I love the willing suspension of reality...that emotional place that we visit when we stand on ground so historically important that it's mere existence speaks to the beginning of our country. Believe it or not that is the way I feel when I vist the Oregon Coast. If you have ever read Undaunted Courage by Steven Ambrose for example and then stood in the salt cairn in Seaside you can feel Lewis and Clark standing beside you and you know you are taking in the same air that Lewis and Clark breathed over 200 years ago. North of that part of the coast you will find Fort Clatsop where the Lewis and Clark expedition spent the winter of 1805. When I visit these places I can close my eyes and hear the birds in the tree tops. I know they were there. I love that emotional connection with history.
Yesterday I notice an article in the New York Times travel section telling about the community of Astoria, Or. Astoria sits on the Columbia River where is finishes it journey to the Pacific Ocean. Astoria, named after Fort Astoria, is the oldest settlement west of the Rocky Mountains. John Jacob Astor founded a profitable fur trade here during his lifetime and the name took on a life of its own.
His Columbia River trading post at Fort Astoria (established in April 1811) was the first United States community on the Pacific coast. He financed the overland Astor Expedition in 1810–12 to reach the outpost. Members of the expedition were to discover South Pass, through which hundreds of thousands settlers on the Oregon, California and Mormon trails passed through the Rocky Mountains. WikipediaThe thing I find so fascinating about Astoria is it's appearance. When I read Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Nasland, it was Astoria that I saw in my minds eye. The way the houses and mansions perch on the hillside and even the look of the houses makes one think they would feel more at home on Maine's coast than here in Oregon. In fact I am sure that the fishermen, sea captains and fur traders that built their home there were holding the east coast fishing village in their minds eye. The pictures you will find on Panaramio shows some of the beautiful old mansion left by sea captains of long ago.
Astoria, according to the New York Times, is a place to do a little sight seeing, eat a bit and maybe take in a museum or two. The article was called Astoria, Oregon, Discovers Waterfront Chic. Chic is very cool. But I would suggest that you walk on a break water and see that enormous ocean rush in at high tide or get on the top of the Astor Column and try to fathom the Columbia bar where the old river joins with the Pacific Ocean. This ferocious joining of two ungiving forces have taken many a fisherman's life. Walk on the beach and see the wreckage of the Peter Iredale that so many generations of children have climbed on. Then try to visualize the explorers and those that followed them seeing that place in all it's natural wonder. Don't go home until the fog rolls in and shrouds the trees and coast in mystery. Visit one of the light houses that dot the coast. I invite you to the place called "suspension of reality" while reading Undaunted Courage. You will see this place on a whole new light!
Oh, by the way, the Oregon coast is owned by the people...access to the beach is easy and you can walk as far as the ocean will let you. Golly, I love that place!