Thursday we traveled across the bridge to Oregon to visit Fort Clatsop, the winter fort of the Corps of Discovery in 1805. They arrived in December by dugout canoes/pirogues, found a flat spot in the woods off a tributary to the Columbia, felled trees and built a fort all while facing unceasing rains. Wearing skins for clothes probably didn't help matters much.
We had much better weather and a much warmer welcome as we arrived at the visitors center. Before we could get inside to pay our fee ($3/adult) a ranger pulled us aside and asked the girls if they wanted to take part in storytime! We sat on a bison skin while the ranger read a picture book about Sacagawea.
THEN we headed into the visitors center where we were able to view samples of a variety of native plants before we were whisked away to a quilling demonstration just outside the fort. The fort is actually a replica of the original, but provided a great taste of what life must have been like that winter. The small fort included six rooms, three on each of two outer walls, no rooms against the gate ends of the stronghold. One room housed Sacagawea, Charboneau and the baby, Pomp. Two served as bunkhouses with eight bunks each, one with four bunks, one room shared by Lewis and Clark, and another was used as a store room. There were some really neat aspects of this shelter, including a loft or shelf that ran the length of the housing sides of the fort. Inside every room was a room-length hefty shelf for storage. Another neat design was the mud or clay fireplace that protected the floor and the back wall of the fireplace through the top of the chimney. There was, to be sure, little privacy here. No one, not even the captains, had their own rooms. And not every room appeared to have a fireplace.
We took a walk down to the tributary, then returned for a muzzle-loaded rifle demonstration. Larry, the ranger who gave the demonstration, was among the best educational rangers we've experienced on this or any other family trip in the past decade. He was engaging, entertaining and informative.
After the educational midday lessons, it was time for random wanderings in Astoria. Grandma and Grandpa directed us to the trolley. I must confess that while I was somewhat interested, I figured it'd be "just another trolley ride." THAT was a mistake! Thanks to our drivers and tour guides, particularly Bob Westerberg, we learned quite a bit about Astoria's colorful past and saw a lot more of town that we typically do cruising through by car. The waterfront had several spots I look forward to revisiting when we come up next time, or the time after that. :)
We topped off the evening with the melodrama at the Astor Street Opry House, a community theater company that was playing "Shanghaied in Astoria," a 24-year tradition. The girls had a great time, particularly once the popcorn started to fly. I like our Great American Melodrama in Oceano, but it's clearly a more professional establishment that frowns upon anything beyond simply boos and hisses for the villain. NOT IN ASTORIA! OH no! Here they sell the popcorn relatively cheaply to encourage the crowd to throw at will. The scenes are written to incorporate a broom shortly after the villain departs, and the aisle are wide enough to allow even those seated in the back a clear path to popcorn the villain.
Today, clean, pack and review the maps for tomorrow we shall hit the Lewis & Clark Trail. Oh...and of course it started to rain (drizzle) this evening!