From Astoria, Oregon, across the mouth of the wide Columbia River, you can see the state of Washington. Huge cargo ships wait their turn to go up river to inland ports.
You can get to the Washington side by driving over the 4 mile Astoria-Megler Bridge. Once there, turn left and continue on to where you’ll find the entrance to Cape Disappointment Park. ‘Disappointment’ because in 1788, Captain John Meares could not find the entrance to the river. But not a disappointment to any visitor to the park today. It’s gorgeous.
There are lots of beautiful sites in the park, including the now non-operational North Head light house.
With gorgeous and impressive ocean views.
And dramatic cliff edges.
But I had a destination, which was to see Maya Lin’s Fish Cleaning Table.
It is the first of a series of pieces that Lin designed for the Confluence Project, an impressive series of art landscape sites laid out over 438 miles along the river. Each one is designed to educate the public about the river’s significance to the tribes who lived and continue to live there now.
The Fish Cleaning Table is a beautiful and quiet piece of basalt, sitting in an unassuming spot, next to a boat launch. Cut into one end is a trough for people to clean and wash their fish.
It is inscribed with an origin story told by the Chinook and Chehalis tribes that was recorded by James Swan in 1857.
It is so beautiful and quiet and subtle, sitting in a gorgeous landscape, you could almost pass it by. But stop and spend a moment here for a gentle reminder of the people who, for centuries, were here before and who knew this land in a deep and reverential way.