Ahh, vacation- a time to kick back, relax...and be bored?
I am super happy I chose to take vacation before the kids go back to school. I needed some time with the family. That said, I'm not too good at sitting around. It just isn't in me, unless I am child free and have a good book (which, I admit, I've managed to accomplish a bit on this vacation). So when Wednesday looked to be a day with nothing on the schedule I thought- why not drive to the coast?
When I first roped my sister in to a day trip with 2 kids in a Honda Civic, I promised her salt water taffy and Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach. Then I remembered that we were at Cannon Beach in July, and though I love it with all my heart- I get bored easily. So I decided to head to Astoria, because we've never been there and I felt that I could turn in into the kind of educational experience that I rolled my eyes at as a kid but feel compelled to share as an adult. Plus, we've recently been introducing the kids to movies from the 80's (you know, BEFORE children's movies started to suck?), and I thought they'd enjoy checking out some of the sights related to Short Circuit, The Goonies and Free Willy. Well, ok- technically the Free Willy stuff was for Ashley and I. We LOVED that movie!
Wednesday morning came, and off we headed to the mouth of the Columbia River via Highway 30. In St. Helen's we had a hankering for ice cream. Stopping to grab some high calorie heaven gave me time to goof around on my phone, which gave me a chance to realize that we weren't that far from Twilight filming sights. Naturally with my less than stellar sense of navigation, this meant going the wrong way and misreading addresses and generally driving around for WAY too long. But we saw it. We saw the house used as Bella Swan's house in Twilight. I get that being excited about this (and even doing it in the first place) makes me a nerd. At least I own it.
By the time we found Bella's house, the kids were about to come to blows in the back seat over which Adele song we should listen to (Skyler likes "Rollin' In The Deep" and Alex likes "Someone Like You", and they have both decided that they must hate the song the other likes, just to make life fun). Since leaving them on the roadside would most likely be frowned upon, we decided to distract them by moving on.
The drive to Astoria was beautiful. I found that I MUCH prefer it to driving over the huge mountains with sharp curves, cliffs and steep enough hills to make my car whine for an hour straight. The drive in itself was worth the trip! When we pulled in to Astoria, we found a public restroom and made what we thought would be a quick pitstop. We could hear seal-like barking in the distance, but didn't think much of it until a family came by and asked if we'd seen the seals (or sea lions? I'm still not sure what they were). So off we went, Alex jumping with excitment to see his first ever non-zoo seals (or sea lions).
I told Alex when we were camping that this shirt is my favorite shirt of his. That was one week ago. Alex has worn it four days since camping.
Skyler has a 'fro. He is very proud of his hair. I figure an afro is better than tattoos and facial piercings in terms of self expression.
The family who had brought our attention to the sea creatures was also kind enough to point out the Goonies house. This was a REALLY cool thing, because it was about the one time during the whole trip that we wouldn't get lost. The Goonies house was super cool. Though they have a sign asking people not to drive up the private drive, they welcome visitors on foot. When a young man (I say young, but he was likely a year or three younger than me...the kids just have me feeling old) saw us looking, he asked if we'd like to come inside. He gave us a tour and showed us the window that the zipline to the front foor was attached to, explaining that the scene actually ruined the door frame. He showed us the changes to the house since the movie. And THEN, he let us climb up into the attic that is a central part of the movie. As we looked out the skylight to an amazing view, it became clear why this beautiful house was chosen as a filming location. The family does ask for donations towards upkeep on the house via sign, and I felt that throwing a few bucks in was the least we could do to repay them for the excitement on Sky's face.
After the Goonies house we were off to find lunch. We went to Charlie's Chowder House- a bright blue, eclectic and thankfully inexpensive but delicious little establishment in what appears to be an old auto garage. Ashley and I had great chowder, Skyler got a Bison burger (can I just say THANK YOU to Udi's for making gluten free hamburger buns? We travel with them.) and Alex got a bowl of steamer clams. Alex loves seafood.
After lunch we set out to find the Free Willy house (where Jesse lives- remember, fellow 80's/90's children?). Ashley and I were determined, and if you know the women in my family, you know that determination turns to complete and utter stubornness really quick. Which is why I am kind of shocked that despite who knows how long of driving around Astoria, we were unable to find the house. We have an idea where it may be- on a recessed drive at the end of a dead end- but we didn't actually see it. Bummer. Big Bummer.
In an effort to make this educational as well as nerdy and slightly insane, we made our way to the Astoria Column. It provided an amazing view, a sense of Oregon's history, and a chance to test wether or not we were really claustrphoic and/or scared of heights. The answer? Yes, we are. But it was worth it in terms of experience and beauty. Just a note: To walk up the column will cost you no more than a pair of really sore legs the next day, but you do have to pay $1 to park.
With legs shaking so bad it was hard to press the gas pedal, we set off again towards movie locations. At this point we realized that the film obsession would cost us a chance to head to any actual beach, but we were determined/stubborn/whatever you call it. Here are the results of that search:
The house used in Short Circuit:
This school used in Kindergarten Cop. The kids have never seen Kindergarten Cop, and probably never will. But we came across the school while searching (again) for the Free Willy house (nope...still no luck), so I figured it was worth a snap shot.
By the time we found these last few places, we thought it best to leave. We came to this decision with 2 primary motives: Get back to St. Helen's in time to search out more Twilight spots, and get out of Astoria before a neighborhood watch was issued for a white Honda Civic Hybrid seen roaming the neighborhoods for hours. And so we said a temorary goodbye to Astoria (we'll be back to vacation if we can't convince Dusty to move there!) and headed East. Or South. Or both? (Whatever. I'm not too great at geography.)
By the time we were back in St. Helen's, the boys were fully into finding Twilight locations because they had begun to get the concept of "this place was in that movie". So we had less arguing- assuming we played a constant rotation of Adele songs.
Here is the alley where Bella is followed/approached by the creepy guys in Twilight. I have to say that it looked eerily familiar- of all the places we saw, this was the most movie-feeling site for me.
And the parking lot where a beautiful mythical character whips his gorgeous car around to save Bella Swan:
And the restaurant Bella and Edward go to after the encounter with the creepy dudes.
We didn't get a picture of Bella's house because it was our first stop and, truthfully? I hadn't thought to take pictures at that point. And while we did see the dress shop Bella, Jessica and Angela went to, I didn't really bother with a picture of that either. Also, we found the bookstore used in the movie...but didn't realize that was IT until we drove away. Oops!
All in all, it was a really fun day. The boys had fun, Ashley and I had fun, and we all hit our pillows as if reuniting with a long lost friend.
If you have any questions about how to find these places, you can ask! Also, here are the primary websites we used to find 'em all. And for the love of pete, if anyone figures out how to see Jesse's house, PLEASE tell!
Now Dusty and I are off for some grown up time at our happy place- Skamania Lodge. Sweet!