Today we drove to Seaside and picked up our car. Yeah!! They did a great job, you can't even tell where the dent was. We had to take the rental car back to Astoria, so I followed Jerry there and we dropped it off and decided to spend more time exploring Astoria.
Our first stop was the Astoria Column. It is 125 foot high and has 14 murals made in Italian design with etched concrete. The murals tell the history of Astoria. It has a spiral staircase with 164 steps to the top. This part was closed today so we had to enjoy the views from the bottom, but it was spectacular. The views of the Columbia River, the town and the Astoria Bridge were fantastic.
Our next stop was the Columbia River Maritime Museum. The tour also included a tour of the Lightship Columbia. This is a floating lighthouse. The Columbia River lightships have guided vessels across the "Graveyard of the Pacific" from 1892 until 1979. This lightship was essentially a small town anchored five miles out to sea marking the entrance to the Columbia River. Everything the crew needed had to be on board. In the winter, weeks of rough weather prevented any supplies from being delivered. The crew of 17 men worked two to four week rotations, with ten men on duty at all times. Thirty-foot waves were not unusual during fierce winter storms. The lightship did not roll like a regular ship, but bobbed like a cork in all directions. It was really cool getting to walk all over the ship. We took a ton of pictures.
The next part of the tour was a 12 minute video explaining why this area is called the "Graveyard of the Pacific". We learned that over 2,000 vessels including 200 ships have sunk in the Columbia River bar and over 700 people have lost their lives. The mighty Colombia River meets the Pacific and this is what causes all the turmoil. They had a huge board inside the museum showing where all the ships had sunk. You press a button and it lights up on the screen. It was an awesome museum and we highly recommend it. I have a ton of pictures to add but the net here is way too slow. Please check back later.
We also drove about 50 miles south of here and visited a ton of small, seaside towns driving down Highway 101 to Tillamook, Oregon. I have a lot of journal catching up to do but will have to wait until we are in Bend, Oregon. They are suppose to have great Sprint service there so we can use our phone and phone card again. We will be leaving here Wednesday. We have absolutely enjoyed this beautiful area and will be back for more. More later from Oregon.