Today we have reached the westernmost point of our voyage, Astoria, Oregon, just inside the mouth of the Columbia River, “the Great River of the West.” Astoria is the oldest American immigrant settlement west of Saint Louis and north of California, where John Jacob Astor sent parties overland from the east and by ship from the south to establish a fur trading post on the west coast of North America. Only a decade after the treacherous mouth of the river was first navigated by American Captain Robert Gray in his ship the Columbia Redivia, and just a few years after Lewis and Clark spent the winter with the Corps of Discovery in nearby Fort Clatsop, the area played a key role in the politics of the early 1800s. The United States, Britain, Spain, and Russia were all vying for territory and influence in order to create lucrative trading relationships with the Indigenous people. Now a popular tourist destination and artist community, as well as a transportation and maritime hub, the colorful history of the city reflects the topsy-turvy world of politics and economy throughout the last two centuries.
National Geographic Sea Bird
O! the Joy! Hmm, we needed to rethink that one this morning, as we woke to a rainy and blustery Astoria. What this weather did give us was a taste of historic authenticity in relation to the Corps of Discovery and their experiences here in the winter of 1805-06. Our first activity this morning was amongst the magnificent exhibits of the Columbia River Maritime Museum. This world-class facility tells the story of the mighty Columbia and the treacherous results to mariners when the river shoves against the incoming tides of the Pacific Ocean. As our day progressed, we crossed the Astoria-Megler bridge to the state of Washington. At the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center the winds continued but the rain subsided, and we enjoyed a sun-drenched afternoon with an option to walk a forest trail down to Waikiki Beach. The sun and sand were a siren to us and we made an additional stop at the North Jetty to get a water-level view of the waves crashing against the rocks of the Cape Disappointment lighthouse. The day turned out anything but disappointing.