Tuesday, December 30, 2008

One Hardy Dude

One of the most beautiful and prolific flowers in our garden each summer is the Shasta Daisy. They begin to bloom in early July and continue into late fall. Frequently in October when I clean out the garden, there will still be a couple of small blooms surviving.

This hardy guy actually saw service as the “Christmas flower” until finally covered by the multiple snows we received the week before Christmas.

Alas, even this hardy individual finally succumbed to the harsh winds and the crush of the pressing snow and ice.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Gifts From Long Ago

Christmas Day circa 1955 and my first bike

Christmas Day circa 1956.

That was the year both my brother and I received gray-plastic robots, batteries not included. They actually walked, well sort of, the eyes flashed, and they made a grinding sound. Oh how I wish I still had that robot, it might fetch a bundle on eBay!

This year for Christmas, I presented my lovely wife with a LED headlamp. Now before you say that I am whacked, understand that the office in which she works has no windows so when the power goes off, it gets pretty dark. Our wedding anniversary is also a few days before Christmas and I always give her roses; so hopefully that shows that I have some understanding of the concept of gift giving.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Calling All Delawareans

Shortly after beginning my volunteer experiences at the maritime museum and as a cruise host, it occurred to me that I might meet someone from each of the fifty states during the coming year. As the year’s end quickly approaches, my goal is nearly complete except for meeting someone from the great state of Delaware. With only one Saturday left in the month, what are my chances?

Today’s shift hosting on the museum’s Lightship was foiled by near blizzard conditions. The museum’s staff wisely decided to keep the ship closed as the gangplank and deck are covered with snow and ice. Now certainly, snow is not unheard of in Astoria, in fact in my thirty-one years as a resident, my snow shovel has received plenty of use. How today differs is that it began snowing at about 8:30 AM and it still continues to fall nearly eight hours later. If the forecast is correct, it will continue until late this evening before turning to freezing rain. Oh, I can hardly wait!

At any rate, if you are from Delaware or have even lived there, why not plan a visit to the museum on Saturday the 27th between 12 and 2 PM and stop by the Lightship and say hello. Not only will you enjoy your tour, you will leave knowing that you completed my goal for 2008!

The dock with nearly four inches of fresh snow

The ship's stern

The ship's snow covered bow

The snow covered gangplank

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Perfect Tree?

Early last week, I mentioned to my lovely wife that it was just about that time of the year to go in search of the perfect tree for Christmas. Since my time is more flexible these days, I offered to do the tree shopping myself before the weekend, that way I could have it set up and ready for decorating on the Sunday. The lovely wife responded that she really wanted to come along and help; yes I realize that my definition of the perfect differs from hers! So it was thus established that on Sunday afternoon following church, we would venture out in search of a tree.

On Thursday evening, the lovely wife informs me that perhaps her Sunday afternoon would be better spent writing Christmas letters so perhaps I could get the tree on either Friday or Saturday. I do not think it was the call of the Christmas letters she heard but more likely she saw the weather forecast for Sunday which called for snow and temperatures in the mid-twenties!

So Friday morning after completing my work at the food bank, under threatening skies, I gathered my saw, boots, and rain gear and headed out to a local tree farm that I knew well. Over the years, I have cut many fine trees at this lot and as I had brokered the purchase of seedling for the former owners, I often received a professional discount on my tree. As the tree farm is located about twelve miles out of town I had lots of time to watch the sky grow darker with each passing moment. About half way there, I noticed the wind was rocking the trees on a distant hill and the rain was beginning to pelt the windshield of my truck. It was at this point I remembered how much I hated working outside on days like today but since the forecast called for worse weather, it was now or never!

