Friday, February 13, 2009

Getting High in Astoria

I wrote yesterday about having dinner in a restaurant on the 30th floor of a building in Portland. I realized that it has been quite a while since I’ve been on the 30th floor or higher of any building. That’s pretty damn high; over 300 feet. The highest floor I’ve been on recently is the 14th floor of OHSU, but since that building is on a slope that is only the second floor above the North grade.

I once dated a woman that was a real country girl and the big events in her early life were the first times she ever rode an escalator or in an elevator. This got me thinking about the few opportunities people have here in Astoria to go up in a high structure.

Astoria is such a beautiful town with the varied architecture that is framed by the Columbia River on one side and the hill side full of homes on the other side. A bird-eye view never disappoints the viewer in this town. Even stuff the locals find unpleasant to look at can easily charm visitors.

I’ve been on the top floor of the Spexarth Building. I’ve been on the top floor of 800 Exchange. I’ve been on the top floor and the roof-top garden of the Hotel Elliot. I haven’t been in the old St Mary’s Hospital Building, or that big eight story building that looks like a Mormon Temple in Astoria.

The best high in Astoria is the climb up the Astoria Column, but it is presently closed because the stairs are unsafe. However the views for the Astoria Column parking lot are more amazing than most views that can be found anywhere else. We are pretty lucky to live here.


Blogger darev2005 said...

I used to be okay with heights. Not so much anymore. A few years ago we took a group of kids to go up in the St. Louis Arch. That scared the snap out of me. You wouldn't think something that big would sway in the wind so much. But it sure as hell does. It's like those big billboards on huge metal poles on the highway. From the road they look solid and unmoving. Get up on top of one in a high wind and they are rocking and rolling and twisting like Chubby Checker with a sugar buzz. I'm okay with staying on the ground, now.

9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dang...and I thought this post would be along the lines of how pot will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no pot... Sighhh


10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thinking back to the late summer of 1973..I was hanging around Astoria because of a certain gir. I was employed by a roofing outfit. They were good people-the owner of the company got good jobs and we did the best we could. I'm one of those people who if given a choice would avoid precarious heights-just being there was hard enough, but to pack stuff up ladders and work on some of the roofs on the steep hills of Atown really got my attention. We did a lot of the downtown buildings, too..the big flat roofs-that was easy once you gained the summit..anyway, towards the end of August we were sent down to the old Astoria City Police Station Jail/ Midtown Fire station on 15th & Duane.. big flat roof that took up about a quarter block..old tar paper roof had to be removed so we could lay the new stuff was hard and dirty work but when I was young and didnt know anything, we spent a couple of days busting the old roof off while the cops and the prisoners were underneath us...our forman was really nice to us and he loved his pot, too. He'd even give us pot smoking breaks about, oh, every fifteen minutes or so. We'd gather at the edge of the roof over the main entrance to the copshop/jail, smoking our joints and literally looking down our noses as the fearsome Astoria police came and went from their mighty fortress to conduct their official business.. We were smug wiseasses as we'd give waves to whoever looked up at us and if they weren't wearing blue uniforms, we'd dramatically exhale big clouds of smoke or hold our joints out in a pretend to offer a toke to the people on the street. That was a big roof and we had to remove it all down to the wood. Lots of scraping and busting up the old stuff and shoving it off the roof. That roof had a slight slope for drainage, and of course the firewall which rose about 3 feet above the roof around the entire buiding. Well, it was labor day weekend and as it sometimes does, it just rained like hell for a couple of days...roofers dont work in the rain so we didnt go near it and went and did what young people do-party and drink lots of beer. One of the rainy mornings I got the call to show up down at that job as there was a problem. Sure enough, during our tear off some of the debris, paper and chuncks of tar roof, went down the drain in one corner of the roof and got stuck..the hard rain washed more crap in there enough to create a plug. And it rained.and it rained...and it rained so much the water starting rising up there..with the firewalls it couldnt do anyting else. It was like a swimming pool. Finally, the weight was too much fo the old roof and things started leak in the police station and jail. Then something gave way and it really poured in. So much water they had to let everybody out of jail and the place became unusable. I remember watching the waterstream shoot out of a wall in the station and thinking, "oh jesus, we reallly fucked this place up." The owner had insurance though and we quickly made it right. We also did City Hall that summer, but that is another story....

10:16 AM  
Blogger g said...

i have comments i'm keeping to myself tonight.

7:10 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

How long has the column been closed? We had so much fun as kids running up those stairs as fast as we could (probably to get the best spot to spit on our friends below. ) I was hoping to take the family there if we made it up there this summer.

7:58 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Darev, maybe you should stick to water towers.

Moose, I had you in mind when I wrote the title.

Anon, I wish I lived here back in the 70s.

g, that may be best since your family may stumble upon on your words some day.

Stephanie, It was closed last fall. There are plans to fix it, but it will be a big job. They've even talked about removing the top and dropping the new stairs in. I haven't heard anything recently as to when they plan to start the project.

5:47 AM  
Blogger darev2005 said...

Guy, that was never me on the water towers, despite what my sister says. I only did the sides of buildings and at that, just the low parts. I'm better ground crew.

6:32 AM  
Blogger g said...

thank you for understanding.

11:39 AM  

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