Saturday, June 13, 2009

It all starts here

Staycation and Goonie adventure part 1.

Yesterday PH and I took a boat cruise on the Willamette and Columbia Rivers from downtown Portland to Astoria. We got to the dock about 30 minutes early since of course we didn't want them to leave without us. The cruise line is called Portland Spirit, which is also the name of their largest vessel. Our cruise was to be on a little jetboat. When I did not see the little jetboat at the dock, I called on the phone to make sure we were in the right place. They said we were, and the boat would arrive shortly. So we sat down and took some photos.

This is the Hawthorne bridge, pictured below. Portland is the City of Bridges. There are 10 of them in the Portland on the Willamette River. Each of them looks very different and each one was built in the early half of the 20th century. I didn't really develop an appreciation for the bridges until yesterday, when we got to sail underneath most of them. In the front of the picture you can see a vendor with a bicycle. In this part of town, thousands of bicyclists cross the bridges every day (according to our tour guide). We saw about a hundred of them while we were waiting for the boat. This part of town is flat, so it's more fun to ride a bike here. Than compared to the hills where I live.

This is called the Salmon Street springs.

This is the Portland Spirit, which was not our boat.

So, we kept hanging around the dock waiting for the boat to arrive. As time passed, we also noticed that we seemed to be the only ones waiting. We wondered if we were in the right place or if anyone else was coming. The cruise was kind of pricey, and with the economy the way it is, especially in Portland, I wasn't too surprised that no one else was there. Suddenly, crew members appeared on the dock as if from nowhere (well, obviously they had come off of the Portland Spirit). They said hi, "are you ready to ride the jetboat?" I looked at the water and said, "um, where is the jetboat?" They said it was parked on the other side of the Portland Spirit. We would walk through the Portland Spirit to board the little jetboat. Oooooh! I get it!

Other passengers also appeared as if from nowhere. There were 6 of us that got on the boat right away. Then the crew told us that was it, just us 6. I thought it was very nice of them not to cancel the cruise. I'm not sure how much it costs to operate a boat, but I heard it's a lot. And when I calculated our 6 fares and compared to the 3 crew members' pay and all that fuel, it seemed like it wasn't enough.

The jet boat was partially enclosed, with glass windows at the front, and plastic windows zipped around part of the sides. It wasn't too cold or windy, though they provided blankets if we wanted them.

This is the Steel Bridge, which is actually made of iron, according to the tour guide. This bridge has an upper level for cars and a lower level for trains. There happened to be a train passing as we went under the bridge.

Another view of the Steel Bridge and train. You can see the Broadway Bridge in the background.

Here is another view of the Broadway Bridge (red), with the Fremont bridge (white) behind it.

On our return trip, the Broadway Bridge had been raised to allow a barge to pass under.

Here is a Shanghai tunnel. The underground Shanghai tunnels are talked about a lot in Portland history. Evidently Portland practically invented the art of shanghai-ing (stealing people to use as ship's crew) and it was so very bad in the early 20th century that some shipping companies simply refused to stop in Portland. The practice was not made illegal in Portland until 1940, said our tour guide. Portland had an underground tunnel system, which is how the people were stolen and smuggled onto the ships. This tunnel system is similar to the famous Seattle underground, though I understand that Portland's is the "original" and supposedly in better condition today than Seattle's. Much of it still exists, though much has been filled in for earthquake safety. Seattle has an offical underground tour - I think Portland has some "unofficial" ones, if you can find them, since the underground tunnels pass beneath existing businesses today.

Since moving to Oregon, PH and I have noticed an abundance of shacks. Here, and in Washington. I mean actual shacks, many of them being lived in. In shopping for real estate, we've found references to these buildings, which are not sellable as actual residences, so the agent simply creates a listing for the land. Then they typically indicate that the land contains a building that was once residential but now has no value. Sometimes they will go on to indicate that the building is currently being lived in. At first I thought it was sad, but now I just think it is weird. Other times we'll see places like these but they aren't located on any sizeable parcel of land. So the owner has to sell for cash, for sale by owner, because the house is in such bad shape it is not mortgageable. My sister says this is common in Texas, too. She asked me once, 'do you find that many people build a new house right next to their old shack, and then just leave the shack there?' I said "YES! We see that all the time!" I would think that would be very unsafe, as it appears these shacks are ready to collapse or burn down at any moment. I know Oregon is kind of poor, but if it were my place, I would get rid of it, even if I had to use a sledgehammer and haul it away myself over the course of 2 years. But no one seems to do that.

