Urbanspoon Scores! Pour House Grill, Bend, Oregon

Appetizer, Pour House Grill, Bend, OR

Appetizer

We were hungry, but didn’t want any of the usual chains. But we were in a town (Bend, Oregon) that we didn’t know very well. We decided to get brave and I pulled out my i-Phone and tapped the Urbanspoon app hoping for at least a somewhat good idea. Up popped the Pour House Grill – with a 90% “Like” rate. We decided that was good enough to take a chance.

As we pulled up to the restaurant, we were worried we wouldn’t find any place to park, it was so busy. Another good sign! But we did find a spot, and headed inside. We were immediately greeted and seated by a very friendly waitress, who was also very helpful in answering our questions about the menu.

They had a nice variety of appetizers, burgers, and beer. They have some wines and even a few of my new love – hard cider.

We ordered appetizers and then our dinners. We were pleased with the portions, the prices, and the service. So much so that when we were looking for a place for dinner again a couple of nights later, we wound up back at the Pour House Grill to try some other menu items. Again, we weren’t disappointed with either the food or the service.

Bend’s Pour House Grill is definitely a go-back-to spot again next time we are in the area.

Do you use an app or review site to help you choose where to eat?

For more information, menu, and prices check out their website at http://www.thepourhousegrill.com/.

 

 

 

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The Astoria Column

The Astoria Column, Astoria, Oregon

The Astoria Column

It’s 125 feet tall. And you can climb up the inside of it on a metal spiral staircase. Your legs will burn, you will be very glad for each landing where you can stop and take a breather and rest your legs. But once at the top – you will have one of the best views on the Oregon coast. “It” is the Astoria Column, built in 1926 as a monument to the Lewis and Clark expedition.

The Story of the Astoria Column, Astoria, Oregon

The Story of the Astoria Column

Typically, Astoria is usually a bit cloudy if not down-right rainy, so the view is hit-and-miss. This abnormally beautiful April day, the skies were completely clear, like nothing I have ever seen. We could even see Mt. St. Helens from the Astoria-Megler Bridge as we headed from the Washington side of the Columbia River to Astoria.

Mt. St. Helens from the Astoria-Megler Bridge

Mt. St. Helens from the Astoria-Megler Bridge

It’s fairly easy to find the column. You can easily see it and just head towards it and eventually you will see a white column icon on the roads that lead to the column. It’s a short winding drive up the hill, then there is plenty of parking, restrooms, and a small gift shop where you pay your $2.00 fee.

View to the south, Astoria Column, Astoria, Oregon

View to the south

Even without going in the column the view is beautiful. To the south you can see Saddle Mountain and it’s obvious why it was named that. You can look down and see the area where the replica of Fort Clatsop, Lewis and Clark’s home for a short time, is set. You can’t help but look at that beautiful river and want to take a kayak on a long, slow cruise.

Beautiful outside of column, Astoria Column, Astoria, Oregon

Beautiful outside of column

Before you go into the column, notice the writings and the drawings depicting the expedition, on the outside, going all the way up. Then you enter the column through a door at the bottom and start your climb up. It’s a long climb, but there are landings every so many steps where you can step out of the way of others and rest your legs and catch your breath for a minute. Once you come out on top there is a 360 degree walkaround to take in every bit of the view.

Astoria Column Spiral Staircase, Astoria, Oregon

Astoria Column Spiral Staircase

Off to the north is the mighty Columbia River. Maybe you’ll catch sight of a container ship, so large it dwarfs the houses down below.

View to the north - Columbia River, from the Astoria Column, Astoria, Oregon

View to the north – Columbia River

To the northwest is the Astoria-Megler Bridge looking so long you think, “I came across that huge thing?!”

To the west - Astoria-Megler Bridge leading to Washington, Astoria Column, Astoria, Oregon

To the west – Astoria-Megler Bridge leading to Washington

To the northwest and west, looking endless, is the magnificent Pacific Ocean. Looking south again is the even better view of Saddle Mountain.

