Our 15th wedding anniversary was right before the very busy school carnival in February, so we had to delay our out-of-town celebrating. This past weekend we went to Long Beach, Washington. If you’re not familiar with Long Beach—I was surprised how many friends had never heard of it—it’s on the Washington coast, just across the border.
Long Beach is 28 miles long, and is supposedly the longest stretch of beach in the U.S. One big draw to Oregonians is that in Washington, you can drive on the beach. Yes, Oregon beaches are beautiful and pristine, but they don’t have tire tracks. Anyway…
Sunday we left home and drove up to Astoria. It was rainy and an un-fun drive. It snowed as we drove through the coast range—it snowed big, fluffy, happy flakes that stuck to the ground. In any other month but April, this might make me giddy. However, since I’ve seen enough early spring snow this year to last me a lifetime, the snow in the coast range made me curse big, fluffy angry words.
When we got to Astoria, we had no idea what to do. We had planned on walking around, exploring the newly restored areas of Astoria, but none of that seemed so appealing in the pouring-down rain. So here’s what we did:
- Drove around. Boooooring.
- Found the Goonies house. It was open to foot traffic only and we decided we didn’t love the movie enough to get out in the rain to peek into the house—which people actually live in, so, y’know, that’s stalker-y.
- Found Astoria Elementary School, where several scenes from Kindergarten Cop were filmed. It looked pretty much like we expected, i.e., yawn.
- Looked for the Astoria Column. I distinctly remembered from my field trip there in third grade that it wasn’t on a hill, but we saw signs and they were most certainly leading us up a hill. I think they might have moved the Astoria Column sometime in the past 35 years. It totally was not on a hill back then. Or maybe the city just sank all around it. That’s it.
And since when is it the Astoria Column and not the Astor Column? Back in my day… Seriously, I can’t find anything anywhere about why or when the name was changed. Pretty sure someone’s messing with me. Or maybe I’ve called it the wrong thing all these years. That can’t be, can it?
We found the dang thing, parked, and started the 164-step climb up. It’s a very narrow and steep metal spiral staircase, and it took several minutes to climb, what with the stopping for the catching of the breath. I kept asking Vic if he was sure he wanted to climb because he’s somewhat (read: very) afraid of heights. He kept insisting he was fine, but the second we got to the top and went out he said he needed to go back down. Weeeener.
(I couldn’t climb those steps in third grade. I started up and turned back around over and over. I was scared to death. This time I wasn’t scared; I was mostly just “meh” about it. I mean, it’s not like I was gonna see Paris or London at the top. Sheesh. Yeah, I know I should turn in my “proud life-long Oregonian” card right now.)
It was cold at the top, and I had no interest in admiring the cloudy view from on high, so I followed Vic back to the ground. Here’s a picture he took before he hightailed it outta there:
- I know the bridge in the photo doesn’t look all that impressive, but it kind of is. It’s the Astoria-Megler Bridge and the longest of its kind in the U.S.—four miles. Crossing it means a heck of a long time on one bridge, I can tell you that. Here’s a cool panoramic pic of the bridge (scroll down). My favorite view while crossing was actually the one in my lap—looking at the GPS and seeing blue all around us. I may or may not have made a blasphemous comment about us driving on water.
So, it turns out that most of what we know about Astoria is based on movies that were filmed there. That is sad. I enjoy learning about our state history, but I must not have paid much attention on that field trip because I don’t remember what any of those landmarks are about. However, when Vic reminded me what Cape Disappointment was, I suggested that if the explorers named it today, it’d be Cape OMG Where the Eff is That River? …which makes me think creating my own Oregon history is way better.
After we crossed the bridge we were in Washington state and a few minutes later we got to Long Beach.
We stayed at the Adrift Hotel, which is a newly refurbished spot on the south end of the town of Long Beach. I read lots on tripadvisor beforehand, so Adrift’s philosophy (and décor) was not a surprise:
Owners, Brady and Tiffany Turner, acquired the former Edgewater Inn with a particular vision in mind. They wanted to create a hotel that was unique, modern, fun, and relaxed...an ocean front retreat for all types of travelers to fully enjoy. They had previously built the '"Inn at Discovery Coast", which is a boutique inn with twelve well appointed ocean front rooms right next to Adrift. The Inn at Discovery Coast caters to couples. With Adrift Hotel, they wanted to offer something for everyone; couples, groups, individuals, professionals and families alike. They wanted to provide clean, modern rooms with a minimalist and relaxed feel. They care about the earth and its resources and wanted to remodel and operate the hotel with the environment and sustainability in mind. Much of the decor and furnishings throughout the property are reclaimed and/or recycled. Through operations, the hotel uses green and recycled products as much as possible.
