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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pier 39: Do you remember Bumble Bee tuna and salmon?

Pier 39, Astoria, Oregon Pier 39 now houses other businesses and a small museum, but in its day it was the center of a well-known fish canning industry. The J.O. Hanthorn Cannery was originally built in 1875, although it has been renovated since. Before my time here (I moved to Astoria in 2001), the waterfront was the location of many working canneries. Sadly, all but this one are gone now.

"Anonymous" posted a comment correcting misinformation I had on this page. Based on something I found online or misread, I thought this cannery began life as Elmore and was changed to J.O. Hanthorn. Anonymous wrote: "Elmore Cannery was in Union Town-on the current site of Astoria Warehousing...the 39th street facility was called Hanthorne--When CRPA took it over it was used as a recieving station and cold storage for the CRPA, later called Bumble Bee, for imported fish from all over the world which were stored and then trucked down as needed for the canning operation at Elmore."

Thanks for this bit of history!

One of my favorite places for coffee in Astoria is Coffee Girl, one of the numerous businesses now located in the old building, with windows that face the river. You can sit at tables or benches on the back deck high above the water, or sit inside if the weather isn't so nice. They use the same counter where coffee was served to the women working the cannery in bygone years. The cannery building also has "executive office rentals and artists lofts." There are quite a number of suites as well as a small museum of the cannery days. Rogue Ale Public House is also in the old cannery building.

Check out the web site of Bumble Bee Seafoods, LLC for in-depth information on Bumble Bee and the canning industry in Astoria. Briefly, they say, "The history of Bumble Bee Seafoods can be traced to 1899, when seven canning companies along the Columbia River in Astoria, Oregon, decided to unite their operations under the auspices of the newly incorporated Columbia River Packers Association (CRPA). Salmon fishers and canners had come to Astoria in the 1860s, when the Columbia River produced abundant salmon supplies. After the salmon supply peaked in the 1890s, the more than 50 businesses that had sprung up in the area began looking to Alaska for their catch of the ocean sockeye variety of salmon." Many fishing boats still ply between Astoria and Alaska, making the connection between the two very strong.

In the 1930s, it was found that tuna were plentiful off of Oregon's coast. By the end of the 1950s, the Bumble Bee brand was well known. The company began expanding nationally and internationally, and Astoria became less important in the fish canning industry as new fishing grounds were also exploited. In 1980, Astoria's Bumble Bee cannery closed. You can read more and see a few of the old canning labels here: Then Visit History in Vogue for some old photos of the cannery and recent info about Pier 39.

The building may become busier as time goes by, but currently, I think most Astorians would say it was a pleasant and peaceful place to enjoy the scenery, take visiting friends, and have coffee, snacks, or a beer and burger. It's not crowded, and it still has as much of the old charm as you could want. In making the old building usable, they've left most of it very much intact. It's very picturesque, and various images from the building will appear on my blog in the future.

This is not a view of the pier you normally see. I took the photo from the adjacent jetty with a long lens.

Come see other entries in Scenic Sunday.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A cormorant dries its wings

Cormorants are a common sight along Astoria's waterfront. They're easily recognizable by their long necks and their angled stance, but one of the coolest things is to see them drying their wings. Unlike some waterbirds, a cormorant's wings are not waterproof. It's said that they turn their bodies so the full sun catches their wings, but this isn't always true. This bird wasn't facing the sun, but it seemed to enjoy the fact that the sun was actually out the other day when I took the photo. Its wings dried quickly and the cormorant went back to its normal position with wings folded and eyes scanning the water for fish. Once they see a potential meal, the are very fast and strong divers, and very powerful swimmers. Some cormorant species can dive to 40 feet. It's a rare day when you wouldn't see cormorants along the river walk. According to Wikipedia, the name "cormorant" is derived from Latin corvus marinus, "sea raven." Our local birds are double-crested cormorants, and they develop small tufts or crests on their heads at breeding season. Cormorants have amazing green eyes, which I hadn't noticed until I photographed this one. I would describe the color as a bright pale green, which you may be able to see if you click on the photo. Here's another picture of the cormorant. A high-quality long lens would have been helpful, but you can get some idea of the color. It's so unusual! The pilings, too, are still bright green from our wet winter.

