Because of the way the roads run, one of the more efficient ways to get from Portland to Seaside involves first driving north into Washington as far as Kelso/Longview, then cutting over back to Oregon. You can either do this via the bridge at Longview, or for more entertainment value, drive to Cathlamet and take the ferry, which is the last ferry operating on the lower Columbia River. We elected for the latter. Unfortunately, some delays we took in Longview meant that we got to the ferry landing just as the once-an-hour ferry was pulling away from the dock. Rather than wait an hour for the next sailing, we doubled back to Cathlamet and did some shopping at their small grocery store and bought me some coffee, then returned to the ferry landing three miles south of Cathlamet on Puget Island.
Soon enough the SMOFmobile was chocked aboard the ferry, we paid our $5/vehicle toll, and we were off for the 1 1/2-mile crossing of the Columbia River.
We've done this crossing before, but this time things seemed different. In particular, the ferry seemed cleaner and nicer. The passenger lounge in particular was much nicer (and still had that new-paint smell). This turns out to be a new ferry, the Oscar B (named for a past operator of the service).
The Columbia is an active waterway, although there wasn't much visible traffic this afternoon as we made our way across.
In about fifteen minutes, we finished the trip to the Westport, Oregon landing of the ferry and were on our way back to US-30 and Astoria.
It's a good thing we left Portland early, because otherwise that delay at the ferry could have caused us a lot of trouble getting to our vacation condo in Seaside.