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Friday, July 31, 2009

Windows of the lovely Astor Hotel

Windows of the Astor Hotel, Astoria, OregonDoes anyone know the style of these delightful windows?

They can be seen on the Duane Avenue and 14th Street sides of the Astor Hotel in Astoria, Oregon. The building was constructed after the 1922 fire burned down its predecessor. I wouldn't know what to call the style. I called the building Art Deco based on various features and the look of its Commercial Street side opposite (shown here). If anyone can help me out with the style, I'd be very interested in what you have to say. I love architecture and styles, but this one isn't 100% in my vocabulary. One author called it "Gothic," and I didn't see that at all on the other side of the building, but these windows bear a hint of Gothic, if only a hint. As to the old hotel itself, several comments from the last post are worth printing here. Some were made on Blogger, and some on the Facebook page for this blog. By the way, I left two small heads at the bottom of the photo for scale and reference. I tried cropping, but I kinda like them there.

Branden Wilson: Don't forget that the top few floors are not even original. They were an afterthought built on years later . . .

Julie Winlund Evans: The bus depot was on the ground floor and I can remember watching the wooden 'dock' rot away over the years as the blackberry briars took over.

Kurt Hanson: I remember the ballroom, it was totally awesome and the little cafe on the corner where the toy store is/was? I also remember the bus depot - I can,t remember what year that was late 60's?

Lee Spangler: What is also cool is what is left of the interior of the main floor. We'll sneak in next weekend.

So, perhaps we'll have additional photos coming up. There's also a comic and game store on the corner of Commercial and 14th with a sign worthy of a photo. I'll see what I can do with that one some time!

There's a bit of sky here, and I like taking part in Skywatch Friday, but I have to admit that the photo was taken last Sunday when the sky was blue and the weather was glorious. That was just before the heatwave. Now the heat has been followed by the marine layer's inevitable clouds, and today so far it's completely overcast. It rained last night, it's cool today, and I'm not complaining!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Green waterside

Green Waterside, Astoria, Oregon On July 16th, I thought the river bank at low tide appeared strikingly verdant. The biggest patch of green is actually a slab of concrete, which is part of the paving that keeps the embankment from eroding. It's turned green with life like everything else that spends so much time covered by water. The tide rises and falls approximately eight feet here twice a day. The water was very flat when I took this, but depending on the wind, the waves are often quite impressive. Pilings are left from old buildings that have disappeared. It adds to the romance of the river, for sure.

I took this photo from the parking lot of the old Englund Marine building at the foot of 15th Street. There is a sidewalk at the top of the embankment, but people exercising or enjoying the view use the stretch of parking lot just as often. There are a couple of comfortable benches, too. The building on the left is the dispatch office of the Bar Pilots (a separate organization from the River Pilots), and the building directly at the end of the water is the outstanding Maritime Museum (and an unusual design), which will have plenty of photos of its own as time goes on. Here's a former post of a ship and buoy in permanent dock there. Active Coast Guard ships also uses docks at the Maritime. It's a little burned out by the exposure, but you can just see the clouds settling low into the trees on the hill.

Today is Think Green Thursday in the world of photo memes.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Waterfront Park

Waterfront Park, Astoria, OregonFor Watery Wednesday, I give you Waterfront Park, which is a great place to go any day in any weather. It's at the foot of 14th Street along the River Walk. It was about 70 paces from the River Walk to this point on the narrow pier. As I said in an earlier post, "Don't picture green grass." It's a wooden pier where the public can walk out over the water and watch the river. There's not much more of the park on the left. There's a bench and one more interpretive sign about the tug and tow boats you'll see on the Columbia River. The plaque you see in the photo shows the pilots at work. One of the photos is a spectacular shot of a pilot in mid-leap between the pilot boat and the ship's ladder.

Here are two views of the pier from the upriver side: Astoria, Oregon Daily Photo posts from July 24, 2009 (daytime), and a sunset photo from June 20, 2009. Above, you can see what that canopy at the end of the pier really looks like. Since the top is made of plexiglas, it provides interesting reflections or windows for photos in various light.

Today is supposed to be another of our rare (maybe 4 per year) hot days. Yesterday was about 89 degrees with humidity, and today should be in the 90s. Since most residences and businesses don't bother to air condition in this climate, there are a lot of uncomfortable people on these hot days, and you hear a lot of complaining, including from me. You find that many people live here because they either prefer cool weather or are physically intolerant of heat. I also noticed as soon as I moved here in the summer of 2001, that many businesses have little or no air flow through the building, as they are packed in along the main streets like sardines in a can - narrow buildings with attached neighbors on both sides and the back. They're usually quite charming unless it's been hot outside!

As I write this, I see low clouds and fog in the marine layer on the river. This is where our cooling trend comes from in summer, but will it come in today, or will it wait until tomorrow as predicted? If it's hot enough inland, it sometimes comes in a day early.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The water sounds good!