Check out more animal photos on Camera Critters.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Fun things to do with chain link fencing

I took this photo yesterday morning. Our neighbors, the River Pilots, were repairing the mesh on their building while the tide was near its low point. This is a perfect use for a flat-bottomed boat, though I don't see them around very often. It turned out that their timing was impeccable, because the very next morning, the scene had changed. Click here to see what was looking for a place to rest and/or disturbe the peace! (The first photo is the same as the one above. Just scroll down and you'll see what I mean.) The radio tower on the right is attached to our leased building by a catwalk and some wiring. They still broadcast from the tower, although the station itself is no longer housed here on Marine Drive.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The first U.S. Post Office west of the Rocky Mountains

The post office is gone now, and a green park takes its place on the hillside on 15th Street between Exchange and Franklin; it's only a short block from the buildings that commemorate the site of Fort Astoria. The park is only the size of . . . I was tempted to say, "a postage stamp," but I won't. It's about the size of a lot for a small single-family home. It even has a white picket fence along the sidewalk. The two markers here look like gravestones, but they're not. The tall one says only, "Site of United States Post Office 1847." The plaque on the ground is more elaborate, and actually shows a bas relief image of the post office, a two-storey building. It says, "Site of the First United States Post Office West of the Rocky Mountains - John M. Shiveley Appointed First Postmaster by President Polk 1847 - Presented by Astoria Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution August 24, 1955." The park is lovely and quiet up above the river. I doubt many people visit, as it's in an area where businesses fade into the residential backdrop. I only noticed it myself this month after years of walking around town. It's surprising what you can find when you're looking for blog material. I love that aspect of taking part in City Daily Photo.

We've had mostly sun and blue skies the past few days, and the rhododendrons are blooming like crazy - a few as tall as trees and as big as the beast of Baluchistan (but more colorful).

Does your city have a famous "ancient" landmark?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Although I took this photo last January, I wanted to use it today. This common bird seems to glide in a watery world as if in a silent dream. Enlarge the photo and see what I mean. When I grew up with these birds in Southern California, we called them mudhens, and they could be found on almost any body of fresh water. They are more properly called coots, and in North America, they are northern coots. It was a muddy day on the river due to sediment from a recent storm. The storm also left the river's edge awash in broken plant material, which you can see in the glassy surface of the swells. The coot is in the shadows, but the sun on the muddy water makes it appear golden and dreamlike in this lucky afternoon photo on the Columbia River. Shattered reflections of red are from the radio tower high above.

What is your favorite thing to photograph on water?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A ruby-colored fishing boat

On April 19th, I took this picture of the Capt. Raleigh, a commercial fishing boat docked along Astoria's waterfront. I was struck by the contrast of the red and the clean white paint set off beautifully with black trim and masts. This is a small harbor somewhere along the River Walk, and it was empty except for this one boat. The two large mooring basins are at the east and west ends of town (oddly enough, called East Mooring Basin and West Mooring Basin). Sometimes I'm compelled to try to create good shot just because the material doesn't suggest an obvious result, but this view was a picture begging to be taken. What can I say? I thought it would be perfect for Ruby Tuesday. The spot of red on the right-hand dock made a lucky counterpoint.

Have you ever been on a fishing boat?

Monday, May 25, 2009


I love the way the shapes and colors came together in this photo from May 19. The brown tree trunk and the Astor Hotel both seem flattened, sort of like a painting. You can see it better if you click on the image. I was walking around in the rain and drizzle in the vicinity of 15th Street and Franklin looking for something entirely different, when this scene caught my attention. I'm not sure what the building is on the left. The sky kept changing from white to gray to almost black. Here everything added up for a few minutes and the rain stopped, too. It looks Ivy League, doesn't it? Astoria has a bit of everything.

Do you use an umbrella? How do you keep your camera dry?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Astoria's one sandy beach

This minute stretch of sand is Astoria's only actual beach. Most of the river front is taken up with buildings and piers or else it consists of piled rocks, and is treacherous and uninviting. But speaking of that, I'm not sure how much swimming actually takes place here. I've seen kids playing in the sand, and I think it's a good thing that the pilings would keep a person from drifting down-river if they did venture into the river. The water is cold, and as Lee says, the Columbia is "drowning water." It may look charming and calm, but the currents are swift and hypotermia sets in quickly. People who fall from boats often die before they can be rescued, even with life jackets and even with the presence of the Coast Guard nearby. The posts to the right originally held a building of some kind, and I wonder if this was built as a boat slip. I have not done the research yet. I took this photo on April 5th. The grass is still mostly brown, and logs have washed onto the beach from winter storms. I like this photo a lot. I love looking at the water, and you can't keep me out of the sea at a tropical snorkeling beach, but here in Astoria, I'm going to leave the river to the fish, the ships, and the shore birds.

