Long Beach, Astoria, and the Peter Iredale

Anne and I grabbed a Living Social deal to stay a weekend at The Adrift Hotel back in December and had a great time so when we saw another deal pop up we were pretty quick to hop on it. The hotel sits virtually on the beach and the area has some good hiking trails, an awesome ocean front boardwalk, and a paved trail that allows you to bike for miles. There’s also some great nearby photography so it’s an all-around win and a great way to unwind after a stressful week. Due to a last minute change of plans, Anne was able to take the week and head to Yellowstone, which left me solo to enjoy the southern Washington coast.

Saturday morning I started myself out with a 12 mile round trip bike trip to Ilwaco to check out the Saturday Market and the harbor. This entire stretch is serviced by the “Discovery Trail,” a paved trail that runs along the ocean front and then climbs steeply over the coastal ridge and back down into Ilwaco. I’d brought my mountain bike, and at times found the trail so steep that I was having trouble both keeping the rear wheel from spinning and the front wheel on the ground. Regardless, the ride was a good refresher for the morning and left me energized for the afternoon.

Having wet my appetite for long exposure photography in Bandon, I focused on more long exposure photography during the day. My plan was to head towards the Peter Iredale wreck in Fort Stevens State Park. That would take me through Astoria (beer, bridges, etc) and then over to the coast for afternoon and evening sunset.

I made my way slowly towards Astoria, generally exploring all the little side roads and ports and stumbled upon the McGowan church right on the side of the highway just a little west of the Astoria Bridge on 101. The church looked to have been restored and there was fresh work done on the fence in front. With the clouds in the sky and the driftwood in front, it made for an irresistible subject.


I carried on to Astoria where I satisfied two different hungers. The first was a stop by the Oregon Liquor Store where I was finally able to find a bottle of Rogue Pink Spruce Gin. Since they closed the state liquor stores in Washington and privatized everything, it’s been impossible to find anything. The next hunger was satisfied by the Fish and Chips at the Fort George brewery where I also helped myself to a seasonal mango beer (which was impressively tasty for sounding so nasty).

Fort George Brewery

Satiated, I headed for the waterfront to find a vantage point for the Astoria Bridge that would provide a good perspective as well as an interesting foreground. I parked at the Cannery Pier Hotel and walked along the waterfront to the Maritime Memorial.


From there, I headed to Fort Stevens State Park and the Peter Iredale. The Iredale is the wreck of a beached sailing vessel that ran aground in 1906. I was interested in trying to capture the wreck in water, so I wanted to make sure I got there before the tide was too far out. The wreck itself is easily accessible, no more than 100 yards from the parking lot so I was able to take my time and wait for the weather and tides to find the “sweet spot.”

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The wreck itself is quite the attraction and I was joined not only by other photographers but also probably 20 or so kids who weaved in and out of the wreck as I was taking pictures. Generally, the light wasn’t favorable to photography since it was coming from the ocean side and the wave action was such that I couldn’t get out far enough to catch the sunny side.

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However, just before sunset the clouds parted and the tide was by then far enough out to allow for a single image (a three minute exposure) that perfectly captured the mood and the mystery of the wreck.


The next day I woke up feeling crummy, having spent the better part of 3 hours outside in the cold the evening before. Rather than try and force something that wasn’t meant to be, I instead packed up and headed back to Seattle. But I’ll be looking out for more deals to stay at the Adrift Hotel so I can get back to Long Beach, Astoria, and the Peter Iredale.