Astoria Scuba and Kayak on Pier 39, Astoria, Oregon One way to beat the heat on a day like today - one of the few really warm days we have all year - is to get into a cold river. You can do that here on Pier 39 via kayak or scuba diving, although some people have been going in over the side of the back dock at Coffee Girl. (Scroll down on their page if you need to.) Astoria Scuba & Kayak occupies one corner of the old Pier 39 cannery building. You approach via a wooden pier, and the building is already out in the water where you get any breeze there happens to be on a day like today, and you get a fabulous view, too. The building is quaint, funky, intriguing as a treasure hunt, and once again useful, with offices, a brew pub, Coffee Girl coffee house with the most amazing vew and deck, the scuba/kayak company and a number of offices. There's also a small museum with photos of the cannery's history, and some of the old boats used in the fishing industry, and nice people. It's just a great place to go - one of my favorite places in town. I'll have more pix coming up as the days go by.

Pier 39 has appeared in two posts already - this picture from the water side of the building, and this one taken inside Coffee Girl.

Happy Ruby Tuesday. Click the link for more pictures of red from around the world.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Music, popcorn, and weather to live for

Humdinger Kettlecorn at Astoria, Oregon, Sunday Market Who could resist this bright yellow awning? It was stunningly, memorably, gorgeous, feel-happy weather here yesterday for the Astoria Sunday Market, most of which takes place behind me as I stand facing Humdinger Kettle Korn's tent. They're out for the market each Sunday. I chatted with Suzi (red shirt on the left) while her mom stirred the popping corn. I was on the wrong side for a photo as the popped corn was dumped into the big kettle on the right. They have an excellent and useful web site at, complete with movie credits. It's actually fun to read, and for entrepreneurs, it's a great example of how a web site can enhance a business. This mother/daughter operation began on a farm and has grown to prominence in the area. They travel the Pacific Northwest, and show up each Sunday in Astoria. (Note, I had actually gone over to find a business that occupies this space during weekdays . . . you know who you are . . . we will talk soon!)

The weather was so perfect (not hot, not cold, and as you can see, the sun was out :) that cars and trucks were jamming Marine Drive (Highway 30) just behind me. Our two-lane one-way route between Portland and the coast. It was packed with people mostly moving through Astoria to points beyond, although there were plenty of reasons to visit Astoria this weekend, and many did. There were actually orange road construction signs and traffic controller so people could cross the street.

This weekend, there was a Lugnasa Festival put on by The Blue Scorcher and the Fort George Brewery (I think that's how it works), music events, art events and more. Once again, the band playing at Sunday Market (Floating Glass Balls; they have a wonderful logo and t-shirt - check it out!) provided quality music of the bluegrass-meets-the-Eagles variety. After the market, they played again at the Fort George Brewery. Sunday Market has been growing over the past few years and was packed yesterday. I someone in the band saying this was their only gig at Sunday Market this year, because so many groups want to play. This is certainly good for the people who enjoy coming out to the market, as the quality of the music just keeps getting better.

The River Walk, which runs just this side of the long red and white "14th St. Pilot Station" building had its share of traffic on foot, bikes, strollers, leashes, and skateboards. Just to the right of the pilot building is the narrow Waterfront Park dock, and on the back side of the building is the Columbia River and the place where the pilot boats dock. It's interesting, you can see them up close, and I'll post of photo one of these days. The red building is newly refurbished, and the part you can see in this photo (about half the building or less) is still available for lease. What a great location!

Take a look at more things yellow on Mellow Yellow Monday.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Her Art Deco Majesty, the Astor Hotel

The Astor Hotel, Astoria, Oregon The Astor Hotel at Commercial and 14th Streets is the tallest building in Astoria, unless you're counting the column at the top of Coxcomb Hill. It's also one of the most striking due to its intriguing Art Deco design. The rear of this building has some outstanding windows that look totally different, and yet blend beautifully with the whole. I'll post them soon. You can read concise history of the building on the web site of Robert D. West, Astoria, Oregon. Scroll down to Number 14, John Jacob Astor Hotel. Briefly, it was built in the aftermath of the 1922 fire that burned 32 city blocks of downtown Astoria. It has an unexpected place in history in that cable TV was invented in this building in 1948 by Ed Parsons, and it became the location of the first cable TV company. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. In the end, Astoria could not support the large number of hotel rooms, and in 1968 it closed for eleven years. It's currently used for low-income housing for the elderly and others who receive Section Eight housing benefits. As it's only one block from the river, it affords a remarkable view.

The darker building in the middle is the newly-refurbished Commodore Hotel, seen in this earlier post.

The building in front is the one in this post with the striking Art Deco rounded window at the corner made up of small squares of glass.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Free as a bird

Vessels Under the Bridge, Astoria, Oregon That may seem like a funny title for this photo, but I don't know how else to describe the feeling I had standing on the deck of the Cannery Pier Hotel watching these two vessels pass by. The air was pleasant - not hot, not cold. The breeze was gentle and beckoning. I almost felt the way I do when I'm on the prow of a boat or ship cutting through the swells, free and without a care. I'd never been to this viewpoint before, and it was amazing. You don't need to enter the hotel to get this opportunity, just walk up to the railing beside the building, and you feel a part of the elements. What is hard to convey in any photo is the enormous size of the ship and the bridge, the feeling of vastness. Try clicking on the image, it may help. The land on the other side of the river is the state of Washington.