Where is the best place to swim in your town?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Goonies' jail

This scene may look familiar to a lot of people. The gray building is the jail used in the film, The Goonies. Their house (which I'll show some other time) is also in Astoria, and is the most asked-about landmark as far as I can tell. A lot of locations from the film are in Astoria and nearby. The writing on the building says "1914" and "1976" with "COUNTY JAIL" in the center. The tan building is the County Court House. Handy, yes? The new jail is just up the street, and there is some talk of turning the old jail into a film museum featuring, of course, the making of The Goonies. There have been so many films set all or partly in Astoria that I think it would be a great idea to use the building for that. It's central and easy to find, which is not at all true of the Goonies' house!

I like the reflection of the tree in one of the courthouse windows. I took the pic on April 10, a very rare clear day for that month.

Have any films been made in your town or city? And if you live in Hollywood, don't even bother to list them!

Friday, May 22, 2009

The pier on Sixth Street

I always enjoy stopping by the viewing platform at the end of Sixth Street. It was especially festive today with flags and banners whipping in the wind (notice they're not all going the same direction). The flag of Finland (blue and white) is on the right, and of Norway (red, blue, and white, not clearly visible) on the left. Parts of Astoria were settled by Finns, Norwegians, and Swedes. I'll have more of the Scandinavian heritage to show later; Astoria's annual Scandinavian Festival is coming up in mid-June. I believe I saw a Swedish flag, too, but it didn't come out in my photo. I'll have to go back and investigate. Of course, that's the US flag further down the pier, and various banners add to the playful atmosphere. I love the colors and I love the fish banner.

On the left is the Cannery Cafe. The square platform with the red roof is is the Sixth Street Viewing Platform. There is a viewing deck below the level of this boardwalk at the end of the pier, and on the right is an office building with many suites (downstairs) and an upstairs penthouse that can be rented for parties and events or used as a getaway rental. It has at least four or five beautifully-appointed bedrooms, hardwood floors, and a huge kitchen. The living room faces the water and is gorgeous. I've been to a couple of events there, alas, without my camera. I'll try to get pix sometime.

This wispy sheet of cloud is typical of the past few days. The sky has been relatively clear, with thin clouds, haze at times, or cumulus clouds low on the horizon. But I'm not leaving my jacket at home yet when I go for a walk! It was actually chilly when I took this picture at 6:02 pm on Thursday! I thought this would be a fun picture for Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Trees: vertical and horizontal - remnants of Astoria's "hurricane"

East of the column, from the road that leads to the top of Coxcomb Hill, you can still see the results of Astoria's big storm that occurred on the night of December 2-3, 2007. There are a number of places around town where damage is evident, particularly downed trees at the top of the hill and on the east and south sides of town. It always saddens me to see the degradation of our beautiful forest, but it could have been worse. We were told to expect "hurricane force" gusts and high sustained winds. Even so, our area is not noted for hurricane-force winds and storm reports usually err on the intensive side. While some individuals and businesses taped their windows and stocked supplies, many did not. In the morning, the town was a mess, with light poles and signs damaged, but destruction apparently random. One business would have its plate glass shattered (taped or not), while the next sustained no damage (taped or not). They say the "Columbus Day Storm" in the 1960s was a bit stronger, and apparenlty Astoria gets one of these whopping gales about once every 20 to 40 years. I think the official term ended up being "gale." If it had been designated a "hurricane," many property owners would have been ineligible for insurance or government aid, as it DOES matter what they call the high winds that blew off your roof! Astorians do not typically insure for hurricanes, because we've never had one. I understand that our area has only been given the opportunity to designate high winds as a "hurricane" in the past few years. In other words, the terminology is regulated by some board, and even hurricane-force winds could not have been given the designation of "hurricane" until this area had approval for the designation.

