24 hours in Astoria (and a few hours in Cannon Beach and Seaside)
I’ve been sitting in front of this damn screen, trying to put into words what it is I love about Astoria. Yes, The Goonies was filmed there. And one of my favorite restaurants, ever, is down there. And the people there are both awesome and crazy in a way that only small town people can be. But there’s something else, too. Something I can’t really explain. Perhaps, taking a page from arguably the greatest Goonie of all time, Chunk, I’ll simply say this: Everywhereist love Astoria.
And for the past three years, I’ve made a bit of a pilgrimage down there. The first time, Rand thought I was nuts (also, I kept drooling on him and screaming, “SLOTH LOVE CHUNK”, which he did not entirely appreciate). The second time, he still thought I was nuts, but he had just married me, so he had to go. And on this, my third time down to Astoria, Rand couldn’t make it, but I managed to convince my friends Mike and Dan to go. And bless their souls, they went. Even though I’m pretty sure they now think I’m nuts.
We stayed at the Comfort Suites Hotel, where Mike booked us a room.
Notice how I’ve torn off my bedspread? That’s because it was dotted with stains of an unknown origin. Presumably it was the same dried-milky-substance that dotted the window. But let’s not dwell on that. Instead let’s admire how an attempt was made to patch up a hole in the bathroom with what appears to be a spit wad.
Please, don’t get me wrong: this hotel effing ruled. It was $160/night for a double, and they had fresh-baked chocolate-chocolate-chip-marshmallow cookies. In a very I-smell-ice-cream move, Mike smelled them first. That’s how we found them.
Besides free cookies, Comfort Suites also offered us a view of the Goonies house. FROM OUR HOTEL ROOM.
Okay, maybe it’s not a view of the whole house so much as a view of the roof of the house. But still. Plus, we had a view of the school from Kindergarten Cop. At this point, we pretty much peed our pants from excitement as we started to scream, “IT’S NOT A TUMOR” (and by “we” I mean I.)
And even this wasn’t the end of the amazing-ness of the Astoria Comfort Suites Hotel. For it was also conveniently located next to a Safeway. But not just any Safeway. The most MAGICAL SAFEWAY EVER. For example, there were two kinds of fake cheese. And they were both on sale:
There was also a mylar balloon that consisted solely of a torso …
And a melon … with a hole in it. I had to take a photo, or you’d never, ever believe me.
Like I said, the Safeway was magic. But Astoria is pretty magical in general. It’s one of the only places I’ve ever been to where there’s a JCPenney that isn’t in a mall. It’s just on the main drag.
And of course, there’s The Goonies House.
I won’t lie: I think it’s a little sad that the house hasn’t been transformed into a Goonies museum (as woefully impractical as that is, especially to the home’s owners). Still, the folks who live there get so many people driving up to their house and taking pictures, and they never complain. They even have a sign indicating where they are, because the house is kind of tricky to find. A hint to those going (and I am sure, after this post, you will ALL want to go): the house is on 38th, but you can’t turn up 38th from the main drag in Astoria. Instead, head up 37th, and make the first left you can. That will take you to the bottom of 38th, where you can walk up the driveway and see the house.
We then headed to the Astoria Column – the largest column in Astoria! – and on the ride up we had this fantastic exchange:
Mike: What’s the column in Astoria called?
Me: The Astoria Column.
It’s only a 10 minute drive up to the column from the Goonies house, and on the way you get to see the school where Ahnold filmed Kindergarten Cop.
I forgot what I was talking about. Oh, yeah. The column.
We lucked out, managed to head up on one of Astoria’s 5 clear days of the year. After paying the $1 annual admission fee and climbing the 164 steps to the top, we got to see this:
I also bought some biodegradable gliders which you can launch from the top of the column.
Unfortunately I kind of dropped my glider off the top of the tower (instead of launching it) and screamed “OH NO!”. On a related note, don’t scream when you are very high up with people who don’t like heights. They don’t appreciate it.
After the column, we went to the Columbia Maritime Museum, which is supposed to be awesome. It was closed. Fortunately, we found an exhibit just outside the museum: an ancient device that sailors would use during shore leave to call up their girlfriends.
During this entire excursion, we heard what sounded like barking dogs. But they weren’t dogs. They were exponentially more awesome. And we found them on the pier just past our hotel.
I then dragged Mike and Dan to two more Goonies locations: the Flavel House (Mikey’s dad’s museum) …
… and the county jail from which the Fratellis spring Jake:
While we were taking pictures in front of the jail, a van pulled up. The driver jumped out and offered to take our photo. Unused to small town friendliness, this scared the hell out of us. He even implored us to sit down on the steps (at this point, Dan and I both thought it was going to be like that scene in European Vacation where the guy tells the Griswolds to get in the fountain, then proceeds to run off with their camera).
Obviously he didn’t run off with my camera. Instead, he was very friendly (if insane), and talked about how much he disliked the big city folks in Portland, who think their town is so great, when Astoria is clearly superior. And he told me not to take Dan and Mike into any bars, because they’d get shanghaied.
And then, at the corner of 15th and Franklin, we found what might possibly be the scariest house in Astoria. And therefore, also the most awesome:
I can’t imagine anyone lives there, but I saw a light on inside. I can only assume the evil flesh-eating clown that lives there uses it to lure children in before devouring them whole.
That night, we had dinner at Drina Daisy, a Bosnian restaurant that I’ve been raving about possibly as long as I’ve been talking about the friggin JCPenney. In short, the place is amazing. Order whatever you want – it’s all awesome – plus the roasted lamb.
At this point, we headed back to the hotel to lapse into a food coma (okay, fine – first, we bought champagne and chocolates and raspberries, and then we went back to the hotel and watched SNL. We’re left-coast yuppies, okay?). The next day, we started out at the Astoria Sunday Market, which is not only affordable, but has some of the best food in town. Most specifically, the hand pies …
… and handmade quesadillas, filled with zucchini, corn, and cheese, and topped with crazy-hot homemade salsa.
There’s lots more to see at the market, but I strongly suggest you stop at these two places. Also, if you have the opportunity to buy cookies from some lady named Phyllis, do so. That is all I will say about that.
Next, we headed out to Cannon Beach, where you’ll find Haystack Rock (the rock that Mikey lines up on the medallion in the movie).
It’s a beautiful place, but keep in mind, it’s not particularly warm or sunny, even in August. That’s the amazing thing about the Pacific Northwest: you think no place has shittier weather than Seattle, and you’d be wrong.
On the way back, we stopped at Yummy, my favorite restaurant in Seaside, blah, blah, blah MARGARITA CUPCAKE!!!!
The food was great, too, as always. But the cupcake: after it was gone, I found myself picking pressing my thumb into the crumbs and licking them off. It was an act of desperation. A very yummy act of desperation.
And after that? We went home. It was a great weekend, which wasn’t really surprising. After all, I love Astoria. And cupcakes. And haunted houses. And …
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