Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
It's the first of our going home days. With a dawn start at Kalaloch Lodge, we drove out of the Olympic Peninsula. Nice drive. Empty highway.
Ninety minutes later, we stopped for breakfast at Duffy's, by now our regular meal spot in Aberdeen. The Swedish pancakes were as good as they were they last time.
After stuffing ourselves, we visited Carla in her prison yard. We hope to see her again, all patched up, in just a few months. Stay tuned.
In another ninety minutes or so, we reached the Columbia River and stopped at the "Dismal Nitch" rest stop. This was the place that the Lewis and Clark expedition stopped before attempting a river crossing. Reportedly, they were cold, miserable, hungry, and soaked, when a boatload of Cathlamet Indians arrived with a boatload of fish to sell; the start of the local tourist trade.
The Columbia is very wide at this point, but there is a bridge, a very long and narrow one. With just one lane each way, there was little room for error for larger vehicles. At the end, we were greeted by a Welcome to Oregon sign (shot through a travel-marked windshield.)
The bridge dropped us right downtown, not far from our hotel. It was still too early for check in, so we did what tourists do: go shopping, or at least browsing. Marianne's favorite was an art gallery, with high quality works. My favorite was a shop selling Finnish and Scandinavian gee gaws. We passed on art, but did buy pancake mix, lingonberry jam, hoping to reproduce our treat at Duffy's.
This distraction had given the Hotel Elliott time to have our room ready. First impressions of the hundred-year-old hotel were excellent and our room-with-a-view seemed perfectly comfy. Later, we made use of the even better view from the rooftop terrace.
Now it was time for our next-favorite tourist activity: eating. Lunch at The Silver Salmon Grille met all our expectations. We celebrated the start of our trip home with beers, non alcoholic, of course. The clam chowder was excellent, thick and tasty. We need to stick to seafood around here.
In order to not overstay our parking place limit, we took a drive through the local neighborhoods. The houses perched on the hills reminded me of the Seattle of my childhood. Some were large, reportedly homes of sea captains whose wives watched the harbor for their husband's return. Others were the more modest clapboard homes so common in the northwest.
We ended the city tour at Astoria's highest hill, the home of the Astoria Column, an almost century-old monument to Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery. The views were good, not great because of a combination of forest fire smoke and coastal fog. That's why I didn't climb to the top of the column. Probably.
Back down at the Elliott, we retreated to our comfy room for a rest. Another tourist tradition. As sunset approached, we went up to the rooftop terrace. The smoke-fog haze limited distant views, but did provide nice reds and yellows in the sky. I think I could take pictures of harbors and sunsets for hours.
Here is something I need to call a "ribbon picture" because it's wider than a normal panorama.
Click to see lots of detail of our terrace view of Astoria.
Saturday evening in Astoria on this unseasonably warm evening was hopping. Bridal parties. Football celebrations. Lots of general drinking and noise.
And the vintage buildings wore their finest lights.
Sunday we will head south, down the coast part of the way and then over to Interstate 5, the north-south connector for Washington, Oregon, and California. We will take two or three days, depending on our stamina. We do want to get home.
John and Marianne