I do need to get back to work, so I'm not going to research further. I gathered bits and pieces from the web, but did not find any one resource that made a good link. I do know that we were among the 27,000 who lost power for several days. I was running my online business just gearing up for a much-needed Christmas season, and after the storm, I set up a base with Internet at a hotel an hour east of here. Lee drove between me with my printer and web connection and our cold, dark, building in Astoria daily while he and Sue packed and shipped orders in the freezing dark with flashlights. It could have been worse for us, and these trees stand as a reminder. We are back to normal again, with some lost time, some discomfort, and a few lost dollars of revenue, while the trees will take decades or centuries to recover. It gave us a little taste of what some of you go through on a yearly basis. I also treasure photos like this one showing the road to Coxcomb Hill in 2005. The forest is simply not as lush and full any more.

. Thursday Challenge: trees
. Think Green Thursday

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rain, River, Replica and Rituals on a Watery Outdoor Wednesday

Today I thought we'd look down the other side of Coxcomb Hill toward Youngs River, which hems the south side of Astoria. (See yesterday's post for the view from the Columbia River side of the hill.) Youngs River flows from left to right, entering the Columbia at the new Youngs Bay Bridge. Located only a few yards from the Astoria Column, the canoe is a 1961 cement replica of a Chinook Indian burial canoe. The people who placed it here certainly chose a lovely and reflective setting for it. The two decorated posts on this side are clearly visible. Directly behind them are two posts with plaques on the insides. One plaque says, "Indian Burial Canoe. Symbolic memorial dedicated by Comcomly's descendants April 12, 1961 Astoria's 150th anniversary. Honored guest was Lord Astor of England, descendant and namesake of the city's founder." The second plaque says, "Comcomly, c. 1765-1830. Great chief of the Chinook Nation, known to Lewis and Clark, respected by the founding Astorians, the Northwesters, and the Hudson's Bay fur traders." Although the honored chief is usually referred to as Comcomly, it seems he is more correctly named Chief Coboway.

In her 2008 book, Astoria: An Oregon History, local author Karen L. Leedom notes, "The [North Coast] Indians were superb canoe builders, creating 40-foot vessels hollowed out of single logs that they expertly maneuvered through the tricky waters of the Columbia." She also tells us, "When a high-ranking Chinook Indian died, his slaves were put to death and buried under the posts of his raised burial canoe."

It seems history always gives us something to think about, doesn't it? Today I walked up to the Heritage Museum and met Liisa, the museum's historian. I wanted to introduce myself, because I figure I'll be using their resources fairly often from here on out. The more I translate what I'm seeing into words, the more I want to know. And after talking with Liisa today, I have a hugely-expanded sense of what that could be like.

. ABC Wednesday ("R" is for . . . )
. Watery Wednesday
. Outdoor Wednesday

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ruby red and the wide, wide river

We rarely have more than two warm days in a row, and then the storms are pulled back in from the ocean. I don't know the technicality, but it seems to work that way. It started raining again yesterday, but over the sunny weekend I photographed this view of the Columbia River, the Astoria-Megler Bridge, and the hills of Washington in the distance. The downtown buildings of Astoria (600 feet below us) can be seen just this side of the bridge. I've taken the photo from the parking area of the Astoria Column (yesterday's post), with the actual column only a few yards behind me. A green park slopes away in front of these bushes, then trees, then the residential streets, which can't be seen from this angle.

You can see the mouth of the great Columbia River at the horizon line. You wouldn't know it from this tranquil photo, but it's the most dangerous river entrance in the world, having caused the wrecks of nearly 2,000 vessels. The currents are strong, storms come up regularly throughout the year, and a river of this size washes plenty of sediment out to sea, much of it dropping off near the mouth of the river, causing the bars to form and shift. Just to the right of the center of the picture, you can see a light area, which is a huge sand bar that becomes exposed at lower tides. The shipping channel is very close to our side of the river. Ships coming in or out of the river need pilots who know how to navigate these specific waters. Both river pilots and bar pilots are stationed in Astoria, and we love to watch the pilot boats go out to meet the ships. I guarantee there will be more about this later. The pilots and their boats make up a romantic part of Astoria's working waterfront, and we all love to watch them at work, which they do rain or shine, storm or calm.

I would have said that the red flowers here that I chose for Ruby Tuesday were rhododendrons. That's true, but I wasn't sure whether they might be azaleas, so I looked them up. According to Wikipedia, azaleas ARE rhododendrons. I picture azaleas with smaller leaves. If anyone can tell me, I'll be interested. We probably have more of the big-leaved plants here than the small ones, and while there are over 1,000 species of rhododendron found in profusion on most continents, I've lived in dry climates before now, so I've never lived where they thrive the way they do here. You can see them in full bloom all over town right now in an astounding array of colors. It's truly a delightful part of living in this location!

