Few know that Astoria was once called Fort George. How did that come to be and what is the fascinating twist to the story? Astoria is known as the oldest settlement on the west coast. It was named after John Jacob Astor in 1911 (even though he never actually visited the area) and was called Fort Astoria. But – it didn’t always have that name. [more]
It’s 125 feet tall. And you can climb up the inside of it on a metal spiral staircase. Your legs will burn, you will be very glad for each landing where you can stop and take a breather and rest your legs. But once at the top – you will have one of the best views on the Oregon coast. “It” is the Astoria Column, built in 1926 as a monument to the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Typically, Astoria is usually a bit cloudy if not down-right rainy, so the view is hit-and-miss. This abnormally beautiful April day, the skies were completely clear, like nothing I have ever seen. We could even see Mt. St. Helens from the Astoria-Megler Bridge as we headed from the Washington side of the Columbia River to Astoria.
It’s fairly easy to find the column. You can easily see it and just head towards it and eventually you will see a white column icon on the roads that lead to the column. It’s a short winding drive up the hill, then there is plenty of parking, restrooms, and a small gift shop where you pay your $2.00 fee.
Even without going in the column the view is beautiful. To the south you can see Saddle Mountain and it’s obvious why it was named that. You can look down and see the area where the replica of Fort Clatsop, Lewis and Clark’s home for a short time, is set. You can’t help but look at that beautiful river and want to take a kayak on a long, slow cruise.
Before you go into the column, notice the writings and the drawings depicting the expedition, on the outside, going all the way up. Then you enter the column through a door at the bottom and start your climb up. It’s a long climb, but there are landings every so many steps where you can step out of the way of others and rest your legs and catch your breath for a minute. Once you come out on top there is a 360 degree walkaround to take in every bit of the view.
Off to the north is the mighty Columbia River. Maybe you’ll catch sight of a container ship, so large it dwarfs the houses down below.
To the northwest is the Astoria-Megler Bridge looking so long you think, “I came across that huge thing?!”
To the northwest and west, looking endless, is the magnificent Pacific Ocean. Looking south again is the even better view of Saddle Mountain.
The eastern view will reveal the dense northwest forests that the area is known for.
The Astoria Column puts the beauty of the northwest Oregon coast on display for all who choose to visit. It really is a fitting tribute to the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Getting there (from http://astoriacolumn.org/visit/hours-fees-and-directions/): The Astoria Column is located at 1 Coxcomb Drive. Directional signs can be found on 14th and 16th Streets.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After dinner, there was time to wander around and admire the craftsmanship more before Old Faithful was scheduled to erupt.
You can amble up the stairs to landings and enjoy the view looking down at the main floor.
This night music was playing lightly in the background, adding to the romance of the Inn.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Head up and you will come out on the balcony surrounding the entire dome, and giving you an even higher view of the gorge.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Riverfront Park in Spokane, Washington is more than your typical city park. Rarely do you find gorgeous, pounding waterfalls right in the middle of a city. But in Spokane, all you have to do is walk a couple of blocks from the downtown core, and you will find the 100-acre park and the spectacular Spokane Falls.
There are two falls – the Upper and the Lower Spokane Falls. Both falls have diversion dams built on them, but that doesn’t take away from the power and majesty of the falls. There’s a beautiful Riverfront Park located right next to the falls, and don’t for a minute think that you will just check out the park and not go to the falls. You can hear them and see the mist for quite a ways and they draw you to them. You can’t help but walk down to them and view them from several viewpoints in order to see the raging river.
But if you really want to see the falls, check out the Spokane Falls SkyRide, which takes you across the lower falls. I wish we would have had the time to take the ride to see for ourselves, but just watching the gondola cars through the spray was beautiful to see. I can only imagine the thrill of feeling like you are right in the falls.
This unusual park, which was built for the 1974 World’s Fair, also contains an old 1909 carousel, an IMAX theater, rides and miniature golf, a train ride and an ice-skating rink! All that in one place!
And last but not least – you know how we like roadside attractions! You have to check out the giant Radio Flyer in the park. It’s 12 feet tall and 27 feet long and the handle is actually a slide! Even if you don’t have kids, it will probably take you back to your own childhood.
Spokane’s phenomenal falls and its impressive Riverfront Park with such a tremendous variety of activities should be another must-do when you’re in the Spokane area.
If you’re wondering where to stay while in the Spokane area, check out our article on the gorgeous Davenport Hotel at https://northwestrevealed.com/2014/06/03/spokanes-living-room-the-davenport-hotel/
So in 1994, the first dinosaur was built out of steel, wire mesh and cement. Now there are around 30 dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes scattered throughout the town.
It’s fun to drive around trying to spot them all. Some seem to just be placed with no purpose, others are in parks or near the library.
The first Saturday of June is “Dino-N-A-Day” held at the Hisey Dinosaur Park and visitors are encouraged to help restore the dinosaurs. There is also a man-made pond with a volcano shaped water fountain in it, and the restrooms are shaped like a volcano.
When you see the dinosaurs, you can tell that they are in need of constant upkeep but they are still a joy to see. Kids will love trying to find them all and climb around on them and get their pictures taken being “eaten” by them.
So next time you are driving south of Yakima, Washington on Interstate 82, take exit 58 and take a chance to look around for the dinosaurs. You could be traveling where the real dinosaurs did millions of years ago!
Who 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.
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.
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.
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.
There is also a gift store that has all things lilac – aprons, note cards, pens, lotions – you get the idea.
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.
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.