Where Rustic and Elegance Meet – Old Faithful Inn

Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful Inn

The Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National park has been welcoming visitors in rustic style with elegance for 100 years. It was completed in 1904 and is still as grand and beautiful as it was then. Designed by Robert Reamer to fit in with the natural landscape of the area, it cost $165,000 to build – today that would be 4.45 million dollars!

The Inn is stunning on the outside, and welcomes you like a giant log cabin.

Welcome! Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park

Welcome!

Then as you step through the doorway, you can’t help but stop as your breath is taken away by openness, the size, the fireplace, and the strangely shaped wood everywhere. Seven stories high, the center piece is the 65 foot high ceiling with a massive stone fireplace holding a clock that is 14 feet long.

Fireplace and Clock, Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park

Fireplace and Clock

Looking up! Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park

Looking up!

Craftsman style is everywhere and the gnarled tree branches as bannisters are the most unusual architectural details you may ever see. The logs are all hand-hewn and locally-sourced. Expect to stand there with dropped-jaw, thinking about the people who built the Inn, how much work it had to take, but how it is so beautiful they must have been very proud when finished. The gnarled trees look like people standing with their arms upright.

Look at all the gnarled wood! Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park

Look at all the gnarled wood!

Visitors can sit comfortably in front of the fireplace and truly do “nothing.” Beautiful old Craftsman-style lamps and Craftsman style furniture are placed all throughout the building for guests to sit and relax.

Even kids enjoy the fireplace! Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park

Even kids enjoy the fireplace!

Looking down, lots of places to sit and relax. Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park

Looking down, lots of places to sit and relax.

We never visit Yellowstone without stopping in the Inn and having a much-anticipated delicious dinner. This trip the boys hit the buffet but don’t think it is like any typical buffet. I decided to try the Quail with a Cherry Glaze and substituted mashed cauliflower for the potatoes, and of course, a refreshing glass of wine. The ambiance of the old dining room, the excitement of trying different food that is a reasonable price, and of course, the wonderful company, made the entire meal one to remember.

Mmmm - dinner! Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park

Mmmm – dinner!

After dinner, there was time to wander around and admire the craftsmanship more before Old Faithful was scheduled to erupt.

When is Old Faithful predicted to erupt? Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park.

When is Old Faithful predicted to erupt?

You can amble up the stairs to landings and enjoy the view looking down at the main floor.

The view of the dining room from one floor up. Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park

The view of the dining room from one floor up.

This night music was playing lightly in the background, adding to the romance of the Inn.

Beautiful music! Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park

Beautiful music!

After relaxing and enjoying our time inside, we headed out to covered balcony. It was pouring down rain this day but we stayed warm and dry under cover and still enjoyed the eruption.

Watching Old Faithful erupt. Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park

Watching Old Faithful erupt.

The Inn has a coffee shop and gift shops that you’ll want to be sure to hit up for those family souvenirs. The inn began with 140 rooms. Back then only the wealthy could afford to stay, but wings have been added and today there are now 327 rooms available to rent, some with private baths and others with shared baths, at varying costs that the average family can afford.

The Old Faithful Inn makes a great base camp to stay within Yellowstone and explore the surrounding area. Reservations need to be made well ahead of time (like a year) at http://www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com/lodging/reservations/ or if you can’t stay, at least enjoy an amazing meal. Reservations for dinner are strongly suggested and can be made online at http://www.xanterra.net/forms/pub/yellowstone_dinner.php, or calling 866-GEYSERLAND (866-439-7375) or 307-344-7311.

We stop one more time outside the old building to soak it in, sad at the thought of leaving. But we know that we will come back some day and we will always have the Old Faithful Inn on our agenda.

David and Josh ready to leave. Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park

David and Josh ready to leave.

 

Categories: Food and Wine, Historical, Keatons Out and About, Parks, Wyoming | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Apples and History – Onalaska, Washington

Everything Apple, Onalaska Apple Harvest Festival, Onalaska, WA

Everything Apple

We love our small town celebrations, and this year we were finally able to hit the Apple Harvest Festival in Onalaska, Washington. Ironically, we always seem to stumble in on extra special celebrations, and this was one of those. Onalaska was celebrating 100 years as a town!