Do rhododendrons thrive in your area?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What is Astoria without its column? What is Oregon without Scotch broom?

One of Astoria's most prominent and prized landmarks is the 125-foot-tall Astoria Column perched at the top of Coxcomb Hill. You can tell how popular it is because if you go to Astoria on Google Earth, this location is where you'll find most of the photos congregated.

You can see half or less of the column in this photo, since I've taken the shot from behind and below a patch of yellow Scotch broom. Some of the photos on Google Earth show the column itself, with its spiral mural of the region's history, and some show the spectacular views from the top of the hill 600 feet above two rivers and the sea. You can see for miles to the Columbia River on the north, including the bridge, the ships, and the mouth of the great river. To the south you can see the wide, meandering and spreading Youngs River and the hills beyond. Both views are remarkable. The tiny dark spot just above the tower in the photo and just to the right may be a bald eagle. They like to roost in the tall firs here. Down three sides of the mountain is the town of Astoria and to the east along the ridge is a forest. I used to enjoy climbing to the top viewing platform of the column, and I had just started to think of using it for regular exercise in all weather, when the city closed it for repair of the metal staircase. That was several years ago, and it's still not open. Normally on a day like this you would have seen people standing on the top landing, which is also where you get the best view of the eagles.

The yellow flowers, which I adore, grow strong and healthy in the uncultivated and sunny parts of Astoria and the local coast, particularly along roadsides. I loved them when I first entered this county in June of 2001. They made me feel happy and welcome. Unfortunately, they are a noxious weed - an invasive species originally imported to stabilize road cuts. As I said on my other blog last year, "It's stunningly beautiful to look at, but alas, it does not belong here and overwhelms other species. It costs the state of Oregon a whopping $47 million each year in lost timber production plus a few more million for other problems caused by the plants. A student won an award for a process to turn it into biofuel." So far, I haven't seen any activity in our local area to eliminate the plants, although I may have missed it when it's happened. We live among hills that are logged, and that's another mixed bag - the beauty and ecological richness of the forest versus jobs, income for the local and state economies, and (I hate to bring this up, but I think about it often) don't most of us treasure wood in our lives? If you live where they clear-cut, you can't help thinking about where that wood comes from. You can't drive to Astoria from the east without seeing the results of cutting timber - the ugly stumps and barren hillsides. The patch of brown in the photo? I couldn't tell you why that plant is dying while the Scotch broom thrives. It could be a remnant from last year. We also have natural-growing ferns here, and many of them are coming back to life after a harder-than-usual winter.

(Interesting facts about Scotch broom and what makes it a "bad" plant)

What is the stand-out monument or emblem of your town? Does your location have a prominent invasive plant? Talk to me! I'd love to know!

For more photos about "yellow," "flowers" and "health," please visit:

. Mellow Yellow Monday
. Today's Flowers
. Moody Monday - Healthy (the Scotch broom and the discussion of what it means to the health of the environment; also, perhaps, use of the spiral stairs as a gym that could be used in any weather!)

Gold on the water

The Peter Iredale came to grief on the Oregon coast on October 25, 1906. The shipwreck is almost four miles south of the mouth of the Columbia River, and about 10 miles from Astoria. The bones of the ship make terrific material for photographers, and while it's possible to get a bad photo, the opposite is more likely. The setting is idyllic, and on the evening of March 1, 2009, the air was damp from rain and the light was spectacular.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Doughboy Monument, Uniontown, Astoria

Doughboy Monument
The Doughboy is one of only two free-standing statues I can think of in Astoria. Hopefully I'll find more as I become more aware of looking for them. He stands, rather unassumingly, on a pedestal on Marine Drive in Uniontown, the western part of Astoria. The pedestal has been re-painted, and the small circle of grass and bright flowers is carefully maintained. The practical denizens of Uniontown didn't waste any space with a mere pedestal, as there is a public restroom in the base, which is partially below ground level.