I arrived at the tree farm and was greeted by the new owner; his first comment was something on the lines of how I should have been here yesterday when the weather was nice. He then goes on to explain how to choose a tree and finally what species were available and how to identify them. My first thought was to tell him that as forester with over thirty years experience I had a good idea what a good tree looks like and further, it was because of my efforts several years ago he now had a crop to harvest. My second thought and the one I went with was to stand there and keep my mouth shut and hope that he would soon have the good sense to get inside out of the rain. Just as he turned to leave, he added that all trees are only $6.50 per foot. If the weather had not been getting worse by the minute, I would left. As I hiked into the field, I began to calculate the cost of the perfect tree; since I was looking for one in the neighborhood of eight feet, I was going to be writing a check for fifty-two bucks. Now I realize that in some places, Christmas trees are extremely expensive, but Astoria is not one of those.

Too many choices on such a nasty day? The white spots are caused by light from the camera's flash reflecting off the rain drops

As I head over the hill, I begin to develop my strategy, find a short tree that’s fat or speaking more politically correct, full at the bottom. Since this tree farm does not culture their trees, they all have a more natural appearance; therefore they often lack that “full figure appearance”. After five minutes I spot the perfect tree but I want to get a picture before putting a saw to its base. I reach into my coat pocket only to realize that the camera is back in truck safe and dry, so it’s back up the hill to fetch it. As I get to the parking lot, the owner is shocked to see me and comments that surely I am not giving up so quickly. I inform him that I have located a candidate but mention nothing about the camera; I do not want him to think that I am a total lunatic.

So with camera safely secured in my coat pocket, I head back down the hill to complete this mission. If you have ever gone to the woods you know where I am going with this story. As I continue down the hill, I can not find my perfect tree or the saw that I had carelessly laid beside it. As the rain continues to pelt, I wander aimlessly between the rows of trees in search of something that looks familiar. Oh yea, at this point I’m having loads of fun. It also hit me why I retired; I wanted to be inside of such miserable days.

2008's perfect tree or at least that's my story and I'm sticking to it

The saw and tree were finally located, cut and the financial obligation settled at the cash register. Over the course of the next year, I will also be searching for a new Christmas tree farm.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Cupboard Was Bare

Like most communities, Astoria has an emergency food pantry which provides supplemental food to those in need. At the urging of a friend, I recently signed on as a volunteer, so once a week I help by restocking the shelves with canned goods prior to the Friday afternoon distribution. While attempting to complete my restocking mission last week, I was reminded of the following nursery rhyme: “Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard to fetch her poor dog a bone; but when she came there the cupboard was bare, and so the poor dog had none.” I felt much like Ms. Hubbard because when I went to the storage room to get food, there was none there!

As you might expect, the demand for supplemental food has never been greater. If you are wondering what you could do to help out, consider making a cash donation to you local food pantry. On the other had, if you prefer to give food, peanut butter, tuna fish, or canned fruits are always in demand. It’s never a bad idea to just pick up the phone and call your food pantry and see if they have other specific needs.

This is also a time to give from the heart, so as much as you want to rid your kitchen cupboards of that old jar of sauerkraut, please think again. Now before you say hey, is a Ruben sandwich is complete without sauerkraut? Consider the likelihood of someone who depends upon supplemental food and their ability to obtain corned beef and Swiss cheese. To the other defenders of a sauerkraut donation, yes I am aware that it was consumed by sailors in the 1800s because it is rich in vitamin C and thus prevented scurvy. However, during a recent visit to my doctor, I asked him how often he treats patients with scurvy; to which he responded, never!

Yes, I agree that at times the needs of the many are overwhelming and we can never meet all of them but to just help a few is far better than nothing!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Drizzle, Mizzle, - Whatever!

Yesterday was one of those miserable days on the coast; it drizzled pretty much the entire day. In addition to the extremely low light levels, you got soaked if you ventured outside. How is it possible for such tinny drops of water to get you so wet?

I spent most my day building new a set stairs into the basement; so every time I need to cut a piece of wood, I ventured outside into the drizzle and got soaked. To my amazement, the project was completed in less than one day and only required two trips to the lumber yard. Without a doubt, I set a new personal best for a home repair projects.