We arrived too late for the parade but in plenty of time for many other activities. There was a community dinner happening in the school gym. $12 for steak or chicken, and it looked like there were plenty of takers.

David was amazed at the size of this "Snake Gourd"! Apple Harvest Festival, Onalaska, WA

David was amazed at the size of this “Snake Gourd”!

Vendor booths lined Carlisle Avenue, the main road in front of the schools. Live music was happening on stage (excellent performers, by the way!) Of course, you know there had to be a booth with all things apple! And of course, that’s where we spent most of our money! Apple butters, apple pies, apple bars, and on and on. This booth was all donation based and the money is going to an orphanage in Mexico.

Redneck Beer Garden, Apple Harvest Festival, Onalaska, WA

Redneck Beer Garden

On down the road was the “food court” and wine and beer tasting. One local “entrepreneur” family set up their own “Redneck Beer Garden.”

Food Court, Apple Harvest Festival, Onalaska, WA

Food Court

Then David and I saw a simple little sign that said, “Onalaska History Room” and had to check it out. And this is where we struck gold!

Carlisle House, Onalaska WA

Carlisle House, Onalaska WA

Walking up the short driveway we were delighted to see a beautiful old house. It turned out to be the “Carlisle House” built in 1915. As we entered the front room which took up the whole front of the house, there was a poster board with old photos on it and around the table. Several older Onalaska citizens were sharing their memories of the town. We started talking to them and they had amazing memories!

Carlisle House when built in 1915, Onalaska WA

Carlisle House when built in 1915

Onalaska was once a company town. The Carlisle family had the lumber mill in town and almost everyone worked there. Kids even worked there in the summer, but when school started, Mr. Carlisle insisted they all get back in school. There was even company “money”. If you took a draw on the 15th of the month, you received company money and could only spend it in the company store, but if you waited until the end of the month you received a check.

Onalaska Lumber Co. Coin

Onalaska Lumber Co. Coin

Other Side of Onalaska Lumber Co. Coin, Onalaska WA

Other Side of Onalaska Lumber Co. Coin

We were treated to stories of old businesses that used to be in Onalaska. One establishment was a pool hall, which also had its own “money” to use within the business.

Pool Hall Coin, Onalaska WA

Pool Hall Coin

It sounded like Onalaska really had everything a person could need and there was little reason to go elsewhere. One gentleman did tell us though, of memories of going into Chehalis once a month. They would leave very early on a Saturday morning, get to Chehalis and get what they needed, then returning home they would have to camp at “Forest” before heading home the next day. (We’re assuming Forest is now somewhere around Napavine as there is a “Forest-Napavine” Road.)

So what happened to the big mill and this company town? Apparently there was a strike many, many years ago and when it was over the company was told they would have to pay back wages. Rather than do that they sold everything and left the area. But the small town persisted and is still known as one of the best towns in the area to raise a family. When we hear that a kid was raised in Onalaska, we know that they are down-to-earth with a good work ethic.

We thoroughly enjoyed the celebration of apples and our impromptu history lesson! Have you ever stumbled onto something unexpected like this at a fair?

Categories: Festivals, Food and Wine, Historical, People, Washington | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Sweet Home Rocks! Part II – Pyrite

Pyrite

Pyrite

Last week we told you about the fabulous petrified wood field open for public digging outside of Sweet Home, Oregon. We also told you this is a great area to find pyrite.

Jerry & Marilyn - "Enough pictures, it's still a half hour to the site."

Jerry & Marilyn – “Enough pictures, it’s still a half hour to the site.”

On this same weekend, my little brother, Jerry, his wife Marilyn, and daughter Jessica, headed up to Sweet Home to check out the “pyrite seam” as Jerry called it. Many years ago Jerry and my stepdad used to pan for gold on Quartzville Creek outside of Sweet Home. This is an area set aside by the Forest Service for public, no fee digging. They found out about the pyrite seam from one of our neighbors so many years ago. He had been on the road crew that cut the road through the seam – apparently they all thought for a few minutes that they were rich!

We headed up Quartzville Road east of Sweet Home. It goes past Sunnyside County Park, a park we highly recommend if you want to stay in the area. It’s large, roomy, has a couple of boat docks where we launched our kayaks into the river rather than right out into the busy Foster Reservoir.