My own practical concern while taking this photo is that there were so many wires and confusing backgrounds that I had only two angles that worked very well. I opted for this one with the flags and dramatic angle. When I lay on the grass beneath the statue for a different shot, I was able to eliminate all but one wire, but the sun was wrong for a good photo. In the end, I liked the flags. What felt extremely poignant to me was that when the statue was erected by the people of Asoria (funds mainly raised in Uniontown) on July 21, 1926, they had only one World War to commemorate. I suspect most could not conceive of what was to come. The inscription reads:



JULY 21, 1926

A bench at the foot of the monument is also inscribed:



Beneath the American flag hangs the POW*MIA flag, which says, "YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN," and gives these sad statistics:






Again, I think of the people erecting this monument, hoping, praying, and expecting that it was truly the "War to End All Wars."

Beyond the obvious reflections one has about a monument such as this, I couldn't help thinking of the setting. Initially, it was probably fine and uncluttered; the statue stood against the blue or gray or cloudy or sunset sky as prominently and respectfully as the citizens of Uniontown could have wanted. But the location has succumbed to the blight of wires and light poles. It's too bad. And yet we do continue to have affection for this local monument and what he represents. I've posted some photos on my other blog that show the statue in situ.

I used this piece of Astoria's history to take part in the Statues theme on ShutterDay. Link on over there to see more statues! Click here for further info on the monument.

There are some extremely interesting quotations about war on this page by some extremely notable individuals. Thanks for sending the link, Lee.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Big sky, big river

I love how big the sky feels on the river when we can see it! After an overcast early morning and dark misty clouds still settled into the trees of Astoria's hillside, the sun is finally out. It's 47 degrees F, partially overcast, and the high is supposed to reach 65 today. I took this photo of the ships on the wide Columbia River from along the waterfront on April 10th. We've had lots and lots of rain with "sun breaks," so a bit of extended sun will be very welcome on this Skywatch Friday!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Typical Astoria

I've been wanting to find some representative views of Astoria, and I concluded that there are a lot of them! This is a pretty typical residential area on the north (Columbia River) side of the hill. It's also typically overcast and the ground is typically wet! Other typical aspects are green growing things (with 70 to 90 inches of rain per year and not much snow, they just grow and grow), flowers, the older houses (charming and interesting but not ostentatious), hills sloping several directions in a two-block area, and the forest within the town. This isn't the edge of town, and that's not someone's private tract - there are houses and streets on the other side of it. The trees are growing on part of a block that's too steep to build on. I've seen deer right where I was standing to take the photo, just walking down the street or into a back yard. Once there was a mother and two fawns that would come day after day. Are they following old trails, or did they come for the apple trees? I took this photo on Harrison Ave. where it crosses 11th Street. That's seven blocks uphill from the river and three blocks up from downtown. Also typical is that many people can walk just about anywhere in the downtown area and some walk quite a ways just because it's nice. Unfortunately, the power lines are also typical, and they mar what would be many, many picture postcard views. It will be one of my challenges to take photos where wires and poles don't get in the way. And we have so many lovely and interesting places to practice!

Today I'm taking part in Think Green Thursday. I've never lived anyplace where green things thrive the way they do here. In addition, people walk a lot in this town. The trend for health is growing everywhere, but this is one place people walk just because there's something to see everywhere you go - or at least, that works for me! And the town is small enough that many of us do errands on foot or by bike that we might have done by car in another town.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Under the river

In Astoria, all roads lead back to the waterfront. I wouldn't want to be walking down there unless I had some Wellingtons, but I do like the image. The tide is not all the way out yet, but twice a day it uncovers stuff at the bottom of the river and reveals the moss or algae (or both) that grows on the pilings. There is about eight feet difference between a typical high and low tide at this point on the river. On a deep and wide river like this, you get a huge tidal bore even here, about 10 miles from the ocean.

I took this photo on May 6, 2007, shortly after we'd leased the building where I'm standing with my camera. There's a deck around the perimeter of our building, which makes river-watching very nice. The building next door is the one visible here. It stretches much further into the river than we do, and it was a marine supply for a long time. I'm not sure if the mud-covered ropes came from the marine supply or some other river-side operation over the years. They are basically stationary, while other things such as bottles and logs come and go with the tides and currents.

This photo fits nicely into Watery Wednesday! Please visit that link to see more photos of water.