This is my contribution to Scenic Sunday, where you can view pictures from around the world that various individuals consider "scenic." It's an interesting concept. I love the detail photos of buildings, people, and everyday life. Maybe "scenic" lifts us a little bit outside ourselves and into another realm. That's how I felt at the moment I took this photo.

Well, I goofed up seriously here, but I've been a day early all week! Crazy. Today is Saturday, yes, it is. I'm not changing the post :)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Down to the Waterline

It seems that it all comes back down to the water here in Astoria, Oregon - in this case, the wide Columbia River. This is typical July weather. We're starting to get some sun breaks today, but mornings have been heavily overcast, misty, and drizzly. With clouds like this, you can never be sure what the day will bring.

In the photo, you can see the top of the Astoria-Megler Bridge, as well as the long flat portion connecting to Washington. The row of windows with white frames in the distance is Doc's on 12th and Baked Alaska; the red building on the right belongs to the River Pilots, as does the light green building in the foreground on the left. The red bulding on the left contains the Wheelhouse Coffee House, a real estate office and property management company, and space still open for lease. Beyond the green pilings (exposed at low water), a dock only wide enough for foot traffic is a public waterfront "park" (don't picture green grass) leading to the canopy to the right of the red building, where you can watch the river, ships and the sky in all weather. They used to have a radio speaker inside the canopy where you could hear actual conversations of the river pilots. At some point it stopped working, and I hope they bring it back. You may have to click on the photo to enlarge it if you want to see all that I described.

. Happy SkyWatch Friday.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Where's Hitchcock when you need him?

Art Deco building at 12th and Marine or 12th and the River Walk, Astoria, Oregon This building sits at the corner of 12th Street and the River Walk. It also sits at the corner of 12th and Marine Drive. It's a very short block, as the streets adjust to the curve of the river. I took this photo on July 18th, and sun's glow had grown even deeper in color than when I had snapped the photo of the Art Deco building in this post. The style above looks a little bit Art Deco, although it doesn't have the dramatic elements I've learned to look for. David Thompson, of the wonderful blog, Art Deco Buildings, suggested that it could possibly be a transition style between Victorian and Deco. I'll put it on my list for my next visit to the Heritage Museum, and I'll look more closely for clues when I see the building again.

The only train running past this signal any more is the Riverfront Trolley, and it runs slowly while the drivers give their talk about the sights and watch carefully for visitors and locals ambling along absorbed by the scenery.

The inside of the building has been refurbished in the last few years for office suites, while a medical supply company and a bead store take up much of the ground floor.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Searching for dragons on Tillamook Head

Forest on Tillamook Head, by Daryl Moore This enchanting photo is courtesy of our first guest photographer, Daryl Moore. Among other things, Daryl is President of Astoria FOG. More about that organization in a minute. Daryl posted some pix on Facebook a few days ago from a hike he and his small son, Benton, took on the incredibly beautiful Tillamook Head trail, hunting dragons, as the captions said on Facebook. (Daryl didn't say what they planned to do if they'd found any.)

The north end of the trail starts about 25 minutes from Astoria on the coast just south of Seaside. Lee and I took this hike a few weeks ago, and on that day it looked less like a site of a dragon's lair, as the sun was shining brightly without the mist. If you hike over Tillamook Head and don't continue on the southern extension along a bluff overlooking the beach, you have walked about a five and a half miles through exquisite deep forest that is very little changed since the days when the Louis and Clark Expedition found it and made notes that are now part of our country's history. This is one of the most beautiful forest trails I have ever seen.

Whether you take the entire trail, or just hike in part way from one end or the other and come back out, it is a truly memorable place to visit. The forest floor is covered with ferns, the trees stretch to the sky, and you can even see a few old-growth trees that have escaped the loggers. The trail rises steeply from sea level to the edge of Tillamook Head, overlooking the ocean. The views through the trees are few, but breathtaking. We watched at least three bald eagles cavorting in the air above us, while the rocky beach was hundreds of feet below.

Now, here's the promised info about Astoria FOG:

Astoria FOG is a consortium of individuals and businesses that work to promote and market the arts and crafts industry in the Astoria, Oregon area.

We believe that a strong arts community is a significant benefit to the community at large. Because of this, we work tirelessly to promote and market the arts to benefit both the businesses that participate in FOG and the community in which these businesses participate.

FOG works hard to help promote and market its member businesses and artists by: providing group marketing efforts; producing educational seminars for members to help them better market their art and businesses; encouraging new arts and crafts businesses to establish in Astoria; providing additional channels for members to market themselves, including FOG’s Facebook Page, Twitter Feed, and website; and more!

Participation in FOG is available in several forms: Business Membership, Artist Membership, General and Program Sponsor.

Contact FOG for more information:

Astoria FOG
PO Box 966
Astoria, OR 97103

Daryl Moore

Earlier, when I had asked about the acronym, Daryl wrote: "You nailed it Sheryl. Astoria FOG was originally conceived by a few galleries in town, so the name Astoria FOG stood for Friends of Galleries. But although we loved the name (since it's often foggy in a beautiful way around here) we instantly recognized that FOG is not about just the galleries, but it's about the business of Art in all forms. That includes music and crafts. So we kept FOG, but added the tagline 'Friends of the Arts' -- because that is what we strive to be."

