Monthly Archives: July 2014

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 (https://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

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