Few know that Astoria was once called Fort George. How did that come to be and what is the fascinating twist to the story? Astoria is known as the oldest settlement on the west coast. It was named after John Jacob Astor in 1911 (even though he never actually visited the area) and was called Fort Astoria. But – it didn’t always have that name. [more]
Standing on the beach one summer day in 2015, just staring out at the ocean and enjoying the rare sunny day on the Oregon coast, suddenly we hear a horn. “Odd,” we think. “There’s no fog, it can’t be a fog horn.” Then we see a small boat speed around the giant rock sitting out in the middle of the ocean. We watch in a bit of shock as it races towards us on the shore. “Uhmmm, is that thing going to crash?! It’s heading right for the beach!”
We stand there just staring as it keeps racing in. There’s nothing we can do. It zooms right up onto the beach and – just stops. No crash, no yelling, no damage. What the heck? We ask someone standing near us, “What is that?” They smile and tell us, “That’s a Dory fishing boat. That’s how they land. They don’t dock. They also just launch from the beach.”
We are thrilled and fascinated. Standing there at Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City, Oregon, we found out more about this unusual type of basically flat-bottomed fishing boat. While there are different types of dory boats, the beach dory is only used in a few spots around the country where the fishermen launch and land from the beach. According to the Pacific City Dorymen,“There is no other harbor, port, or fishing fleet anywhere in the world exactly like this. It is truly unique how we evolved.”
Pacific City celebrates this traditional way of fishing by holding “Dory Days” in July. We decided we need to check that out. Fast forward to July 2016. We pulled into Pacific City on a slightly overcast day, which quickly changed to downright warm. We managed to find a parking place pretty easily, and walked back over the little bridge over the canal to the “four-way stop” as everyone seems to refer to it. There we saw several tents with vendors selling their enticing wares. After checking them out, we went back to the bridge and found ourselves a nice little perch where we could sit and watch the parade. We were worried that since we had forgot to bring chairs that we would be standing the whole time but no worries with the bridge to sit on.
Who doesn’t love a small town parade? Everyone hollering out to the people they know on the floats, lots of candy being thrown. Since it’s the coast, David was thrilled to find they were throwing salt water taffy, one of his favorites. He ignored all the other candy but swooped in on the taffy like a seagull.
Some of the usual features, like a few politicians, were in attendance. But what was most unique in this parade was the Dory boats. Some were fairly plain, but many were decorated very creatively and were quite entertaining. For such a small town, it was a nice parade lasting about 45 minutes.
As soon as the parade was over we made a beeline for the car. We knew we wanted to hurry down to Cape Kiwanda before the rest of the crowd got there. Again, we quickly found a parking spot right by Pelican Pub and Brewery, a place we have been wanting to try. Luckily we got there when we did because we got in right away and later saw quite the crowd waiting.
After our very tasty meal, we went on out to the beach to watch the Dory boats coming in. We didn’t have to wait long before one came ripping in. I was a little nervous we were in its path, not sure how far they come up on the beach.
The customers who were on the boat and had been fishing looked happy and excited. Exactly what you want to see. We think we need to come back again and fish next time!
There were a few other activities that were offered as part of Dory Days, such as the Fish Fry and the Oregon Heritage Traditional Dedication Ceremony. Dory Days was a very fun, small town event that we highly recommend attending. And you have to watch the boats landing!
On a recent girls’ weekend to Central Oregon, we thought visiting the farm looked like fun. Surely they would have a gift shop with tons of goodies made from soft, warm alpaca wool. As we pulled into the parking lot we noticed a baby alpaca, looking totally adorable in the field. It was still wobbly when it walked. We wondered how old it was.
Then we turned our attention to the gift shop, of course. Inside we were treated to multi-colored displays of gorgeous sweaters, hats, gloves, you name it! Yes, most of it was fairly expensive. But we noticed the sock display and had to check them out and ended up with some very soft ones that are making me look forward to the cold weather so I can enjoy them.
We headed out the door to go back to the car but noticed some people over in the barn with several animals. As we walked towards the barn, the alpacas started noticing us and slowly ambled towards us. Knowing that llamas can spit, I wondered if alpacas do the same thing – so I watched them trying to determine if I could tell. Would I see them making that face guys do when they get ready to spit?
My friend asked if we could watch and they were very welcoming, answering all of our questions as they got ready to shear one of the alpacas. It was a little uncomfortable for me to see the alpaca be stretched out for shearing, but it didn’t appear to be in any distress and was quite calm. They sheared off some of the wool and brought it over for us to feel. It was surprisingly soft because they said this animal was fairly old, so I guess I expected the wool to feel coarse.
The whole time we were watching this and asking questions, there was one alpaca in particular that was quite interested in watching us as well. Thankfully – it never spit!
The Crescent Moon Alpaca Farm is located just south of Terrebonne, Oregon. It’s very easy to find, right on the main highway at 7566 N Hwy 97. You can’t miss it – you’ll see several adorable alpacas in their field, and signs indicating whether they are open or closed.
For more information, check them out at http://www.crescentmoonranch.com.
Is it a river boat? A paddlewheel boat? A paddle steamer? A sternwheeler? A boat operated by paddle wheels appears to be known by all of these names. But on the Columbia River, it’s referred to as a sternwheeler. I’ve always wanted to take a ride on one and finally we had a chance on the Columbia Gorge, based in Cascade Locks, Oregon. My mother-in-law’s birthday had been earlier in the month and since we prefer to give experiences rather than “stuff,” we wanted to take her on this cruise.
As we drove into town, traffic was bumper to bumper. Then we notice the sign on the side of the road – “Sternwheeler Days.” “Oh, no, I hope we’re not caught up in a parade!” I quickly pulled out my iPhone and looked up the celebration. Whew! The parade must have just ended. We crawled along for just a few blocks until we spied the well-marked sign to the turn-in for the boat, at the Cascade Locks Marine Park. We easily found a parking spot, and headed into a small building, the Visitor Center and Locks Cafe. Inside was the ticketing desk off to the left, a small food area to the right, and behind that was a gift shop.
The whole building had fascinating old pictures and bookcases with antiques highlighting life years ago.
We already had our tickets but stopped at the ticket desk to ask if we were OK wearing sandals (we were) and if it was OK to take the camera on the boat (yes we were, as a matter of fact it was highly encouraged!) Then we stepped outside on the deck to enjoy the view until the boat came back from its trip upriver. It runs about ½ hour downstream, turns around, comes back to the dock and lets some passenger off and others on, then goes upstream about ½ hour and again returns to the dock. So there are different lengths of cruises you can take, as well as dinner cruises. We were taking the two-hour cruise.
When the boat came back to the dock, it was moving pretty rapidly. David and Josh were debating between themselves if it was truly operated by the paddle wheels or if it had supplemental power. Later we would find out, yes, it was truly operated by the paddle wheels! And its name was – Columbia Gorge!
Before getting on the ship, there was a sign that said for safety reasons everyone had to have their picture taken. We wondered if this was because we would be going close to the dam. Group pictures were allowed so we had ours all taken together. I did have to wonder later if it really was for safety reasons, because later, staff took all the pictures around to the guests and people could choose to buy one if they wanted. We had already planned and pre-paid for two pictures anyway, so we got ours.
Inside the vessel was gorgeous, a combination of antique looking decor with modern amenities such as a restroom and snack bar. There was a lower dining area for the lunch dinner cruises, and seating upstairs where the snack bar was located.
As we pulled away from the dock, looking north we were awestruck to see the scar on the land where a massive landslide happened hundreds of years ago. The captain, Michael Cain, explained how this landslide had completely blocked the river, backing it clear up to Idaho. Eventually the river broke through underneath, creating a natural land bridge, named, “The Bridge of the Gods” by local Native Americans. Crossing under the new steel Bridge of the Gods built to replace the natural bridge that eventually collapsed, we were taken back in time as we thought about how we were re-enacting a trip Native Americans might have taken under the natural bridge.
One fun unusual thing that happened – kayakers and paddleboarders would catch the waves from the boat and ride along on them!
Strong winds blasting up the Columbia River were a welcome relief from the heat of the day, even though the sky was overcast. On both sides of the river were odd-looking docks. The captain explained that Native Americans used to fish the falls in the area before the dam, and now use these docks to fish.
We continued on up near the dam, passing a rock that the captain told us was named, “Hermiston Rock.” Apparently rocks are named after the boats that crash on them! Yikes, let’s not have one named “Columbia Gorge Rock” OK?
We went as far as we could then turned around and headed back upriver. I overheard someone say, “Anyone can go in the wheelhouse” so of course, we headed in. Inside was the captain and two young men, crew members. The captain was more than happy to answer all of our questions, and then the dream of a lifetime – let Josh steer the boat! He was thrilled! He did it for quite a ways, until we got back closer to the bridge, then the captain took over. We finally left the wheelhouse but Josh just stayed in there, visiting and asking questions until we docked again.
We waited while the other passengers boarded, then headed upriver. By now the sun was coming out, the clouds were disappearing, and it wasn’t near as windy going east. The views along this route were more rural with lots of beautiful hills and trees. By the time we turned around and headed back, I think we were all relaxed as Jell-O. I didn’t want to get off the boat, I felt like all stress had drained away into the river, and all that was left was thoughts of the here-and-now.
We highly recommend this little cruise. The price is extremely reasonable, with different rates for different lengths of trips. For prices, check out their website at http://portlandspirit.com/sternwheeler.php.
We have a tendency to think of Sunriver Resort in Oregon as being an all newly-constructed development. But did you know that it has an old building with architecture reminiscent of the Old Faithful Inn? You may have attended a wedding, conference or other event in it, perhaps thinking it was simply built to look old and blend in with the rustic surroundings. But the Great Hall was actually built in 1944 by the Army Corps of Engineers on the land there that was once home to Camp Abbott. The hall was only used for about six months, as a cafeteria, then the war ended and the beautiful building constructed from local trees was abandoned and sadly fell into disrepair. At one point it was even used for a cattle barn. Fortunately for all of us, it was saved and has been totally restored and updated into a premier meeting space, while reminding us of the history of the area and the beauty of the natural resources used.
The log building features high ceilings with exposed beams. A massive stone fireplace burns a cozy fire, and a balcony of limbs surrounds you like welcoming arms– all of which can’t help but make you think of the Old Faithful Inn.
Replica fixtures illuminate the interior in a soft warm glow. Hallways adorned with historical pictures and stories lead the way to modern and comfortable meeting facilities. There is space just to sit and relax where your eyes are drawn out the large windows to an open field and expansive sky. You’re sure to see some sort of woodland wildlife if you are patient.
Events can be catered by Sunriver restaurants, as ours was this day at the Northwest Travel Writers Conference. The beauty and ambiance of this grand old building and the creativity of the dishes served and displayed made for a deliciously memorable experience.
If you are ever in the market for an event space, or simply want to stop in and pay respect to the history and architectural skill of the time, don’t pass up the chance to check out the Great Hall at Sunriver Resort.
For more information, see Sunriver-Resort.com.
We were hungry, but didn’t want any of the usual chains. But we were in a town (Bend, Oregon) that we didn’t know very well. We decided to get brave and I pulled out my i-Phone and tapped the Urbanspoon app hoping for at least a somewhat good idea. Up popped the Pour House Grill – with a 90% “Like” rate. We decided that was good enough to take a chance.
As we pulled up to the restaurant, we were worried we wouldn’t find any place to park, it was so busy. Another good sign! But we did find a spot, and headed inside. We were immediately greeted and seated by a very friendly waitress, who was also very helpful in answering our questions about the menu.
They had a nice variety of appetizers, burgers, and beer. They have some wines and even a few of my new love – hard cider.
We ordered appetizers and then our dinners. We were pleased with the portions, the prices, and the service. So much so that when we were looking for a place for dinner again a couple of nights later, we wound up back at the Pour House Grill to try some other menu items. Again, we weren’t disappointed with either the food or the service.
Bend’s Pour House Grill is definitely a go-back-to spot again next time we are in the area.
Do you use an app or review site to help you choose where to eat?
For more information, menu, and prices check out their website at http://www.thepourhousegrill.com/.
It’s 125 feet tall. And you can climb up the inside of it on a metal spiral staircase. Your legs will burn, you will be very glad for each landing where you can stop and take a breather and rest your legs. But once at the top – you will have one of the best views on the Oregon coast. “It” is the Astoria Column, built in 1926 as a monument to the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Typically, Astoria is usually a bit cloudy if not down-right rainy, so the view is hit-and-miss. This abnormally beautiful April day, the skies were completely clear, like nothing I have ever seen. We could even see Mt. St. Helens from the Astoria-Megler Bridge as we headed from the Washington side of the Columbia River to Astoria.
It’s fairly easy to find the column. You can easily see it and just head towards it and eventually you will see a white column icon on the roads that lead to the column. It’s a short winding drive up the hill, then there is plenty of parking, restrooms, and a small gift shop where you pay your $2.00 fee.
Even without going in the column the view is beautiful. To the south you can see Saddle Mountain and it’s obvious why it was named that. You can look down and see the area where the replica of Fort Clatsop, Lewis and Clark’s home for a short time, is set. You can’t help but look at that beautiful river and want to take a kayak on a long, slow cruise.
Before you go into the column, notice the writings and the drawings depicting the expedition, on the outside, going all the way up. Then you enter the column through a door at the bottom and start your climb up. It’s a long climb, but there are landings every so many steps where you can step out of the way of others and rest your legs and catch your breath for a minute. Once you come out on top there is a 360 degree walkaround to take in every bit of the view.
Off to the north is the mighty Columbia River. Maybe you’ll catch sight of a container ship, so large it dwarfs the houses down below.
To the northwest is the Astoria-Megler Bridge looking so long you think, “I came across that huge thing?!”
To the northwest and west, looking endless, is the magnificent Pacific Ocean. Looking south again is the even better view of Saddle Mountain.
The eastern view will reveal the dense northwest forests that the area is known for.
The Astoria Column puts the beauty of the northwest Oregon coast on display for all who choose to visit. It really is a fitting tribute to the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Getting there (from http://astoriacolumn.org/visit/hours-fees-and-directions/): The Astoria Column is located at 1 Coxcomb Drive. Directional signs can be found on 14th and 16th Streets.
If you’re looking for a cool Irish pub to go to for St. Patrick’s Day, you need to check out Kells Irish Pub in Portland.
There are a lot of authentically old establishments in Portland, but Kells is not one of them. However, they did a great job of making it look like it. There are Kells located in Seattle and San Francisco as well and a second Portland brewery.
We were in the area for something else when we noticed the entrance, which simply looked intriguing and inviting. As we entered, our jaws dropped open and we stood there in shock. The first thing you notice is – there’s money everywhere on the ceiling! Well, heck, that just made us want to look around even more! Luckily it was early mid-morning so the place wasn’t busy. We asked if we could just take our own little tour and it was no problem.
The main floor has an inviting fireplace, warm wood furniture, and cute small chandeliers and exposed brick walls, all giving Kells its character.
When you go downstairs, the ambiance of the dark wood and stuffed chairs are so old-time reminiscent that you expect to see ghosts of mobsters smoking big cigars and beautiful women wearing diamonds and furs lounging off to the side.
How was the food? We have no idea! We didn’t have time to try that part of Kells, but maybe you can and let us know. The character and personality alone is enough to make it worth checking out. And if you’re there around St. Patrick’s Day you’re sure have a great time with all the activities and events they have planned. Enjoy!
Kells Irish Pub is located at 112 SW 2nd Avenue in Portland.
Last week we told you about the fabulous petrified wood field open for public digging outside of Sweet Home, Oregon. We also told you this is a great area to find pyrite.
On this same weekend, my little brother, Jerry, his wife Marilyn, and daughter Jessica, headed up to Sweet Home to check out the “pyrite seam” as Jerry called it. Many years ago Jerry and my stepdad used to pan for gold on Quartzville Creek outside of Sweet Home. This is an area set aside by the Forest Service for public, no fee digging. They found out about the pyrite seam from one of our neighbors so many years ago. He had been on the road crew that cut the road through the seam – apparently they all thought for a few minutes that they were rich!
We headed up Quartzville Road east of Sweet Home. It goes past Sunnyside County Park, a park we highly recommend if you want to stay in the area. It’s large, roomy, has a couple of boat docks where we launched our kayaks into the river rather than right out into the busy Foster Reservoir.
