Last night we got to Astoria to find that there are no Walmarts or truck stops that allow overnight parking. In a pinch, we contacted a Facebook friend we met last time we drove through Austin, Texas who have since relocated here to Astoria. Greg and Jenn of BareNakedFamily.com.
Greg and Jenn are sort of legendary in the online community of full time families. Their story has been told not just on their website but also in various other mainstream media outlets. They are very supportive of other travelers and when we needed recommendation for a place to stay the night, they hooked us up big time.
We got to camp at a property owned by one of their friends whom are in the middle of renovation. Greg and Jenn, like the awesome people that they are, are lending a hand in the renovating process and were able to ask the owner if it would be OK if we stayed here within hours of us getting into town. Since no one lives here yet, we got this great spot all to ourselves for the next 2 days.
Astoria is a pretty great town. It reminds us of some of the port towns in various parts of California. Geographically, it is right on the Columbia River where it opens to the Pacific Ocean. Just across the river is the state of Washington and down the river a couple of hundred miles is Portland, Oregon.
Between the months of May and October, downtown Astoria holds its Sunday Market that attracts vendors and shoppers from all around the region. Astoria is a pretty small town with only about 10,000 residents. It has been gradually declining as there aren’t very many jobs and industries here outside of logging. People here in the community are very tightly knit and that feeling permeates through the pores of everyone we have met.
This lady makes great doll cloths and we just had to get a dress for Mila’s Chippy the Chipmunk.
On our way into town, we noticed a Bosnian restaurant on the main drag. Being the neighboring country of Marlene’s ancestral home land Croatia, we just had to come here for lunch.
Of course there is delicious crusty Italian style bread with a red pepper and eggplant relish called Ajvar that is very popular in the region.
What we really came here for is the burek. Burek is a filo dough pastry filled with cheese, meat or sometimes vegetables. Originally the dish came from the Ottoman Empire but it has been made popular all through eastern Europe.
After lunch, we made our way to Lewis and Clark National Historic Park just south of town. We drove past it on the way here yesterday afternoon and the girls were excited to come and earn another Junior Ranger badge.
This is the spot where the Lewis and Clark Expedition settled after reaching the Pacific Ocean.
During the winter of 1805-1806, Fort Clatsop was built and the Corp of Discovery stayed here until spring before heading back east. The fort as it stands today is a reproduction of what the original one might have looked like. After speaking with one of the more knowledgeable volunteers at the fort, we learned that it was not reconstructed as faithfully as it could be. But it is still pretty cool nonetheless and it is at more or less the same spot it once stood.
After earning their badges, we headed out to the beach at Fort Stevens State Park.
This is the remains of the Peter Iredale. Bound for Portland from Mexico, it ran aground in high seas and strong winds in 1906 and has been here ever since. It is deteriorating pretty rapidly and soon it will all be gone.
The girls loved running around the beach and surprisingly, the weather is warmer here than it was in the southern coast of Oregon.
As we are only staying one more night here before we continue our way north, Greg and Jenn invited us to their new home for dinner. We gladly obliged and made our way to their place in town after we wrapped up our explorations for the day.
If you are not familiar with Greg and Jenn’s story, they are parents to 3 adult children. All three of them are home schooled and spent most of their childhood on the road traveling the country. Greg formerly worked as an executive at Dell computers during its heyday and walked away from it all to spend more time with their family.
Their kids are inspirations for what we hope for our children to be one day. The time they have spent together as a family has bonded them in ways not often seen in many families today.
When their three kids officially graduated high school last year in Austin, Texas, they were free to choose what they wanted for their future. Most kids would have gladly chosen freedom away from their parents but they chose to move with them to Astoria. They are some of the nicest and most down to earth kids I have ever met. If our kids turn out to be who theirs have become, I would have no regrets in what I have done as a parent.
We wish we could stay longer with our friends in Astoria but tomorrow we will cross the bridge into Washington state.
over and out,