Saddle Mountain, view from Astoria Column, Astoria, Oregon

Saddle Mountain

The eastern view will reveal the dense northwest forests that the area is known for.

Eastern View - Endless Northwest Forest from the Astoria Column, Astoria, Oregon

Eastern View – Endless Northwest Forest

The Astoria Column puts the beauty of the northwest Oregon coast on display for all who choose to visit. It really is a fitting tribute to the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Getting there (from http://astoriacolumn.org/visit/hours-fees-and-directions/): The Astoria Column is located at 1 Coxcomb Drive. Directional signs can be found on 14th and 16th Streets.

 

 

 

 

 

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Centralia’s Best “Surprise!” Food – Shanghai Café

Ready to eat! Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Ready to eat!

In your travels, have you ever noticed that the really good food is in the restaurant where you think you would least expect it? However, you don’t always have to travel to experience the great little joints – don’t overlook the ones in your hometown. Shanghai Cafe in Centralia, Washington is one of those places.

Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Shanghai Cafe

It doesn’t look like much from the outside. It barely looks like a restaurant. It’s very small, non-descript and whenever we tell folks what to look for, it’s the big butterfly on their sign. When you walk in, it still looks small, but cozy not cramped. The Asian décor is fun, but looks dated. It should be – it opened in 1929! However, don’t let any of this deter you – have a seat and enjoy the feast to come!

Inside Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Inside Shanghai Cafe

They will start you out with a mild tea while you are looking over the menu and of course, they have other beverages available. On the table underneath a plastic cover, is the Chinese Zodiak calendar. I always enjoy looking at it, picking out myself, kids and grandkids.

Chinese calendar, Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Chinese Zodiak Calendar

David always does the ordering for us. He has been going there for years and introduced me awhile back – I have difficulties eating certain food and have to be careful, so luckily he knows what I can eat, and which of the foods won’t give me problems. It always sounds like he only order 3-4 dishes, but when the food starts coming out, it seems endless! First the Egg Drop Soup arrives, then the Kimchi, then Sweet and Sour Pork. Just as we finish that, out comes the Special Garlic Chicken, Orange Chicken and on and on.

Pot Stickers, Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Pot Stickers

Kimchi, Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Kimchi

Orange Chicken, Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Orange Chicken

Mongolian Beef, Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Mongolian Beef

Almond Chicken, Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Almond Chicken

Sweet and Sour Pork, Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Sweet and Sour Pork

Tempura Veggies, Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Tempura Veggies

Spring Rolls, Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Spring Rolls

Special Garlic Chicken, Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Special Garlic Chicken

We can never eat it all! But that doesn’t break anyone’s heart, the leftovers are even better after they’ve soaked in the juices overnight. But I always leave room for the Fortune Cookies, of course. And here’s an unusual idea for you – Chardonnay wine and fortune cookies taste amazing together!

A great fortune!, Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

A great fortune!

Shanghai is a family-run business (the current owners are only the second owners) and they always remember you and what you like to order. You don’t get that kind of warm, personal service most places.

Our motto when traveling is “always check out the local restaurants.” So don’t forget those in your own town – who knows what you might be missing!

Shanghai Cafe is located at 519 South Tower in Centralia.

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Kells Irish Pub – Portland, Oregon

Kells Irish Pub, Portland, Oregon

Kells Irish Pub

If you’re looking for a cool Irish pub to go to for St. Patrick’s Day, you need to check out Kells Irish Pub in Portland.

Kells Irish Pub, Portland, Oregon

Kells Irish Pub

There are a lot of authentically old establishments in Portland, but Kells is not one of them. However, they did a great job of making it look like it. There are Kells located in Seattle and San Francisco as well and a second Portland brewery.

Money on the ceiling, Kells Irish Pub, Portland, Oregon

Look at all that money on the ceiling!

We were in the area for something else when we noticed the entrance, which simply looked intriguing and inviting. As we entered, our jaws dropped open and we stood there in shock. The first thing you notice is – there’s money everywhere on the ceiling! Well, heck, that just made us want to look around even more! Luckily it was early mid-morning so the place wasn’t busy. We asked if we could just take our own little tour and it was no problem.