So, there you go. Any questions? :)

I'm submitting this lovely photo as my entry for Watery Wednesday. Please see that site for more pix about water in various forms. Not to mention, it's drizzling again today while the rest of the country bakes! It's a tough job living here, but somebody has to do it!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Waterfront funk with red

Waterfront Building with Red - Astoria, Oregon What are the chances of finding a waterfront scene like this one with one isolated punched-out red board? (There were no others.) I don't know, but it caught my attention. I wonder if it has anything to do with the narrow truck bay out of sight on the left? Something like, "Whoah! Do not drive into the water." In any event, I love the old windows and the aging white-on-white of the building. I see a lot of things being painted this year. Of course, that preserves them, but I miss the weather-beaten art of the "before." I'm sure that's one reason God made cameras. I'd like to get over there again and get a close-up before this building gets cleaned up. There's one obstacle: cyclone fencing. But it's not far away - it's just along the River Walk, like so many of my favorite places.

. Ruby Tuesday

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sun glow Deco

Anyone who knows Astoria will remember this building at the corner of 14 Street and Marine Drive as being pale yellow and beige in color. The evening sun was turning everything deep, rich colors on July 18th, and the camera picked up on that and enhanced the color even more. I believe the top storey consists of apartments. Downstairs is a pet store, mainly tropical fish and related supplies and equipment. A new sign on the other side of the building advertises "The Pet Works, Self-Service Dog Wash, Pets & Supplies." So maybe they've expanded. I haven't been in for awhile. There is a third story set way back from the edge of the building so you can't see it in this photo. The windows all have curtains that look like they'd be apartments.

Astoria has a number of prevalent building styles, including Victorian houses, Arts and Crafts Movement (Craftsman Style) houses, and there's quite a bit of Art Deco in the downtown area, which makes sense because the commercial area had to be rebuilt after the 1922 fire. The tall Art Deco-style window here is a unique element in town, although I'll be looking for more such interesting detail from that era.

For other photos featuring the color yellow, check out Mellow Yellow Monday.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunset with ship

The lighting makes all the difference. This photo is taken from about the same place as yesterday's photo. The ship is different, and so is the sky! This sunset was unusually bright yellow, and I actually missed the brightest, yellowest part of it. By the time I got my camera and got outside to take this, it was already beginning to fade, but what timing . . . the ship calmly plied its way upriver at that point . . . just right for another romantic picture on the river.

I pulled this picture from the files of June 30, 2009. Baked Alaska had a photo on Facebook for awhile with this same ship in the sunset, caught just a minute or two earlier while the yellow was still screamingly, remarkably unreal. They're one long block downriver from me, and the ship passed their restaurant-on-the-dock just before it got to my place. We've had a number of evenings this year where the water was just about this same indescribable color, but the elements on June 30 added up to a scene to remember.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Nippon Highway en route to the sea

Nippon Highway en route to the sea - Astoria, Oregon, by Sheryl Todd The Nippon Highway, an automobile carrier, makes its way past Astoria headed for the mouth of the Columbia River and the open sea on July 17, 2009. I at first hoped to capture the size and bulk of this ship by showing the full, grey body, but it quickly became a silhouette to my camera as it eased past my location. Instead, I got something I hadn't even looked for - the reflection of the light off the water on the slanted plane of the hull and the gray-on gray cloud bank, so typical of the weather on the river. The sky was gray even clouds in that direction at the end of the day, but you can clearly see the fog bank rolling in with its shaded patterns over Cape Disappointment in Washington.

If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can see the railing in the open space at the bow of the ship, which will give some idea of scale. I'm using this photo as my submission for the "Weather" theme on ShutterDay. Link on over and see more photos of weather.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Poppies and Baked Alaska

We've had the most stunningly gorgeous weather this week. It's been in the 70s and a little breezy. You can have it warm in the sun, cool in the shade, almost whatever you want. Mornings have been heavily overcast here on the Lower Columbia River, and then late morning through the rest of the day looks like this.

The building is "Doc's on 12th Street," and houses a number of offices and businesses. This is the back of the building, which is pretty cool, because it's as attractive as the front. Most of the bottom floor is taken up by the Baked Alaska Restaurant and Bar (a window-side restaurant and a separate and comfortable lounge with a view). I took Sue to Baked Alaska for her birthday dinner last night, and the food was as memorable and creative as it was when I first came to town. Mmmm. Baked Alaska is always a treat, and today we got poppies with the view, as well :) Summer flowers are looking good after a winter that lasted into early July.

Follow this link for scenes from around the world on Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

One little breaker switch . . .

Radio Tower and Old Radio Station Building, Astoria, Oregon My business and nonprofit tapir conservation organization use the downstairs part of this building on the River Walk, while the owners use the upstairs portion. We share the space with the radio transmitter room, which in turn broadcasts five stations from the tower standing in the river behind the building.

Well, the other day we needed a new printer because the old one was clearly kaput. So why not move the new printer and thermal label printer to the other side of the desk to make reaching them easier and increase our packing efficiency? Good idea. No problem. Unplug everything, walk the cords around, weave them in and out of the computer desk (computer desks are all perfectly constructed for cord routing, we all know that). Rearrange a few wires. Great. Perfect. Plug everything back in. Half the room goes dark. Internet goes down. No big deal, we have breaker boxes. Hmm. Looks like the breakers are still on. Better call Rob at the station, I don't really want to be messing with something I don't understand. In a funky 1950s radio station building turned transmitter. "Hi, Rob . . . " What? What's off? Ooops. Ooops! KKEE is off the air. Didn't realize that one of our breaker switches had that much potential. A guy comes over and explains that just because the breaker switch LOOKS like it's on, it doesn't mean it actually IS on. OK, thanks. Fixed. All working again. Cool. And everyone was nice about it. What's the moral? There probably isn't one. It's just one more day in Paradise, and I really mean that. I love it here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Any day in Astoria

Astora, Oregon, Waterfront from the 6th Street Viewing Platform This is one reason why some people love Astoria and others don't. This photo could have been taken any day of the year. As it happens, it was taken on July 13, 2009. Yesterday the sun came out, and today is starting off as in the photo, although the weather report says the sun should peek through later. Yesterday afternoon was gorgeous. You never know. I love the misty, drizzly days, too, but when the sun comes out, it brings smiles.

I took this photo from the top of the 6th Street Viewing Platform. The tiered decking is for public access to the river front. I've seen people catch sturgeon from this deck, or you can simply enjoy a fantastic view of the river and the ships, and sometimes seals and sea lions. Anything made of wood here is clearly at the mercy of the elements, and I've watched the effect that water has on this platform over the past few years. It's not unusual to walk along the waterfront and see the occasional replacement board or number of boards in their bright new-wood colors nailed right up against the fading gray. The upstairs of the first building is called "The Penthouse," a several-bedroom, beautifully decorated place that can be rented for groups or parties. Everything else here is business, whether office space or, like the yellow building, part of the fishing and packing industry. The photo is taken looking east, and most of the town is nestled behind the buildings or on the foggy shoreline. "Misty" or "drizzly" may be better words, as we don't get much dense fog here on the shore.

There's a coin-operated telescope on the platform that I've never used, and a plaque describing vanished lifeways of the local Indians. I like it that some of the history of the river can be found in pictures and words along the waterfront.

I've used this photo as my contribution to Watery Wednesday. Follow the link to see more pix featuring water.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Mary Todd's Workers Bar & Grill

Mary Todd's Workers Bar and Grill, Astoria, Oregon Mary Todd's Workers Bar & Grill is located in the small, historic, and pleasantly funky western part of Astoria known as Uniontown. I'm sure the building holds tons of history, none of which I was able to find in my reference book or online. I'll put it on my growing list of places to look up on my next visit to the Heritage Museum. I did find a blog showing and telling of a visit inside, not only for atmosphere and drinks, but also reportedly for great food. I'll have to check the place out myself sometime. I also found a very cool painting online by Mary Tanguay, an artist who lives and works in Uniontown.

In a comment to this post, "Auntie" wrote: "I love The Workers and Mary Todd is an excellent bartender. The funny thing about this place is it's like a vortex of fun. You never know who you are going to run into there, there is a great mix of locals and some visitors too, they have great tunes, prime rib as big as your head for CHEAP and it's just plain fun. On really special nights, Mary will dance on a table for you."

Check out Ruby Tuesday for more photos featuring red.

Salty Dogs at Sunday Market

Despite early-morning thunder and rain, and threatening rain most of the day, the crowds turned out to enjoy Sunday Market. There's always live music, and yesterday it was Salty Dogs Jim Dwyer and Lorell (Koskela) Stoneman entertaining and uplifting spirits with classic rock and folk. I enjoyed their music so much as I wandered through the Wells Fargo Bank parking lot looking for "breakfast" and coffee (at 2:00 PM), that rather than enjoying a relaxing seat at the cafe, I got my stuff to go and came back to enjoy the music under threatening skies. The drive-through at the back of Wells Fargo shelters the musicians and their equipment each Sunday, but the shadows made it difficult to expose properly for both the band and their bright yellow sign. Around the edges of the sign, it says, "Live Music - Classic Rock & Roll." The band lives and plays locally, although Jim has has played in places such as Reno and Tahoe until a few years ago. They can be reached at: (503) 440-6406 or e-mail

Before I moved to Oregon, I read in a guidebook that if you wonder where all the hippies went, just come to Oregon. You will find them here both making and listening to several decades of fantastic music.

I lamented in a comment on someone's blog that we don't have much street music here. We don't. You rarely see anyone playing on the street itself. Sunday Market is a set venue. What I didn't mention is that Astoria seems to have a remarkable number of professional-quality musicians, or maybe I should say professional musicians who have opted for the amenities of this area over the big city. If you go to the galleries, coffee houses, and other local music events, you will be rewarded. There's more to come as I begin to spend some more time (I hope) away from the computer. Sunday I was so late getting out that after chatting with a few friends, I had to buy berries and veggies quickly, as the market starts shutting down at 3:00 pm.

