A Creative Soul's Guide to Astoria and WarrentonGrowing up in Astoria in the 1960s, Jeff Daly had what could easily be called an idyllic youth. Life was wrapped around those classic small-town weekends. There was bowling with his friends and their dads, saunas at the Union Town steam baths, and roller skating at the rink to the sounds of a massive pipe organ.
As an early teen, Jeff and his buds would sometimes hop on the ferry (this was pre- Astoria-Megler Bridge days) and ride back and forth all day between Washington and Oregon. The cost was a quarter per trip.
When it came time to figure what he wanted to do with the rest of his life, Jeff got stuck. He thought about staying in Astoria and working in a cannery or on a logging crew. He even thought about becoming a fisherman, but his first day as a sea-sick deckhand on a crab boat sealed that deal.
It was there, in the summer of 1977 while having lunch waiting for a news conference to begin, that Jeff was thrown into the middle of a major national news story. Gun shots had rung out across the street at City Hall, and the facts quickly unfolded: Mayor George Moscone and city supervisor Harvey Milk had been gunned down by a disgruntled employee. Jeff watched the mayhem unfold from behind the lens of his news camera. His footage can be seen in the feature film, “MILK.”
Soon after, Jeff left the news game and formed a video production company. He shot documentaries, including one at a small start-up company in Silicon Valley called Apple. CBS hired him to shoot 14 Masters golf tournaments, the Final Four, Super Bowls, World Series and The Olympics. Jeff earned two Emmy’s and a Peabody Award for his contributions.
Then, 30 years after packing up his beloved woody station wagon and heading out of town, Jeff “retired” and returned to Astoria. He saw his hometown in a whole new light. “I just realized what an amazing place this is,” he remembers of that homecoming. “They say you can’t go back home again… well, I did.”
There was another passion that was rekindled with his return: a love of vintage cars. One is particularly close to his heart: the Astoria Clown Car. It was the original 1948 Chrysler that a group of Astoria boosters (including his dad) drove around in the 1960s to promote Astoria and the building of a bridge to Washington. They were the leaders of the parade that crossed the Astoria-Megler bridge when it was dedicated.
As years passed the car was sold off and ended up rusting away in a field in Eastern Oregon. Jeff found it and after two years of negotiations brought it back home, where today he elicits smiles as he drives it (backwards no less) to the delight of locals and visitors.
Here are a few of Jeff’s favorite ways to enjoy the creative side of Astoria and Warrenton, with a camera, a sketch pad, or just a penchant for discovery.
Where to Get Out
Mouth of the Columbia River
The viewpoint from the South Jetty is an amazing sight where you can watch two of the world’s most powerful bodies of water collide.
14th Street Viewing Station
Watch the bar and river pilots climb wood and rope ladders transporting ships on the Columbia River.
Young’s River Falls
It’s such beautiful place to shoot photos, especially when it’s been raining and the falls are at full throttle.
Oregon Film Museum
A must-see if you’re a fan of one of the many movies that have been shot in and around Astoria.
Where to Eat & Drink
Frite and Scoop
Treat yourself to some magic ice cream at this classic parlor on the waterfront.
Astoria Coffeehouse & Bistro
A great place to hang out with my creative friends for a cup of Joe or a cocktail outside in the summer.
Where to Stay
One of the four “theme” rooms designed by Jeff at the Astoria Riverwalk Inn.
Special Places for the Art Lover
Take a selfie in front of the Hotel Elliott standing on the sidewalk with great neon lights as a backdrop.
Find any reason to attend an event at the Liberty Theater.
Sit in the little park outside of Imogen Gallery for some serious people watching during the monthly 2nd Saturday Art Walk.
Browse through a world of curated curiosities at the Museum of Whimsy.