Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cape Disappointment - Not

We revisited the Astoria area last week for the first time in seven years.  The last time we were here was after the trip to Seattle when we sent Alice to visit Hunter. How does the time pass so quickly?

Monday was a driving day so we did little other than set up camp at Fort Stevens. For the first day we basked in quietness after the zoo that was Champoeg.  

But as luck would have it, more families with children and bicycles and dogs and children and bicycles moved in, so it didn't stay so quiet.  

Both Monday and Tuesday were unusually warm and sunny.

Visiting previous favorite spots: the harbor at Hammond.  Where we noted an empty RV area.  No hookups, $28 per night, but no children on bicycles.  In fact, it was deserted.  Things to remember: there is another RV park in Hammond as well.

Watching a container ship pass.

The seagulls are unconcerned with people.  Unless there is food envolved, that is. 

We capped off the afternoon with a visit to Fort George Brewery in Astoria.  How can you go wrong with a brewery who has a backboard showing dogs on the beach?  We took home a nifty stainless steel growler of Next Adventure Black IPA.  I am still scratching my head about an "India Pale Ale" that's black.  But it is pretty darn good, anyway.

The food was good.  The beer was good.  The service was abysmal.  Note to server: you will get twice as much tip if you come back to the table and ask the patrons if they would like another.  Not waiting 40 minutes before you take their food order would also be beneficial to your bottom line.

Wednesday it rained.

And rained and rained and rained until the campground roads were flooded.  Mandy and Jamie will remember trips like that.

I took advantage of the weather to mostly finish up a new website I was working on for Dan Stouffer.

It was a good time to look at desert watercolors.

Thursday, after a payroll and a little work time, we wended our way through the throngs of children on bicycles (who do not look before darting right in front of, or in some cases almost into you) and headed over the bridge into Washington.

From the beach and the jetty at Cape Disappointment 

View toward the North Head Lighthouse.  There were a few people fishing from the rocks, but the beach was deserted. 

Strings of brown pelicans moved up and down the beach with a magical  synchronicity.

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.

After, we drove up to visit the North Head Light.

Views down of the beach and jetty we had just left.

Tom enjoying the view. 

The light was dedicated in 1898.

Cove just north of the light.

The residences of the lightkeeper and assistants are now vacation rentals operated by the State Parks.

Tom captured a phone-shot of this sign at the small museum.

We're now back in the Willamette Valley for another week for more visiting-with-clients time plus a few extracurricular activities.  I find that I am really enjoying the area.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Champoeg and a Work Week

It's not all fun and games.  Sometimes we still have to work to pay park rent buy dog food.   We were able to steal some time and play hooky on Monday.

We spent the week at Champoeg State Park on the Willamette River.  On Monday Catherine came out and we visited an active archaeological site at the park: the oldest known settler's cabin in the area.  For those in the greater Portland area who might be interested: tours of the site are Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 10 a.m.  Wear walking shoes and take water.

In the 1840's and 50's Champoeg was a bustling settlement, rivaling Oregon City and Salem in size.  It was the site of Oregon's first provisional government.

The depression that you see above was man-made.  A shop stood to the right and bags of goods and produce were slid down to boats waiting on the river below.

In 1861 the town was destroyed by what must have been an incredible volume of water in a catastrophic flood.  The bottom sign on this cottonwood shows the level of a more recent flood in 1996, while the upper one shows the level in 1861.

The archaeological site is seen above in the distance from what would have been approximately the middle of town, between the French and the American halves.

You can read more about the site at 

The brick hearth probably dates from 1833, when John Ball was the owner of the cabin.  He is listed as the eighth farmer in Oregon, and the first American to farm in the Pacific Northwest.

Partially excavated well. 

You can see bricks that were part of the front wall angling across the dig.  Most of the artifacts that have been found have been just outside of what would have been the front door.  Broken and used items were thrown into the fireplace then discarded with the ashes off the front porch.

The artifacts are cleaned and cataloged on site by students from OSU.

A few of the more complete things that have been found reside in the visitor center, including a rusted-together pile of nails.  The shoulder of the green bottle was recently recovered and is at the site on the table.  It will be added soon.

Screens are used to filter out smaller particles.

The area of the valley which includes Champoeg is known as French Prairie.  The park service has been working on restoring the natural prairie to the area.

Many of the original streets of Champoeg are now mowed swaths of grass that you can meander through.  They are complete with street signs with the original mix of French and American names.


The now peaceful Willamette River.

Monday afternoon Vicki and Molly came to visit.  I didn't take any pictures (!) but it was so great to see our sweet girl again.  I miss her terrible (especially when Kady and Dora are bad) but I can tell how much she and Vicki love each other so that makes it ok.

Most of the remainder of the week was spent working.  We are just finishing a large inventory bar-coding project for one of our fastest-growning clients: Golden Protective Services in Ohio.  We were onsite at the parent company's offices in Salem on Wednesday and Thursday for final training (Tom) and tweaking (me).  I have finished up the (fingers crossed) final changes this weekend.

And on Tuesday I also joined in administrative duties of The Cardigan Archives (  We took over hosting it last July at a time when I was unfortunately in no shape to help.  But now I have time to hone my php and SQL database skills to take some of the load off of Rob.

And there was also some website work during the week.  The days are just packed.

Since Friday we've been at The Silver Fox RV Park outside of Estacada.  It's a three-tiered park which is busy lower down but we are on the top level of about 11 sites of which most are full-time residents.

It's peaceful up here, though now I can hear a few children on the playground the next level down.   This morning it was cool and even rained which kept them inside.

Memorable food and drink this week:

Wanker's Corner in Wilsonville.  Yeah, I know what it sounds like.  But in fact it's pretty good burgers and beer.

And today we enjoyed excellent beer, food, and company with Jamie and Catherine and Catherine's parents George and Julie at Fearless Brewing in Estacada.  We had left our two Fearless growlers (empty) back in Gold Hill so we had to purchase a new one to bring home filled with their porter.

As I type this post Kady is on the dashboard busily trying to convince me that Fearless porter is one of the necessities of life for Cardigans.

"Good to the last drop!"

Monday, July 14, 2014

Almost Like a Vacation

The week one report.   It actually was a vacation: Jamie and Catherine's second week. We met them at the coast after they spent a week at an SCA event in Gold Beach.  They wanted to head north and suggested that we meet up for some family camping time.   It was time to leave the July heat in Southwest Oregon, so we waved goodbye to our house and headed out on our grand adventure.

Not having reservations, we decided to meet at first-come-first-served Carl Washburne State Park north of Florence.  It's lovely.

 Above: in campsite, below: this is all that was behind the RV.
There is just one major problem to that park: no cell coverage, therefore no internet.  Being as we still have to work (at least a little) we only spent Sunday night before moving on with fingers crossed.

Heading on up 101, we found a space available for two nights at South Beach State Park just south of Newport.  By switching sites mid-way we were actually able to spend four nights.  Newport is a great area with many things to do and see (and eat and drink and eat and drink) so we were glad to have most of the week for doing them.

 View from one of the trails; Yaquina Bay Bridge in far background.

Jamie, Catherine, and I took a few of the dogs to the beach (Grandma Phoebe with Hiro, Delta, and Dora).   I am told that Hiro and Delta had resisted going into the waves before.  Dora, being a water-lover, already was into the whole run-in, run-out game.  When the others saw that she didn't get swept out to sea after all, they decided to join in the fun.

One drawback is that it's a long way (at least for old people like me) from the campground to the beach.  There are three trails, which are labeled as being 1/4 mile, 1/3 mile, and 1/2 mile respectively as you go farther in the campground.  I believe that label is not to the ocean, but to the start of the sand dune which then must be climbed.  Groan. 

Happiness in Newport is:

Originally from the Rogue Valley, they migrated after that big flood when Lithia Creek flooded Ashland back in 1997.  We enjoyed a tour of the facility.

Which included tasting :-)   Here we enjoy some of the new Rogue Brutal.   Later on, we met Rogue Big Ass Barrel Lapsang Tea Porter.  The former we bought a case to split.  The latter is, alas, only available on tap at Rogue.   Or that might be a good thing.

Recently, Rogue has also gone into distilling spirits.

Overlooking the distillery is quite a collection of memorabilia.

Final stop: a chance to taste the spirits.  I was particularly fond of the Spruce Gin.

Now: there is an RV park at the Marina from which you could stumble to this house of spirits (or perhaps I should say "stumble back").  A tempting place to stay.  Included at no extra cost: great views.

This was actually taken from the restaurant at Rogue on our second visit.

Almost adjacent to the Rogue Nation World Headquarters is the Newport Aquarium.  We had visited before, but it's always fun to visit the Otters.

Mating season was in force and we were instructed with signs not to disturb the residents.

A couple of interesting crabs.  They don't look as tasty as Dungeness.

Below: Decorator Crab

Then there are all of these pretty, pretty creatures, which could be the subject of nightmares if starring in a sci fi movie.

And various fish and SHARKS!

To cap the weekend off, we moved inland to the Portland area and got to see something I had been anxiously awaiting for over two years:

And it was every bit as terrific as I hoped it would be.

The only lasting after effect is that I can't get Orlando, Orlando . . . out of my head. Well that and Hasa Diga Eebowai.

We are at Champoeg State Park for the remainder of the week.