Keep going several miles and you’ll see Green Peter Reservoir. From the pictures, you can see why “green” is in the name. Why it is Green Peter though, I have never found out.

Green Peter Reservoir, Sweet Home, Oregon

Green Peter Reservoir

Finally, we turned on a road leading past an obvious dry camping area, and just headed up about 2 miles. We saw a couple of cars parked alongside the road and a couple of people on the small hillside. Suddenly Jerry exclaimed, “That’s it!” I think he was worried it would be all overgrown after so many years. Jessica jumped out as excitedly as I did to run over to the hill. You could see sparkles all over the hillside and even down onto the road! They were calling to us! Jerry reached down and picked up a beautifully shaped piece and Jessica and I were nearly giddy with excitement.

Nancy, Jessica & Jerry at Pyrite Seam

Nancy, Jessica & Jerry at Pyrite Seam

Now, the hillside is a little slippery because the rock and dirt is soft. You have to be very careful going up and down it because it’s easy to fall and hurt yourself. But does that every really stop a rockhounder?

We gathered pieces we broke out of the rock as well as pieces that I wanted to take home to show the grandsons.

Pyrite in matrix

Pyrite in matrix

Finally we had to leave and stopped back by the dry camp area for lunch. Thankfully Jerry brought a small BBQ and we replenished our energy with hot dogs, chips and drinks.

Nothing better than a BBQ after rockhounding!

Nothing better than a BBQ after rockhounding!

Then he decided to try panning for gold in the creek. It was mainly to show Jessica how to do it. Jerry really didn’t expect to find anything because that particular spot is heavily panned. But it was a great day to cool off down by the river.

Jessica and Rusty enjoyed playing in the river while Jerry panned.

Jessica and Rusty enjoyed playing in the river while Jerry panned.

Although Jessica and I would have been happy to go back and spend a lot more time looking for pyrite, we ran out of time this day. But we all meet up every year in Oregon, so I know Jessica and I will definitely make sure we go back again and find more of that beautiful pyrite!

 

 

 

 

Categories: Oregon, Outdoors, Rockhounding/Gold Panning | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sweet Home Rocks! Part I – Petrified Wood

Petrified Wood, Holleywood Ranch, Sweet Home, Oregon

Petrified Wood at Holleywood Ranch

The Sweet Home, Oregon area is known for Holley Blue and other agates. But did you know you can also dig petrified wood and gather pyrite? Now I know some people say, “Pyrite?! Who wants Fool’s Gold?” Well, this is very pretty, nicely shaped Fool’s Gold.

Jerry and Jessica ready to dig petrified wood, Holleywood Ranch, Sweet Home, Oregon

Jerry and Jessica ready to dig

On this day, my little brother, Jerry, his wife Marilyn, and daughter Jessica, headed up to Sweet Home to check it out. We first arrived at Holleywood Ranch just outside of town, to dig for the petrified wood. We saw the sign showing we were at the right place, but no one was in sight. It turns out you should always phone ahead because the owners live on a hill behind the field where the digging takes place, and so they aren’t always in the field. There is a white house next to the fields but that is rental property, so please don’t bother the renters.

Petrified Wood Field, Holleywood Ranch, Sweet Home, Oregon

Petrified Wood Field

We met up with owner Brad Newport, and he showed us the wagons and probing tools and told us to head on out to see what we could find. The top of the ground was literally littered with pieces of petrified wood. It’s tempting to reach down and pick up several pieces but even more tempting to see what we could dig up for ourselves. We saw several trenches where other people had dug so we checked them out and found several pieces nice enough to keep. Most pieces were rather small, but there were some pieces in the field that were simply too big to pick up!

Jessica standing on large piece of petrified wood, Sweet Home, Oregon

Jessica standing on large piece of petrified wood

After choosing several pieces we headed back to the gate where there was water available to clean our finds and decide which ones to keep. The details really show up when the rocks are wet! Then we took them up to Brad’s house to pay for our keepers.

Petrified Wood from Holleywood Ranch, Sweet Home, Oregon

Petrified Wood from Holleywood Ranch!

When we walked into his shop, we were enthralled! Petrified wood everywhere! Limb casts, huge pieces, colorful pieces – it was a rockhounder’s heaven. We had some time to talk to Brad, an extremely pleasant gentleman, and he told us how he bought the property not knowing the petrified wood was on it. And when he did find out, he nearly wore himself out digging every day after work. I could completely understand, I would have done the same thing!

