June 6th saw Astoria celebrate the 30th Anniversary of its most famous cinematic icon – The Goonies.
A classic 1980’s adventure movie, where a group of intrepid youngsters embark on a final fanciful adventure to discover the resting place of infamous pirate One-Eyed-Willie, in the hope they can use the hidden treasure to thwart the scheduled demolition of their beloved “Goon-Docks” to make way for a country club golf course. Early on in their exploits, the Goonies find themselves being pursued by master criminals, the Fratelli’s, intensifying further their already perilous journey, during which they battle against ingenious pirate booby-traps and a mysterious giant octopus. The challenges, however, only make the group stronger than ever, and the kidnapped “boy who cried wolf” Chunk makes Sloth, the gentle giant, an honorary Goonie (the actor John Matuszak, was a twice Super Bowl Champion with the Oakland Raiders, but was known as the “bad boy” of the NFL and died only four years after the release of the Goonies at only 38 years old).
Do the Truffle Shuffle
In August, we made a slight detour from our Washington road trip down beyond the Oregon border to pay homage to the now cult classic. Astoria proved one of the unexpected highlights of our trip – it was a gorgeous fishing village with plenty of individual charm and quirkiness. We wish we had factored in a few more days here, and it comes highly recommended, whether you are a Goonies fan or not. For more general, non-Goonie-related information about visiting Astoria, see the end of this piece.
The Astoria “tour” can be walked, and is just under 4 miles in total (it is another 26 miles to Ecola Park and Cannon Beach even though the Goonies only spent a couple of minutes cycling there in the movie), however, you can also take the waterfront Trolley to the first stop on the tour, the Lower Columbia Bowl if you don’t fancy the walk.
The LC Bowl is where Chuck presses up against the window watching the Fratelli car chase during the opening title sequence, leaving his strawberry milk shake gushing all over the window. The LC Bowl is located on Marina Drive and 8th. It is still a working bowling alley if you fancied taking some time out of the tour schedule to play.
Next continue up 8th street towards the Oregon Film Museum (which opened for the 25th Anniversary of the movie). You will instantaneously recognize the location, as it is the location for the first scene where one of the Fratelli brothers escapes the cells of the town’s historic jailhouse. Tickets for the museum are 6 dollars. There isn’t really much there, but as the location was used both externally and internally, it is worth going in just to stand in the Fratelli’s cell!
Right next to the Oregon Film Museum is the Captain George Flavel House Museum, which was also used as the museum where Mikey’s dad works, and where all of the historic artifacts found by the Goonies in Mr Walsh’s attic (including the 17th century treasure map) are said to have originated.You will now need to follow Exchange Street towards the playing fields (John Warren Field) where Andy is coaching the cheerleading team.
This is where the longest part of the walk comes, at the end of Exchange Street, continue alongMarine Drive until you get back to Franklin Avenue, where you follow the road past the Astor Elementary School (the location of one of my other favourites, Kindergarten Cop starring the best-est, Arnold Schwarzenegger!)…
If you want, you can even do a truffle-shuffle outside, although it is worth remembering that this is a private residence, and the privacy of the owners should be respected. If you are driving, you will need to park in the designated parking along the street to avoid congestion.
For the Astoria part of your tour, this is the final stop, and if returning to downtown, you can hop back onto the Trolley from across the street near 36th Street, or walk if you are feeling more energetic. If you are visiting in late Summer, you may also spot (or indeed hear) the sea lions enjoying the harbourside. The vintage streetcar, however, is only a couple of dollars for a day ticket and is pretty cool to ride. You also get the benefit of a narrated history during the journey. Did you know that cable television was started by a guy in Astoria!
To visit the coastal location used in the movie, jump in the car and head southward to Ecola State Park, where you will have a fabulous view of Haystack Rock and the gorgeous sandy beach. You can also spend the day on Cannon Beach too if you have the time.
We were fortunate to have very un-Goonie-like weather during our trip!
This is our time
For those of us who grew up watching this movie on telly or on worn-out VHS, there is no disputing the movie’s impact and influence on our formative years, with many a long-summer day spent exploring the fields and woods around our homes in search of buried treasure and other adventures. Anyone who didn’t see the movie in the 80s or early 90s really should be asking some serious questions of their parents as to why they were denied opportunity to rent this movie at the video store. If you are one of those poor unfortunate souls, then you may address the shortcomings of your parents by establishing a new tradition for any young-ones that you may be rearing at home, thus ensuring that this wonderful piece of childhood cinema history is preserved in a new generation of wannabe Goonies.
Astoria Tourist Information
- Astoria is about 2 hours from Portland and 3 hours from Seattle.
- We stayed at the fabulous Cannery Pier Hotel Cannery Pier Hotel – because the hotel has been built a top the original wooden pilings of the site’s original inhabitant, the Union Fisherman’s Cooperative packing Company (established in 1897), all of the rooms have Columbia River views, and we had an excellent up close and personal view of the impressive 4 mile Astoria-Megler Bridge (opened in 1966 – previously only ferries connected the two state’s shores).
The staff at the hotel were all wonderful, and there is a daily wine and canapé reception for hotel guests, together with a well-stocked continental breakfast in the grand and modern hotel lobby. The hotel does not have a restaurant, but what they offer is a chauffer-driven car (by the wonderful Dick!) to and from a local restaurant. Such a wonderful and unique idea, and certainly beats a single hotel restaurant option.
- We chose to go to the Baked Alaska on Pier 12, and gambled with the Chef’s tasting menu and Bar Tender’s choice cocktails – it was fabulous, and highly recommended. The views, again, were spectacular.
- Astoria is also home to 5 local craft breweries. We visited two, Buoy’s, a seafront establishment, with a sea lion viewing platform and Fort George Brewery , where you can get an amazing plate of “cheesy chips”. We actually stopped here on our way to the Goonies House as a rest bite from the 90 degree heat!
- Visit Travel Astoria for more details, and for Goonie specific inspiration, visit The Goondocks
- A great side trip would be to travel east to visit Mount St.Helens.
“Tell us everything.
Everything. Okay! I’ll talk! In third grade, I cheated on my history exam. In fourth grade, I stole my uncle Max’s toupee and I glued it on my face when I was Moses in my Hebrew School play. In fifth grade, I knocked my sister Edie down the stairs and I blamed it on the dog… When my mom sent me to the summer camp for fat kids and then they served lunch I got nuts and I pigged out and they kicked me out… But the worst thing I ever done – I mixed a pot of fake puke at home and then I went to this movie theater, hid the puke in my jacket, climbed up to the balcony and then, t-t-then, I made a noise like this: hua-hua-hua-huaaaaaaa – and then I dumped it over the side, all over the people in the audience. And then, this was horrible, all the people started getting sick and throwing up all over each other. I never felt so bad in my entire life.” – Lawrence “Chunk” Cohen