashlights, making echoes, and pretending to be soldiers from WWI and WWII. The colonial architecture of the housing draws the person with a love of both history and home design. And everyone is drawn to the sensational view from high up on the hill, stretching out over the entrance to the Columbia River, down to Astoria and beyond.

So if you’re on a day or weekend trip to the Long Beach peninsula, do something a little different from the usual shopping and go-karting in town and head down to Fort Columbia. You won’t be disappointed.

More great pictures of the buildings can be found here:

If you’re into the details of the plans for the site here is a site with fascinating specs:

Getting there: From Long Beach, you can either head south on Hwy. 103 to Ilwaco. In town, turn left at the light and follow the signs for Hwy. 101 Alt. east (towards Astoria). Go about 8 miles until you see the sign for the park on the left. Or from Long Beach you can head back east on Hwy 101 then about 2.4 miles turn right onto Alt. Hwy 101 (towards Astoria).

Categories: Parks, Washington | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The “Yarn Dude” of Ocean Park, Washington

Gary Smith – aka “The Yarn Dude”

We just stopped in for breakfast. As we walked up to the building we noticed that it was also a yarn store. I started drooling. A combination restaurant and yarn shop! What a great idea! We wandered into the yarn shop to quickly look around before going to order breakfast. As my husband rounded a pile of yarn, he stopped dead in his tracks, with his mouth open and he said, “I expected to see a pretty gal here, not some gnarly old dude.” Now, to be fair, the gentleman behind the counter does not look like the “Big ugly man doll” from Toy Story.

Gary Smith is a gray-haired, bearded gentleman, but yes, not what a person expects to see in a yarn store.

At breakfast (of course we had to eat there!) the waitress told us she calls him The Yarn Dude.

So how did Gary get started knitting? Yarn hasn’t always been his life. Until 12 years ago he worked in construction and installed sprinkler systems in new buildings. He learned to knit when he married his wife, Colleen, who owns the restaurant/yarn shop. His wife runs the restaurant and Gary “mans” the yarn store. And he loves it. He says it’s very relaxing and fun.

And Gary knows his stuff. While we were talking he received a phone call and went right over to some yarn and gave the caller the information they needed.

Gary helping a customer on the phone.

Ask Gary about felting and he can explain every step to you. Ask to see what projects he has knitted and he can show you several beautiful items around the store. What needles or hooks do you need? He can tell you.

When asked if he was involved in any men’s knitting groups, Gary said no, he doesn’t want to be separated by gender. The store, Tapestry Rose, has open classes where anyone can bring in whatever project they’re working on and he encourages men to bring their projects there. “When a guy has a problem with a project, there are three women there helping him figure it out. It’s great!” He also said that men have egos. By the time they have showed you a beautiful project they have knitted or crocheted, they have torn it out and restarted two or three times because they want it perfect. But then of course, so do women!

Gary and his wife, Colleen, have two more restaurant/yarn store combos in Tillamook, Oregon and spend some time in those locations as well. So next time you’re on the Long Beach peninsula, head north to Ocean Park, take a left on Bay Avenue, go about two blocks, just over a hump in the road to where you see The Full Circle Café and Tapestry Rose yarn shop on your right. Go in, enjoy a hearty breakfast, pick up some Russian Tea Cakes for dessert then head back to the yarn shop and pet the soft yarns. Then ask Gary about the bear problem in the area. He knows as much about that as he does about yarn!

360-665-5385 or 866-923-5385, 1024 Bay Avenue, Ocean Park WA 98640

       Some of Gary’s creations!

Categories: People, Washington | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

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