This is my submission for Mellow Yellow Monday, and one reason I wanted the sign to come out better. To see more pix featuring yellow, follow this link! You can only see a tiny piece of the sign on the van that says, "Astoria Sunday Market." It's a bright yellow sign with pictures making up the A.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Enjoying the moment

Behind the perching crow is the lovely brick pattern of the BPOE building at 11th and Exchange. I liked the colors and design, and the fact that I got the bird in focus. I also liked his attitude, appearing to me kind of laid back and curious. I'd like to take a cue from the bird in the laid-back-and-enjoying-the-moment department. Yes, I know that's anthropomorphizing, but that's what the image says to me, and I need to hear it. A long spell of hard work has come, not to a conclusion, but to a point where I can take more break time again. To me, this crow says it all. In the midst of the demands of the city, there's time to relax.

I believe that technically Astoria is a city (vs. town). Since we are not in the UK and don't need a cathedral to qualify as a city, that determination is probably based on the type of government we have. At 10,000 inhabitants, the atmosphere is often more like a small town. I enjoy this duality, the city-like buildings and the community feel. I've lived either in places that felt like cities or like towns, but this combination is new and pleasant.

We had glorious thunder and rain this morning. Rain is common, but big thunder and lightning storms are not. I stayed up so late working, that I wasn't in the mood to crawl out of bed and chase the weather with my camera. That's clearly a downside of my choice to work late, but I'm happy with my accomplishments. The work is not done, but some of the pressure is over. I'm planning to get up from the PC in a few minutes and enjoy what the day has to offer beyond these four walls despite overcast and drizzle - or maybe because of it, we'll see. The upcoming week promises terrific weather - partial sun and temps in the low 70s. I'm convinced that there are pix to be had in any weather, but clearly it will be optimum camera time again. Happy day, everyone!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Artistic whimsy in the sky: Blue on white on blue

This has to be one of the most interesting, light-hearted, and beautiful church bell towers I've ever seen. It belongs to St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church at 1465 Grand Avenue in Astoria, Oregon. The original Catholic church was built nearby in 1874, but no one seems to know the exact location of the building. As the congregation grew, this church was built about a block away in 1903, and is still in use. Star of the Sea also runs a school, which is well known here in town.

The most interesting thing to me is the amazing architecture. I went online to see if there were other similar bell-tower designs, but I didn't find anything approaching this style of detail. Does the detail derive from Astoria's Scandinavian heritage, or was it the whim of one local artist/architect/designer? The steeple roofline seems to be vaguely Finnish, but as much as I love architecture, I can't say I know enough to classify this. There is the sedate Romanesque blind arcade in white, and then the creative spirit of the Victorian-era designer takes off! I think the colors are just perfect.

If anyone has ideas about the style, please make a comment!

Friday, July 10, 2009

"El Tiburon Blanco," The White Shark

Coast Guard Cutter, Steadfast, on the river in Astoria, Oregon The Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast is usually docked about one block from my office along the River Walk at the Maritime Museum, so I was pleasantly surprised to see her out of dock and floating just outside my office on July 5th. She was barely moving - in fact, was moving in a slow circle rather than making much headway. I saw a cluster of orange life jackets on deck, but since nobody seemed overly excited and in fact the mood seemed relaxed (what I could tell of it), I assumed this was a training exercise. Although I zoomed the pic a bit to frame the ship, it's not that far away. Even fishing boats don't usually come this close to shore where we are, so it was a novelty and a treat to see her up close. (Note the railing of the catwalk in the lower right of the photo.) You can get nearer to the Steadfast in the dock, but it was interesting to see her on the water with the crew out and active.

Note: As it turns out, a friend of a friend is deployed on the ship, and it was just returning from two months on active duty. As home port was only one block (landlubber talk, I know) up the river, friends and relatives were no doubt gathered, and the mood onboard seemed light and even jovial (did I hear laughter across the water?), were they teasing as they delayed their last short distance into dock? Last-minute prep for going ashore? Mystery unsolved!

I knew a few things about this ship, but I'd never heard the full explanation. She bears a large logo of the name "Steadfast" in the shape of a great white shark, and wears a gold marijuana leaf painted on the mast. The ship's notable history is described briefly on her own web site and explains both the logo and the leaf. I think I actually remember this ship in the news from years back, before I moved to Oregon.

I also love the delicate wisps and shadings of the gray clouds in the background. As this is Skywatch Friday, I wanted to bring special attention to them. We've been having days of clouds, rain, drizzle, haze, and more clouds with patches of blue sky. I love all of the colors on the river, including the gray. I'd like to borrow from and link to Sara Chapman, who blogged, "I know I've lived in Seattle a long time when I begin to get excited about shades of gray in the clouds." Sara, I feel the same way. Isn't the sky magnificent?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The old Englund Marine

