Monday, July 20, 2009

... it's naht a too-mer - it's naht, at all!

well, yesterday i got a photo of me standing out the front of the john jacob astor elementary school, aka astoria elementary, used as the exteriors for the movie kindergarten cop. i did see the house from the goonies but it has changed so much it's hard to recognise it. i did a large amount of walking yesterday.

i was up and down to my adopted second home here in astoria, the astoria coffee house, for breakfast and blogging, then i walked along the streetcar line to the columbia river maritime museum, where i spent a good couple of hours trawling (heheh) through their exhibits. i bought a little guide book and a postcard, which i later wrote on and posted home (give it a couple of days at least, mum!), and i took a lot of photos as i wandered around.

the history of the discovery and settlement of the columbia river by europeans is fascinating. astoria was the first u.s. settlement west of the mississippi and swiftly grew to prominence as a centre of the fur trade (otter and beaver), then logging. it has suffered badly over the last thirty years with the demise of its logging industry (weird how in the goonies you didn't get to see much of its 30% unemployed, hey?) but is apparently experiencing something of a renaissance with growing numbers of retirees moving here. that in turn has fed a growth in the artistic community here, partly why places like red hare can do what they're doing so well.

from a riverine perspective, the continuing peril afforded by the columbia river bar means that river- and bar-pilots will remain absolute necessities for this town and for riverine traffic in general. fuel and manufactured goods continue to go upriver while grain and other primary goods continue to be sent downstream and whether a boat is comparatively small or relatively huge, these pilots are those boats' best hope for navigating the bar and the shifting channels of the river successfully, instead of ending up like so many other wrecks in the "graveyard of the pacific".

a local historian has written a book about astoria that i've been trying to get my hands on but it has gone out of print, the author is in a... bunfight with the publisher over royalties (i heard that only one cheque was ever sent) and i'm going to do a final pass through local bookshops today to see if i can find it. i think it will be fascinating reading.

i waited for about half an hour for the streetcar to take me down to the eastern end of astoria's waterfront, where it pretty-much peters out at the 39th street pier. i had dinner there - pizza and porter - and at about 5 o'clock started the long walk up to kindergarten cop school and the astoria column.

when i got to the school, two women were taking each other's pictures there. i commented that we were all there for the same reason and asked if they'd like me to take their picture. we traded off and hence i have a picture of myself there now too. they were teachers from nevada (carson city and las vegas) on a last-minute road trip to seattle who were sidetracked by astoria's filmogeneity (?). we traded stories of what we'd seen so far - they were going to visit forks (twilight-town) in washington but even by car it was going to be too far away... i was thinking about going bowling at the alley we first see chunk in in the movie... then we all wandered off.

i walked quite a ways uphill to 28th street where a trailhead to cathedral tree and the astoria column could be found. it was about a mile to cathedral tree and another mile and a half to the column, the forest was gorgeous (no bears), and my water bottle came in very handy. there were plenty of places to stop and take in the view but even so from time to time i could feel my pulse hammering. (note to self - more exercise.) when i arrived at the astoria column i managed to take a few more photos before the battery in my phone karked it.

the column itself is something of a trajan's column, telling the history of the local area from inhabitation by chinook and clatsop indians, to gray's landing by sea, the arrival of lewis and clark, the founding of fort astor in 1810, the growth of trade, and so on. it's very impressive. more impressive is the view from the top. almost 200 steps takes you up the centre of the column to a viewing platform at the summit, around which one can see for miles in every direction. i managed a few photos from up here too.

despite my calves seeking permission to sign up for some kind of transplant programme, i managed to get back to the hostel and clean myself up to go out. i went to red hare to see country singer and local portland (of 10 years) resident paula sinclair perform. what a great voice! i am in the throes of discovering country, folk and roots music at present and found the intimate surroundings of red hare and the subdued mixing to be perfect for listening to her voice and her words and dwelling in the moment of each song. brilliant.

so, today i'm going to see about using my free cup of coffee at three cups coffee house, i'm going to nose around the markets they've set up for this morning, i'm visiting a comic-book shop where i plan of supplementing something i already have to make it even more fun (bwahahahahahah...), then hopefully have an early night so i can be up bright and early tomorrow for my ride back to portland.

ciao all!

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