Addendum: A number of people commented on the intensity of the green. Check out some photos I took of the same pilings on May 14, 2009.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Red spring and evolution in a small town

I took this photo in front of the Bank of Astoria on April 10, 2009. The bank (at 11th and Duane) was recently bought by Columbia National Bank and changed its name (the statements still say B of A and so does the building), and it will take most of us years to think of it as anything other than the Bank of Astoria. The old names and features become so ingrained that when I first moved here in 2001, people were constantly giving me directions based on things that were no longer around, and may have been gone for 20 years! I had no idea what they were talking about. The right side of the photo is now a parking lot, but anyone who has been here for a few years (including me) will tell you. "It's by the old Safeway." The white building in the middle of the photo is a charming building that has been the Columbia River Day Spa for maybe six or seven years, but it, too, is a former bank. A lot of the old buildings keep the signage for historical or aesthetic reasons, and that would be a fun topic to explore sometime. Anyway, as Spring comes to Astoria with its rejuvenating ways, we give more than a slight nod to the old and comfortable, too. We love Spring here - it brings a few patches of blue in the sky and some rays of much-wanted sun.

Today is Ruby Tuesday. Click on the link to enjoy other photos featuring red!

If you're interested, you can see more pix of Astoria today on my other blog.

Monday, May 11, 2009

First Sunday Market of the year

People turned out in droves for the much-anticipated first Sunday Market of the year. I wish the colors of the day had been brighter, but let's face it, this is coastal Oregon, and we're lucky it was dry. Tomorrow the rain starts again, and it's supposed to rain for at least the next four days. The market has been growing, and it was nice to see it so alive and filled with vendors, buyers, and browsers.

Three blocks of 12th Street are closed to vehicles, and the town turns out to see friends, buy produce, and explore hand-made goods from jewelry to paintings to quilts. The vendors don't have to be local, and some drive quite a distance to take part. They do have to commit to being here every Sunday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. from opening week until around Labor Day. Everything must be hand made or home grown by the sellers. This insures a personal quality that keeps the event fresh, friendly, and full of integrity. There's always live music, food stands, and tables with umbrellas and chairs in the adjacent Wells Fargo Bank parking lot. The market begins one short block from the river. A couple of blocks inland, the booths spill over into the currently-vacant former Safeway parking lot.

Today I purchased fresh rhubarb (to eat) and arnica lotion, an amazing product for the relief of aching muscles that I wouldn't be without after finding it at the Sunday Market a few years ago. Everyone who tries it loves it! It was a wonderful opening day, and a good time was had by all. If you're in the vicinity and looking for something to do on Sunday, do come on over!

Is there a weekly market in your town? I'd like to know!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bornstein Seafoods, the real deal

Here's another of Astoria's businesses, and a very important one at that. It doesn't have a tricked out veneer, and it doesn't need one. It's all work, and all fish. For real. Bornstein Seafoods' loading dock is one of the buildings you pass on the River Walk. This isn't just a tourist town with some old buildings duded up for looks. There's one place on the walk where, at certain seasons, you can see the fish flopping down the chutes for packing on ice. In fact, if you're not careful, you can get wet and smelly. The seagulls flock here, too. I wonder why :) The paper sign that's too small to read says "NO SKATEBOARDING." Maybe it means on their truck ramp? I took the photo on April 10, 2009.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

New life for the Commodore Hotel

The Commodore Hotel in Astoria is just being completed. I thought it was a new business refurbishing and inhabiting an old building, but that's only part of the story. Apparently it's rising from the ashes and creating a new life for itself. Read more here. I was one of those people who associated this spot with only one thing - Chris's News. Although there is a big historic sign on the other side of the building saying "Commodore Hotel," I never considered why it was there - what history it might be preserving. I may have thought of it as a residence hotel. It had simply become part of my landscape. I'd questioned many signs and bits of ornamentation in Astoria, but somehow not that one.

Chris's News took up the right-hand corner as you see it here, and my feeling was that there were apartments upstairs, but I really don't know. On April 10th, I noticed the understated, classy, deep brown finishing touches that brought out the tan higher up and made the building feel all-of-a-piece, and I saw the name of the new establishment for the first time. I'm glad I'm taking so many photos. The town keeps changing right before my eyes - sometimes good, sometimes not so. I do like the look of the new Commodore, and I'm sure the guests will enjoy the location. It's only half of one short block from here to the River Walk that hugs the Columbia.

