David and Heather Shackelford suggested we all get a place together for a weekend in Astoria. They found and booked this great house high up on a hill in the neighborhood I'd most wanted to stay in on our previous visits.
What this house lacked in aesthetic appeal, it more than made up for in convenience. Three levels--including a furnished basement with a TV--allowed us to segregate the four adults from the five children. And really, what more could one want from a vacation rental? Apart from being in walking distance to a great bakery that serves up oat cakes and cardamom rolls, that is? Which it was.
The first order of business on Saturday morning (after pastry consumption) was to explore the bunkers at Fort Stevens. The Shacks had come prepared with all sorts of military gear and the kids made the most of it. There are a lot of exciting things still standing; the place is a kid's dream and an uptight mother's nightmare. The rails were all too high, the stairs too steep, the metal doors too rusted and sharp, and parts of the cement structure too crumbly. But I was mostly able to set my worries aside and enjoy everyone else's enjoyment.
The other visitors to the Fort were enjoying it as well. The kid's get-ups and antics elicited a lot of smiles.
Because we are nothing if not luck-pushers, we boldly ventured out to dinner with our exhausted children at the Bosnian restaurant Drina Daisy. I do most highly recommend it, though I would suggest going for lunch rather than dinner if you can. It costs less that way.
We all shared this enormous platter of food, with most of the fruit and vegetables going to the kids and most of the entrees going to the adults. The goulash was primarily tender chunks of beef; like pot roast but way better. There was a ground beef pie and a spinach pie (both with phyllo) and cabbage leaves stuffed with a rich risotto mixture, chewy and delicious. And rich. It was all great. The beer selection is small but remarkable. Shaun had a Piraat for the first time and it was scrumptious.
On Sunday we went the "divide and conquer" route, which in this case meant Heather and I got to go antique shopping while Shaun and David took the kids to the Astoria Column, which has re-opened since our last visit.
The column is freaky high and I'll admit I was glad to skip it. Shaun ended up alone with four kids up at the top, an experience which would have given me some sort of attack followed by several week's worth of nightmares.
The boys were getting a little bit loopy after a weekend full of rubber-band gun battles and fun, fun, fun.