Today’s task will be to untangle the ball of wires also known as the Christmas lights. I need to find the bad bulb which has caused half of the string to go dark. Sounds like another fun project right! It’s very likely that by noon I will have retired to the “big box warehouse” and purchased a replacement set.

The photo was taken from my front porch at about three PM, it gives you an idea of what the weather was like all day yesterday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Let Us All Give Thanks

I have been reading Vernon Heaton’s The Mayflower and was reminded once again about the importance of giving thanks, regardless of our circumstances. Heaton chronicles the Pilgrim’s sixty-four day voyage as follows: “As the days drew into weeks, the weather steadily deteriorated: gale force winds blew up and the sea rose until the Mayflower found herself in the middle of a series of fierce storms. Below deck, the air grew stale, fetid and vitiated. Attempts to relieve the stench and drive out the stale air by opening the scuttles and hatches were frustrated by the rush of seawater that soaked the bedding, clothing and the bodies of the passengers. Seasickness broke out again and in the dank, stuffy … passenger holds, conditions became almost intolerable.”

About 15 years ago during a visit to Plymouth, MA, I had the good fortune to tour the Mayflower II. Obviously, the Mayflower II is a reproduction but if memory serves me, the ship builders made every effort to build a faithful reproduction. I still have vivid memories about how little space there was below deck; it was nearly impossible to stand upright and not knock your head on a beam. I can scarcely imagine how fowl the air must have become in the passenger holds when crowded with 102 Pilgrims.

Finally on November 9, 1620 “land ahoy” was called and the road trip from hell was nearly over. The Mayflower’s intended destination was the mouth of the Hudson River in New York State but the unrelenting storms had driven the ship far north. With winter upon them, the decision was made to find a suitable location to build winter quarters, finally on December 11th, the Pilgrims disembarked in what is now Plymouth, MA.

William Bradford, who was later chosen by the Pilgrims to be their first governor described their arrival as follows: “Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element. They had now no friends to welcome them, nor inns to entertain or refresh their weather beaten bodies, no houses or much less towns to repair to …..” Still, they all gave thanks!

As Thanksgiving approaches, if you have a roof over your head and your biggest worry is whether you turkey is organic or if it lived its life as a free range bird, then you have sufficient for which to give thanks. The older I get, the more I realize that life is more or less a matter of perspective, so lets all give thanks for what we have, regardless of how little it might be!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Washington DC - What A Place

In the continuing saga of working The Plan, I planned a vacation for my wife and myself to one of our most favorite destination, Washington DC. When discussing my goal with a friend recently, he informed me that as a retired person, you do not take vacations. Instead, you take trips to desired destinations. Ok, whatever!

Our first trip to Washington was in March of 1987 so needless to say, things have changed a bit since our last visit. In particular, security police were present at every location we visited along with endless metal detectors and bag inspections before entering any federal building. In some respects, it was as if we never left the airport and the TSA.

If you have never been to Washington, you are missing an experience which I believe has few equals. The opportunities to sight see are endless and every museum of the Smithsonian houses a national treasure that you should see before departing this earth.

Before you jump in the car and head to the "Big City", I offer the following recommendations for your considerations:
  1. Purchase a comfortable pair of walking shoes because you will need them. During our trip, we averaged five miles of walking per day.
  2. Get a guide book and read it before you go along with a map of the city.

  3. Develop a list of sights you want to visit and then establish priorities. Trust me, you will never see everything.
  4. The Smithsonian is not one museum, it's actually a complex of 16+ museums scattered across the city.

  5. Finally, forget about driving in the city because parking is extremely scarce. Ride the Metro subway or the bus.

I have included a few photos from our recent trip to hopefully peak your interest. As you might guess, most of the monuments and buildings are huge so it's difficult to get a picture without some of the endless distractions cause by construction, security fences, or traffic.

Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington is located about thirty miles south of the city but definitely worth the trip. In the photo, the house appears huge because of it's length but in reality it's much smaller because it's very narrow width. Once inside, you actually begin to feel a little claustrophobic.