Money on the ceiling, Kells Irish Pub, Portland, Oregon

Money on the ceiling

The main floor has an inviting fireplace, warm wood furniture, and cute small chandeliers and exposed brick walls, all giving Kells its character.

Fireplace in Kells Irish Pub, Portland, Oregon

Fireplace in Kells Irish Pub

Kells Irish Pub, Portland, Oregon

Kells Irish Pub

When you go downstairs, the ambiance of the dark wood and stuffed chairs are so old-time reminiscent that you expect to see ghosts of mobsters smoking big cigars and beautiful women wearing diamonds and furs lounging off to the side.

Heading downstairs, Kells Irish Pub, Portland, Oregon

Heading downstairs

To the Cigar Room, Kells Irish Pub, Portland, Oregon

To the Cigar Room

In the Cigar Room, Kells Irish Pub, Portland, Oregon

In the Cigar Room

In the Cigar Room, Kells Irish Pub, Portland, Oregon

Also in the Cigar Room

Humidor in Kells Irish Pub, Portland, Oregon

Humidor in Kells Irish Pub

How was the food? We have no idea! We didn’t have time to try that part of Kells, but maybe you can and let us know. The character and personality alone is enough to make it worth checking out. And if you’re there around St. Patrick’s Day you’re sure have a great time with all the activities and events they have planned. Enjoy!

Kells Irish Pub is located at 112 SW 2nd Avenue in Portland.

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Smelt Dipping – It’s Not What You Think

Smelt, Cowlitz River, Kelso, Washington

Smelt

My first thought was that smelt dipping is just another way of saying using chewing tobacco. My second thought was it had something to do with extracting minerals from ore (like copper, silver, etc.) because this is also known as smelting. Turns out I was way off on both thoughts.

The first time I heard of dipping smelt was about 28 years ago. I worked for two bosses who decided I needed to find out what this was all about. They said, “The smelt are running on the Cowlitz!” What? OK, smelt are a small fish, the Cowlitz is a river in Southwest Washington running through Kelso. You don’t catch these fish with a fishing pole, but scoop them up in a net. That’s why it’s known as “dipping.” So we jumped in their car and ran down there. We took a net and went to the river and – nothing. Gee, that was fun. David had tried it many years ago too, without success.

I never thought much more about it, although I heard a lot of people talking about it over the years. They would say how the smelt run used to be so thick you could just go down and dip net after net of the little fishes. But over the years the run got smaller and smaller until it finally became a protected species and smelt-dipping was no longer allowed – until recently. This is the second year that limited time has been opened to allow smelt-dipping.

Using a net to dip smelt, Cowlitz River, Kelso, Washington

Using a net to dip smelt

This past Saturday was one of those dates. We already had plans to go to Portland for the day when we heard about it, but as we drove down I-5 we could see the Cowlitz and a lot of people were out on it. David couldn’t stand it, he had to check it out so we got off the freeway and headed down to the river. It was packed with people, but many were leaving. Not only is the date set, but so is the time – you can only fish from 6am to noon and it was just before noon when we got there.

Pat and Dick Lindeman, Cowlitz River, Kelso, Washington

Pat and Dick Lindeman with their smelt catch

I saw a couple who looked friendly and asked if I could talk to them. Pat and Dick Lindeman are their names and they were very friendly and helpful. They even offered to let us use their equipment next weekend since there is another catch date set for February 14. They showed us their catch, which was the limit, and said they got it in only 2 scoops! Now that’s starting to sound like the stories I have heard!

Smelt in a net, Cowlitz River, Kelso, Washington

Smelt in a net

If you’re wondering what to do with smelt, Dick said that he will freeze some to use for bait, smoke some, and fry some.