Brad Newport, Owner of Holleywood Ranch, Sweet  Home, Oregon

Brad Newport, Owner of Holleywood Ranch

He didn’t plan to open his property to the public until the Travel Channel Cash and Treasures show called him and wanted to visit. One of their requirements is that the property be opened to the public so he decided to try it. He had a great time telling us the story of the filming of the show, and some of the funny highlights. Holleywood Ranch has also been featured on Grant’s Getaways!

Holleywood Ranch is open for digging every day (weather permitting), just make sure to call ahead to 541-401-0899 or 541-409-6047. The digging is easy, the ground is soft and flat so no hiking, just a simple walk out into the field. You only pay $1.50 per pound for the pieces you choose to keep.

 

More gorgeous petrified wood! Holleywood Ranch, Sweet Home, Oregon

More gorgeous petrified wood!

You can find Holleywood Ranch online at http://holleywoodranch.com/

The link to the episode on Cash and Treasures, as well as Grant’s Getaways can be found here: http://holleywoodranch.com/claim-to-fame/

Come back next week to find out more about how Sweet Home Rocks! Part II – Pyrite.

Categories: Oregon, Outdoors, Roadside Attraction, Rockhounding/Gold Panning | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uphill Both Ways – Latourell Falls, Oregon

Family at Latourell Falls

Brandy, Josh, and Anden at Latourell Falls

One Saturday recently we went to Oregon with my daughter, Brandy, and her family (son Anden, boyfriend Jason). We intended to go on a hike around Multnomah Falls. We didn’t think to check any website to see what might be going on that day. Apparently it was the 100th anniversary of the building of the Benson Bridge that crosses over the lower Multnomah Falls. How many visitors show up when it’s the 100th anniversary of this iconic bridge? Hundreds, maybe thousands. How many parking spots are there are Multnomah Falls for these hundreds, maybe thousands of people? Much less than that.

Now, I will say that I’m glad the falls gets so many visitors, but sad it was on the day we decided to go. So we headed west on the Historic Columbia River Highway hoping to find someplace else to hike and then suddenly we see a parking spot with a sign that said “Latourell Falls” and there were a couple of parking spots! We needed two, so we grabbed them. We saw a walkway heading downhill that looked like it went to the lower falls, the one we could see from the road, and so we headed down it. It was a nice, short walk, and the falls were beautiful! It was a short walk back to the parking lot, short enough it just gave us a taste of hiking and we wanted to go more.

Let's all take pictures! (Anden, Brandy, & Jason) Latourell Falls

Let’s all take pictures! (Anden, Brandy, & Jason)

So we decided to head to the upper falls. Now, looking at the map, to me, it’s never very clear how far or how strenuous the walk is, but what the heck, right? So off we headed – uphill. Steeply uphill. Both ways. OK, kidding – sort of. Brandy, Jason, Anden, and Josh took off ahead of me and David. Bless David’s heart for staying with me and my slow pace. I think he just didn’t want to have to carry me out of there…

Unofficial Lookout Point, Latourell Falls

Unofficial Lookout Point

View from Unofficial Lookout Point, Latourell Falls

View from Unofficial Lookout Point

The trail kept going. And going. Through a lush green Pacific Northwest forest, with that woodsy smell you associate with camping – and s’mores. That smell alone will keep you going. Finally, the rest of our group came back to meet us. They figured we were still at the parking lot (now why would they think that?) and they didn’t think there were more falls, but we assured them there was. Hours and hours later (kidding again, but it was a bit of a hike) there they were! The beautiful upper Latourell Falls! We made it! Of course, so did a lot of people with small children, but hey, it’s hot and we’re delicate.

