Catching up, last Sunday

Same as yesterday, I’m writing this in arrears. We deliberately ratcheted down our screen time for a few days, but we saw a lot of lovely things and I wanted to share them here. The easiest way to do that, I figured, is in sequence. So, yes, this is published for Thursday, June 24, the day we returned. But this particular post covers Sunday, June 20th.

Do you remember where you were on Sunday? I do. Here’s (a lot of) visual proof.

First things first, it was our anniversary, our 12th, and the general reason for our long weekend trip. Just one of countless lovely adventures.

And it started with a simple two mile run along the Pacific Coast, which is just out of the frame and over that dune and behind the boardwalk on the left:

And here you’ll not see the coast again, just out of the frame and over that dune to the right:

But how? How did you manage to move the Pacific? It’s a giant ocean!

I turned around.

… Yeah … that makes sense I guess. Got me there.

Lunch was takeout lunch from a hopping a local bakery — where I discovered the joy of a locally made bread I’ll never be able to try again, one so full of flavor and appeal that I described it as a sommelier does a wine (with a lot of complimentary adjectives). They describe it as “A multigrain bread we developed for that special beach flavor! Sweetened with honey and molasses and full of whole grain taste.”

They’re underselling the bread.

Anyway, just reading the About page for this post, you don’t get these stories when you walk in the door. At that time of day in a returning tourist season, it felt very much different from this.

On June 10, Bob and Judi Andrew officially turned the keys of the Cottage Bakery over to its new owners, Jeff and Casey Harrell and Mark and Lindy Swain, Casey’s sister and brother-in-law. The sale comes about 46 years after the Andrews bought the bakery in 1974.

The sale had been in the works for more than a month, and came after staff shortages forced the bakery to close for a day on April 21, and then again from April 30 through May 6. The staffing issues, coupled with the challenges presented by the covid-19 pandemic, made it the right time for a change to be made.


Jeff Harrell, president of Peninsula Pharmacies, said he and his wife weren’t actively looking to purchase the bakery, but things moved quickly when he struck up a conversation with Judi after the Andrews sent faxes to local business owners inquiring if they’d be interested in taking it over. Harrell thought about how much the bakery — which has been in operation since 1908 — means to the community, and the way the community rallied around his family over the past two years.

“It was a purchase that was done with emotion for the community, and it was done for emotion with my family,” said Jeff Harrell, referring to the passing of his and Casey’s 6-year-old daughter, Dylan, this April.

Dylan passed away after a 20-month battle with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, an incurable cancer that primarily affects young children. She captured the hearts of many on the peninsula, who admired her strength and attitude in her fight against a devastating illness. Dylan loved visiting the bakery, Jeff said, and said they plan on incorporating some special things into the bakery itself to honor her.

This was a summer 2020 story in the local paper. The new owners promised few changes. New POS options, away from cash only? Check. Online ordering? Check.

(But they don’t ship halfway across the country, and I’m going to need some of that Willapa Harvest Bread, Mr. Harrell.)

“Really, it’s iconic. We’re not going to change too much,” Jeff said. That’s how the story closed. And if you read the Chinook Observer, you are familiar with Dylan’s and you sat there with the paper or your phone and thought, Exactly right. It’s one of those things people would point to and say, That’s what’s right about us.

One of the many things.

After lunch we went on a hot picture-taking date. For the uninitiated, it’s where you go do this:

The location was Fort Columbia. It was the home of the Chinook tribe. This guy was running the show when the white men showed up. First, in 1792, there was Robert Gray who “discovered” the Columbia River. It’s the largest river in the Pacific Northwest, he spent nine days on it, trading furs with people who were surely mystified that this thing they’d lived their whole lives on was finally discovered. It is named after his boat, Columbia Rediviva, which just two years prior became the first American vessel to circumnavigate the globe.

Five decades hence comes James Scarborough and the sign out front assures us he is the first settler north of the river, which probably came as a surprise to his wife, a Chinook he met there, and the many other people already living on it.

Near the end of the 19th century this became an important military feature. The coastal fort was part of an interlocking coastal system that guarded the mouth of the river until the 1940s. (At which time planes and what not rendered this military enterprise obsolete. The federal government transferred this to the state of Washington, and it’s been a park ever since.

Let’s see it!

If you walk up the trails behind the barracks installation you can make your way to the remains of some of the observation and radio structures. They were small and utilitarian and are being overgrown now, but the walk is lovely.

The little splotches of sun and shade in the woods are always such an attractive feature.

This is pretty close to one of the observation points. Soldiers would be on duty up here looking for ships entering the river and trying to attack inland. They could call down to the weapons batteries, below, and order fire missions. You have to imagine, though, that the sight lines were better prepared for that job over the 60 years of this being an active duty station.

You get up high enough and you earn yourself a commanding view. The barracks, which are maintained and used as a visitor center in non-Covid times, are in the low foreground. Just to the center right you can see one of the guns that would have commanded the river, and some of the other structures that supported the job.

Take time to smell the flowers. This flower had no smell.

As we’re walking back down to the fort’s main area.

You could spend days in these woods and only see a fraction of what’s in store for you there.

Also, the signs make a point of illustrating how isolated a duty station this was. It seems difficult to imagine, today. There’s a fair amount of traffic nearby. We’re actually walking over a tunneled section of U.S. Route 101 here.

Another view of the river, below:

Here’s that gun we saw from above. This was to be the model that went in here, but the fort was decommissioned before the third-generation weapons battery arrived. This particular weapon, and it’s sister nearby, arrived from a U.S. Naval installation in Newfoundland, Canada in the 1990s, as museum pieces.

They are apparently two of six surviving versions of this six-inch weapon system. It fired a 105 pound armor-piercing projectile at a range of over 15 miles at a rate of up to five rounds per minute.

This view, below the observation points, is between the barracks and the various gun placements.

If you go all the way down to the water you can see the removes of a little pier. This was how the soldiers stationed here were re-supplied. They didn’t have to lug it far, or high, but it would have still been a chore.

And off to the side of that there’s a little quiet sandy spot. You can climb along some of the rocks and play my new favorite game.

Is it fresh or is it salt?

It is brackish.

Back at our room, we had ideal conditions for a Pacific Ocean sunset.

That, as they say, ain’t bad.

This is somewhere after 9 p.m. We’d picked up a small takeout meal and sat at our little circular table and watched the ocean reach up to meet the sun.

And we completed our hot picture-taking date on the balcony.

For tomorrow, I think I’ll show you a lot of videos. Stuff like this, which we saw at Fort Columbia.

Be sure to come back to check it out.

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