Historical

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.

 

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Categories: Food, Wine, Cider, 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, Wine, Cider, Historical, People, Washington | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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

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

Happy Anniversary North Head Lighthouse – Ilwaco, Washington

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North Head Lighthouse

Did you know that the North Head Lighthouse on the south end of the Long Beach Peninsula celebrates its anniversary every year? And this year was the 116th anniversary, so we had to head out to see what was going on.

I had read there was a shuttle from the store at Cape Disappointment State Park, but of course, like everyone else, we first had to make the trip up to the lighthouse parking lot to see if there was a spot. There wasn’t. So we went back down and went to the parking lot and caught the shuttle. Very smooth and easy, very little waiting. Until we got up to the parking lot and had to wait for all those other people (who also just had to see if there was a parking spot) to get out of the way.

Then it was just a short, easy walk out to the lighthouse. What a view! The day was just right, with a nice breeze and mostly clear skies.

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We spent some time enjoying looking out as far as we could see, then headed into the lighthouse. The entry room was very small, with only space for a few people. We were informed that we would need to wait for the current group to come back downstairs as they only allowed about eight people in at a time. We spent the time looking at the items in the room, the pot-bellied stove, and especially the map of shipwrecks in the area.

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It wasn’t long before it was our turn and we stepped through a short hallway into an inner room. There the guide started telling us the story of the lighthouse. The first thing she pointed out was the decorative mosaic tiles on the floor. She said that the designer wanted to put his best efforts into this lighthouse and this is the only one with this particular added feature.

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Then we slowly headed up the spiral staircase. We were told this was a free-standing staircase. It was only bolted into the landing and was not supported by any legs of any kind.

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As we headed on up, the stairs got more narrow until we finally emerged into the light room. There was another guide who then told us the history of the lighthouse, which began operation in 1898. One of the most interesting aspects to learn about was that each lighthouse has a “code” and the light blinks the “code”.

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After enjoying the view, we headed back downstairs and made another little easy hike up to the gift store. We were thrilled to see they had the shipwreck map there and immediately bought it, along with a Lighthouse Passport. We got it stamped and now we have it to take with us to every lighthouse we visit!

Next we headed over to the Lightkeeper’s House, which can be rented. There, wonderful volunteers were serving drinks and cake. Unfortunately, they had so many more visitors than they had had previous years that they were out of cake and were waiting for more to arrive. We toured the house but didn’t stay for cake, much to Josh’s disappointment.

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Modern residence, available for rent

We headed back to catch the shuttle back to our car. That’s when a confused raccoon decided to join the group and created all kinds of excitement.

1-IMG_8600The North Head Lighthouse is open for tours from May-September. Children under 17 are free, and adults are only $2.50.

 

 

 

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Spokane’s Living Room – the Davenport Hotel

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The Davenport Fireplace

Time travel does not exist. But if you want to see what life was like 100 years ago in Spokane, Washington, all you have to do is make a visit to the gorgeous Davenport Hotel.

Built in 1914 and operated by Louis Davenport, it is located in historic downtown Spokane and contains samples of historical architecture from around the world. Italy, France, Spain, England and Russia – they are all represented here.

Walking into the hotel through the revolving front door and entry way, we were immediately in awe. You can see up two stories to a balcony that goes all the way around the second floor, then on up to the skylights. Medallions decorate the borders of the walls and intricate architectural details can be seen at every turn.

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Details, details, details

In the middle of the room is a fountain with Koi in it.

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Welcoming fountain in the lobby

One side of the lobby holds large chairs and loveseats for guests to relax in. The other side holds tables for a restaurant, and the fireplace. The fireplace is an important piece of the history of this building. Louis Davenport wanted a fire burning in it at all times, summer or winter, in order to make the place feel like home to guests. He called the Davenport, “Spokane’s living room” and wanted all guests to feel at home.

A story we were told illustrates his philosophy. One day when he was up on the second floor balcony, he looked down and saw a “scruffy” looking couple come in with a paper bag. They were planning to eat their lunch in “Spokane’s living room.” Louis saw them and asked one of his staff, “You see that scruffy looking couple there?” The staff person replied, “Yes.” Louis said, “I want you to go down there and put a while table cloth on their table. And I want you to get them some glasses and pour them some cold glasses of water. And get them some silverware.” He honestly wanted everyone to feel like it was their home.

Antique items are everywhere. Even the elevator has an old light system that shows which floor the elevator is on.

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Elevator floor indicator

Downstairs is where the pool is located along with a spa and exercise room (don’t worry, this whole area holds modern equipment.) In the hallway leading to the pool though is an original ornate silver water fountain.

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Original water fountain

The rooms are new and they were large and elegant. Two beds, a desk, chairs and yes, a TV. But there are not the other modern conveniences of a refrigerator and microwave. We didn’t miss them. The bathroom was spacious and felt like a spa with the soaking tub as well as a very large glassed-in shower. Hotel robes were provided for our comfort.