This is the view of the Potomac River George Washington enjoyed while sitting on the back porch. It's easy to see why he loved the place so much.

A view of the main house from the upper gardens. We spent over two hours just exploring the grounds and gardens.

The Capital dome as seem from the Botanical Gardens.

The white structure in the distance is the Lincoln Memorial as seen from the World War II memorial.

The Washington Monument is visible from just about everywhere. This is how it appears from the World War II memorial.

The reflection wall inside of the Korean War memorial serves a reminder to all of us.

These soldiers are part of the Korean War Memorial

A volunteer polishing "The Wall" aka the Vietnam Memorial. The Wall is a very moving experience.

The boots of a fallen GI placed in from of The Wall

The World War II memorial looking east to the Atlantic Gate

The Jefferson Memorial as seen across the Tidal Pool

I was fascinated by the sheer size of the columns which support the roof over the Jefferson Memorial

Two fallen leaves from a Ginkgo tree located at the National Zoo

Friday, October 31, 2008

Packing The Wife's Luggage

A few weeks ago my wife traveled to the Columbia River Gorge to attend a conference so I tagged along for an opportunity to explore the area. I also served as my wife's luggage porter as she currently suffers from a shoulder aliment and finds it difficult to lift much in the way of dead weight. Now I mean not to imply that she packs similar to Mrs. Thurston Howell III of Gilligan's Island fame, but her baggage appeared more than sufficient for a two day trip.

Like many, I have pass through the Gorge numerous times traveling to and from Eastern Oregon for work, but I have never taken the time to explore the area and enjoy its beauty. The area was once home to large numbers of Native Americans who fished the mighty Columbia River for salmon. The waters surrounding Cascade Rapids and Cleo Falls near The Dalles were favorite places for the Native Americans to gather.

The region is also rich with the history of the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804 - 05 and stories of the countless pioneers who followed the Oregon Trail beginning in the 1840s.

The true length of the gorge could be debated for hours on end, but most agree that it is about eighty miles in length. While driving this distance from west to east, the annual precipitation drops from 36 to just less than 14 inches. With such a change in precipitation, the landscape changes dramatically in a relatively short distance. This just adds to the wonder and beauty of the Gorge.

I spent two days hiking and photographing places in the Gorge that I have wanted to visit for many years. The weather was less than cooperative but the rain clouds just added to the experience. My photos will hopefully give you the urge to one day come and explore this wonderland for yourself.

Nothing has changed the Columbia River more than the construction of the dams beginning in 1933. Pictured is the behemoth Bonneville Dam which is a major producer of electrical power.

Cascade Rapids and the area known as the Bridge of the Gods depicted in the early 1930s. Today, the rapids are submerged below the waters behind Bonneville Dam.

The Cascade Rapids were formed sometime in the 1700s when a massive landslide totally blocked the river. This massive land bridge became known as The Bridge of the Gods. The massive boulder pictured behind me is typical of those which entered the river. I estimated the boulder's height to be nearly ten feet and it was about 15 feet in both length and width. It must have made one heck of a noise when it came roaring down the mountain side.

At the west end of the Gorge in vicinity of the Bridge of the Gods, the forest are dominated by Douglas-fir and an occasional big leaf maple.

As you travel east from the Bridge of the Gods, the annual precipitation decreases rapidly and so do the trees and associated vegetation.

This picture was taken near the Gorge's east end and looking north towards The Dalles, OR. The annual precipitation drops to about 14 inches, thus tree growth is severely limited.

The following pictures are of the Stonehenge Memorial located near Maryhill, WA. The memorial was built in 1918 by entrepreneur Sam Hill to honor the men of Klickitat County killed during World War I. If you are interested in photographing shadows, be sure to visit the monument in the spring or fall when the angle of the sun is low.

