The “We Love Dreamers” State
Setting off for stop number four in The Organized Cook’s Cookbook Launch Press Tour, we landed in the green, gregarious city of Portland, Oregon. The plane of returning Oregonians gave bewildered expressions (due in part from lingering Las Vegas hangovers no doubt) as we bubbled “We’re in OREGON!!” The response is usually the reverse for passengers arriving to Sin City, not from. Our trip agenda bursting at the seams, an almost uncannily omniscient state slogan welcomed us in- “We Love Dreamers.” I think we could borrow a bit from Utah’s state slogan, the last state we were in, to say this is the right place.
Crunch time until air time- 8 bags and a cozy little kitchen later, it was show time in the FOX 12 KPTV Studio on the set of “Good Day Oregon”. Aided by an exceptionally supportive crew, Toni sailed through the cooking segment along side her TV talent Andy Carson, both comprehending and charismatic (not all Weathermen are created equal). Yes, modern-day moms can get dinner on the table every night without spending all their time and money to do it! With a gracious goodbye, GPS navigation was programmed to the site of our remaining adventure, a place to clear our heads of noise from blinding lights and compass us in to collective future direction: Asotria.
The two hour drive decorated with breathtaking scenery of endless walls of tall, emerald hued Pines, led us to one of Oregon’s best kept secrets. The enigmatic and yet unambiguous waterfront locale swallows you in the moment you arrive. Without room reservations, we arrived on a recommendation by Mr. Carson to what I now believe to be the Gem of Astoria- the Cannery Pier Hotel. Typifying the hospitable nature personified by the Oregonians, the hotel staff made adjustments to their near-capacity situation to fit us in, accommodations endlessly offered from the reception desk.
Our rooms were serene and tranquil, facing out over the Columbia River, backed by the lush landing of Washington state across the majestic mint-green 4-mile stretch of the Astoria-Megler Bridge. Seagulls swooped and perched, impressive barges crawled by in the current, and an eternal brackish breeze lent it’s constant cleansing therapy. With all our cares compartmentalized and distant, new chapters where opened of unimaginable potential.
After being treated to wine and hors d’oeuvres in the lobby, a glossy classic car and driver chauffeured us downtown to a bustling eclectic dinner spot off the main street. After a seafood filled supper of European proportion, we made the complimentary return ride in the same 1939 Buick Special, and fell asleep to riverfront views and the lulling sounds of water lapping the pier.
The Oregon Film Museum
Once the movie set for the opening scene in Goonies, this bank turned jail, is now The Oregon Film Museum. The movie, Goonies, begins with the Frateli brothers performing their famous jail break before the famous police car chase to a hideout where they eventually have a run-in with the gang of courageous adventurers, the Goonies, who defeat the Frateli crime family after being chased through an underground cave of danger and treasure. That jail was actually an old abandoned bank.
The history of Astoria is quite interesting, as our “taxi” driver explained that economically the town has been very depressed for decades. Although the filming of movies like “Free Willy”, “Kindergarten Cop” and- my favorite- “Goonies” helped, the city was unable to sustain any longtime financial momentum. That was, until the 100th Anniversary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 2005. The centennial celebration brought a lot of tourism focus to Astoria, and it soon began to grow and develop its tourism industry.
Trendy sandwich delis and artsy espresso shops began to emerge along with a few fabulous dinner spots. The signs of Astoria’s economic slump are still everywhere, with newly redeveloped businesses neighboring shops that look like nobody has entered since 1972. Steep hills brought us to residential areas where freshly painted Victorian houses sit next to decrepit ones that looked like you could push over with your finger. But this is what gives Astoria its authentic quaint charm that only a true Goonie like myself could appreciate.
Before the light fog could lift off the early morning hours, bikes were provided us to go exploring along the River Walk. After passing by sleepy sea lions basking and barking lethargic on the dock, we ascended the hills to the famous and must-see cinematic sites. Perhaps it’s greatest Hollywood accolade, the Goonies house hides up the hillside and around a gravel drive, accessible only by foot. After a quick visit appropriately omitting the Truffle Shuffle, our 1950′s replica bikes coasted down the slope to John Jacob Astor Elementary, where an aggravated Arnold rebuked “It’s not a toomah!” in Kindergarden Cop. True to form, a friendly neighbor appeared to show us where key scenes took place around the picture-perfect school.
With a surreal scene before us, we pedaled our way back down to the CPH to make haste to catch our flight out of Portland. An hour late for check-out, we drug our bags, dreams in tow, reluctantly away from the coast and back towards the desert plains of Nevada. After being in a time-warp of self-discovery and creative outlet, an oath was sworn to make a timely return, truth resonating from Mikey’s sagacious words that in Astoria “down here it’s our time, it’s our time down here.”
Since this trip was part of our press tour for The Organized Cook, I was without kids for my Astoria getaway. However, my advice for families looking to travel to Astoria for a family vacation is this- if your children are old enough to watch and appreciate the Goonies movie, this may be a great spot. There’s not a lot, if anything, that I could see for younger kids to do, as my younger kids would not have appreciated the town. On the other hand, Rayana, my artistic and authentic fellow Goonie-at-heart daughter will love it, and I plan on bringing her very soon.
And when we do come to Astoria for our Goonie adventure, I’m sure to be staying at The Cannery Pier Hotel!