Well, yesterday we found that is not exclusive to Oregon land. Both the Willamette and Columbia Rivers have abandoned mills about to collapse, abandoned canneries about to collapse, piers that actually have collapsed, and rusted out boats. And these sights are NOT few and far between.

I am not actually certain that the building pictured above is vacant.

This pier is still standing - unfortunately I didn't get a photo of a similar one that had collapsed at one end.

Here is a barge up in "dry docks" which means it's in the shop being worked on by mechanics.

We also saw a huge barge unloading new cars for sale. The barge pulls in next to a big parking lot. The crew drives the cars into the lot. The auto manufacturers only put in just enough gas to get the cars onto and off of the barge. The barge is so big it makes the cars look like ants as they drive out in a line (also like ants). Every 5th car or so, is a white van, which is used to drive the crew members back to the barge.

It takes about 3 hours on the jet boat to get from Portland to Astoria. Not bad, since I think it's about 2 hours by car. And it's cool to know you're on the same route that Lewis and Clark took. Our tour guide said that there is a section of the Columbia River that takes them about 5 minutes to go through, where it took Lewis and Clark a month.

We docked at the Port of Astoria. At the top of the dock is the Astoria Riverwalk, which is exactly what it sounds like. Along the Riverwalk, a trolley operates daily. But there was a man at the top of the dock (not sure if he was paid or just enjoying meeting tourists) who told us that the trolley had just left, so we might as well start walking to downtown. I had a map of downtown that I had printed out ahead of time. We stopped a coffee kiosk first. I remember I was cold and shivering, which was weird because soon after the sun came out and it was blazing hot and our faces got sunburned.

Anyway, our first stop was at the Astoria visitor center, because I had heard they are very friendly to Goonies fans and they had some great souvenirs for sale. I said I wanted to see the Goonie house. That is what they call Mikey and Brand's house and they have it listed on their walking map and their website, including address and photo. Evidently the owner is very friendly to Goonie fans, though of course you don't want to knock on the door or anything. So I say, I want to see the Goonie house, and the old man behind the counter says, "Just follow everyone else. That is why everyone is here today." As apparently I was like the 50th person to come in that day with the same question. But then he said it was about 3 miles away and since we were walking and we didn't have all day, we decided right then we'd probably have to skip it and make it Goonie adventure part 2.

Instead, we headed for the museum where Mikey's dad works. It is called the Flavel House Museum. Here is how it looks in the movie.

Here I am in front of the house. "Hi, Mikey"

A different view. The house is located on a hill, so you can visualize the kids riding their bikes down the hill and waving to Mikey's dad.

Immediately next to the Flavel House is what they call the Goonie Jail, an actual jailhouse that was in operation until 1976, apparently.

Here is how it looks in the movie:

And now:

Oh yes, I'm wearing a vintage Goonies shirt, which did get a lot of positive attention from the locals.

We ate lunch and did some shopping. PH wanted to stop at a store that sold Finnish products; it was the 3rd Finnish reference we had seen in about 15 minutes. The lady behind the counter told us that Astoria had a significant number of Scandinavian immigrants in its early years.

Then we walked through the commercial area. I saw a very old JCPenney which looked exactly like the old JCPenney in Lancaster. The same 2 story loft thing and offices in front...fascinating.

We went to an antique store and I bought a L. Frank Baum book, which was described as a first edition, though I was skeptical. But we checked it on the iPhone and decided that the price was ok even if it was not a first edition, so we bought it. It turned out I was right to be skeptical. When I got home and consulted my Baum bibliographies, it turns out the book is a 2nd edition copy. But we paid the right price for a 2nd edition. PH wanted me to call the antique dealer and complain, but it is my opinion that only book dealers know how to recognize first editions anyway. With books, it's always Buyer Beware, and especially if you're not working with an established rare book dealer. Because for some reason every seller thinks their book is a first edition. I don't really understand how everyone is so dumb about books, but whatever.

We lost track of time and got back to the boat about 20 minutes late. Oops! I felt bad and expected to get dirty looks and get yelled at, but no one seemed to mind, passengers or crew. Everyone was very nice, and since the sun was out, it made for a beautiful trip home.

They stopped at another set of docks in Astoria where the sea lions hang out. At this time of year, only the sea lions who can't get mates are left.

You can see them piled up at the end of the dock in the center of the photo. These are the rejects.

As I've mentioned in a previous Astoria blog, this part of the Columbia River is so wide, it could be mistaken for the ocean.

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