Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Cape Disappointment and Ilwaco

Today we drove out to the Cape Disappointment State Park.  It's a beautiful area with water views.  This is the ocean view on the way out to the North Head lighthouse.

The North Head light house is on the ocean.  It's very exposed to the wind there.  We were pretty happy about bringing jackets with us.   North Head was built after the Cape Disappointment light house to be visible to ships approaching from the north. 

Then it was on to the Cape Disappointment Interpretive Center.  But first I must digress.  Jim, the spousal unit, grew up in the GPNW.  When Jim was young, he and his parents visited this area.  From his reading, Jim knew there was a coastal defense fort in the area.  On their way to the Cape Disappointment light house, they detoured off on an unmarked trail and found Fort Canby.  This was before the interpretive center was there.  It was kind of cool for Jim to see the fort again after all of those decades.

The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center is excellent.  The journey of Lewis and Clark is beautifully documented.  It's a mystery to me how they survived the trip, given the hardships they endured.
They also have the first order Fresnel lens from the North Head light house on display.

Then it was off to the Cape Disappointment light house, which sits at the mouth of the Columbia River. There is a Coast Guard Motor Lifeboat Station at the base of the bluff.  Look behind the building on the left, you and see the mud flats out there.  The tide was out.

Interpretive Center upper right, sea bird products on the left.

The Cape Disappointment light house. There is a Coast Guard observation point at its base. A coastie spends time in there with big binoculars observing the bar.  Crossing the bar can be fraught with peril, it moves around and boats have been known to founder there.  At one time the bar and surrounding area was known as the Graveyard of the Pacific.

This is the north jetty.  See the land beyond the line of rocks?  I know it's a terrible picture, it was far away.  Anyway, that land was not there when Lewis and Clark arrived.  Look at the rounded hill on the far right; when L&C were there it was not forested due to being repeatedly washed down by ocean spray.  The jetties have caused major changes to the ecosystem.  They also stabilized the bar to an extent.

Here is the other jetty, you can better see here that it's made of a lot of rocks piled up in the water.  Maintenance on both jetties is ongoing due to wave action from the ocean on the rocks.

After Cape Disappointment we went into Ilwaco, which is still a fishing town.  Many of the area's fisheries are toast due to over fishing.  Astoria and other small towns have had to turn to tourism to survive.  Ilwaco is still doing sport fishing.  Jim went with his parents when he was twelve.  Knowing Jim's Mom as I did, I can't imagine her on a sport fishing boat.  They caught a bunch of salmon, and dropped it off in Ilwaco for smoking and canning. You can still do that today.

These giant boats were moored in the same marina as the sport fishers.  The Hawaiian Chieftain is built out of steel and is based on the traditional packet boats that sailed between islands.
Hawaiian Chieftain is the name of a sailing vessel briefly known as the Spirit of Larinda. Built in 1988 in Lahaina on the island of Maui, the Hawaiian Chieftain is a contemporary interpretation of a traditional design. She is unique with the rig of a 19th-century trading vessel and a modern triple keel, shallow draft hull. Drawing only 5.5 feet (1.7 m), she is highly maneuverable in shallow waters.

This is the Lady Washington.  She's a replica of a boat built in 1776.  The original was the first American vessel to make landfall on the west coast of North America after sailing around Cape Horn.  Another good write up is here.

See the chains?  That's in case the rudder falls off, it's not lost forever.

Look at the rigging.  I wonder who knows how to do this anymore.

The lady herself.

Both boats have sailing schedules, and take people out.

We had planned to walk all of the marina and go buy crab and smoked salmon in Ilwaco, but the wind had come up and we were freezing to death.  So we got in the truck and headed back for Astoria.  We saw a sign for this place while we were in Chinook, WA.  If you're in the area, go here.  The crab and smoked salmon are really good.  One down side to spending time in Tucson is that there is no good seafood available.  But we can get it here.

Finally, isn't that an interesting cloud?  It looked very much like a spinal column.

Thus ends our first full day in Astoria.


  1. That was a full day! Love the spinal cord cloud.

  2. We enjoyed Long Beach and the little fishing port of Ilwaco. There is a nice partially paved bike/pedestrian path from the beach down to Ilwaco... easy down, but a grunt coming back up.
    Box Canyon Mark

  3. We really liked Astoria. Wet Dog Cafe and Brewery is good if you get hungry while walking along the waterfront.
    I had to laugh about you freezing to death. Quite a change from the inland temperatures!

  4. We really enjoyed our stay in both the Long Beach area and Astoria. Your post brought back pleasant memories!