While you are visiting Stonehenge, be sure to see the Maryhill Museum which was also built by Sam Hill. On display is one the best collections of Native American artifacts I have seen to date.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Final Cruise For 2008

The early morning hours of October 16th saw dense fog and cold temperatures in Astoria as we prepared to greet the final cruise ship for this season. The Mercury, the pride of the Celebrity Cruise Lines was late docking due to foggy conditions, but nearly fifty members of the Astoria Cruise Hosts anxiously awaited. We were armed with visitor maps, recommendations and directions to local sights, and the omnipresent smile.

This season set a record for the number of cruise ship visits, nineteen in total. It gave us an opportunity to share our small part of the world with folks from near and far. I attempted to catalogue the countries from which passengers and crew that I met; my list reads as follows: Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Columbia, Cuba, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Malta, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Netherlands, Philippians, Poland, Puerto Rico, Russia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, and Wales.

As I review the list, I am reminded that our world is indeed a very small place. I am also reminded that regardless of where a person calls home, when traveling, we all have similar wants and needs. To that end, I share a list of the most frequently asked by the passengers and crew.

  1. Where is the drug store? If you are from the United Kingdom you might call it a chemist.

  2. Where is the "old fashion" JC Penneys I have heard about?

  3. Where can I get a cup of coffee?

  4. Where can I get Internet access?

  5. Where is the shopping mall?

  6. Do you have a good brew pub near by?

  7. How do you get to the Goonie's House?

  8. Where can I get an international calling card?

  9. Is there some where I can purchase electronics?

If you have never heard of the Goonie's House, you apparently are over the age of say thirty. At any rate, the movie titled The Goonies was filmed in Astoria in the mid-1980s and a local house served as a major set location. The movie has a sort of cult following that honestly I fail to understand, but then I could never be accused of being Hollywood's biggest fan either.

I have to admit that getting to meet so many fun people who traveled long distances to visit Astoria will likely be the high point for me when I close the cover on the book of 2008. I will also be anxiously awaiting cruise season 2009 which begins on April 3oth.

Now to the two of you who may be reading this post, perhaps you are wondering about the picture I have included. Could it perhaps be a crucial part of a ship or is it a symbol for the strength of the cruise host volunteers? Sorry to say, it's neither. I was waiting to meet a friend for lunch last week and noticed some very old industrial equipment near by, so this is how I spent twenty minutes.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Age of X Begins On Thursday!

Since becoming a docent, I have had the great pleasure to give tours to groups of Boy Scouts, high school and middle school student as well as to the eclectic groups of cruise ship passengers who visit during the summer and fall months. Without a doubt, the most fun and demanding group to work with are those in the primary grades, mainly grades four through six. For this group, we offer a tour call the Age of Exploration, AKA the Age of X; the tour is fast paced and packed with lots of hand on activities. During the ninety minute tour, the kids get an opportunity to learn about the daily life of the local Native Americans and their interactions with the fur traders beginning in the 1790s. We also provide a hands on experience working with the tool used for celestial navigation. Finally we provide the kids with an insight as to why the waters of the Columbia River are dubbed the “Grave Yard of the Pacific”.

To me, the Age of X tour is my favorite because of the student’s participation and enthusiasm. Frequently, their hands are raised and waving just in anticipation of your question. Kids of this age group also answer your questions directly and openly; suffice to say they never pull any punches! It certainly keeps a docent on his toes at all times!

As I prepare for the first Age of X tour for the new school year on Thursday, I am reminded of an incident that occurred this past spring. While sharing the story of the grounding of the sailing ship Peter Iredale in 1906, the docent asked the kids to decide if it was caused by mechanical failure, weather, or human error. Without missing a beat, one little voice from the group loudly announced that the cause had to be because of a “lousy captain”. While attempting to suppress my laughter, the docent calmly explained that it would be more appropriate to refer to this as human error. Kids, you have to love them!!

Just in case you are wondering, the British government ruled during the court of inquiry that the grounding was not the result of human error. Score one for the captain and crew.

