We live in one of the most gorgeous counties in the state. The numerous lakes, the rivers that change with glacial runoff, our mountains – all of the natural beauty gives us not only excellent opportunities for outdoor recreation, but these scenic backdrops make for great family photographs as well. [more…]
Deep in the tall forests of eastern Lewis County, there is a camp where boys and girls of all ages reconnect with nature. They run, they play, they build trails, they touch the moss, they disconnect from electronics. For many of these kids, this can be their first trip ever outside of a city. And it can be life-changing for almost any child – or even adult – who attends. [more…]
Standing on the beach one summer day in 2015, just staring out at the ocean and enjoying the rare sunny day on the Oregon coast, suddenly we hear a horn. “Odd,” we think. “There’s no fog, it can’t be a fog horn.” Then we see a small boat speed around the giant rock sitting out in the middle of the ocean. We watch in a bit of shock as it races towards us on the shore. “Uhmmm, is that thing going to crash?! It’s heading right for the beach!”
We stand there just staring as it keeps racing in. There’s nothing we can do. It zooms right up onto the beach and – just stops. No crash, no yelling, no damage. What the heck? We ask someone standing near us, “What is that?” They smile and tell us, “That’s a Dory fishing boat. That’s how they land. They don’t dock. They also just launch from the beach.”
We are thrilled and fascinated. Standing there at Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City, Oregon, we found out more about this unusual type of basically flat-bottomed fishing boat. While there are different types of dory boats, the beach dory is only used in a few spots around the country where the fishermen launch and land from the beach. According to the Pacific City Dorymen,“There is no other harbor, port, or fishing fleet anywhere in the world exactly like this. It is truly unique how we evolved.”
Pacific City celebrates this traditional way of fishing by holding “Dory Days” in July. We decided we need to check that out. Fast forward to July 2016. We pulled into Pacific City on a slightly overcast day, which quickly changed to downright warm. We managed to find a parking place pretty easily, and walked back over the little bridge over the canal to the “four-way stop” as everyone seems to refer to it. There we saw several tents with vendors selling their enticing wares. After checking them out, we went back to the bridge and found ourselves a nice little perch where we could sit and watch the parade. We were worried that since we had forgot to bring chairs that we would be standing the whole time but no worries with the bridge to sit on.
Who doesn’t love a small town parade? Everyone hollering out to the people they know on the floats, lots of candy being thrown. Since it’s the coast, David was thrilled to find they were throwing salt water taffy, one of his favorites. He ignored all the other candy but swooped in on the taffy like a seagull.
Some of the usual features, like a few politicians, were in attendance. But what was most unique in this parade was the Dory boats. Some were fairly plain, but many were decorated very creatively and were quite entertaining. For such a small town, it was a nice parade lasting about 45 minutes.
As soon as the parade was over we made a beeline for the car. We knew we wanted to hurry down to Cape Kiwanda before the rest of the crowd got there. Again, we quickly found a parking spot right by Pelican Pub and Brewery, a place we have been wanting to try. Luckily we got there when we did because we got in right away and later saw quite the crowd waiting.
After our very tasty meal, we went on out to the beach to watch the Dory boats coming in. We didn’t have to wait long before one came ripping in. I was a little nervous we were in its path, not sure how far they come up on the beach.
The customers who were on the boat and had been fishing looked happy and excited. Exactly what you want to see. We think we need to come back again and fish next time!
There were a few other activities that were offered as part of Dory Days, such as the Fish Fry and the Oregon Heritage Traditional Dedication Ceremony. Dory Days was a very fun, small town event that we highly recommend attending. And you have to watch the boats landing!
What do you do when lavender is the only plant your mom can’t kill? You buy property and start a lavender farm, of course.
