Post-Vaccination Vacation: Mai Tai Tom’s Oregon Trail TaleCHAPTER FIVE: ASTORIA/LEWIS & CLARK NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK

Day Six – Europe’s “Fattiest Pastry”, Oregon’s Oldest City, Captain’s Quarters, Saved From The Fire, A Crowning Monument, In Lewis & Clark’s Footsteps, On The Boardwalk, You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out, Root Beer Floats, Surprisingly Good, A Sticky Situation & Beachy Keen

Instead of opting for the pick-up breakfast at our hotel, we crossed the street to a little place called Sea Level Bakery & Coffee.


I ordered a Citrus and Kouign Amann, a pastry whose name means cake. The dish originated in the French region of Brittany. The New York Times once called it, “the fattiest pastry in all of Europe.” OK, that sounded good.  To wash it down, I had a Chocolate/Orange latte, the first one of those since our 2011 trip to Eataly in New York City. Since I was now fatter and loaded with caffeine, I was ready to be a passenger in Kim and Mary’s automobile as we traveled 45 minutes up the Oregon coast to the state’s oldest city … Astoria.  Astoria also lays claim to being the oldest American settlement west of the Rocky Mountains. Although John Jacob Astor never set foot in Oregon, the city is named for this German-born tycoon from New York because of his investment in the region’s fur trade.

Once we reached town, we were on the lookout for the Flavel House Museum, which was the home of Captain George Flavel, a well-renowned bar pilot and businessman in the 19th century. Instead of making Manhattans and martinis, a bar pilot is someone who “navigates a ship from a pilot station over a (sand) bar and often into the harbor or to the docks.”  Flavel guided ships through the dangerous bars of the Columbia River. As an entrepreneur, he was also one of Astoria’s first millionaires. In a Jerry Lee Lewis moment, Flavel was 30 years old when he married 14-year-old Mary.

Pulling up in front of the home, whose lush and expansive grounds encompass an entire city block, the Queen Anne style home with its “steeply pitched roof” and “octagonal-shape tower” was quite striking in appearance.


It’s lucky the house has survived. In 1922, Astoria suffered through a severe fire that torched much of downtown. A couple of times it was saved from the wrecking ball, which was going to pave paradise and put up a parking lot. I’m not sure if Joni Mitchell knew about that since there were no big yellow taxis in the vicinity.

Oh, the garden! The rhododendrons provided eye-popping color at every turn. The garden includes nine trees, along with a plethora of plants, bulbs and shrubs. Captain Flavel purchased many of the gorgeous garden flora from his trips around the world.  Fortunately, the house was not for sale or Tracy would have bought it for the rhododendrons alone.


Instead, the three geezers stepped inside the Visitor Center and paid $6 each ($8 for the young Tracy) to wander on a self guided tour of this 11,600 square-foot house constructed between 1884 and 1886.  The Visitor center and museum store are located in the old Carriage House where the Flavels stored their carriage, sleighs and small buggies, as well as housing the family’s three horses for a short time. Being the Carriage House, not surprisingly we found a carriage and a sleigh, however there was no sign of the Flavels’ Studebaker sedan, which also called the Carriage House its home for short while.


We toured all 2 1/2 stories of this historic home, including six fireplaces with tiles from around the world. To start, we watched an interesting 13-minute film, which offered a glimpse into the life of the family.


The Music Room is where Flavel’s daughters (Nellie & Katie) would sometimes perform.


Whenever the Flavels’ hosted important events, they’d use the parlor. When Captain Flavel died in 1893, it’s said the viewing of his body was held here.

The library was described as “ the heart of the house,” with its over stuffed Turkish chair. There were docents throughout the home contributing additional information about the house and the family.The dining room, with its unique light fixture …


…and conservatory is where the Flavels dined.Downstairs, we also toured the kitchen.


Upstairs, we saw the main bathroom, with its distinctive tub …… and five bedrooms.  The bedroom on the right is where Tracy jotted down her crib notes.


Unfortunately the tower, which Flavel utilized “as an observation post for for ships navigating the treacherous waters at the entrance of the Columbia River” was closed due to Covid restrictions.

The Flavel House Museum was very much worth the time, and as we stepped outside we saw the old county jail building across the street that now serves as the home of the Oregon Film Museum. Lots of movies have been filmed in the state, and the Flavel House was featured as a museum in the 1985 film The Goonies.

We skipped the film museum and drove a short distance to Coxcomb Hill (Astoria’s highest hill) to check out the Astoria Column.

The 125-foot column was dedicated in 1926 by the Great Northern Railway.


According to the literature, the column is “patterned after the Trajan Column in Rome, the Astoria Column is unique. It’s the world’s only large piece of memorial architecture made of reinforced concrete with a pictorial frieze in sgraffito technique.”


The bas-relief scenes depict the history of the region on spirals up the column telling the story of the native tribes, the first European explorers, the Lewis and Clark expedition, the founding of Astoria and arrival of early pioneers in the 1830s.

It also commemorates the “discovery” of the Columbia River by Captain Robert Gray on 1792.”  Due to Covid restrictions we were not able to climb the 164 steps to the top.A concrete replica of a Native American burial canoe was erected on Coxcomb Hill as a memorial to Chief Comcomly, one of the Chiefs of the Chinook Tribe at the time of Lewis and Clark.

From the hill we looked out to the Astoria-Megler Bridge, which spans the mouth of the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington. Opened in 1966, the bridge is 14 miles from the mouth of the river at the Pacific Ocean, making it is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America.From the Astoria Column, we drove the short distance (about 20 minutes) to Lewis & Clark National and State Historical Park to take a look at Fort Clatsop, the encampment of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the Oregon Country during the winter of 1805-1806.

First we passed by a sign that we assumed meant Ralphie could not bring his Red Ryder BB Gun here. Park rangers didn’t want him to shoot his eye out.


An interesting tidbit: It took 3 1/2 weeks to build the original fort in the early 1800s. In 1955, it took 18 months to build the reconstruction, which, in turn, burned down in 2005.


Another replica was built a year later.


We ducked into the replicated rooms.


Unfortunately the museum was closed, meaning I couldn’t flash my “Magic Senior Card” and save us 40 bucks. Meanwhile, Mary didn’t leave her post.

The ranger attempted to show us how to use a machine. As someone who nearly failed shop class in the 8th grade, his attempts were futile.


We scoped a couple of other rooms.


The ranger also offered some fascinating historical facts, and then it was time for us to take a little hike.


Now Kim even got into the whole flower-photo thing.


We reached the Netul River.

Since we were on the Boardwalk, I told the gang that must mean our car was sitting at Park Place.  It was time to go.


We were a hungry bunch by the time we arrived back in Cannon Beach. My Kouign Amann was by now a distant memory. I secured a table inside Public Coast Brewing Company, while the other three stepped up and ordered at the bar.


Public Coast Brewing Company claims to have “the best onion rings on the coast,” but we really didn’t need an entire pound of them.

Instead, I had a delicious root beer float, the drink that literally helped me gain strength during my 105-day hospitalization in 2010. I don’t think I’ve had one since, and after drinking this one I don’t know why I have eschewed this tasty treat (made with Stephen’s Root Beer) for so long. It paired perfectly with my hamburger and Tracy’s fish tacos.


Kim decided upon clam chowder along with fish and chips, while Mary had the barbecued chicken salad. All in all, another good meal.


It was mid-afternoon, so we returned to the hotel and took a nap. Damn, we are getting old.

We didn’t have dinner reservations, and though low on TripAdvisor’s rating scale, we chose MacGregor’s Restaurant and Whiskey Bar, because most of the actual reviews were good (I never understand how they come up these rankings).


While waiting a half hour or so for dinner, we took a little stroll through lovely, and chilly, Cannon Beach.  There are no shortage of restaurants …


… or shops in here.


There is also a lot of public art in Cannon Beach.


Next time, we’re definitely bringing the dogs.

This was the closest we came to seeing a Puffin while in Cannon Beach

Our dinner, contrary to the previously mentioned rating, was delicious, starting with the black Manhattans (we’ve all subsequently perfected that potent potable recipe).

“Polly’s Famous Chowder” was phenomenal, although it tasted more like a potato chowder. It came as a side with Tracy’s halibut burger.Mary’s lobster bisque, which came with her lamb burger, was also a “wow!”Meanwhile, Kim tried the special Alfredo linguine, and I ordered a very good plate of fish and chips.


I thought I was full until I saw the dessert menu, which included one of my favorite dishes on earth, Sticky Toffee Pudding. I can never get enough.

MacGregor’s got high marks from all of us, and its creamy, delicious soups were the best we tasted on the entire trip.


Needing to walk-off the calorie-laden Sticky Toffee Pudding, I joined the other three for a short walk on the beach.


We got one last peek at Haystack Rock …

… and although I wouldn’t have minded to sit for a bit, it was time for bed, because we had a fairly long drive the following day.We’d stop at numerous viewpoints along the way, including a death-defying car maneuver to get a glimpse of a place that needs to improve its signage.

Then we’d stop to see if we could tour a famed cheese-making facility, and view Oregon’s longest pier. We’d also have time to hike to a lighthouse, have a very good lunch, and stop at a few more viewpoints on our way to Yachats, where we stayed in a room with one of the best views of any hotel we’ve stayed at in the U.S.


Day Seven – Give Me A Hug, Getting High In Oregon, A River Runs Through It, Pier Review, Simple Symon’s, The Big Cheese, Check Out Those Tentacles, Seeing The Light (Part One), “Best Clam Chowder In The World”, Foulweather Ahead, Seal Of Approval & Room With A View

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