Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Cape Disappointment was named by a Captain Meares, who was stuck trying to get into the Columbia River and failed. He, like so many, had to turn back. But, today, how can you resist a place with such a name? And, nearby Waikiki Beach?
The Cape Lighthouse is the oldest operating lighthouse on the Pacific Coast. It stands a short 1.2 miles from the Fort Canby Battery, the way the crow flies. Several trails through the woods and ravine make the walk 2.4 miles. The grounds here are a nature preserve since the land has never been developed or grazed. Thick and rough and beautiful.
The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center sits atop old Fort Canby. It is beautifully done and provides gorgeous views of the area. One can see the man made north and south jetties designed to keep the northwesterly waves from clashing with the out flowing currents from the Columbia. The Columbia still brings silt down and creates changing bars making it a treacherous crossing. Even so it is a much tamer river than in Lewis' and Clark's time. Dams, irrigation, and the jetties have reduced it to a tame shadow of its former wicked self. Buoys line the jetties, red to the north, green to the south to help keep sailors alert as they approach. The weather was intermittently breezy and warm as we climbed up to the Center. Views of the area show the jetties, and how well the three forts, Canby, Stevens and Columbia, covered the river entrance with cannon. Canby was well equipped with each succeeding technological advance, including the notorious cannon, Big Betsy. When it was fired the first time, the sound broke pieces of the Fresnel lens at the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.

A couple little remembered human interest tidbits I picked up at the center was that Sacagawea wanted to go see the ocean. Clark and Lewis were planning to leave her behind with her baby. She insisted that she wanted to see the dead whale the Indians had reported seeing on the beach. After much persistence on her part, they let her go with them.
When she was pregnant, she also told them that if you rattle a snake's tale, it will bring on your baby. She did just that, and 10 minutes later, her son was born. The men were respectful of her "wisdom". The interpretive center is very kid friendly and encourages activity relating to the great expedition.
With such nice weather, we walked the jetty, met a fisherman, watched the gulls, cormorants and swimmers on Bensons Beach. Then we drove to Waikiki Beach and photographed the many patterns in the driftwood. The name comes from a tragic incident. When Astor's Schooner, Tonquin, tried to cross the bar, it was foundering dangerously and Captain Gray sent two rescue boats. Both capsized and 2 men drowned. One sailor was from the Sandwich Islands and they decided to name the beach Waikiki to honor him.

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