Life is blessed is many ways. Recently I have been taking every opportunity to appreciate the simple daily joys and blessings.For me it is that first sip of coffee in the morning.For you it might be tea or another beverage – but there is something about the reawakening that happens in that morning ritual. And I take a moment every day to be grateful for this simple pleasure.
For the past two years, I have been travelling closer to home – which in my case is the upper left corner of the United States.The Pacific Northwest. Like my daily rituals, I had not appreciated the beauty and history in my own backyard.
A few months back I posted about Astoria – which is the oldest (and wettest) city in Oregon.Founded in 1811 by John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company – it has a rich and colorful history.I am reading the book, Astoria by Peter Stark which I highly recommend.
I stay in the Uniontown neighborhood, which was the largest Finnish settlement west of the Mississippi. There are cozy coffeeshops, homes nestled into the hillside, and the masive Astoria Megler bridge – which traverses the mouth of the Columbia River.
Nearby is the Fisherman’s Memorial, a wall of names immortalizing the many lives touched by Astoria’s stormy relationship with the meeting of two massive forces – the Pacific Ocean and the Columbia River.
I am so blessed to live in this corner of the world.
With no destination in mind – but with a firm desire to road trip – I left my last meeting on Friday with only the open road before me. I had to get home from Dash Point, Washington to Portland. This is a quarterly trip so I was used to the routine of getting on I-5 south. Part of me wanted to get home and be a responsible leaf-raking home owner.
For no reason that I can explain, just north of Centralia I veered off the freeway and headed to the coast. Ironically – the retreat I had been just attending was all about decision making. My head was full of ethical discernments. This was spontaneous – absolutely no discerning other than seeing a road sign saying “Aberdeen/Raymond” next exit.
Taking all the anticipation out of this road trip tale – I ended up in Astoria, Oregon for 2 days. Best decision I have made in quite some time – I must have learned something at that retreat.
Some of the highlights:
Early morning photo shooting in Astoria and exploring this wonderful and historic town – founded in 1811!
Wave watching at Cape Disappointment (not disappointing!!)
Buoy Beer for dinner
And finally, there is this little church about 2 miles west of the Astoria Megler bridge on the way to Ilwaco, Washington that I have passed a hundred times. It’s in the middle of nowhere but is beautiful in its simplicity and isolation. I have regretted never stopping and learning the story of this church by the sea. I stopped.
History fans (I am one!) should read Peter Stark’s Astoria – recently released in paperback – for a closer look at the early years of Astoria.
Astoria has transformed from river city with an economy and industry (most significantly fish canneries) reliant on the Columbia River – to an artistic corner of Oregon – focused on tourism and the two mainstays of Oregon – beer and coffee.
The Columbia River is still a strong force. Cargo ships provide entertainment as their huge hulks pass by the waterfront. And the nautical history is never far away – including the Flavel House Museum (George Flavel was the Columbia’s first river pilot back in 1850). But you are more likely to see Willapa Bay Oysters featured on area menu’s than Columbia River salmon.
We should do this holiday more often! A day dedicated to gratitude and eating food with family and friends deserves to be celebrated more than once a year!
On Instagram (@thistleamy) I have devoted this month’s pictures and my picture taking to gratitude. Here is what I am celebrating in November, 2016 (always subject to change) – this could also be put to song by Julie Andrews…
Winter storms at the Oregon Coast
My running shoes – they keep my feet happy!
Coffee (cheesy but so true)
Great bookstores like Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon and City Lights in San Francisco
Birds and bird watching
Beautiful bridges (we have many in Oregon)
And I do love German beer…
So much to be thankful for… most important of all.. my family and friends and all the wonderful people in my life.
And thank you! For reading, for contributing to our creative community that spans the world!
Today’s blog I am going to talk about The Fence! Not that fence. Today’s fence is the one protecting us from ourselves.
Let me confess right now that I am an Instagram fan. I love sharing my photographs and learning from other photographers. It is one of my favorite pastimes while riding the bus, waiting in line, sitting alone in a restaurant or coffee shop. I really like when my photographs are “liked”. So I recognize that I am part of the problem.