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Josh felt like he was the main character from “Castle” wearing his robe!

You really don’t want to just stay in your room in this hotel. The beautiful architecture lures you back out with the need to explore every inch and look at every detail. It seemed every time we went back out and looked around we would see another new detail. Exploring the Davenport, we were treated to grand ballrooms with elaborate chandeliers, gold filigree, and beautiful wood floors.

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The Grand Pennington Ballroom

The “Hall of the Doges” was most impressive with its gorgeous painted ceiling.

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Ceiling in the Hall of Doges

There were several historical pictures located throughout the hotel. It was an odd feeling to look at a picture from 100 years ago and then look around the hotel and see the exact same details.

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The Isabella Ballroom, 1916

The story of the hotel is a true miracle rescue. It had been abandoned in 1985 and was in danger of being demolished in 2000 when Walt and Mary Worthy bought it. They spent $38.5 million dollars and the love and dedication that went into restoring this piece of history, this “living room” for Spokane, truly shows.

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The Isabella Ballroom

Finally, there is one piece of living history at the Davenport, a piece that connects Louis Davenport to today. John is 84 years old and started working at the Davenport when he was 13. He said that Louis Davenport himself showed him the ropes such as how to set up the tables and chairs. When the Worthy’s finished the restoration and reopened the Davenport in 2002, John came back to work. He has no plans to retire any time soon. So if you’re lucky and it’s one of days of the week he works (currently Sunday through Wednesday), you’ll have a chance to meet this charming, friendly man and learn about the Davenport’s history first hand.

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John and Nancy

People often just drive through Spokane on their way to places like Yellowstone, and we did as well. We had no idea what we were missing. So next time you are driving through Spokane, put the Davenport on your itinerary as a must see. You just might truly feel as if you’ve stepped back in time.

Address: The Davenport is located at 10 S. Post St., Spokane WA 99201

Website: www.davenporthotelcollection.com

Phone: 1-800-899-1482

 

Categories: Historical, Uncategorized, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lilacs, Sweet Lilacs: Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens, Woodland, Washington

1-IMG_3564Who doesn’t love the sweet smell of lilacs! I love it when they bloom every year, I’ll breathe them I as deeply as possible knowing the season to enjoy that fragrance is so short.

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Luckily living in western Washington, there is a place where we can go to enjoy a nice variety of colorful and fragrant lilacs. Just down I-5 off exit 21 in the small town of Woodland is the Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens. While the grounds are open year round, the gift shop and historical house are only open during Lilac Days – a short span of the middle of April through Mother’s Day. That is also the only time lilac plants are for sale.

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It’s not a large place, don’t expect the Butchart Gardens. The area is four acres in size. Once through the gate, you realize that the grounds are not just composed of lilacs. Walking on around the gardens we saw several varieties and colors of lilacs and other plants. Almost every plant has a sign with the name of the plant, which was very useful to learn about the plants and to keep in mind for later.

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“Miss Canada”

Strolling through the grounds at times felt like a maze because we would see so many plants, “Oh, let’s go look at that one! Oh, look how do we get over to that one?” We took pictures of both plants and their signs so that we would know which ones we liked best. Then we went to the selling area. Ooohh, decisions, decisions. But then what helped make the decision was the size of the bigger plants. We couldn’t figure out how to get them home in our little CR-V without damaging them. Then we saw the smaller plants and besides fitting in the space in the car, they were of course, much less expensive so I could get several varieties. Popular ones sold out fast and they didn’t have everything in stock but told us about a nearby nursery that should have some items.

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There is also a gift store that has all things lilac – aprons, note cards, pens, lotions – you get the idea.

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Gift Shop

After a quick trip to the car with our goodies, we went back in to look at the house. Historical houses have such stories to tell. This one was built by Hulda’s parents in 1889 and Hulda and her husband moved in in 1903. She lived there until her death in 1960. The house and grounds eventually went into disrepair, at risk of being demolished until a local garden club stepped in, and the Hulda Klager Lilac Society was formed to take it over. The group has been maintaining the house and gardens ever since.

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Hulda Klager’s Home

You have one week left to visit and enjoy the Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens this year – they’ll be closing next weekend after Mother’s Day. If you don’t get the chance to make it this year, be sure to put it on your calendar for next year. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to see so many vibrant colors and sweet fragrances of lilacs, knowing they are the legacy of a woman who made them her life’s work to share with all of us.

Getting there: Take Exit 21 off I-5 at Woodland, Washington and follow the signs. They’ll lead you right to it.

Categories: Festivals, Historical, Outdoors, Parks, People, Washington | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Washington State’s Own Stonehenge

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Stonehenge at Maryhill

Stonehenge in England is surrounded by theories and speculation. It’s fun to try to think about what the circle of stones really meant and why it was created. But Stonehenge in Maryhill, Washington has a definite known reason and purpose.

