Exploring Astoria, Oregon – Part 2

As I mentioned in my previous post (see link below), we found much to do during our August, 2017 visit to Astoria, OR. We continued to explore the town and the nearby riverfront. The morning was very hazy/foggy; some of it caused by the abundant wildfires in surrounding areas.

Walking by the river, there were many scenes I found picture-worthy such as this shot of the sun poking out behind the crows nest of a small ship.

Waterfront ship's crows nest with sun

We were interested in a paddle wheeler, the American Empress, that was moored at a nearby dock. We headed toward the ship and met two passengers along the way. They explained that the steamship was sidelined because of the wildfires and was “stuck” in Astoria until the air quality and wildfires improved enough for them to head upriver.

Paddleboat Steamship anchored in Astoria

Even the moss covered pylons against the mossy green and grey of the rocks led to a few colorful snaps.

Moss covered rocks and pilons create a colorful scene

We often enjoy speaking with the agents at the local visitor’s center and I need to brag about the Astoria staff and facility. They had many varied and interesting resources and we enjoyed learning about some of the local favorites uncovered through our questioning of the agents. The bus below was parked outside and little did I know it was the living quarters of someone and not an attraction; sorry!

Fanciful bus outside the visitor's center

Even with the fog, the aura of the waterfront was alluring and picturesque.

The fog created an eeerie waterfront mood

We read about the Astoria Column and the staff at the visitor’s center encouraged us to visit. There is a small parking fee of $5 that covers a year of parking. The car ride was uphill and the road to the tower was curvy. The column was constructed 600 feet above sea level on Coxcomb Hill. It is 125 feet high and those electing to ascend it will need to climb 164 steps.

Once in the parking area, you can look around and notice some of the sights Astoria has to offer. The view below shows the Megler Bridge partially covered by fog.

walking up the hill to the Astoria Column

You can see a person walking to the tower. If you don’t need to park, the visit is free!

Below is another view from the parking area.

Another view from the Astoria Column's parking area

Leaving the car, we hiked up the small hill to the base of the tower that commemorates the major events in Astoria history.

A closeup of the lower portion of the Astoria Column

It took a while to ascend the tower’s steps, but it really wasn’t too difficult (IMO).

Asotria Column circular stairway

The bird’s-eye view afforded by the column’s vantage point was very interesting.

Bird's-eye view from the top of the Astorial Column

There was a young man doing his morning exercises on the grounds and he ran up the tower and handed small, wooden gliders to the visitors so they could be tossed into the wind. He explained that he will later go around to collect them.

Small model gliders flung from the top of the Astoria Column

I enjoyed this view (below) of the tower against the cloudy blue-grey sky.

Partial closeup view of the top of the Astoria Column

I can recommend a visit to the tower if you are in the area. There is a small gift shop and I am sure when the skies are bluer and brighter, the views will be even better.

Moody sky and visitor at the Astoria Column

Here is a short paragraph from the Astoria Column Website Organization’s webpage:

“Standing above the city–600 feet above sea level to be exact–the Astoria Column unleashes an unrivaled view of Young’s Bay, the Coast Range, the mighty Columbia River, and in the distance—the Pacific Ocean. Its light shines each night as a silent testament to the pride, fortitude, and resolve of the people who settled the Pacific Northwest, and to those who live here today.”

This was just a small portion of our day exploring Astoria. JBRish.com will soon have more stories about Astoria and other adventures in Oregon.


Read previous posts about our adventures hiking and exploring in Oregon:


Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


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©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017 – JBRish.com

Lembert Dome Trail Beauty- Year of Yosemite (YOY) – Day 251

Lembert Dome Trail's beauty

Another stream in the woods

As we continued our hike back to the parking area, we came across a number of scenes like that above. There appears to be so much beauty to enjoy that even this rather common Yosemite sight of a meandering stream, reveals wonderful colors of green, brown and gray amid the bubbling waters.

Who could encounter such a place with dappled sunlight, gurgling water and not be happy to be among the mountains?

