Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Shop of 'Wants'...and other scenes of Astoria.

I recently visited Astoria, Oregon for a business meeting.  As luck would have it, the day turned into one of the best in many weeks with the northern Oregon coast basking in clear blue skies and a warm sun…the sort of day that cause the photographer in us to call it a vacation day after the meeting was over, since these are rare in late Fall.   Good thing I seldom leave home without my camera.

In my wanderings I happened to stop in a little shop. (For those of you who don’t know me well, I’ve been known to frequent antique stores in my quest for vintage cameras or other oddities in general). I also enjoy visiting with store owners when things are slow…and Astoria is one of those towns where things can indeed get slow.  The Recession has not bypassed this town at all. 

Farmhouse Funk is a cute little shop near the waterfront that sells cute merchandise with which one could decorate or equip a kitchen. Alas, no cameras, but I did meet Denise the proprietor, and we talked about the ills of the economy and how we have all had to learn to make do with less. She waved her hand around the store and commented “This is a store of wants. There isn’t anything here that people ‘need’”. I suppose it is true, and many shops like hers struggle to stay afloat.  The number of vacant stores and boarded-up windows bear a stark testimony to those who don't make it.

As one of the oldest communities on the West Coast (celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2011), Astoria has seen the rise and fall of the lumber and fishing industries and is now searching for its next renaissance.   Although the location at the mouth of the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean beaches practically a stone’s throw away make this one of the most scenic spots in the state, one is never far from the reminders of Astoria’s glorious past that rivaled San Francisco to the south and Seattle and Vancouver to the north.  

Flavel House was once the home of Captain George Flavel, a river bar pilot and successful business man, and is a fine example of Victorian architecture.

Remnants of old fishing piers that tended ships and supported canneries, and logs that used to go to local mills are now destined for places across the ocean.  The city is rich with history, yet it cannot escape the realities of our current economic malaise with people struggling to make ends meet…and to perhaps survive. 

A decrepit pier, remnants of piling...and a steel structure of some sort are all that remain of a once-flourishing fishing industry (and no, I'm not sure what the devil that structure is!).  The Astoria - Megler bridge in the background connects Oregon with Washington as it spans the Columbia River.

Just a little to the south of Astoria is the town of Cannon Beach, with Haystack Rock in the distance.  This is taken from Ecola State Park.  Despite the melancholy one gets from the demise of industry and the remnants of a past glory, one can always get a lift from the spectacular scenery...that will never fall prey to the vagaries of economies. 

Also, if you happen to visit Astoria and need (or should I say "want) any funky items for your decorating tastes, be sure to visit Farmhouse Funk (http://farmhousefunk.com/), and say hello to Denise.

No comments: