Washington

Lewis County Historical Museum’s Artifacts – Oldest, Newest, Smallest, Largest

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Sometimes when you visit a museum, it can be overwhelming. Which display or artifact do you look at first? Can you narrow things down? Sometimes it helps to just focus on a few things at a time. So for this visit to the Lewis County Historical Museum, we chose to focus on looking for the oldest, newest, smallest and largest artifacts. [Read more…]

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Evaline School Keeps the One-Room-Schoolhouse Experience Alive

Evaline School began as a one room schoolhouse by another name in 1883 and was destroyed by a falling tree within a few years. A second school was called “Brown’s School” because the lumber was donated by Brown’s Mill. Then the name was changed to Evaline after the postmaster’s wife. A fire then destroyed that building in 1925 and that’s when the current school was built. [see more]

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These Walls Do Talk – Old Churches Tell the History of Lewis County

158b98c9f37cf1-Dryad-1068x981.jpgLewis County churches may be more historically important than you ever imagined. Did you know we have the oldest church building still standing in the state of Washington? Or that we are the site of the first church building and first permanent mission in Western Washington? [more…]

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Where to Take Great Family Photos in Lewis County

15833a2f3e2ef4-whitepass-300x300.jpgWe 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…]

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Cispus Learning Center Reconnects Kids to Nature

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…]

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Cowlitz Falls Lavender Company Brings Purple Fields to Randle

Harvest.jpg

Photo courtesy of Jason Claibourn

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]

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Join the Homebrew Craze with Flood Valley Homebrew

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]

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The Pearl Café – A Little Restaurant Makes a Big Entrance

“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]

 

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Cruising the Columbia River

Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler

Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler

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.

Visitor Center and Locks Cafe, Columbia Gorge

Visitor Center and Locks Cafe

The whole building had fascinating old pictures and bookcases with antiques highlighting life years ago.

Old Items in the Visitor Center, Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler

Old Items in the Visitor Center

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!

Paddles, Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler

Paddles

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.

Sue, Josh, Nancy, David. Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler

Sue, Josh, Nancy, David

Inside the Sternwheeler, Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler

Inside the Sternwheeler

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.

Snack Bar, Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler

Snack Bar

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.

Josh and the Bridge of the Gods, Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler

Josh and the Bridge of the Gods

Under the Bridge of the Gods, Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler

Under the Bridge of the Gods

One fun unusual thing that happened – kayakers and paddleboarders would catch the waves from the boat and ride along on them!

Paddlboarder riding the wake, Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler

Paddlboarder Riding the Wake

Kayakers and Boarder Riding the Wake

Kayakers and Boarders Riding the Wake

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.

Native American Fishing Docks, Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler

Native American Fishing Docks

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?

Hermiston Rock, Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler

Hermiston Rock

Bonneville Dam from the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler

Bonneville Dam

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.

Captain Michael Cain, Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler

Captain Michael Cain

Wheelhouse, Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler

Wheelhouse

Josh Steering the Sternwheeler. Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler

Josh Steering the Sternwheeler

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.

Gorgeous Views, Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler

Gorgeous Views

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.

 

Categories: Boating/Kayaking, Historical, Oregon, Outdoors, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Centralia’s Best “Surprise!” Food – Shanghai Café

Ready to eat! Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Ready to eat!

In your travels, have you ever noticed that the really good food is in the restaurant where you think you would least expect it? However, you don’t always have to travel to experience the great little joints – don’t overlook the ones in your hometown. Shanghai Cafe in Centralia, Washington is one of those places.

Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Shanghai Cafe

It doesn’t look like much from the outside. It barely looks like a restaurant. It’s very small, non-descript and whenever we tell folks what to look for, it’s the big butterfly on their sign. When you walk in, it still looks small, but cozy not cramped. The Asian décor is fun, but looks dated. It should be – it opened in 1929! However, don’t let any of this deter you – have a seat and enjoy the feast to come!

Inside Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Inside Shanghai Cafe

They will start you out with a mild tea while you are looking over the menu and of course, they have other beverages available. On the table underneath a plastic cover, is the Chinese Zodiak calendar. I always enjoy looking at it, picking out myself, kids and grandkids.

Chinese calendar, Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Chinese Zodiak Calendar

David always does the ordering for us. He has been going there for years and introduced me awhile back – I have difficulties eating certain food and have to be careful, so luckily he knows what I can eat, and which of the foods won’t give me problems. It always sounds like he only order 3-4 dishes, but when the food starts coming out, it seems endless! First the Egg Drop Soup arrives, then the Kimchi, then Sweet and Sour Pork. Just as we finish that, out comes the Special Garlic Chicken, Orange Chicken and on and on.

Pot Stickers, Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Pot Stickers

Kimchi, Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Kimchi

Orange Chicken, Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Orange Chicken

Mongolian Beef, Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Mongolian Beef

Almond Chicken, Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Almond Chicken

Sweet and Sour Pork, Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Sweet and Sour Pork

Tempura Veggies, Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Tempura Veggies

Spring Rolls, Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Spring Rolls

Special Garlic Chicken, Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

Special Garlic Chicken

We can never eat it all! But that doesn’t break anyone’s heart, the leftovers are even better after they’ve soaked in the juices overnight. But I always leave room for the Fortune Cookies, of course. And here’s an unusual idea for you – Chardonnay wine and fortune cookies taste amazing together!

A great fortune!, Shanghai Cafe, Centralia, Washington

A great fortune!

Shanghai is a family-run business (the current owners are only the second owners) and they always remember you and what you like to order. You don’t get that kind of warm, personal service most places.

Our motto when traveling is “always check out the local restaurants.” So don’t forget those in your own town – who knows what you might be missing!

Shanghai Cafe is located at 519 South Tower in Centralia.

Categories: Food, Wine, Cider, Washington | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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