It’s hilarious to read reviews of the hotel from people who did NOT do any research before their arrival. I’m not so sure I would be thrilled about the minimalist feel if I wasn’t expecting it, but that’s why I research options before I make hotel reservations. Duh, idiot travelers. Anyway, we LOVED Adrift. Yes, it was very simple, but it was also clean and comfortable. We had a deluxe ocean view room, and Vic got friendly with the chaise near the window immediately. Across the room, I discovered that if I sat in the bed just so, I could see the ocean in the mirror by the window. I didn’t have to move my arse to see the ocean! I loved that!
Here was the view from our room when we first arrived:
Although the clouds never completely disappeared during our stay, we had quite a bit of blue sky and sunshine the second day. The third day was rainy and icky again, making it slightly easier to leave for home than it usually is when we’re at the coast.
We went through Astoria again and made a quick detour to Cannon Beach, just in time to see a teensy bit of sunshine. Vic and I stood next to each other and took pictures, one with an iPhone 3GS and one with an iPhone 4. Which do you think is which, and most importantly, which do you think is better???
The winner will be showered with praise. The loser will be taunted and booed until my throat is sore.
The beach is the big attraction in Long Beach, obviously. There’s a short boardwalk that begins and ends at parts of the town that are good for exploring—in other words, I recommend combining the boardwalk trek with shopping/sightseeing. You can make bonfires on the beach, and of course, it’s nice for walking, kite-flying, beachcombing, clam-digging, biking, etc.
- Driving on the beach. (Woo. Hoo.) Travel guides say that Long Beach is technically a state highway and regular rules of the road apply when driving on the beach. I think that’s kooky talk, but that’s because I’m an Oregonian. I also hate pumping my own gas and paying sales tax.
- Jake the Alligator Man. I’m not even going to post a link to this abomination. Google it yourself. He can be found at Marsh’s Free Museum, a gross souvenir-store/Goodwill/museum/you’ll-want-hand-sanitizer/taffy-store.
- The giant frying pan. I don’t get what’s so neato about a big frying pan or the oversized clam they display next to it. Laaaame.
- World Kite Museum & Hall of Fame. Wow, that’s so boring I fell asleep typing it out. I saw the kite museum (it’s on the same street as Adrift Hotel) and still can’t believe it exists. Let’s see, a more boring museum theme… World Toast Museum & Hall of Fame. World Toothbrush Museum & Hall of Fame. World Extension Cord Museum & Hall of Fame. World Cracker Museum & Hall of Fame.
- Surrey, moped, and bike rentals. We planned to rent mopeds our last day but it was too rainy. Bummer.
Tuscany Café, in Ilwaco. This hidden little gem was an amazing find (thank you, tripadvisor!). Delicious Italian food, the best chocolate mousse I’ve ever had, and a gorgeous presentation of bananas flambé.
Lost Roo, in Long Beach. It’s pretty much a non-chain version of Outback. I had a grilled chicken sandwich with bacon, roasted chile, and avocado—big yum. Liked the choice of fries or tots. Also enjoyed the cranberry bistro salad—perfect proportions of all ingredients.
Castaways Seafood Grille, in Long Beach. My food was below so-so. Vic got fish and chips and said it was fine.
Pig ‘n Pancake, in Astoria. We always go here as kind of a joke—like, “Oh, we have to go to Pig ‘n Pancake! It’s an Oregon Coast tradition!” but then we eat there and we’re all YEAH, UM, THIS IS SAMBO’S. However, the food wasn’t terrible this time and, in fact, I had eggs Benedict that was actually pretty good.
We enjoyed our relaxing getaway, and we hope to take the kids to Long Beach the next time we want to do something coast-y beyond Lincoln City/Newport or Cannon Beach. They’ll like Long Beach; we’re eager to go back when the weather’s nicer. What stands out most from our weekend, though, is how glad we feel to mark 15 years of being married. We look forward to 15 more. (But that’s it. Thirty, tops.)