2024 Road Trip: Part 4 – Goonies Never Say Die

I had been on the move constantly, I’m sore, I’m sunburned, I’m filthy, and I needed a break. I checked out of my room in Yachats and decided that I wanted to go to the prime city from my favorite childhood movie to take a couple of days to relax and reset a bit. I set my GPS for Astoria and hit the road.

Astoria is roughly 3.5 hours away from Yachats, and you get to drive the Oregon Coast Highway the whole way. You get a lot of variety on this drive, from rocky coasts to sandy beaches, to thick green forests, and the occasional coastal town. You should do this drive at least once in your lifetime (unless you hate driving, in which case you should at least be a passenger in someone’s vehicle while they do the driving.)

At one point, I was passing through Tillamook, and I couldn’t help but think about all of the Tillamook cheese I’ve eaten throughout my life. Man, I fuckin’ love cheese. I passed by the Tillamook Creamery, and it looked like virtually the entire town revolved around that creamery. As I was leaving down, there was a storm cloud passing over, and I noticed a very suspicious low-hanging cloud. Living in the Midwest makes you distrust certain clouds, I guess. As I drove directly under it, I looked up and realized it was actually rotating, and was indeed a funnel cloud! I was right to be suspicious. Thankfully, the storm was too weak to cause it to touch down anywhere. I wonder if anyone else even noticed it.

I arrived in Astoria soon after. The first thing that most people probably notice is the big bridge that crosses the Columbia River and into Washington State. I parked next to one of the piers along the Columbia River, then started looking online for a place to stay.

One of Astoria’s many piers, with the Astoria-Megler Bridge in the background

Astoria has many traditional hotel options – some very expensive, along with some quirky local places here and there. Eventually, I landed on The Norblad. It’s a unique, hostel-style hotel right in downtown Astoria, and also includes a building with entire apartments that you can book. I ended up with one of those apartments, and it was totally worth it (and actually a bit cheaper than some of the hotel options around town.) It was on the 8th floor of the historic Astor building and had a great view of downtown and the river. It was also conveniently located within walking distance of several downtown restaurants.

View from the apartment

I walked to the Inferno Lounge on my first night for a bite to eat. It sits on one of those piers on the river, so you can sit, eat, and watch the various cargo ships pass by. I got the salmon, which was excellent by the way. I highly recommend it if you’re ever there.

I slept in the next morning, and boy did I need it. That bed was one of the most comfortable beds I had slept in for a while (besides my own) so I took my time getting up. I had nowhere to be, so this was to be my lazy day. The Norblad conveniently leaves some complimentary snacks and beers in the fridge, and also a Keurig for that sweet, sweet caffeine.

I probably sat around doing nothing until at least 3pm, but I couldn’t stay in Astoria without seeing at least one of the icons from the Goonies movie. I made my way down to Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach. The movie makes it look like it’s walking distance from Astoria, but it’s actually roughly a 40-minute drive South. The Cannon Beach area is a very popular tourist spot, so finding parking was a struggle. I eventually found a public lot, but it was probably a good mile or so up the beach. Looks like I was in for a good walk! This was my chill weekend, though, so I chose not to lug my camera gear around.

It was a nice walk along the beach. Haystack Rock is very imposing, so it’s easily visible even from the furthest points. I snapped some photos with my trusty 5-year-old smartphone just so I could say, “hey, I was there. I saw this.”

Hey man, check out this cool rock!

The closer I got, the more I could see dozens of tourists staring at the rock, but nobody was actually near the rock. Turns out, only birds are allowed here. No humans. No fish. No capybaras. Just birds.

“Sir, you are not a bird!”

After a nice long beach walk, I made my way back to my good, reliable Honda Civic and returned to my cool temporary apartment in Astoria. I got cleaned up and decided to grab dinner. I was craving pizza, and I came across a fun little pizza parlor inside of a place called Xanadu. It’s allegedly the first and only queer bar on the Pacific Northwest Coast (and I don’t see anything that disputes that, so it must be true.) I walked in on one of their karaoke nights. There was just a small crowd of I assume regulars, singing mostly folk music, a little Prince, and the bar tender even did some Green Day at one point. I put in an order for some pizza with sausage (hilariously called the “Sausage Party”) and sat down with a glass of wine while people sang their hearts out. My pizza came out (heh) shortly after, and oh man, it hit the spot! Whatever they put on it really did the trick. I think it might’ve been this “shake” that goes on it, which is just various spices. I ate about half of it at the bar, and saved the rest for later. It was a fun group of people though, so I hung out until closing time.

After leaving the bar, I did a little night stroll along the river. It gets very quiet in town after 10pm, which seems early for someone living in a college town. It was nice, though. I didn’t stay out long. I was tired, and I had to check out of my cool little apartment the next morning, and also figure out where I wanted to go next.

Goodnight, Astoria!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *