#121–North to Alaska, I mean Astoria . . .


It just seemed like Alaska! I knew it would be cold, but didn’t know it would get down to 13 degrees and stay below freezing for days.

Last week on Wednesday, December 4, I left for a three-day trip up the coast to sell books––mostly to place The Crossings Guide in the venues that carry Crossings north of Tillamook. I had called all the places I expected to stop on the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving. A few venues placed orders and the rest said they wanted to see the book and would probably buy some. There would be a dozen stops at least.

This is a trip I had originally planned last May when I got back from California, but I got involved with Florence Festival of Books stuff and yardwork and planting a vegetable garden and put it off. Then I got involved in my Florence book in July and everything was put on hold until a few weeks ago.

Timing is so important. I was timing my books just right as far as being a part of holiday sales, but not so good weather-wise. If I had planned the trip Tuesday through Thursday, it would have been fine. And I would’ve had time to write my blog this past weekend. As it was, Friday, the day I originally planed to drive back home, turned out to be a day of snow, wind, and mid-20 temps in Astoria. Because blowing snow is no fun to drive in, my three-day trip became a five-day trip. Here’s how it played out.


It was clear, cold, and beautiful. The ocean had that cold steely blue look—no green at all. I didn’t leave until 9:30 a.m. in hopes that the roads would be less frosty. I stopped in Waldport at the Historic Alsea Bay Bridge Interpretive Center. Mary looked up and said, “What’re you doing here?” I know her well and explained that I got away later than I thought and since the Center was open, I couldn’t resist stopping by. She didn’t think she needed any but ended up taking three more Crossings since I was there. And I finally remembered to take some new photos of the Alsea Bay Bridge.

The Alsea Bay Bridge steel arch has just received a fresh coat of paint.

The Alsea Bay Bridge steel arch and railings have just received a fresh coat of paint.

Then I stopped at Salishan at Allegory Books & Games, a terrific shop that now also carries an amazing selection of earrings. Helen, the owner, was out of both books and took some of each.

I headed north and was glad to see no frost or ice on the road between Lincoln City and Tillamook, which is narrow and winding in places. I didn’t stop at the Air Museum in the blimp hangar because they are moving all the planes to a new facility in Madras. I was shocked to find that the museum is moving. On the high desert, the drier air will make it easier to keep the warbirds in top flying condition. It’s hard to keep the planes from deteriorating when they can’t keep them dry and the area heated in the blimp hanger. I will miss having the Air Museum on the coast.

I did stop at one museum in Tillamook––the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum. Ruby, in charge of purchases, really liked the Guide and bought some and was interested in the new Florence book too.

The Tillamook County Pioneer Museum is in downtown Tillamook.

The Tillamook County Pioneer Museum is in downtown Tillamook.

Then I headed for the Tillamook Cheese Factory. They have had the new book since the week it first came out and ordered six more of each. Love those folks as well as their cheese and yogurt and ice cream. I can never stop by without getting ice cream. So on the coldest day of the year up to that point, I had an eggnog milkshake that was so thick, it was like eating a giant bowl of ice cream. I loved every bit of it.

I stopped in Manzanita at the delightful Cloud and Leaf bookstore and sold a couple of Crossings and several Guides. Then onto the impressive Cannon Beach Book Company where I finally got to meet the owner Valorie Ryan. She bought a couple of each of my books.

My plan was to get to Astoria before dark and I just made it. I pulled into the Crest Motel east of town about 4:30 p.m. and it was dark shortly after. I had brought enough food in a cooler to last through a couple of lunches as well as some snacks. I had been battling a cold and not had much sleep the previous couple of nights, so I settled into my room, ate some of my lunch stuff, did the paper work from the day’s sales, and was in bed by 9 p.m.


The temps were in the low 20s the next morning. It was such a hard frost, it looked like snow. After breakfast and getting everything ready for the day, I headed for the Columbia River Maritime Museum. I got there right at 10 a.m. when they opened. I finally got to meet, the person I’ve been dealing with by phone and email for the past couple of years—Blue Anderson. She bought a few of Crossings and several of the Guides. I asked about crossing the 4-mile long Astoria-Megler Bridge over to the Long Beach Peninsula. She asked an employee who had just come across, who said to go right away because the bridge had just been de-iced. So off I went.

This view is taken from the Astoria Column and still doesn't get all of the 4-mile long bridge.

This view of the Astoria-Megler Bridge is taken from the Astoria Column and still doesn’t capture all of the 4-mile long bridge.

On the Washington side, I didn’t see any frost anywhere and the road was bare pavement. I stopped at Time Enough Books in Ilwaco—a wonderful bookstore. Karla, the proprietor, bought  five guides.

The entry way to Time Enough Books in Ilwaco, Washington.

The entry way to Time Enough Books in Ilwaco, Washington.

Since the roads were fine, I headed up the peninsula to Ocean Park to Adelaide’s coffee and books. I had not called ahead and wasn’t planning on going there, but I’m glad I did. The ownership had changed in the year and a half since I had been there. I had three books there on consignment and the new owners didn’t have any paperwork and weren’t sure what to do with the money from the book sales. So they were really glad to see me. The feelings were mutual, since they took three more Crossings and five Guides.

Adelaide's coffee and books is a coffee shop with treats and books in Ocean Park, Washington.

Adelaide’s is a coffee shop with coffee, treats and books––a wonderful combination––in Ocean Park, Washington.

After leaving Adelaide’s,  I headed back down the peninsula and across the bridge to Astoria. I stopped at Godfather’s Books and they took 10 Guides. Then I walked a couple of blocks to Lucy’s Books, which is under new ownership. This is the only bookstore since the Guide came out in January that after seeing it did not buy any. She said that she probably would in the future, though.

This is the impressive stained-glass window door of Godfather's Books in Astoria.

This is the impressive stained-glass window door of Godfather’s Books in Astoria.

Then I followed the Astoria Column markings in the road up and up to the Astoria Column––the highest point in Astoria. The new gal in the gift shop there in charge of sales, Sherry, bought two Crossings and 10 of the Guides. That’s more like it. Nothing obstructed the view; it was fabulous. So I ate my lunch while enjoying it.

The Astoria Column has the history of the area spiraled from bottom to top.

The Astoria Column has the history of the area spiraled from bottom to top.

Then I headed across Youngs Bay Bridge and turned at Warrenton to go to Fort Stevens. My friend and former co-editor with me at Oregon Coast magazine Jim Forst is the person in charge at the Military Museum there. We had a nice visit and he bought a dozen Guides. Afterwards, I went back to my motel and got the paperwork done for the day’s sales.

I finished just in time to go meet Jim and his wife, Diane, at T. Paul’s Supper Club in downtown Astoria for a great visit and dinner. When we parted about 8 p.m., it was not snowing. It had been a busy day and the glass of wine at dinner had mellowed me, so I got to bed early two nights in a row.

Friday & Saturday

The next morning, I was up at 6 a.m., all packed and ready to go by 7:30 when I headed for breakfast at the motel office. That’s when I noticed the couple inches of snow and the wind and the cold. The temperature was in the teens.

Crest Motel with a couple inches of snow.

Crest Motel with a couple inches of snow.

The weather hadn’t changed much by 10:30 a.m. ––decision time. I would have to leave soon if I wanted to get home before dark. And I had to make a couple of stops on the way. After another look outside, I decided to stay over at least one more day. The motel was okay with that, and I could keep the same view room.  I loved watching the ships on the river.

That afternoon, the snow stopped, and I used my credit card to scrape off the ice and snow on my car windows. Then I went about a mile into town to a Safeway and got flip-top cans of soup, artisan bread, fruit, yogurt, and a package of chocolate decadence biscotti. With the microwave and fridge in my room, I was all set. I did borrow a large bowl and spoon from the front office.

Here is a tanker anchored on the Columbia, which was part of the view from my room.

Here is a tanker on the Columbia River, which was part of the view from my room.

So from Friday afternoon through Sunday morning, I totally relaxed. I read, ate, and read some more. I read Jim Lynch’s first novel The Highest Tide set in the farthest reaches of Puget Sound. The main character is almost 14, an insomniac, a speed-reader, a fan of Rachel Carson, a budding marine biologist, and someone I enjoyed spending time with. My life is busy, and I simply never sit down to read a book in the daytime just for pleasure. So here I was with time to do just that. What more could I want! And since the roads were still iffy on Saturday, I stayed another day. I could get used to sitting around reading all day! What a life! It got down to 13 degrees Saturday night.


When I headed home on Sunday, it was below freezing with bare pavement except for patches of packed snow in shaded sections between towns. The scariest parts were longer stretches of packed snow going up and over the headlands at Arch Cape, Neahkahnie Mountain, Cascade Head, Cape Foulweather, and Heceta Head. But with little traffic, I just took it easy and made sure I didn’t brake on the packed snow.

I stopped in Seaside but couldn’t find Beach Books, so went on my way. I was surprised since I had been there before and had a Google map that showed it to be located right where I went. Oh well! I also stopped at Bob’s Beach Books in Lincoln City, and proprietor Diana Portman wasn’t a bit surprised that I was two days late. She bought a couple of Guides and is also interested in the Florence book.

The only place above freezing was Newport where there was more snow than anywhere else, and it was wet and slushy.

I got home about 4:30 p.m.––tired, but pleased with the trip. I sold 87 books and had a chance for an unexpected time out in my busy life.

Happy holidays!


About crossingsauthor

Judy Fleagle spent 22 years teaching 1st and 2nd grades and 21 years as editor/staff writer with Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines.Since 2009, she has written five books: "Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges," "The Crossings Guide to Oregon's Coastal Spans," "Around Florence," "Devil Cat and Other Colorful Animals I Have Known," and "The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED!!!."
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4 Responses to #121–North to Alaska, I mean Astoria . . .

  1. Evelyn says:

    So, it took only a snowstorm and some ice to allow you to slow down a bit! Sounds like it was meant to be. Congratulations on the book sales, too. I hope that helped make up for the stress. 🙂

    Have a terrific holiday!

  2. What a successful adventure, Judy! I’m so glad you made it home safe and sound. That was quite a storm to weather!

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