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!

 

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

“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!

Categories: RV/Camping, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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: , , , , | 2 Comments

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

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