I took the photo on April 10, 2009. I'm away this week and am posting from my archives. I should be back at it in person by May 11.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Deja Vu

Deja Vu is a thrift store with style. They say that if you wonder where all the hippies have gone, you should look in Oregon. It's true, a lot of us are here! I love the look of the window and the painted meters. The store specializes in clothing, but it's got lots of other goodies, too. And it supports a women's shelter and women's services. It's located at 1030 Duane Street.

I'm away this week and posting from my archives. I took this photo on April 10, 2009.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Wide span in the sky

Here's an interesting angle on the Astoria-Megler bridge. The hills on the other side of the river are 4-point-something miles away in Washington. The pilings are left over from an old building, probably one that processed fish. This has to be one of the most-photographed bridges in Oregon. I think it's beautiful, and from this vantage point, quite awesome.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The emerald road

This lovely forest road is actually right in town. It winds its way to the top of Coxcomb hill, and makes a nice walk - not too long, but very beautiful and relaxing. I took the photo on May 4, 2005, before some of the trees blew down in the great storm of December 2, 2007. It's still very green, but a little thinner on the right side, especially as you climb the hill. One of the first things I noticed about Oregon when I moved here in 2001 after living in Southern California and Western Colorado was how green it is! I loved it, and I still do. In the spring you can see more colors of green than I've ever seen anywhere. I've never been to Ireland or much of the UK, so I can't compare, but northwestern Oregon is a veritable artist's palette of greens.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

That intersection, with truck

Believe it or not, every vehicle passing through Astoria to points east (such as Portland or Seattle) has to negotiate this downtown corner. Traffic comes in on a small highway without too many nasty curves, and it leaves on the same. But, it has to go through town on Commercial Street (essentially our "Main Street"). Marine Drive is wider and straighter for anyone going west, but since Astoria's downtown is a one-way grid, Marine Drive goes only one way, and this is the result. There is no interstate or freeway for those who would rather "not get off here." I heard that the routing was arranged this way in order to keep business bustling in town, and maybe that's true. But there's no bypass for the big guys, and since we're located in a logging area, trucks carrying trees and heavy equipment share the same road as smaller vehicles.

If you're travelling behind a rig like this, you need to hold back when you near the intersection, or you could be forced to back up, and if there's a line of cars, it's not so easy. I've seen it. In fact, when I was new in town, it happened to me. The truck in the photo is of moderate size, but longer ones do comes through here. When one of them gets stuck, there's nothing for it but to put it in reverse and try again. I'm sure Astoria has a special niche somewhere in the Truckers' Hall of Fame and Legend.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Dark sky, red boat

I took this photo of the East Mooring Basin from the west side. Yesterday's sunset picture was take from east side - from the pier beyond these boats, which are mostly small commercial fishing boats. This pic is from April 13, 2009.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fishing boats in pink

I love the color of the water and how the sunset paints the fishing boats. What an enchanted evening! I took this in the East Mooring Basin February 24, 2008. I'll be out of town for my birthday this week, so I've found some nice pix in the file to cover while I'm gone. Hopefully Blogger will post them on the right dates :) If I don't reply to your comments this week, that's the reason. I'll miss seeing everyone's photos!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sunset like a painting

I took this photo from the pier at the East Mooring Basin about 8:30 on April 30th. Color blazed across the sky and the water as if wiped there with a painter's rag. It was so rich, so even except for the zig-zag of bright red above the bridge and the breakwater. The thin blue-gray stripe is the Columbia River, the wide dark band is the breakwater, and the orange foreground is the water in the East Mooring Basin. The river was nearly flat; the evening felt gentle and almost warm compared to what it's been. There were more people than I'd have expected gathered on the pier, but not enough that I knew anything was wrong. On a night like this, there might be one or two, but that night there were a dozen. The day after I took the photo, I learned the reason why. An hour before I'd arrived, the body of a man had been found there in his 60-foot sloop by his mother, who had worried about his state of mind. He'd come from Portland, and there in the harbor he'd shot and killed himself. So sad. By the time I arrived, there was really nothing there to indicate this drama, but now, looking back, it seemed almost as if the evening had put on a tenderly brilliant cloak to see the poor guy out.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Theme Day: Shadows

This is a reconstruction of the original Fort Astoria. The blockhouse and palisade are made of wood, while the additional fort walls and the building with the flag are painted on the flat wall behind by local artists Roger McKay and Sally Lackaff. I took the photo on March 6, 2009. Theme Day at City Daily Photo takes place on the first day of each month. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants

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