Josh behind Latourell Falls

Josh behind Latourell Falls

Time to head back down and it’s a loop so just follow it, right? Yep, right up until there’s a side trip to a sort-of look out. It dead ends so obviously that’s not the way back so we head back up the trail on around the loop. But it keeps going up and up! See, I said it was uphill both ways! We figure that can’t be right, we’re supposed to go down to the parking lot, so we turn around and go back by the lookout and down another trail there. It becomes obvious very quickly that it’s not right either because it’s not maintained. Oh, and it’s a dead-end. Back the other way again. Uphill. Again. Finally, we see the trail below us and know there is hope. Suddenly it does quickly head back down and we end up, alive and well, at the parking lot. We were all hot, sticky and exhausted, but felt we had a great workout and it was beautiful scenery. So even though we intended to hike Multnomah Falls, we were glad our plans were changed for us and we were able to see the two falls that we might not otherwise have taken the time to stop and see. It turns out it really was only a 2.4 mile hike.

If you like hiking to waterfalls, you need to check out the book, “Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon: A guide to the State’s Best Waterfall Hikes,” by fellow travel writer, Adam Sawyer. He refers to himself as a “Professional Gentleman of Leisure” but I refer to him as “one of the nicest guys you will ever meet.” Adam’s book just came out this July and he is busily working on another one for Washington. You can find it on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Hiking-Waterfalls-Oregon-States-Waterfall/dp/0762787279/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407106247&sr=8-1&keywords=Waterfall+hikes+of+Oregon

Categories: Historical, Outdoors, Parks, Roadside Attraction, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Crowning Jewel – Crown Point and Vista House, OR

Vista House, Crown Point, Oregon

Vista House

Whether you look east or west, you’ll see beautiful greens and blues for miles. The deep blue of the Columbia River with a barge floating upriver, the dark green forests and fields, and the summer blue skies. These are the views you will see from Crown Point sitting 733 feet above the Columbia Gorge.

Crown Point View East, Oregon

Crown Point View East

One a recent perfect July Saturday we headed down to take a hike in the gorge. After an exhilarating and exhausting hike we wanted to go up to Crown Point to show my daughter, Brandy, her boyfriend, Jason and my grandson, Anden, because none of them had ever been there. David, Josh, and I have been there but not when the building located there was open. This time we were in for a treat, it was open! The building is called the Vista House and was built in 1916-1917, about the same year that the Historic Columbia Gorge Highway was built. It was meant to be a place of rest and great views for gorge travelers. It has an octagonal shape and like an iceberg, much of it is underground.

Vista House, Crown Point, OR

Vista House

You can enter the building from one of four doors, stepping into a large domed room. There are some tables with information set up and park staff available for questions. Two sets of stairs are almost hidden next to the walls.

 

Vista House, Crown Point, Oregon

Vista House, Crown Point, Oregon

Head up and you will come out on the balcony surrounding the entire dome, and giving you an even higher view of the gorge.

Crown Point View West, Oregon

Crown Point View West

If you head down the stairs from the main floor, that’s where you will be shocked by the size of the building! There are several small galleries, large ornate restrooms, a small gift store and another small store with souvenirs and snacks, all very reasonably priced. Ice cream sandwiches were the hit with our little group on this hot day.

Vista House Restrooms, Crown Point, OR

Vista House Restrooms

Vista House Gallery, Crown Point, OR

Vista House Gallery

Back outside, Anden was excited to see telescopes so we scrounged up two quarters between us so he could take a look up and down the gorge. He was impressed that he could see the words on the side of the barge that was heading upriver.

Vista House Shop, Crown Point, OR

Vista House Shop

The Vista House has been designated a National Historic Landmark. It was dedicated in 1918, restored between 2001-2006 and rededicated in 2006. The property is over 305   acres in size and is an Oregon State Park. According to a survey visitors were asked to complete, 70% of visitors are not local, most coming from over 800 miles away. Conflicting reports estimate the number of annual visitors range from 500,000 per year to nearly one million per year.

The Vista House is open 9am-6pm daily, weather permitting. (David was there one time when it was so windy that he was able to lean into the wind and it held him up!)

Getting there: Take exit 22 off I-84/Highway 30 to 40700 E Historic Columbia River Hwy, Corbett, OR 97019.

 

 

Categories: Historical, Keatons Out and About, Oregon, Outdoors, Parks, Roadside Attraction | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two and Two – New and Must-Do in Long Beach, WA

Sand Sculpture at SandSations, Long Beach, WA

Sand Sculpture at SandSations

It’s probably obvious by now that we love the Long Beach Peninsula. Every time we go there, there’s something fun going on. We see and do new things but also hit the traditional “must-do’s”.