This full-size replica of the stone structure was built by Samuel Hill, a businessman, and was finished in 1929. It is however, not made out of stone, but out of concrete. Its purpose is to honor those who died in World War I. The names of soldiers from Klickitat County are engraved on markers. It is also the very first Memorial to World War I Veterans in the entire United States.

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Hill had heard that the original Stonehenge was thought to have been created as a sacrificial place, so he envisioned the Maryhill Stonehenge as a tribute to those who were sacrificed in war.

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There are 40 stones on the inside circle and 30 stones on the outside. As the original Stonehenge marks the solstice, so does the Maryhill one. The Altar Stone is aligned to the sunrise on the Summer Solstice.

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Altar Stone in the center

Standing in different parts of Stonehenge the sun throws shadows that look both beautiful and intriguing. It’s interesting to stand there for awhile and watch the shadows move with the sun.

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Shadows

Maryhill Stonehenge sits high on a bluff above the Columbia River in the Columbia Gorge. The view is spectacular every way you look. On the beautiful spring day we were there, the sky was deep blue and the grass was still green, not having turned brown yet from the heat.

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The Columbia River and Gorge

With no mountains to block the view, you can see west to Mt. Hood.

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Sam Hill Memorial Bridge and Mt. Hood off to the left

Looking down on the river you may see fishing boats, speed boats or even barges and tug boats transporting their goods upriver. You can see the Sam Hill Memorial Bridge crossing the Columbia River to the town of Biggs on the Oregon side. In a time-warp feeling of old vs. new, wind turbines can be seen on the Washington hills north of Stonehenge.

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Wind Turbines

There is no cost to visit the memorial and it is open from 7am to dusk.

Directions: On the Washington side of the Columbia River, go east on Hwy. 14 and follow the signs to Stonehenge.

On the Oregon go east on Hwy. 84 to exit 104 and the Sam Hill Memorial Bridge at Biggs, Oregon. Take it north, crossing onto Hwy. 14 and continuing east following the signs to Stonehenge.

 

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

Learning About Fish: Bonneville Fish Hatchery, Oregon

 

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White Sturgeon – he’s looking at you!

When would you guess that the Bonneville Fish Hatchery in Cascade Locks, Oregon was built? 1990’s? 1970’s? During the hippy days of the 1960’s? Would you believe it was 1909?! I was very surprised because I didn’t think hatcheries came into existence until much more recently in response to dams and concerns about endangered fish. But this one was built as a rearing site for eggs that were received from other hatcheries. At that time it was known as “Central Hatchery”. The hatchery sits on Tanner Creek, which flows into the Columbia River. In 1930 it was expanded to be able to hold 11 million salmon. It was expanded again in 1978 and again in 1998. The facilities are built on the site where Lewis and Clark camped on April 9, 1806!

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Bonneville Fish Hatchery Grounds

We spent one recent spring day there and it was heartwarming to see so many other families there introducing their children to the fish and learning about conservation and the lives of fish. The beautifully manicured grounds is very welcoming. You can pick up a free tour guide that will lead you around the facility and tell you all about it and what fish are in each pond or “battery” as some of the rearing ponds are called.

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Fish “Batteries”

There are beautiful Rainbow Trout ponds.

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Trout!

You can even feed the fish. There are vending machines and for a small price you can buy food and toss it to the fish and watch them snap it up very quickly.

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Josh feeding the trout

The White Sturgeon Pond was amazing! The fish are the size of a tree trunk! You can watch them swimming lazily through the water from above, or go down below into a view area and feel like they are swimming straight towards you. Kids love to see how the Sturgeon look like they have their bones on the outside of their body. They’re very majestic looking fish though, and you can’t help but stare at them for a very long time.

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White Sturgeon next to tree trunk

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Sturgeon Viewing Room

You can also see the Egg Incubation Building which is on the National Historic Register and includes a Visitor Information Center.

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Incubator Building

There is another small Visitor Center in the building that holds the offices for the Hatchery. You can also see the Spawning Room in that building and view a 12-minute video explaining spawning.1-IMG_3259

Finally, you have to stop at the Oregon Wildlife Bonneville Gift Shop where they have a lot of souvenirs and wildlife conservation items to choose from. All proceeds benefit fish and wildlife projects.

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Gift Shop

To help you plan your visit you can see the Tour Guide here: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/visitors/docs/Bonneville_Hatchery_Self-guided_Tour.pdf

From April to August the hatchery is open from 7:30am-8pm. September and October hours are 7:30am-7pm. November to March it’s open from 7:30-5pm.

Getting there: Take I-84 east from Portland to exit 40 Bonneville Dam/Fish Hatchery and just follow the signs.

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

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