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.

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