The old Englund Marine building on the waterfront in Astoria, Oregon The dumpster and the dumpster-sized cardboard recycling bin have been taken away, and the business has moved out. They have a new, larger building at the west end of town near one of the marinas, which is fitting for a marine supply company. "The old Englund Marine" is a current landmark. In another post, I talked about how everyone gave directions in relation to the old (completely gone) Safeway store. Englund Marine is the same way. Just to the left, 15th Street feeds onto the River Walk, which here looks basically like a parking lot. I lease the downstairs of the building just peeking in at the left of the photo for Tapir and Friends Wildlife World Gift Shop (aka The Animal Store). You wouldn't believe how many times I've given the location as "15th Street and the River Walk," only have the person blank out on me. "You know where the old Englund Marine is?" I ask, and they come back to life. "Oh, yeah, you're the place next door to Englund's in the old radio station building?" "Yes, that's us." (Note the radio tower, which stands a few yards out in the river.) Currently the other side of Englund's is open water with some pilings and an interesting concrete platform that the seagulls enjoy. Another pic for another day. The river's edge is where the red parking barriers are, and the whole building and the area in front are built on pilings.

I actually took this photo last May when the grass was greener. It's amazing how a few clear days dried it right up. But it's been overcast, and now it's rained for a couple of days. The trolley tracks and the River Walk are again wet like you see in the photo. I wonder if the grass will revive.

There are big (and controversial) plans afoot for what will be built here in the next year or so. I've already lamented the impending loss of images like this one showing the side of the old structure ("A shimmering moment in time"). I'll let it go at that for now. I want to learn more about it before I start talking. These properties are not owned by individuals but are leased from the state for something like 99 years.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Gearing up gracefully

I took this on July 3rd. I mentioned in my last post that part of the waterfront that directly deals with commercial fish processing was gearing up for the season. Here one of the guys manages a chute as chopped ice pours down from somewhere into somewhere else. I haven't been inside this operation myself, and I don't know what goes on inside the building. Maybe this year I'll find out. But one thing that's so cool is that the River Walk and Waterfront Trolley run right between two of the buildings, so you can see fish on one side (very close up) and parts of the packing operation on the other side. Although the buildings are right on the walkway, this was at the far side of the building, and I used the zoom. The mountains on the other side of the river don't look anywhere near that big with the naked eye.

With ice from the chute and the great Columbia River beyond, I thought this was a fitting image for Watery Wednesday. For more wet photos from around the world, click here.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Ready for fish

These plastic totes were sitting alongside the old warehouse at Third Street on the waterfront near the River Walk. I couldn't resist the bright red, and I love the way the bins look next to the picturesque, aging wall. This is a very small warehouse compared to the newer ones. The building itself is one of Astoria's historic gems, and deserves its own photo. Built in 1892, it first served as a repository for materials used in the making of tin cans for salmon. I'll see what I can do about getting a nice photo of the front of the building. Meanwhile, the totes sit waiting for the commercial fishing season that's just around the corner. The other day I began seeing the fish companies gearing up. Machines that had been quiet all winter and spring were humming, ice was pouring out of flexible tubes, water was draining out of pipes, forklifts were moving pallets, and at least a half dozen large semis were parked in places along the waterfront that have been empty for months. The season will make for some interesting pictures, I hope!

Since we've just celebrated the Fourth of July, I'm noticing the patriotic colors - with a difference. I like this permutation of red, white, and blue. Happy Ruby Tuesday, everyone!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fisher Bros. Company: More old signs

Here's a historic building at 7th Street along the River Walk that has been carefully refinished to preserve the old signs of business no longer in existence. I'm not sure if the sign indicates two businesses or one. You can see paper taped on the glass of the doorway indicating that a title company now resides here, or will soon. I love the pattern made by the railings. This part of the River Walk is made of board planks. The material of the walk changes from place to place, which is one of the many things that keeps it interesting. The building is very pale yellow, so I chose it this week for Mellow Yellow Monday. Unfortunately, I don't have any history on the building, but I'll play catch-up when I find time to visit the Historical Museum again. In fact, it would be nice to post a photo of that imposing edifice. So many potential photos, so few days in a year! Once you open your eyes, there is so much to see. I was even thinking just how many photos could be taken on every block in town. It might be fun to give it a go from that perspective someday :) Or what about a "boat per day" blog? Lots of ideas!

Part of the Sears building mural

There are a lot of murals in Astoria that are appreciated by the buildings' owners and have not been covered over as the mural on the TLC Credit Union was recently. I took this photo the other day of the back of the Sears building along the River Walk. The loading door you see here is not real - the real one is to the left, and there's a lot more of the mural to the left also. As in the TLC mural, the artist is Joanne (Jo) Lumpkin Brown, and I found Jo Brown's web site here. Follow the link to Murals & Signs, and you'll see the Sears building and other murals with before and after photos. Interestingly, the name painted on the building is not Sears, but Mason, Furman & Co., which I believe was an old business no longer operating in Astoria. There are a number of buildings around town that retain the old names in their historic guise. The details on this mural are fun, and I'll include more in later postings. The white van on the right belongs to the Wet Dog Cafe and Brewing Company, which starts where Sears ends. It's a popular locale for dining, snacking, and drinking indoors or outside with a view of the river, for bands, the Fisher Poets' Gathering, and other events.

