Where: Looking out the window at Coffee Girl, Pier 39, Astoria, Oregon
When: December 2011
In some ways, Astoria has changed a lot in the 17 years since I moved away. As a visitor in town for just a couple of days, I most enjoyed the addition of the Riverwalk, a 5-mile paved path along the Columbia River. It's a great way to see Astoria's best feature.
Coffee Girl might never have happened if Starbucks hadn't happened first, but I don't care. It was 43 degrees with a bit of a breeze when we - me, my son Brad and his daughter, Fiona - went for a little stroll on the Riverwalk. When we were done, I was thrilled to have a place to sit and drink a cup of hot tea (something I never do at home in San Diego, by the way).
From my point of view as a tourist, Coffee Girl and the Riverwalk are welcome additions to the town. In other ways, Astoria hasn't changed a bit, but I have. Before I drove out of town, I stopped at a fast-food burrito place for lunch. It was in the low 40s and raining. In San Diego, weather like that would keep me and just about everybody else huddled indoors.
But in Astoria, it was just another day in late December. The burrito place was packed, and plenty of people were on the streets, doing what they do, usually without the aid of an umbrella, or even a hat. Meanwhile, my other son, Kyle, was spending the day putting in about 70 miles on his racing bike.
I should have remembered that kind of toughness from the seven years I spent in the Astoria area. I shouldn't have been surprised. But I was.
Images and text ©2005-2012 Mark A. Dodge Medlin