Another nice part about smelt-dipping is that no license is needed, just a net, a bucket, and some good shoes to slog through the mud on the side of the river. Be sure to follow the rules, take only your limit – we want to make sure we do our part to help bring this fish back to its natural run, and we can do that by fishing responsibly. And even though you don’t need a license, if you are fishing past noon you can get a ticket for that, as well as if you go over your limit.

So where will we be on Valentine’s Day? You got it – smelt-dipping!

 

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“Coffee is a Journey” – Santa Lucia Coffee, Centralia, Washington

Santa Lucia Cafe, Centralia WA

Santa Lucia Cafe

When asked how he started in the coffee roasting business, Justin Page, owner of Santa Lucia Cafe located in downtown Centralia, Washington, looked at us for a moment, then quietly said, “Coffee is a journey.” His journey began when he was about 12 or 13 years old. His father was “in the coffee culture” in Seattle, and Justin has been passionate about coffee ever since.

Santa Lucia coffee roaster, Centralia, Washington

Santa Lucia coffee roaster

He began roasting his own coffee in 2002 in the basement of his Centralia home. He expanded to roasting from family, friends, and neighbors. Then he placed a kiosk on the front porch of his house and people would put their money into his mail slot. After a few years (and one visit from the Centralia Fire Department because of all the smoke coming out of his basement), Justin ran out of room and decided to open Santa Lucia Café in his current location in 2006.

Santa Lucia is the namesake for Justin’s wife, Lucy. The setting is rustic, with three rooms with tables comfortable chairs, and even books to sit and read with children. It’s cozy enough for small conversations as well as small work meetings. Local pastries from San Francisco Bakery in Olympia, Market Street Bakery in Chehalis, and Main Street Cookies in Rainier, are temptingly displayed.

David enjoyed his Santa Lucia coffee in the cozy cafe. Centralia, Washington

David enjoyed his Santa Lucia coffee in the cozy cafe.

Justin tells us that he gets beans from all over the world, but most specifically from a small farmer, Edwin Martinez, in Guatemala. Huge 150 pound bags can be seen sitting near the walls. One coffee roaster is placed in the third room. There Justin roasts about 200-300 pounds of coffee each week. We were surprised to hear it only takes about 15 minutes to roast a batch of coffee. He doesn’t have a set schedule, just roasts as needed as they run low on coffee, so it’s very fresh.

Coffee beans from Guatemala, Santa Lucia Coffee, Centralia, WA

Coffee beans from Guatemala

We asked about the “flavors” and how he achieves them because we truly had no idea. It turns out coffee is a bit like wine, that flavors are not added, but come naturally from the areas where the beans are grown. Then he decides which flavors he likes, what his “interpretation” of them is and then roasts them to bring out the flavors he likes best. This is done by varying the length of time of roasting as well as temperature.

David asked if he would like to see his product on big store shelves. Justin thought for a moment and said no, he actually preferred that people find him on their own based on the quality of his coffees.

As Josh is in high school and learning a lot about future careers, he had his own question: What would Justin tell a high school student thinking about opening a coffee roasting business. Justin replied that he would ask a lot of questions, why do they want to do this, how passionate are they – he would challenge them and ask deeper questions rather than just say, “Yes, do it” or “No, don’t do it.”

When asked where he thought his business would be in five years, Justin said that this is an individual journey for him and he expects to stay small and still be in the same place. The best part of this business for him is the personal touch, being part of the community and the friends that he has made. He feels that it is now at a point that it is a self-propelling entity and that is a very exciting point to be for an entrepreneur. He would only like to grow larger though, if it didn’t take away from the personal aspect that he enjoys so much now.

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Santa Lucia coffees can also be found served at local establishments such as Centralia College and Jeremy’s Farm to Table restaurant.

Santa Lucia Café is open Monday through Friday, 7am-5pm, Saturdays 8am-3pm and Sundays, 9am-3pm and is located at 202 S. Tower Ave., Centralia WA 98531. They can also be found online at http://www.luciacoffee.com/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/santaluciacoffee.

 

 

 

 

 

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Point Defiance Zoo and the Budding Photographer

I am the King, Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma

I am the King

As you probably know by now, Josh is our photographer and takes most of the pictures we use on this blog. Recently he had the chance to go to the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma (http://www.pdza.org/) with his high school photography class. While most of the kids were more interested in goofing off during their day off from class, Josh was thrilled to have the chance to take pictures of his favorite subject – animals. Here he would like to share his best of the day with you:

Must be a teenager. Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma

Must be a teenager

Fish love backscratches? Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma

Fish love backscratches?

Hellooooo??? Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma

Hellooooo???

WOW! Just WOW! Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma

WOW! Just WOW!

Aww, possums are cuddly! Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma

Aww, possums are cuddly!

Here, kitty, kitty. Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma

Here, kitty, kitty.

Darn kids, get off my lawn. Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma

Darn kids, get off my lawn.

Is there anything cuter? Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma

Is there anything cuter?

This is my good side. Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma

This is my good side.

I. Am. Ignoring. You. Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma

I. Am. Ignoring. You.

Impressive! Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma

Impressive!

Yes, the whole place was impressive and full of opportunities for a budding photographer! Do you have ideas for captions for these pictures? Let us know, we’d love to hear your creative ideas!

Categories: Outdoors, Washington | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

How to Give A Gift of Adventure and Memories

Josh and David. Really, he was happy, lol.

Josh and David. Really, he was happy.

Christmas is coming. Do you have that person in your family that is hard to buy for? They either have everything, or buy what they want when they want it, or they’re very particular? Well, here’s an idea that I did a few years ago and it was a big hit.

David is that person in our family. So trying to shop for him is a chore. But he kept saying that some day he would like to take an airplane flight over our house and see it from above and see how it fit in with the rest of the terrain. So it hit me as a great idea, and I called the Olympia airport asking for scenic flights. I was worried that it would be very expensive but it wasn’t at all. So I ordered a gift certificate and presented it to him on Christmas morning. Success! He was very surprised and very happy!

Nancy riding in the front seat

Nancy riding in the front seat

We decided to wait to use it until better weather so finally one day in June we just showed up at the airport and were able to schedule a ride (that doesn’t always happen, it’s recommended to check ahead.) The pilot, Joel, was extremely nice. I had booked the flight for all three of us, even though it was David’s present, because I knew he wouldn’t want to go alone. However, I’m terrified of flying. So Joel wanted me to sit in front, he thought it might help me. Josh was not thrilled about this, he wanted to be in front. (I think Joel was more worried I’d get sick in his pretty plane than anything else…)

Josh happy to be in the plane, but not happy he's not sitting in the front seat.

Josh happy to be in the plane, but not happy he’s not sitting in the front seat.

It was a beautiful sunny day, clear skies forever. Joel explained everything as he was doing it, to help ease my stress. What I did discover about myself though, is that flying in a little plane, being able to see the ground the whole time, was not nearly as terrifying for me as flying in a jumbo jet.

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First we flew north to check things out, then back south to look over our property. It was amazing! We could see that to the east of us was nothing but forest for miles and miles! We certainly wouldn’t want to get lost there!

Then we flew down over Mt. St. Helens looking into the crater. We couldn’t get as close as Joel would have liked because she had let out a few puffs of smoke.

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1-102_1583Then we flew over Mt. Rainier – that was a nice unexpected surprise and another fabulous view. We ended up extending our flight and paying for an extra half hour and it was SO worth it! David finally got to see our home and all around it from the air, plus more, and he was thrilled.

Yes, he finally smiled - he loved the scenic ride!

Yes, he finally smiled – he loved the scenic ride!

So if you want to give that hard-to-shop-for someone in your life, call your local airport and find out about scenic rides. You’ll be giving them a special gift, not “stuff” that would eventually break or wear out, but a gift of adventure and memories that will last a lifetime.