New

1)      This is the first time we were able to be there during “Sandsations” premier sandcastle and sculpting festival. I expected it to be held down on the beach, where most sandcastle-building events are held, but the professional competition is held in town so that it’s not dependent on the tide. The creations are still as beautiful though, I admire the artistry and am envious that I don’t have that talent.

Sand Sculpture at SandSations, Long Beach, WA

Sand Sculpture at SandSations

Sand Sculpture at SandSations, Long Beach, WA

Sand Sculpture at SandSations

Sand Sculpture at SandSations, Long Beach, WA

Sand Sculpture at SandSations

Kids Got to Play in the Sand, Too!

Kids Got to Play in the Sand, Too!

2)      Out of all the times that I have been to Long Beach – I never knew the giant clam “erupted”! Every hour water spurts out of the top. How did I never know that?! I wouldn’t have noticed now but a boy and a girl and their grandmother came running up and shouting, ‘Is it time? Is it time?” It was two minutes to the hour so the boy set his watch and he and his sister started the countdown at ten seconds – and the squirting began right on time!

Razon Clam Sign, Long Beach, WA

Squirting Giant Razor Clam, Long Beach, WA

Squirting Giant Razor Clam

Must-Do

1)      We have been to the Full Circle Café in Ocean Park before. We wrote a blog about Gary, the Yarn Dude (http://northwestrevealed.com/2012/07/03/the-yarn-dude-of-ocean-park-washington/) who runs the Tapestry Rose yarn store in back. We have always enjoyed the food there, but I had a pleasant surprise this visit. I can’t eat grains. On the menu was a “Crustless Crab Quiche” so I asked what was in it and there was no flour, so I ordered it. Out came this bubbly, golden quiche smelling heavenly, and tasting just as amazing! Then of course, it was time for dessert, most of which I can’t eat. But I saw “Gluten-free peanut butter cookie”. Again, I asked what was in it because a lot of gluten items use rice or potato flour which doesn’t work for me. Oh, the joy when the baker said it contained no flours of any kind! Knowing I can have choices at one of my favorite restaurants on the peninsula is a dream come true!

Full Circle Cafe, Ocean Park, WA

Full Circle Cafe

2)      Josh looks forward with much anticipation when we go to Long Beach – he HAS to ride the go-karts. Imagine his thrill that on this particular Friday night the rides were almost half price! Now, David always says he goes on them just for Josh, but I’m thinking that isn’t the whole story… He was sure smiling a lot and they went several rounds.

Josh & David Ready To Go On Go Karts, Long Beach, WA

Josh & David Ready To Go On Go Karts

 

And They're Off! Long Beach, WA

And They’re Off!

The Long Beach Peninsula. We call it our playground. We love that every time we can count on doing our usual activities as well as know we’ll get to experience some new ones. The Peninsula never gets old!

What’s your must-do when you go to Long Beach?

Full Circle Café: http://tapestryrose.com/full-circle-cafe/

Long Beach Go Karts and Krazy Kars: http://www.longbeachgokarts.com/

 

Categories: Keatons Out and About, Outdoors, Uncategorized, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“YAY! You’re Halfway There!” The STP Bicycle Classic Stops in Centralia

Welcome to Centralia, Halfway Point for the STP!

Welcome to Centralia, Halfway Point for the STP!

Every year during the second weekend in July is the annual STP (Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic). Ten thousand riders start their trip in Seattle on Saturday morning. Some ride clear to Portland in one day, but most stop about halfway and finish the trip on Sunday.

Welcome to Centralia College, STP Riders!

Welcome to Centralia College, STP Riders!

Centralia is the halfway point. During this weekend the population and number of bicycles on the road explodes. For years I have always avoided leaving the house on this weekend in order to avoid the chaos, because years ago when I went to town it was very real chaos. It was stressful to drive through town and worry about grazing a rider.

STP Riders in Centralia

STP Riders in Centralia

But this year I decided to check it out. I went to Centralia College (where David and I work) about 10:30, not expecting much to be happening yet. Boy, was I wrong! Riders were coming in steadily and had been for a couple of hours. The college puts a lot of effort into welcoming the riders and providing all sorts of resources for them, encouraging them to camp on the grounds, eat, get a massage, and enjoy the beer garden. It has the energy and atmosphere of a fair!

STP One-Day Riders in Centralia

STP One-Day Riders in Centralia

Starting on the east end of campus was a blow-up arch, welcoming riders coming onto campus with people cheering them on and congratulating them on making it half way. As they proceed west down the “Aadland Esplanade” more people are cheering them, directing them to service, water, food, and handing out ice cream.

Riders weren't the only ones enjoying the ice cream being handed out

Riders weren’t the only ones enjoying the ice cream being handed out

There is a designated area for riders completing in one day. Food and port-a-potties are available for them. The rest of the site has vendors such as REI, bicycle parts folks, water and repair stations. There is a bicycle corral for riders to store their bikes in safety. This corral is overseen by the Centralia Police reserves.

Bike Corral at STP

Bike Corral at STP

The beer garden opened at 11:00 but I didn’t see anyone using it at that time. I assumed it would be much busier later in the evening. (Yes, it was – they apparently went through 20 kegs!)

Centralia College looks like a campground during STP

Centralia College looks like a campground during STP

One special booth that I had to visit was a dedication to a co-worker and friend, Jeanette Speigelberg,. She was the manager of the Children’s Lab School (day care) on campus. In June of this year, she passed away unexpectedly while training for the STP. Her friends and staff wanted to honor her by having a booth at the event. The college earns money for scholarships by hosting riders on campus, and Jeanette’s friends have started a scholarship in her name.

Tribute to Jeanette Spiegelberg

Tribute to Jeanette Spiegelberg

As I left campus, I intended to skirt the main roads in order to avoid the chaos I remembered from years ago. However, much has changed and I was very impressed! The road heading over the viaduct and leading south of town towards Chehalis is a two-lane one-way street. Orange cones blocked off the entire right-hand lane almost all the way into Chehalis. Instead of getting away from the riders, I decided to follow along in the other lane, knowing I wouldn’t have to worry about driving close to the riders. I finally turned off to head home, while the riders continued on south.

All ages and abilities can do the STP

All ages and abilities can do the STP

I see now why everyone gets so excited about the STP. It was the same energy and atmosphere as graduation day. In a sense, I imagine that it is like graduation day for those that have trained for so many months to prepare for this day – and they made it!

Little girl sprays STP riders to cool them off

Little girl sprays STP riders to cool them off

If you would like to be involved in the STP but don’t want to actually ride it, come on down to Centralia College next July and show your support by cheering on and welcoming the riders! Everyone really can be involved!

Spectators Needed! Enjoy the STP!

Spectators Needed! Enjoy the STP!

My friend and fellow Centralia College employee, Brenda, was in charge of making sure the Port-a-Potties stay clean and emptied. An important job with so many!

My friend and fellow Centralia College employee, Brenda, was in charge of making sure the Port-a-Potties stay clean and emptied. An important job with so many!

 

Categories: Bicycle Trail, Outdoors, People, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Tale of Two (Small) Forts – Rochester and Centralia, WA

In 1855-56, Washington State had what was known as the “Indian Wars”. In response to concerns about possible attacks, two very small forts were built in Southwest Washington. Erected around the same time period, they both ultimately served very different purposes.

Fort Henness Map, Rochester, Grand Mound, Washington

Fort Henness Map

First is Fort Henness, which was located on Grand Mound Prairie in Rochester, Washington. There is nothing left of it now except for a marker and map of the fort. It’s a beautiful area, flat, with views all around. The fort was built in 1855 and stayed in use for about 16 months until 1856. It was actually quite large considering the one-building Fort Borst described later. It contained two block houses, a school, barracks, and living quarters. At one time 30 families lived there. Fortunately, the fort was never attacked and families returned to their homes.

Fort Henness Map, Rochester, Grand Mound, Washington

Fort Henness Map

A few miles south in the town of Centralia sits the Fort Borst Blockhouse. Unlike Fort Henness, there was just one building and it is still standing. It was also built by volunteers around the same time as Fort Henness, at the junction of the Chehalis and Skookumchuck Rivers. It was also erected in case it was needed for protection from Indian attacks. However, the only thing it ever had to do with Indians was to hold grain that was bought from the Indians in the area. It was originally built without windows and only one door. Later, after the concerns for war passed, Joseph Borst bought the blockhouse and it was used a few times for his family to live in while their home was being built. That’s when the windows and second door were added.

