A weekend on the coast

Despite some of you readers who think I live a life of leisure (snicker) and am travelling all the time, I really don’t. Sure, I have trips, but they are spaced apart. My last extensive time away from town was in August.* So, it was time for Emee and I to get away. Where to? Originally we thought about going up to the San Juan Islands but originally we thought we had less time** so we decided to head out to Long Beach, WA again. It’s about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Portland, close enough that a weekend can be made out of it, far enough to feel like a getaway. Oh yeah, there would be the beach!

We left on the evening of Friday October 26, after I got off work. We got to Long Beach around 9 PM, arriving at the Adrift Hotel where we’d spend three nights. We actually had a view of the ocean from our room! We chose the Adrift not only because of its proximity to the ocean, but because of the Pickled Fish, its restaurant which makes delicious New Haven-style pizzas! (We knew this from the last time we visited the area in July.)

Saturday was mostly spent lounging around the hotel. We made a quick cruise to the beach before the rain moved in for the day. Late October is a crapshoot for weather on the Northwest Coast, but the weather mostly stayed decent throughout the trip with Saturday afternoon into evening being the exception. Oh, and Emee got a massage from the on-site spa. Bonus!

Sunday had better weather, a mix of sun and passing showers. This time we decided to do a bit more exploring. We didn’t bring bikes, knowing that the hotel had a fleet of no-charge rental bikes.*** These are your basic no-frills “beach cruisers” ubiquitous to beach towns. Most of them were from a brand called Firmstrong, a company I wasn’t familiar with, but are a brand specializing in entry to mid-level cruisers. I have no issue with single-speed beach cruisers in situations like this, but it would have been nice had there been a few extras like a bell, front basket, and oh, fenders, and if the fleet would be oh, maintained a bit. Both our bikes had chains that look like they last saw lube during the Carter Administration. But with a few adjustments, they were okay for a bit of cruising.

We first hit the North Jetty Brewing about a mile from the hotel, on the main drag on the Long Beach Peninsula. And it was good timing, as a good shower passed on through as we were enjoying the brews. After the liquid sustenance, we pressed south to around the entrance of Cape Disappointment State Park. We intersected the Discovery Trail. a paved bike path that runs from the town of Ilwaco, through the park, and them north to Long Beach. We followed the trail south for a bit until it turned inland at Beard’s Hollow, a former bay now turned into lowland marsh. We found a nice side trail down to the beach, right at the point where the rocky headland of Cape Disappointment meets the Pacific Ocean. We watched the setting sun for a bit, then headed north back to the hotel.

And oh man, was it a workout with those bikes! Emee’s Strava said it was just about eight miles but it felt longer. The wide saddles and not well kept bikes did not help. As I said, I have no problems with a nice heavy “beach cruiser” (technically my Schwinn Heavy Duti falls into this category), but hotel bikes are hotel bikes. Next time we’ll probably bring our own bikes along.

Anyways, we rounded out our evening with a sit-down Mexican dinner at a restaurant that was a bit…further than we thought it was.**** We passed through the heart of Long Beach. During the summer, this touristy downtown would be hopping, but on a rainy Sunday night in late October, it had the feeling of a ghost town. We did pass by a few drinking/eating establishments which looked to be occupied by the locals, and weirdly enough the arcade was open.

On Monday we got in the Emeemobile and left Long Beach. Our destination for the day would be Astoria, about 20 miles south and across the oh-so-wide Columbia River. We would be spending the night at the lovely Commodore Hotel, an old hostelry that has been converted in the last decade to something like a boutique hotel. The prices are pretty reasonable, and most importantly, it’s in the heart of downtown. While Astoria is no big city (population 10,000), it does stretch for a few miles west-east along the river. So getting something central would mean being able to just walk to the various attractions easily.

We first did a pit stop at Buoy Brewing right on the river. We had some lovely beer while looking out on the river at all the big ships waiting to move up to ports upriver (like Longview or Portland) or cross the dangerous Columbia Bar out to sea. Oh yeah, we also listened to the barking of California Sea Lions, which are all along the waterfront. There’s actually a glass panel on the floor to see all the Sea Lions underneath the building!

For dinner, we hit up Fort George Brewing to have some delicious pizza along with the beer. We had a good view of the river, and all the ships were lit up like Christmas trees.

And like that, the trip was over. After a good breakfast on Tuesday morning, we drove back to Portland. We wished we had more time, though. Another day in Astoria would mean more time to explore, like check out the Maritime Museum and go get the great view from Astoria Column. Thankfully, it’s not that far away!

*Okay, to some of you, having a trip only two months ago is extravagant. My apologies.

**The San Juan Islands are just far enough away, about 4 1/2 hours by car to the ferry terminal (longer by train), plus the logistics and added time of the ferry rides.

***We also borrowed them on Saturday for a short trip.

****We could have drove, but wanted to park the car for a couple days. And the rental bikes didn’t have lights.

4 thoughts on “A weekend on the coast

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  1. I really need to make the Pilgrimage to Fort George, I really like their beer, When I was in Astoria a few years ago it was only about 10 am so too soon for a visit. I had a cuppa at the Astoria coffee house instead.

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