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Tornado Warning! Another Long Beach Adventure

Long Beach, Washington Christmas Lights

Long Beach Christmas Lights

It seems whenever we go to the Long Beach peninsula, it is rarely uneventful. Besides finding just fun things to do or see, weird things tend to happen to us there. Just check out our previous stories RV Adventures: The Great Wall of Poo and I’ll Take 3 Passports and What on Earth is That Smell?! and you will see what I’m talking about. This past weekend however, we would say probably THE most bizarre thing ever happened, something I would never have guessed could possibly happen.

It was supposed to be a fairly relaxing weekend. Just get away for a couple of days, take David’s mom, Sue, and just have a good time. It was supposed to be a rainy, drenching, wet weekend and we were absolutely OK with that. We even specifically planned our activities around the weather. So it poured down rain on our entire drive there – until just outside of Seaview when I noticed the ground was actually dry. It was perfect. We pulled into our campground and David and Josh were able to set up the RV in dry, even somewhat warm, weather.

We drove back into town to get dinner and it was pleasant enough weather to get out and walk a little bit. The streets were already decorated up for Christmas and the blue and white lights looked very peaceful in the dark night sky.

David & Nancy at the Cranberry Museum, Long Beach, Washington

David & Nancy at the Cranberry Museum

The next morning we woke to thunder, but by the time we got up and around it had stopped and again the weather was pleasant. We did some of the things we planned to such as visit museums, then had a warm, filling lunch at the Cottage Bakery. We had never eaten there before and enjoyed it thoroughly – especially the pastries we bought once we finished lunch. Delicious, sweet pastries that we ate until we were miserable. Well, wouldn’t you, too?

The Cottage Baker, Long Beach WA

The Cottage Bakery

Chili and Cornbread at the Cottage Bakery, Long Beach WA

Chili and Cornbread at the Cottage Bakery

The pastries at Cottage Bakery, Long Beach WA

The pastries at Cottage Bakery

We finished up in town with drinks at the Pickled Fish, a cute little restaurant and bar on top of the Adrift Hotel. We even had a view of the sunset. A quiet, beautiful day at the beach.

Nancy and Sue enjoying drinks at the Pickled Fish, Long Beach, WA

Nancy and Sue enjoying drinks at the Pickled Fish

The next morning started uneventful. I got on my phone and saw that my daughter had posted that she was having terrific thunderstorms in Hoquiam. “Odd,” I thought. We weren’t that far away as the crow flies. I hopped in the shower and after I got out and had just finished getting ready, my phone, Josh’s phone and Sue’s phone started buzzing. I looked at my phone feeling quite confused. It showed a weather alert from the National Weather Service, saying there was a tornado warning in our area and to take shelter immediately. We all kind of looked at each other. I figured it must be a mistake, it was meant for some other area. I quickly posted on Facebook asking if anyone else had a tornado warning. We started putting things away, figuring we would just get busy getting out of there.

Then the campground host knocked on our door and told us to get to the restrooms which are partially underground. We decided maybe that was a wise idea. Now, having watched shows on tornado-chasing, we really do know that warnings are important. But I just really couldn’t believe there was one ON THE BEACH! So I wasn’t scared, which could have been a bad thing, because then we also didn’t feel an urgency.

Josh grabbed his new boots, even though he had shoes on. “Josh, why are you taking your boots,” we asked. “I don’t want anything happening to my boots!” he responded. We explained that we would buy him more new boots if anything happened to him and he reluctantly left them.

David goofing off while we're in the "basement" restrooms

David goofing off while we’re in the “basement” restrooms

We hurried on down to the restrooms and kept an eye on the sky, thinking we would see stuff flying around if a tornado was close. Sue kept telling us to get down there, she had lived in Michigan and knew about tornados. But since we really still didn’t believe it we kept looking around for the funnel cloud. Then another couple who had left their RV showed up – with a bag of pastries from the Cottage Bakery. We laughed as we realized what they had. That’s when it hit me – what would you grab in an emergency like that? We all have our priorities, sometimes we don’t even recognize them, but boots and pastries were apparently the concern that day.