Fort Borst Blockhouse, Centralia, Washington

Fort Borst Blockhouse

As with Fort Henness, there was never an Indian attack on Fort Borst and relationships with Indians in the area settled down. The blockhouse is currently located in Borst Park in Centralia. There are plans to move it back nearer the Borst Home where it was originally located, a site that allowed settlers the same advantage that Fort Henness did – views to watch for attackers.

Fort Borst Historical Marker, Centralia, Washington

Fort Borst Historical Marker

Next time you’re in Southwest Washington, take a quick stop in Centralia at Borst Park and you can just walk right up to the blockhouse. You’ll appreciate the sturdiness and the quality of the craftsmanship – after all it has survived for over 150 years! Then make a quick 15 minute drive out to Rochester and stand at the site where Fort Henness stood – you’ll understand why the site was chosen when you look around and can see what would have been unobstructed views back then.

Fort Henness Site, Rochester, Grand Mound, Washington

Fort Henness Site

It is a relief that these structures were never needed for their original purpose, but they are still an interesting piece of history in the area.

Getting there: Fort Borst Park in Centralia – From I-5, take exit 82 and head west. Before the first traffic light you’ll see there’s a turning lane to turn south in front of the Safeway gas station. Take that turn and go one block and you’ll see the entrance to Borst Park in front of you. Head on in and you’ll see the blockhouse off to your left in the park.

 Fort Henness: Located across the intersection on 183rd Ave. and Apricot Street. The least confusing way to get there is take exit 88, heading east towards Tenino. Turn left on Loganberry Street and go north until you reach 183rd, then turn left again. Head back west over the freeway and go about a mile and a half. You’ll see Grand Mound Cemetery on your left and the field with Fort Henness marker on your right.

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

Roaring Falls, a Gondola, a Carousel and a Giant Toy – Riverfront Park, Spokane, Washington

Spokane Falls and SkyRide over the falls, Spokane, Washington

Spokane Falls and SkyRide over the falls

Riverfront Park in Spokane, Washington is more than your typical city park. Rarely do you find gorgeous, pounding waterfalls right in the middle of a city. But in Spokane, all you have to do is walk a couple of blocks from the downtown core, and you will find the 100-acre park and the spectacular Spokane Falls.

Spokane Falls

Spokane Falls

There are two falls – the Upper and the Lower Spokane Falls. Both falls have diversion dams built on them, but that doesn’t take away from the power and majesty of the falls. There’s a beautiful Riverfront Park located right next to the falls, and don’t for a minute think that you will just check out the park and not go to the falls. You can hear them and see the mist for quite a ways and they draw you to them. You can’t help but walk down to them and view them from several viewpoints in order to see the raging river.

Spokane Falls, Spokane, Washington

Spokane Falls and SkyRide

But if you really want to see the falls, check out the Spokane Falls SkyRide, which takes you across the lower falls. I wish we would have had the time to take the ride to see for ourselves, but just watching the gondola cars through the spray was beautiful to see. I can only imagine the thrill of feeling like you are right in the falls.

This unusual park, which was built for the 1974 World’s Fair, also contains an old 1909 carousel, an IMAX theater, rides and miniature golf, a train ride and an ice-skating rink! All that in one place!

Water Feature, Riverfront Park, Spokane, Washington

Water Feature, Riverfront Park

And last but not least – you know how we like roadside attractions! You have to check out the giant Radio Flyer in the park. It’s 12 feet tall and 27 feet long and the handle is actually a slide! Even if you don’t have kids, it will probably take you back to your own childhood.

Giant Radio Flyer, Riverfront Park, Spokane, Washington

Giant Radio Flyer

Spokane’s phenomenal falls and its impressive Riverfront Park with such a tremendous variety of activities should be another must-do when you’re in the Spokane area.

If you’re wondering where to stay while in the Spokane area, check out our article on the gorgeous Davenport Hotel at http://northwestrevealed.com/2014/06/03/spokanes-living-room-the-davenport-hotel/

 

 

 

Categories: Outdoors, Parks, Roadside Attraction, Uncategorized, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,391 other followers

%d bloggers like this: