Reactive Road Trip: Day 5 Update – Fort Stevens State Park and Astoria

Bright eyed and bushy tailed, we left Portland towards our next adventure, Fort Stevens State Park. The park is located a handful of miles outside of Astoria and would be a great way to spend the day. Fort Stevens was once the primary military defense installation in the three-fort, Harbor Defense System at the mouth of the Columbia River and is now preserved as a state park. I head read online that the park was a very popular tourist spot during the summer and experienced less crowds during the winter.


We almost had the whole park to ourselves. It was nice not really needing to be constantly on the lookout for other dogs and could focus all of our efforts on having a good time and enjoying the park. The park was very dog friendly and we could bring Odin everywhere. We ventured in and out of the remains of the fort and its numerous batteries. 

While walking around the fort, we found ourselves on a path that paralleled the fence line of the local neighborhood. One of the house had a chain link fence and two very excited dogs that barked at Odin as we passed. Although we were a good distance away from them, I was proud of Odin’s ability to play the “Engage Disengage” game on his own. He would look at the dogs along the fence line, then look back at me expecting his treat. I was very happy seeing him offer this behavior instead of needing me to ask for it.

In addition to the fort, the state park is also home to Battery Russell. This place was super creepy. We did not bring a flashlight so we used the weak light of our phones flash light to light up the rooms and hallways. There was a ton of graffiti scratched and drawn onto the walls which enhanced the eeriness of the place. It almost reminded me of the Blair Witch Project or something similar. After a good ten minutes of exploring the place, we noped out of there before we could become the plot of a scary movie.

The park also had a handful of turnouts that provided access to the pacific ocean. We stopped at 3 out of the 4 turnouts and explored the lookouts and beaches they gave access to.

From there we headed out of the State Park and back towards Astoria to check into the Cannery Pier Hotel. The hotel is situated on a pier with and excellent view of the Astoria-Megler Bridge which spans the Columbia River. From our room we were able to watch large ships pass in and out of the river.


After unpacking our bags and changing Odin into his favorite Marvel bandana, we hopped back into the car to explore Astoria. The first stop on our list was the Astoria column. As we circled the column in our car, we saw there were a handful of dogs in front of the column and playing fetch on the grass across the way. We parked as far away from the dogs and we could and took turns going up to the top of the column so someone could be with Odin in the car at any given time. By the time both of us had finished with the column, all of the dogs had left and we were able to bring Odin out for some pictures and sniffing time. The views from the top of the hill were amazing and provided a great 360 degree view of the area.

Next, we attempted to see the house used while filming The Goonies, however the street had a sign posted asking tourists to refrain from visiting the house or the street it was situated on. We respected their wishes and headed downtown with an hour of time left to explore. We walked along the streets and everything was going well. We saw two dogs and we were able to manage his reactivity and pass the other dogs with no signs of stress. However, while turning around a corner, we were surprised by a dog (large and also reactive) and Odin threw a large reactive fit. We found a closed storefront to hide in and used a pillar to block the other dog from his view while we calmed him down. This is when we decided it was best to find the restaurant to order our to go food and head back to the hotel. While we were waiting for our food order (we ended up ordering food from Fort George Brewery; the food was excellent and traveled well), a dog approached from around the corner of the restaurant. Odin and I bolted away from the oncoming dog to the backside of the restaurant, and unfortunately we encountered another dog there. This was a reactivity fail. With two dogs on either side of him, he was inconsolable and barked/lunged at both dogs. Once both dogs had passed us, I worked on resetting Odin while my husband went to grab our to go order. Once we were leaving the restaurant, a lady on crutches walked by and Odin decided that this was not okay and that she was a major threat to our safety. Fortunately for us, from there the rest of the walk back to the car was uneventful.

Sometimes I wish there was a rhyme or reason to his reactivity. Sometimes, people with walking sticks are fine, other times they are not. Some dogs he cares about, others he has no feelings towards. Overall, today we had a great day and it was only near the end that his reactivity could not be managed. Since we started training and working on his reactivity, it has gotten significantly better and we are seeing great improvement, however, we still have a long road ahead of us in terms of completely managing his reactivity. I’m happy to say that he must have greatly enjoyed his day because he is currently passed out on our hotel floor at the foot of the bed.

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