Keep going several miles and you’ll see Green Peter Reservoir. From the pictures, you can see why “green” is in the name. Why it is Green Peter though, I have never found out.
Finally, we turned on a road leading past an obvious dry camping area, and just headed up about 2 miles. We saw a couple of cars parked alongside the road and a couple of people on the small hillside. Suddenly Jerry exclaimed, “That’s it!” I think he was worried it would be all overgrown after so many years. Jessica jumped out as excitedly as I did to run over to the hill. You could see sparkles all over the hillside and even down onto the road! They were calling to us! Jerry reached down and picked up a beautifully shaped piece and Jessica and I were nearly giddy with excitement.
Now, the hillside is a little slippery because the rock and dirt is soft. You have to be very careful going up and down it because it’s easy to fall and hurt yourself. But does that every really stop a rockhounder?
We gathered pieces we broke out of the rock as well as pieces that I wanted to take home to show the grandsons.
Finally we had to leave and stopped back by the dry camp area for lunch. Thankfully Jerry brought a small BBQ and we replenished our energy with hot dogs, chips and drinks.
Then he decided to try panning for gold in the creek. It was mainly to show Jessica how to do it. Jerry really didn’t expect to find anything because that particular spot is heavily panned. But it was a great day to cool off down by the river.
Although Jessica and I would have been happy to go back and spend a lot more time looking for pyrite, we ran out of time this day. But we all meet up every year in Oregon, so I know Jessica and I will definitely make sure we go back again and find more of that beautiful pyrite!
The Sweet Home, Oregon area is known for Holley Blue and other agates. But did you know you can also dig petrified wood and gather pyrite? Now I know some people say, “Pyrite?! Who wants Fool’s Gold?” Well, this is very pretty, nicely shaped Fool’s Gold.
On this day, my little brother, Jerry, his wife Marilyn, and daughter Jessica, headed up to Sweet Home to check it out. We first arrived at Holleywood Ranch just outside of town, to dig for the petrified wood. We saw the sign showing we were at the right place, but no one was in sight. It turns out you should always phone ahead because the owners live on a hill behind the field where the digging takes place, and so they aren’t always in the field. There is a white house next to the fields but that is rental property, so please don’t bother the renters.
We met up with owner Brad Newport, and he showed us the wagons and probing tools and told us to head on out to see what we could find. The top of the ground was literally littered with pieces of petrified wood. It’s tempting to reach down and pick up several pieces but even more tempting to see what we could dig up for ourselves. We saw several trenches where other people had dug so we checked them out and found several pieces nice enough to keep. Most pieces were rather small, but there were some pieces in the field that were simply too big to pick up!
After choosing several pieces we headed back to the gate where there was water available to clean our finds and decide which ones to keep. The details really show up when the rocks are wet! Then we took them up to Brad’s house to pay for our keepers.
When we walked into his shop, we were enthralled! Petrified wood everywhere! Limb casts, huge pieces, colorful pieces – it was a rockhounder’s heaven. We had some time to talk to Brad, an extremely pleasant gentleman, and he told us how he bought the property not knowing the petrified wood was on it. And when he did find out, he nearly wore himself out digging every day after work. I could completely understand, I would have done the same thing!
He didn’t plan to open his property to the public until the Travel Channel Cash and Treasures show called him and wanted to visit. One of their requirements is that the property be opened to the public so he decided to try it. He had a great time telling us the story of the filming of the show, and some of the funny highlights. Holleywood Ranch has also been featured on Grant’s Getaways!
Holleywood Ranch is open for digging every day (weather permitting), just make sure to call ahead to 541-401-0899 or 541-409-6047. The digging is easy, the ground is soft and flat so no hiking, just a simple walk out into the field. You only pay $1.50 per pound for the pieces you choose to keep.
You can find Holleywood Ranch online at http://holleywoodranch.com/
The link to the episode on Cash and Treasures, as well as Grant’s Getaways can be found here: http://holleywoodranch.com/claim-to-fame/
Come back next week to find out more about how Sweet Home Rocks! Part II – Pyrite.