This post is my submission for Scenic Sunday. Not only is it nice to look at this scene from an earlier era, but Jo is a scene painter, so the focus here is definitely on scenes of various types!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Big bridge, small boat

Here's a relaxing scene. The weather has been fantastic - until today - and I expected there to be boats on the water in large numbers to take advantage of the Fourth of July weekend. Today there's heavy overcast and mist. It gives us respite from the heatwave going on inland and may bring more people to the beach to cool off.

I'm posting this photo to show just how big the piers on the bridge really are. They're huge! The small boat gives a sense of scale as well as carefree abandon as it crests the waves under the huge structure on its way toward the mouth of the great Columbia. The weekend is here, and already as I wrote this on Friday afternoon the roads were packed with visitors from inland who enjoy vacation time out on the coast. We'll see how the day turns out. I've watched fireworks in the drizzle more than once!

To see a photo per day from other locations around the world, check out the other City Daily Photo participants! It's a fun way to see the world!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The big red shed

This romantic building is one of the most painted and photographed in all of Astoria, and possibly in the Pacific Northwest. Locally it's known as "Big Red." The roofline was more balanced and aesthetically pleasing before the big storm of December 2-3, 2007, blew the top to shreds. The building began life in 1897 as a drying shed for fishing nets and a place where fish were transferred. Boats were also lifted directly out of the water and into the building for repair. Currently and most recently, Big Red has served as a studio for local artist Royal Nebeker and others. It has a rich history and a remarkable setting. You can read more about all of this and see a photo of the way it looked before the storm by following this link and this one. It's reached only by a private catwalk and is not open to the public. I've never been inside, but I've dreamed about it.

I took this photo yesterday on my walk from Pier 39 along the river to 15th Street, and I decided to use it today for Skywatch Friday. For several days, the sky has been bright blue and clear above with light haze at the horizon and along the hills. This may not seem like an "event" (after all, it's summer), but here it IS an event people talk about any time it doesn't rain, drizzle, or lay in a blanket of clouds for three or four days in a row. The temperature reached about 80*F on Thursday. We're scheduled for another warm day, then cooling. The thing is, the cool weather often comes in a day earlier than predicted. Astoria can't handle too many warm days in a row - the heat sucks the cool ocean air right up the river and we go back to our typical overcast or drizzly skies for awhile. We'll see who's right this time, the official forecast or me :) If it get's into the 90s or up to 100, the cool weather comes in that much faster. We only have a few days in that temperature range each year; that's one reason I moved to the North Coast. I love it that way! I'll keep you posted.

For a glimpse inside Big Red and to hear some hauntingly beautiful music, click on the YouTube picture below to see/hear Israel Nebeker's music video. Israel is the son of the building's owners, and an extremely nice young man. The band is Blind Pilot.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A landmark disappears

This was one of Astoria's newer landmarks, painted in the summer of 2002, but it disappeared last Saturday. I'd intended to go back and get a better photo "soon," but as Lee and I drove past the building on which this mural was painted, we saw the artwork being swallowed up under new siding material! It was painted by Jo Brown and her assistants to represent some of Astoria's historic features along with local wildlife. Astoria has a number of murals still in place, some of them done by Jo, who has lived in Astoria, but also worked in Hollywood as a scene painter. (I saw her name on a film credit just this week, but I don't remember which film.) Painted on the side of the TLC Credit Union, the mural was most visible from Marine Drive and the parking lot of the mini-mart and gas station. You can see the back of a vehicle parked in front of the painted boat on the right and a teller window for the credit union on the left. A huge feature, the five-cent trolley, can't be seen in this photo, but fortunately I found another online image of the entire mural in a "waymarking" photo. If you've never hear of waymarking, it's an interesting pheonomenon I learned about this year. I don't participate (I do post many of my location photos to Panoramio/Google Earth), but briefly, waymarking is done by individuals who digitally preserve landmarks all over the world, along with their locations on a map.

I especially like the horses in this photo. I showed another image of horse seining on the Maritime Memorial. You'll have to click the photo and look on the right side. As in the mural, the man guides two horses. This was done in the shallow water near sand bars and islands in the Columbia. A huge net is attached to the land at one end. The horses pull the other end of the net through the water and mud, scooping up salmon by the hundreds. It was an efficient way to catch fish, but it also helped deplete the number of fish in the river. There are other issues and fishing methods that deplete the salmon, and I won't take the time to study it, but briefly, we have a lot of sea lions who eat tons of salmon per year. Their natural enemies, the orcas, are virtually gone from this location, and the sea lions cause great havoc among the salmon population. Most of us love to watch the local sea lions, although there are those who shoot them on sight. This is a whole story in itself. But it all comes into the issue of the balances between man and nature - or I should probably say nature, nature, and man. I wonder how complex that balance really is, as it can be affected by so many things, not all of which are man-made. Locally, one manifestation of the balance issue is that there was some question about whether there would be enough salmon in the river this year to open a spring salmon fishing season. If not, I believe this would be a first.

Check out "green" thoughts and photos at Think Green Thursday.

Back to the original intent. I just wanted to post a photo of this mural - now another of Astoria's memories.

What's one of the vanished landmarks you'd like to see come back to your city? Or maybe one that you're glad is gone!

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