Do you have a question about our visit to Yosemite? Ask it in the comment section.


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*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

See previous Year of Yosemite (YOY) posts HERE. If you want to read the introduction to the YOY series, CLICK HERE.


Meta Data – Day 251 YOY – Year of Yosemite

File Name: 0247.NEF
Capture time: 4:27:24 PM
Capture date: June 7, 2016
Exposure: 1/15 sec @ f/16
Focal Length: 55mm
ISO 110
Nikon D3300


A Hike in the Agua Fria National Monument – Valentine’s Day

This may not sound like a very romantic Valentine’s Day, but for my wife and me, it was exactly the type of day we like. We took a hike in the Agua Fria National Monument in Arizona near Cordes Lakes just 40 miles or so North of Phoenix.

Agua Fria Nat'l Monumnet Sign

The area is a diverse riparian habitat which has been described as a “perennial river” meaning that there is water flowing in the area nearly all year long even though it is a semi-desert grassland.

This is what the trail looks like at the start. It hadn’t rained in a number of days so the river bed was dry and rocky.

Beginning of the Sandy Trail

As you can see many other people have been on this trail which follows the river bed and can be quite wet at times so be prepared. There are higher trails alongside most of the riverbed that can offer some drier terrain along parts of the hike if needed.

Many footprints in the sand

This was a perfect day for hiking. The weather was cool and the sky was clear and beautiful.

Boulders and vegetation appear in the river bed

This is a noted birding environment and while we saw some cardinals and a phainopepla, this curve-billed thrasher was the only picture I was able to take of the avian denizens on this day. While this isn’t the most flattering side of the bird, it does show how it got its name.

Profile of a cruve-billed thrasher

Along this stretch the stream was more pronounced.

The stream begins to run more abundantly

After hiking a bit in an easterly direction, the stream bed opens up to a river area which is more north and south in orientation. The boulders and hills form a picturesque setting even when the foliage of the landscape is not full.

picturesque area where the river is quite substantial as well as the boulder fields

Canyon walls and boulders along the banks

The nearby cliffs create a canyon wall on one side.

Cliffs around the the river bed

Detail of cliffs

On the cliff pictured above, we found this artifact which was probably used to support a cable or pipe of some sort.

An artifact of sorts for able or pipe

After continuing past this point we had to scramble across the boulder fields to continue to seek the path which would appear from amid the rocks at intervals.

More river and boulders of the Agua Fria

One challenge was finding a way to cross the river. People would seek their own “stepping stone” path hoping to make it to the other side.

Crossing the Agua Fria via boulders

While crossing the rocky terrain there would be fast running areas where the rocks would create eddys or small waterfalls.

waterfalls and eddys

Some of the literature notes that on warm summer days, pools will form where people can take a dip in the shallow water held by the circles of rocks.

Pools form amid the boulders

There was a group of hikers making their way into the canyon on this pleasant hiking day.

hiking group along the trail

Other visitors took time to sit and enjoy the tranquil setting.

Woman resting on a large section or rocks

Generally speaking, saguaro cactus do not grow in this area primarily because of the elevation, but this somewhat protected environment was well-enough suited for some to grow on the south-facing hillside.

Saguaros along the top of the cliff; unusual for this area

A number of rocks had curious patterns which I am sure geologists would be able to explain and perhaps find even more interesting than I did.

Darker gray pattern cover the rock

Butteflies were making their first forays into the field and here we see a slightly tattered Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) upside down most likely looking for a place to lay some eggs.

Mourning Cloak Butterfly

Here is another picture with the wings slightly closed, but in a more appropriate and customary orientation.

Mourning Cloak Butterfly

The unusually warm days were probably responsible for this Ashen Milkvetch (Astragalus Tephrodes) to put forth its floral display. I like the detailed leaf formation of this particular plant.

Ashen Milkvetch plant with interesting leaf pattern

It was time to head home after a super hike!

Click HERE for more information about the Agua Fria

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