On the Road with Tom and Gloria travel blog


Simulated Coast Guard Rescue

Trolley and hills of Little San Francisco

Astoria-Megler Bridge

As we got ready for bed last night we heard rain falling on the roof of the coach. Better at night than while we are driving.

This morning it looked like more rain was possible so we cancelled our plan for a drive to the towns of Seaside and Cannon Beach and went to the Maritime Museum in Astoria instead. We watched a movie about the Columbia River and the Columbia River Bar Pilots.

The Columbia River Bar is where the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean meet. It is a sand and silt fan shaped bar going more than six miles into the ocean. It is constantly changing and is extremely dangerous to navigate. It is known as the " Graveyard of the Pacific". The movie showed how the Bar Pilots embark and disembark from the ships they help guide through this dangerous area. The Pilot Boat gets as close as possible to the rope ladder on the side of the vessel . The pilot grabs onto the rope ladder and climbs up to the deck. After he has successfully navigated the vessel through the bar, he comes down to the waiting Pilot Boat by hanging on to a long rope with one hand while climbing down the ladder. He goes as far as possible ( he can't get too close in case there is a swell and the boat rises and traps him between the two vessels)- then he steps off the ladder and slides down the rope onto the waiting boat. The pilot said that was the most dangerous part of his job. It looked it!

The next room we went into had a retired Coast Guard rescue boat. The sounds from a simulated rescue being broadcast in that room got our attention. We got to watch a videotape showing Coast Guard rescue training missions . What courageous men.

This place is a wealth of maritime history. Many wonderful exhibits - some hands on. Outside we got to tour Lightship Columbia - the last seagoing lighthouse to serve on the west coast. It used to be anchored 5-6 miles out from the bar and had a crew of 18 men. It has been replaced by a rather sophisticated buoy.

As we were walking from the pier to the parking lot, the Astoria Waterfront Trolley was about to pick up passengers in front of the museum. For $1 each we were able to ride for 55 minutes ( the entire route) and learn a bit of Astoria trivia like: The town is named for John Jacob Astor- an early fur trader, and- The Goonies was filmed here.

The city is very hilly earning it the nickname " Little San Francisco". You can see a couple of hills in the background of the trolley photo.

Until the Astoria-Megler Bridge was built spanning the Columbia River ( 4.1 miles) people used to take a ferry between Oregon and Washington. The bridge is closed to vehicular traffic one day every October and for $30 dollars you can walk across and get a great view up and down the river.

We took a slight detour coming home and passed a little eatery on the side of the road whose specialty was clam chowder. Next to it was a small antique shop. The owner had invited some other collectors to show their wares during a three day "lawn sale" . Didn't buy anything but it sure was fun to browse.

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