Transparency moment – I really like to follow rules. And I get unhappy when others do not do so. Second transparency moment – I too have broken a rule or two trying to capture that perfect photograph.
But the ocean is different. Too often I see photographers taking reckless chances. I grew up in Hawaii where you learn to have a very healthy respect for the water. I have learned not to venture too close – especially with something as unpredictable as the ocean.
The picture below demonstrates how dangerous and thoughtless we can be when trying to get that perfect shot. This was taken at Cape Kiwanda – one of the most photographed and beautiful spots in Oregon. But every year someone dies on these cliffs. They call them “sneaker waves” and they can come and rip someone off a cliff without warning. (Note: thankfully the photographer above ended up being ok.)
Over the past 8 months, locals, concerned Oregonians and the Oregon State Parks are contemplating a bigger and more forceful fence at Cape Kiwanda. I have mixed feelings about this – as my good friend Ray always says (when referring to that “other” fence) – build a bigger fence, they build a bigger ladder.
My last words… be careful out there. No amazing photographic moment is worth your life. Sometimes it is ok to admire the ocean and not take a picture.
Above is another moment and shot taken at Thor’s Well in Oregon – a very popular Instagram and photography spot. Again everyone was ok but I am sad to tell you that I later learned that the gentleman on the right was the tour leader for a group of amateur photographers. Certainly not teaching his group the first rule of photography – be careful! Respect nature!
Do you have a favorite highway or road? One of my favorites (and conveniently close to home) is Highway 6, also known as the Wilson River Highway, that traverses the Oregon Coast Range from the Portland metro area out to Tillamook and the beautiful central Oregon Coast. A gorgeous section of the Pacific Northwest that includes Cape Kiwanda and Pacific City, the Three Capes scenic bike route, Rockaway to the north and Neskowin to the south.
I love how the road twists and turns around huge Douglas Firs dripping with rain. And to my right a river runs. Trucks are parked at every wide spot in the road – it’s fishing season in the Oregon Coast Range. I briefly think of one of my favorite books, “The River Why” by David James Duncan – the title river is based on this exact area.
The rainforest here is lush and green but fall colors still shine now and then where a vine maple or alder has found its ground among the evergreens. If you want to experience western Oregon – logging, history, fishing, homesteading, and our famous rain – Highway 6 from Banks to Tillamook is a great way to experience our state. Pull over at the Smith Homestead park where history and hiking come together, learn about the history of highway building at the Charles Straub Wayside.
I am startled out of my fly fishing day dream – coming around a curve in the road to enter the vast expanse of the huge Wilson River and Trask River flood plains. Mountain river dreams are replaced with the visions of baby loafs of Tillamook cheddar cheese. Pastures spread out far and wide – in Oregon we are very proud of our cheese making legacy. Born from these farms that lie before me.
One other note about Tillamook – it is home to one of the largest wooden structures in the world – a former WW II blimp hangar. There were once two of these beauties that you could see from miles away – sadly a fire destroyed one of the hangar twins and only one remains. The remaining structure is now an Air Museum. The hangar encompasses an area of 7 acres!
And no road trip in Oregon is complete without beer.
Two days and counting… and I just can’t stay in a bad mood about this election. I am concerned, I am worried, I am thinking about ways I can make a difference – and make this country better in the face of our challenges and our divisiveness.
My favorite quote of all time… “If you don’t think one person can make a difference, you have never been in a tent with one mosquito.”
But before I make like a mosquito – time to hit the road and head to the Oregon Coast. What a beautiful part of the world this is and each part of the coast, north, middle and south has its own personality.
More on the northern and southern coastal areas to come – but this weekend I will be visiting the middle coast. There is no geographic definition of where Oregon’s middle coast lies – but my definition (and I am an amateur geographer) would be from Tillamook south to Florence.
Areas we will be visiting on this trip – Pacific City and Newport and all parts in between. Depoe Bay, Cape Foulweather, Devil’s Punchbowl and maybe as far south as Cape Perpetua and Heceta Head. Those geographic names are enough to incite adventure and excitement.
No better way to overcome this election than with a bowl of chowder and some Dungeness Crab, a little adventure and a beer from Pelican Pub!