Today, part 2 of the Astoria travelogue. Part 1 is here.
On the morning following our arrival, we decided to walk to a local cafe for breakfast. I did a doubletake passing by the windows of this building.
Both windows on the right-hand side of the building were almost completely obscured with the scorched leaves of a giant Schleffera arboricola.
This had obviously been here a looooong time. Long enough that there was a layer of duff down at the bottom and moss growing along the edge of the window sill. You can even see aerial roots snaking down. Must be humid.
This thing was so big that it had grown along the windows up at the top and was escaping! This has to be the largest Schefflera arboricola in Oregon.
We saw an older man go into the building later that morning. I wish I had been brave enough to approach and ask about the plant and its history. But, I didn’t have anything planned and, well, it’s a hard thing for me, at least, to open a dialogue with somebody I don’t know without some sort of preparation….(foreshadowing).
Nearby, were three impressive Epiphyllums in the window of this spa – hard to see because of the reflection.
There was a time when more businesses had live plants in their windows. Nice to see places doing that again. It feels more inviting, less sterile. I remember my grandmother once nicked a cutting off of a large houseplant at a car dealership and then surreptitiously tucked it into her purse.
Our next stop was the Astoria column, a local landmark. This is actually bigger than it looks. We’ll climb up to the top in a bit.
In the parking lot, a man in his large diesel pickup truck asked whether we needed special insurance for our vehicle. I didn’t understand his question, and must have looked confused, because he continued by pointing out that we were driving an electric vehicle. He then said (rather snidely) that we must be worried about the battery exploding, which would harm the environment that we were trying to protect by driving the electric vehicle in the first place. I didn’t really know how to respond to that, so I just looked blankly at him for a moment, shrugged, and walked away.
I am not a car person and am always surprised when people notice our car. But, quite a few people do, and sometimes they have a few friendly questions about efficiency, charging, etc. What really caught me off guard in the parking lot, though, was that, 1) someone noticed we were in an electric car, 2) was apparently irritated by it, and 3) felt strongly enough to tell us so.
In the end, I found it amusing, mainly because this is the exact opposite of how I would respond. First, I wouldn’t have even noticed his vehicle unless he was obnoxiously revving the engine or it was burning oil. And then, I can’t imagine being ticked off enough that I would complain to a complete stranger about their choice of vehicle. Most likely, I would have kept my grumblings to myself and moved quickly away from the source of irritation. It’s fascinating how different we all are with different thought processes and preferences. It makes for some interesting encounters.
But, enough of that. On to the Astoria Column. Built in 1926 as a monument to the PNW and the people living here. The mural depicts how the region developed over time until the appearance of the railroad in 1893. Sorry, I don’t have a close-up.
I also enjoy taking pictures of doors (left). I have this idea that someday I will create a photo collage of doors that I have loved. This one won’t make it in though. I don’t like the large, jutting hinge. Astoria Column (middle) to scale with a random tourist in front, who I did not talk to. And, as dark as it was inside, there was still enough light for a thin coat of algae to thrive (right).
Views from the top. Remember, these were the two “nicest” days during Spring Break. It was windy, cold, and cloudy, but at least no pouring rain (yet).
Another favorite thing to photograph – old, rusty grates, valve covers, etc., especially when they are unique to an area and have interesting designs. This one was fairly simple, but reminded me of the pink triangle that was reclaimed as a symbol of gay pride in the 1970s. I’d love to use a bunch of these as pavers in the garden.
After the Astoria Column, we decided to walk the nearby Cathedral Tree Trail. Coltsfoot (Petasites frigidus) was beginning to bloom at the trailhead.
There were many invasive plants along the trail, including holly (Ilex aquifolium), cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus), and ivy (Hedera helix). I guess there is no budget for removal.
I found this tree (maybe an alder?) absolutely covered in witches brooms. I wonder if it is attractive when it is all leafed out and whether it would make a good garden plant. I want to propagate it and find out.
I wish I was more familiar with our Oregon mosses. I noticed several along the trail and thought this was the perfect opportunity to learn their names. Here’s my best attempt based solely on matching pictures in guidebooks, so I could be wrong. These new names seem clunky, yet ethereal, slipping easily from my memory. We’ll see what actually sticks. I need to practice their names over and over every time I find one in the yard – I am pretty sure we at least have Oregon beaked moss and juniper haircap moss back at home.
And thinking about moss makes me wish I knew more about growing them. We have a few cement block retaining walls that would look less harsh covered in moss. That could make an interesting post – finding out which mosses are already growing on the blocks and then figuring out how to encourage them to proliferate. It also might be fun to explore whether any of our natives do well in terrariums. I don’t know about you, but none of the terrariums I’ve created have ever been as self sustaining and easy to care for as the professionals make it out to be. Anyway, I have more ideas than time, so we’ll see where my chaotic mind takes me next.
Speaking of which, next time we’ll finish up the Cathedral Tree Trail, visit the Flavel House, and then return to home base, where I’ve installed a new rusty trellis system on the side of our wood shed.