Justin Claibourn laughs as he tells that his mom’s love of lavender – and her lack of a green thumb – were the basis for starting a lavender farm. She attended lavender festivals “religiously” according to Claibourn, so he and his wife, Jordann, and his parents, Debbie and Tim, thought, “What if we grew lavender?” They looked into it and that began Cowlitz Falls Lavender Company. [Read more at LewisTalk.com]
Jane Hodges wanted an unusual place for artists to get away and concentrate on their work—to form what artists would call a “colony” or residency where they can get away and focus on their creativity. She found it in the old Mineral School. [see more at LewisTalk.com]
It seems everyone is brewing something at home these days. Beer, wine, kombucha even hard cider is making a comeback. The first question you may ask is, “Why brew your own when your store-bought choices are endless?” Centralia native, Chris Rohr, owner of Flood Valley Homebrew was just like you, asking himself the same question. [read more on LewisTalk.com]
“If you walk into The Pearl Café when they open for breakfast at 8:30 a.m. you’ll be treated to the enticing aroma of freshly baked desserts. You’ll second-guess your decision to have breakfast and actually think about just eating the goodies instead.” [read more on Lewis.Talk.com]
Did you love trains as a child? Maybe still do? Do you know how you can ride the rails in your own vehicle? Check out NORCOA, North American Railcar Operators Association. Driving through Centralia on a recent I saw splashes of color out of the corner of my eye. As I passed over the railroad tracks on Main Street, I saw a row of colorful little “cars” stopped on the tracks. I quickly pulled over to find out what they heck they were.
Everyone was very friendly, willing to give information and let me look over their cars. NORCOA is a non-profit group of people who just love the old “railroad motorcars” (also known as “speeders”) that were used at one time to inspect railroad tracks for areas that needed repaired. Each car is privately owned. NORCOA arranges excursions around the country, renting lines from the owners. The trips can be as short as 10 miles or as long as several thousand miles, and run throughout both the U.S. as well as Canada.
NORCOA has about 1,700 members around the world. There is a cost to participate, from $10 up to nearly $2,000 for the very long excursions. Any member/owner can go on any excursion that they want, however, they do have to pass a certification test.
Owners trailer their cars to the beginning destination of the excursion. Each person is then responsible for their food and accommodations. Some stay in hotels, some go on excursions that take them near family or friends that they can stay with. Jerry and Karen Wagner of Eagle, Idaho, took this particular trip because they were both originally from Centralia and still have family in the area. They are very proud of the lovely hand-painted eagle on their car, created by local family member, Dale Harris.
Excursions are slow, leisurely events, stopping for sightseeing and food/restroom breaks. While the cars could go about 35 miles an hour, they typically only go 15-25 miles an hour. If you like traveling on Amtrak, this is an even better way to see different views of the countryside in an up-close and personal way.
So if you ever see these little cars out and about, be sure to stop and talk to the owners. They are more than happy to share their story. And if you do decide to check out the NORCOA website, be careful when you start poking around on it – there are motorcars for sale! Before you know it, you may have a new hobby!
On a recent girls’ weekend to Central Oregon, we thought visiting the farm looked like fun. Surely they would have a gift shop with tons of goodies made from soft, warm alpaca wool. As we pulled into the parking lot we noticed a baby alpaca, looking totally adorable in the field. It was still wobbly when it walked. We wondered how old it was.
Then we turned our attention to the gift shop, of course. Inside we were treated to multi-colored displays of gorgeous sweaters, hats, gloves, you name it! Yes, most of it was fairly expensive. But we noticed the sock display and had to check them out and ended up with some very soft ones that are making me look forward to the cold weather so I can enjoy them.
We headed out the door to go back to the car but noticed some people over in the barn with several animals. As we walked towards the barn, the alpacas started noticing us and slowly ambled towards us. Knowing that llamas can spit, I wondered if alpacas do the same thing – so I watched them trying to determine if I could tell. Would I see them making that face guys do when they get ready to spit?
My friend asked if we could watch and they were very welcoming, answering all of our questions as they got ready to shear one of the alpacas. It was a little uncomfortable for me to see the alpaca be stretched out for shearing, but it didn’t appear to be in any distress and was quite calm. They sheared off some of the wool and brought it over for us to feel. It was surprisingly soft because they said this animal was fairly old, so I guess I expected the wool to feel coarse.
The whole time we were watching this and asking questions, there was one alpaca in particular that was quite interested in watching us as well. Thankfully – it never spit!
The Crescent Moon Alpaca Farm is located just south of Terrebonne, Oregon. It’s very easy to find, right on the main highway at 7566 N Hwy 97. You can’t miss it – you’ll see several adorable alpacas in their field, and signs indicating whether they are open or closed.
For more information, check them out at http://www.crescentmoonranch.com.