The Peter Iredale in 1906 shortly after running a ground during a fierce storm

The bones of the "Iredale" in April of 2008. Fierce winter storms have revealed the ribs of the ship's hull.

The bow of the Peter Iredale looking south

The bow and a portion of the mast seen while looking north

If you have never seen a ship up close, come to Fort Stevens State Park and explore the wreck of the Peter Iredale. You can even do it at low tide and not get your feet too wet!

Friday, October 17, 2008

An Unintended Consequence

One morning early this summer I followed a whim an traveled across the Columbia River to spend the day exploring Cape Disappointment. I left home in early morning hours on a damp and foggy day that the weather forecaster promised would clear by late morning. As I proceeded up the hill on to Cape D., I noticed the sign pointing to Beards Hollow. I remembered a time many years ago when I stood on a bluff that overlooked the hollow but I passed it up for other destinations. As the fog had hardly lifted, I decided a short side trip into the hollow might be in order.

Beards Hollow was originally a relatively small cove which until the early 1900s opened directly into the Pacific ocean. Like so many coves along the coast, tidal waters would flow into and out of the it twice daily. Following the completion of the north jetty which narrows the mouth of the Columbia River, the deposition of the sand along the coast in the vicinity of the jetty was alter. The result was a large sand dune formed over a period of years and a large fresh water environment developed behind the dune; complete with a small hardwood forest and a fresh water pond. Now I know some may consider the change an ecological disaster but the change resulted in an increase in the diversity of both plant and animal species inhabiting the hollow.

Following my exploration in early June, I vowed to return again with camera in hand during the the summer to see what the hollow had to offer. As all good plans go, I never got around to returning until last weekend, again in the early morning hours. To some, the natural landscape is static and boring but to me they are extremely dynamic and seldom fail to disappoint. And so went my most recent trip to Beards Hollow!

The Pacific ocean and the south side of Beards Hollow

Looking south from the dunes

Sunrise over the fresh water pond inside of Beards Hollow

Friday, October 10, 2008

The World's Smallest Beach?

As I write, the temperature is only thirty-nine degrees, that's just a bit cold for early October! At the moment, it's nearly impossible to believe that only a few short weeks ago I was riding the river walk daily and enjoying the sights while working up a sweat. During yesterday's ride there was a brisk wind blowing and breaking a sweat was not an option!

Frequently during my summer rides, I would pass this beach and there would be a few tourist from the nearby hotel soaking up the afternoon sun. It's a bit of a hassle to get down onto the the beach because of the rock retaining wall, but if you make it down there, it's well worth the climb. It's almost like your own private beach, minus the privacy!

In early September, I passed by and notice a family enjoying the warmth of the afternoon with their three young sons. They were running about and constructing castles in the sand. I even notices a couple of the boys ventures out into the rather chilly waters of the Columbia River. On my second pass by, I witness the most incredible show of determination. A large ship was passing by the beach and the three boys were lined up along the water's edge with boogie boards in hand waiting to catch the wave. As luck would have it, I was without camera but witnessing their determination was as they say, priceless!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Fuel Discounts

Since I have been driving around for a couple of days with my vehicle's gas gauge reading empty, I figured that maybe it was time to purchase gas. Like many folks in out community, I now purchase gasoline from our mega-monster grocery store's fueling station. This particular store offers a three cent discount just for showing their version of a store rewards card. A couple of months ago, they enhanced their program; for every $100.00 spent in the store, they will increase your discount by ten cents per gallon. Overall, it's not a bad deal considering the price of fuel and how much we invest at the grocery store!

During a recent visit to the same store, I overheard an acquaintance brag that he had just accumulated his fourth discount, so as of that moment, he could save forty cent per gallon on a fuel purchase. He appeared pretty excited and why not, his savings would be substantial! A few seconds latter, I remember that he is the proud owner of a Hummer. At twelve - fourteen miles per gallon, he needs all the discounts available!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bailout or Rescue?

Can you get there from here?