Sue in the "dungeon"

Sue in the “dungeon”

Finally, Sue went to an inner basement room, called “the dungeon” by the others but we were still dumb enough to keep looking. Then large hail started falling and that’s when David and I got a little more concerned. Josh, being Josh, wanted to go out and run around in it, basically to see if it would hurt. That’s Josh. But David told him absolutely not, it could be the front side of a tornado. So Josh sulked and went down into the basement.

Large hail, Long Beach, Washington tornado warning

Large hail

We went into the clubhouse which is over the basement and each watched from windows, with the theory we would have time to head to the basement if we saw anything. We were probably wrong, and that’s probably how a lot of people get killed during tornadoes (in other words, don’t try this at home.) But it ended up OK. Just minutes after the hail, the warning ended so we headed back to our RV. It was still pouring down and we got soaking wet just on the walk. Then poor David and Josh got even more wet as they tried to hurry and unhook the RV, while the thunder still roared, sounding like the world was cracking open.

Finally, we were done and headed on our way, stopping at the Loose Caboose Café for a breakfast we didn’t have a chance to eat earlier. That’s when the weather calmed down and it stopped raining – once we were all done and inside.

We were probably too stupid to know what kind of danger we were in, but even having a completely unusual tornado warning at the beach won’t stop us from going there again. Heck, we’re already wondering what we’re in for the next time we go!

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Buffalo Jump

David and Josh with the Buffalo Jump in the background.

David and Josh with the Buffalo Jump in the background.

Hundreds of years ago, before horses, Native Americans did something quite ingenious in order to feed their families. They would find a herd of buffalo and the fastest runner would start chasing them. Now, you might wonder, what on earth did they think they would do with a buffalo if they caught it? But they had no intention of catching it – their intention was to make the buffalo commit unintentional suicide. That’s right, they expected the buffalo to kill themselves. Again, you may wonder, what on earth would make a buffalo kill themselves, and how could a buffalo possibly kill themselves?

The answer is, by running over the edge of a cliff. Oddly enough, the herd would simply run and follow the leader and when the first one accidentally ran over and off the edge of a cliff, many more bison would simply follow. It was a long fall to the bottom of the cliff and the fall would kill the buffalo. That did the majority of the hard work for the Native Americans and all they then had to do was go to the bottom of the cliff and prepare the dead animals for their families to eat.

There are several of these places in the American west and Midwest and they are now known as “Buffalo Jumps”. Several years ago we visited a site that David had been too many years previously. This particular one is at Madison Buffalo Jump State Park, south of Three Forks, Montana. It’s awe-inspiring to see, this high steep cliff, and imagine buffalo basically falling off of the cliff. You can easily see how it would have killed them.

Looking back down the trail from the lower part of the Buffalo Jump.

Looking back down the trail from the lower part of the Buffalo Jump.

This site has an interpretive display with information telling all about the site. Before we checked it out, we decided that we wanted to hike out to the cliff. So off we went. Luckily we brought water because while it seemed like a simple, quick hike, it was further than it looked, and it was an extremely hot day. We needed every drop of water.

We hiked the trail that got steeper and steeper, until it was almost straight up. I can’t do straight up. However, David, whom I call my old mountain goat, saw the cliff as a simple challenge. So Josh and I waited while David climbed up to the very top. He said the view from up there was unbelievable.

David on top of the Buffalo Jump.

David on top of the Buffalo Jump.

Heading back down was a little treacherous. The trail was dry and it was easy to slip and lose grip on the ground. But we made it safely back down and took refuge in the shadow of the interpretive center so we could cool down.

Cooling off in the interpretive center.

Cooling off in the interpretive center.

While it was fine to see the site from a distance, to really get a taste of the steepness of the cliff and understand how it could kill the buffalo, you really need to hike out the trail to the cliff. From there you will feel sad for the buffalo falling to their deaths but you will also appreciate the ingenuity that the Native Americans had to use the natural landscape and physics to make their lives easier and allow them to feed their families.

 

Categories: Historical, Montana, Outdoors, Parks, Roadside Attraction | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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