Is it a river boat? A paddlewheel boat? A paddle steamer? A sternwheeler? A boat operated by paddle wheels appears to be known by all of these names. But on the Columbia River, it’s referred to as a sternwheeler. I’ve always wanted to take a ride on one and finally we had a chance on the Columbia Gorge, based in Cascade Locks, Oregon. My mother-in-law’s birthday had been earlier in the month and since we prefer to give experiences rather than “stuff,” we wanted to take her on this cruise.
As we drove into town, traffic was bumper to bumper. Then we notice the sign on the side of the road – “Sternwheeler Days.” “Oh, no, I hope we’re not caught up in a parade!” I quickly pulled out my iPhone and looked up the celebration. Whew! The parade must have just ended. We crawled along for just a few blocks until we spied the well-marked sign to the turn-in for the boat, at the Cascade Locks Marine Park. We easily found a parking spot, and headed into a small building, the Visitor Center and Locks Cafe. Inside was the ticketing desk off to the left, a small food area to the right, and behind that was a gift shop.
The whole building had fascinating old pictures and bookcases with antiques highlighting life years ago.
We already had our tickets but stopped at the ticket desk to ask if we were OK wearing sandals (we were) and if it was OK to take the camera on the boat (yes we were, as a matter of fact it was highly encouraged!) Then we stepped outside on the deck to enjoy the view until the boat came back from its trip upriver. It runs about ½ hour downstream, turns around, comes back to the dock and lets some passenger off and others on, then goes upstream about ½ hour and again returns to the dock. So there are different lengths of cruises you can take, as well as dinner cruises. We were taking the two-hour cruise.
When the boat came back to the dock, it was moving pretty rapidly. David and Josh were debating between themselves if it was truly operated by the paddle wheels or if it had supplemental power. Later we would find out, yes, it was truly operated by the paddle wheels! And its name was – Columbia Gorge!
Before getting on the ship, there was a sign that said for safety reasons everyone had to have their picture taken. We wondered if this was because we would be going close to the dam. Group pictures were allowed so we had ours all taken together. I did have to wonder later if it really was for safety reasons, because later, staff took all the pictures around to the guests and people could choose to buy one if they wanted. We had already planned and pre-paid for two pictures anyway, so we got ours.
Inside the vessel was gorgeous, a combination of antique looking decor with modern amenities such as a restroom and snack bar. There was a lower dining area for the lunch dinner cruises, and seating upstairs where the snack bar was located.
As we pulled away from the dock, looking north we were awestruck to see the scar on the land where a massive landslide happened hundreds of years ago. The captain, Michael Cain, explained how this landslide had completely blocked the river, backing it clear up to Idaho. Eventually the river broke through underneath, creating a natural land bridge, named, “The Bridge of the Gods” by local Native Americans. Crossing under the new steel Bridge of the Gods built to replace the natural bridge that eventually collapsed, we were taken back in time as we thought about how we were re-enacting a trip Native Americans might have taken under the natural bridge.
One fun unusual thing that happened – kayakers and paddleboarders would catch the waves from the boat and ride along on them!
Strong winds blasting up the Columbia River were a welcome relief from the heat of the day, even though the sky was overcast. On both sides of the river were odd-looking docks. The captain explained that Native Americans used to fish the falls in the area before the dam, and now use these docks to fish.
We continued on up near the dam, passing a rock that the captain told us was named, “Hermiston Rock.” Apparently rocks are named after the boats that crash on them! Yikes, let’s not have one named “Columbia Gorge Rock” OK?
We went as far as we could then turned around and headed back upriver. I overheard someone say, “Anyone can go in the wheelhouse” so of course, we headed in. Inside was the captain and two young men, crew members. The captain was more than happy to answer all of our questions, and then the dream of a lifetime – let Josh steer the boat! He was thrilled! He did it for quite a ways, until we got back closer to the bridge, then the captain took over. We finally left the wheelhouse but Josh just stayed in there, visiting and asking questions until we docked again.
We waited while the other passengers boarded, then headed upriver. By now the sun was coming out, the clouds were disappearing, and it wasn’t near as windy going east. The views along this route were more rural with lots of beautiful hills and trees. By the time we turned around and headed back, I think we were all relaxed as Jell-O. I didn’t want to get off the boat, I felt like all stress had drained away into the river, and all that was left was thoughts of the here-and-now.
We highly recommend this little cruise. The price is extremely reasonable, with different rates for different lengths of trips. For prices, check out their website at http://portlandspirit.com/sternwheeler.php.