I was helping a friend put away some equipment today when he suddenly asked me how I feel about the Wall Street bailout package. People seldom, if ever, ask my opinion on matters of monetary policy, world finance, or anything related to economics. Like most of the common people, such things are pretty much out of my personal sphere of influence!

While attending college, I persevered through the traditional entry level economic class taught to many second year students. As a forestry major, I was also subjected to an additional semester of economics which focused on how market factors affected the practice of forestry. My overall perception of economics was further shaped by my favorite professor, the late Dick Dingle who once referred to economics as the “dark science”!

So how do I really feel the Wall Street bail out? I have read numerous articles and editorials for and against the plan and I am left to conclude that I feel strongly both ways! The whole issue reminds me of a story often told in the back country of New Hampshire. It seems that one day a lost tourist stopped and asked a farmer if he knew where Manchester was. The old farmer responded, “Ah yep, but you can’t get there from here.” Maybe such logic could be useful in the current bailout debate.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

An Unexpected Delay

Since retirement, a large part of my daily fitness routine has involved the swimming pool at the city's aquatic center. It however closed in early August for facility maintenance and the replacement of a failing boiler. As of last week, the facility remained closed because the contractor is awaiting the delivery of two venting pipes. Fortunately, the delay has occurred during a time when the north Oregon coast experiences some of the year's best weather; the result is that I have logged many miles each day on my bike.
A couple of years ago I purchased a mountain bike with the fantasy that in retirement I would enjoy riding the near endless trails and roads found in our surrounding forest. The harsh reality of that plan is that bike ridding on an improved trail is not so much fun and extremely hard on one's butt! I have found it much more enjoyable to ride improved bike paths, especially the city's river walk. Depending upon where you begin, a round trip on the trail will afford you a distance of 7.5 miles, changing conditions, and incredible scenery!
The following photos give you just a glimpse of what you might see when riding from the Port of Astoria east to the trail's end near the Alderbrook neighborhood.

Some may argue that this in not the actual beginning of the trail, if not, it's pretty darn close.
The trail continues east for about four miles parallelling an old rail line.

A relatively new luxury hotel which sits on the spot of a long forgotten fish cannery.

Jack's boat stands as a reminder of a time, not too long ago, when men fished the Columbia River in small wooden boats for the once abundant salmon. The Astoria-Megler Bridge looms in the background.

A ride takes you beneath the towering Astoria-Megler Bridge and it's massive support structures.

The Columbia River is definitely a highway to the world and large vessels from many nations pass by Astoria on their journey to upriver ports.

During a ride, you will cross several trestles and if you are wise, you will be constantly on the lookout for the trolley because a couple of them are not wide enough for both biker and trolley!

The trail passes by the Fisherman's Memorial Park; it's a great place to sit and watch activity on the river

The trail also passes through the heart of the industrial zone and between one of the area's fish processing plants. At this point, it's good to know that you are not ridding a "skinny tired road bike" because the gaps between the deck planks might eat road bike tires!

The trolley may not move quickly but it's big and would likely cause you significant damage if you tangled with it.

When you hit the Columbia River Maritime Museum, you are about a quarter of the way through your round trip ride. The museum is the home of the Light Ship Columbia.

On a typical ride, you will pass many venturing out without a helmet.

You also share the river walk with baby strollers and lots of dogs. The dogs and strollers are not a problem; it's the dog owners who fail to pick up their dog's poop. This is especially aggravating for those of us who ride bikes without fenders!

How many places in the United States can you go for a ride and see a real stern wheeler!

Pictured here is Pier 39, originally a cannery and for many years the home to Bumble Bee's cold storage facility. On any given day, there was literally tons of frozen tuna fish awaiting processing at the Elmore Cannery.

There might be a debate as to where the trail begins but the end is abrupt and obvious without being marked by a sign.

The city has plans to extend the trail east which could potentially add an additional two miles to the trip, but given the current financial situation, I won't be looking for the ribbon cutting any time soon.

If you are ever plan to be in town, bring your bike and I will show you the sights.