Posts Tagged With: Washington

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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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.

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Smelt Dipping – It’s Not What You Think

Smelt, Cowlitz River, Kelso, Washington

Smelt (Photo credit: David Keaton)

My first thought was that smelt dipping is just another way of saying using chewing tobacco. My second thought was it had something to do with extracting minerals from ore (like copper, silver, etc.) because this is also known as smelting. Turns out I was way off on both thoughts.

The first time I heard of dipping smelt was about 28 years ago. I worked for two bosses who decided I needed to find out what this was all about. They said, “The smelt are running on the Cowlitz!” What? OK, smelt are a small fish, the Cowlitz is a river in Southwest Washington running through Kelso. You don’t catch these fish with a fishing pole, but scoop them up in a net. That’s why it’s known as “dipping.” So we jumped in their car and ran down there. We took a net and went to the river and – nothing. Gee, that was fun. David had tried it many years ago too, without success.

I never thought much more about it, although I heard a lot of people talking about it over the years. They would say how the smelt run used to be so thick you could just go down and dip net after net of the little fishes. But over the years the run got smaller and smaller until it finally became a protected species and smelt-dipping was no longer allowed – until recently. This is the second year that limited time has been opened to allow smelt-dipping.

Using a net to dip smelt, Cowlitz River, Kelso, Washington

Using a net to dip smelt (Photo credit: David Keaton)

This past Saturday was one of those dates. We already had plans to go to Portland for the day when we heard about it, but as we drove down I-5 we could see the Cowlitz and a lot of people were out on it. David couldn’t stand it, he had to check it out so we got off the freeway and headed down to the river. It was packed with people, but many were leaving. Not only is the date set, but so is the time – you can only fish from 6am to noon and it was just before noon when we got there.

Pat and Dick Lindeman, Cowlitz River, Kelso, Washington

Pat and Dick Lindeman with their smelt catch (Photo credit: David Keaton)

I saw a couple who looked friendly and asked if I could talk to them. Pat and Dick Lindeman are their names and they were very friendly and helpful. They even offered to let us use their equipment next weekend since there is another catch date set for February 14. They showed us their catch, which was the limit, and said they got it in only 2 scoops! Now that’s starting to sound like the stories I have heard!

Smelt in a net, Cowlitz River, Kelso, Washington

Smelt in a net (Photo credit: David Keaton)

If you’re wondering what to do with smelt, Dick said that he will freeze some to use for bait, smoke some, and fry some.

Another nice part about smelt-dipping is that no license is needed, just a net, a bucket, and some good shoes to slog through the mud on the side of the river. Be sure to follow the rules, take only your limit – we want to make sure we do our part to help bring this fish back to its natural run, and we can do that by fishing responsibly. And even though you don’t need a license, if you are fishing past noon you can get a ticket for that, as well as if you go over your limit.

So where will we be on Valentine’s Day? You got it – smelt-dipping!

 

Categories: Fishing, Outdoors, Washington | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Coffee is a Journey” – Santa Lucia Coffee, Centralia, Washington

Santa Lucia Cafe, Centralia WA

Santa Lucia Cafe

When asked how he started in the coffee roasting business, Justin Page, owner of Santa Lucia Cafe located in downtown Centralia, Washington, looked at us for a moment, then quietly said, “Coffee is a journey.” His journey began when he was about 12 or 13 years old. His father was “in the coffee culture” in Seattle, and Justin has been passionate about coffee ever since.

Santa Lucia coffee roaster, Centralia, Washington

Santa Lucia coffee roaster

He began roasting his own coffee in 2002 in the basement of his Centralia home. He expanded to roasting from family, friends, and neighbors. Then he placed a kiosk on the front porch of his house and people would put their money into his mail slot. After a few years (and one visit from the Centralia Fire Department because of all the smoke coming out of his basement), Justin ran out of room and decided to open Santa Lucia Café in his current location in 2006.

Santa Lucia is the namesake for Justin’s wife, Lucy. The setting is rustic, with three rooms with tables comfortable chairs, and even books to sit and read with children. It’s cozy enough for small conversations as well as small work meetings. Local pastries from San Francisco Bakery in Olympia, Market Street Bakery in Chehalis, and Main Street Cookies in Rainier, are temptingly displayed.

David enjoyed his Santa Lucia coffee in the cozy cafe. Centralia, Washington

David enjoyed his Santa Lucia coffee in the cozy cafe.

Justin tells us that he gets beans from all over the world, but most specifically from a small farmer, Edwin Martinez, in Guatemala. Huge 150 pound bags can be seen sitting near the walls. One coffee roaster is placed in the third room. There Justin roasts about 200-300 pounds of coffee each week. We were surprised to hear it only takes about 15 minutes to roast a batch of coffee. He doesn’t have a set schedule, just roasts as needed as they run low on coffee, so it’s very fresh.

Coffee beans from Guatemala, Santa Lucia Coffee, Centralia, WA

Coffee beans from Guatemala

We asked about the “flavors” and how he achieves them because we truly had no idea. It turns out coffee is a bit like wine, that flavors are not added, but come naturally from the areas where the beans are grown. Then he decides which flavors he likes, what his “interpretation” of them is and then roasts them to bring out the flavors he likes best. This is done by varying the length of time of roasting as well as temperature.

David asked if he would like to see his product on big store shelves. Justin thought for a moment and said no, he actually preferred that people find him on their own based on the quality of his coffees.

As Josh is in high school and learning a lot about future careers, he had his own question: What would Justin tell a high school student thinking about opening a coffee roasting business. Justin replied that he would ask a lot of questions, why do they want to do this, how passionate are they – he would challenge them and ask deeper questions rather than just say, “Yes, do it” or “No, don’t do it.”

When asked where he thought his business would be in five years, Justin said that this is an individual journey for him and he expects to stay small and still be in the same place. The best part of this business for him is the personal touch, being part of the community and the friends that he has made. He feels that it is now at a point that it is a self-propelling entity and that is a very exciting point to be for an entrepreneur. He would only like to grow larger though, if it didn’t take away from the personal aspect that he enjoys so much now.

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Santa Lucia coffees can also be found served at local establishments such as Centralia College and Jeremy’s Farm to Table restaurant.

Santa Lucia Café is open Monday through Friday, 7am-5pm, Saturdays 8am-3pm and Sundays, 9am-3pm and is located at 202 S. Tower Ave., Centralia WA 98531. They can also be found online at http://www.luciacoffee.com/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/santaluciacoffee.

 

 

 

 

 

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Point Defiance Zoo and the Budding Photographer

I am the King, Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma

I am the King

As you probably know by now, Josh is our photographer and takes most of the pictures we use on this blog. Recently he had the chance to go to the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma (http://www.pdza.org/) with his high school photography class. While most of the kids were more interested in goofing off during their day off from class, Josh was thrilled to have the chance to take pictures of his favorite subject – animals. Here he would like to share his best of the day with you:

Must be a teenager. Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma

Must be a teenager

Fish love backscratches? Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma

Fish love backscratches?

Hellooooo??? Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma

Hellooooo???

WOW! Just WOW! Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma

WOW! Just WOW!

Aww, possums are cuddly! Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma

Aww, possums are cuddly!

Here, kitty, kitty. Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma

Here, kitty, kitty.

Darn kids, get off my lawn. Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma

Darn kids, get off my lawn.

Is there anything cuter? Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma

Is there anything cuter?

This is my good side. Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma

This is my good side.

I. Am. Ignoring. You. Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma

I. Am. Ignoring. You.

Impressive! Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma

Impressive!

Yes, the whole place was impressive and full of opportunities for a budding photographer! Do you have ideas for captions for these pictures? Let us know, we’d love to hear your creative ideas!

Categories: Outdoors, Washington | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

How to Give A Gift of Adventure and Memories

Josh and David. Really, he was happy, lol.

Josh and David. Really, he was happy.

Christmas is coming. Do you have that person in your family that is hard to buy for? They either have everything, or buy what they want when they want it, or they’re very particular? Well, here’s an idea that I did a few years ago and it was a big hit.

David is that person in our family. So trying to shop for him is a chore. But he kept saying that some day he would like to take an airplane flight over our house and see it from above and see how it fit in with the rest of the terrain. So it hit me as a great idea, and I called the Olympia airport asking for scenic flights. I was worried that it would be very expensive but it wasn’t at all. So I ordered a gift certificate and presented it to him on Christmas morning. Success! He was very surprised and very happy!

Nancy riding in the front seat

Nancy riding in the front seat

We decided to wait to use it until better weather so finally one day in June we just showed up at the airport and were able to schedule a ride (that doesn’t always happen, it’s recommended to check ahead.) The pilot, Joel, was extremely nice. I had booked the flight for all three of us, even though it was David’s present, because I knew he wouldn’t want to go alone. However, I’m terrified of flying. So Joel wanted me to sit in front, he thought it might help me. Josh was not thrilled about this, he wanted to be in front. (I think Joel was more worried I’d get sick in his pretty plane than anything else…)

Josh happy to be in the plane, but not happy he's not sitting in the front seat.

Josh happy to be in the plane, but not happy he’s not sitting in the front seat.

It was a beautiful sunny day, clear skies forever. Joel explained everything as he was doing it, to help ease my stress. What I did discover about myself though, is that flying in a little plane, being able to see the ground the whole time, was not nearly as terrifying for me as flying in a jumbo jet.

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First we flew north to check things out, then back south to look over our property. It was amazing! We could see that to the east of us was nothing but forest for miles and miles! We certainly wouldn’t want to get lost there!

Then we flew down over Mt. St. Helens looking into the crater. We couldn’t get as close as Joel would have liked because she had let out a few puffs of smoke.

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1-102_1583Then we flew over Mt. Rainier – that was a nice unexpected surprise and another fabulous view. We ended up extending our flight and paying for an extra half hour and it was SO worth it! David finally got to see our home and all around it from the air, plus more, and he was thrilled.

Yes, he finally smiled - he loved the scenic ride!

Yes, he finally smiled – he loved the scenic ride!

So if you want to give that hard-to-shop-for someone in your life, call your local airport and find out about scenic rides. You’ll be giving them a special gift, not “stuff” that would eventually break or wear out, but a gift of adventure and memories that will last a lifetime.

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Tornado Warning! Another Long Beach Adventure

Long Beach, Washington Christmas Lights

Long Beach Christmas Lights

It seems whenever we go to the Long Beach peninsula, it is rarely uneventful. Besides finding just fun things to do or see, weird things tend to happen to us there. Just check out our previous stories RV Adventures: The Great Wall of Poo and I’ll Take 3 Passports and What on Earth is That Smell?! and you will see what I’m talking about. This past weekend however, we would say probably THE most bizarre thing ever happened, something I would never have guessed could possibly happen.

It was supposed to be a fairly relaxing weekend. Just get away for a couple of days, take David’s mom, Sue, and just have a good time. It was supposed to be a rainy, drenching, wet weekend and we were absolutely OK with that. We even specifically planned our activities around the weather. So it poured down rain on our entire drive there – until just outside of Seaview when I noticed the ground was actually dry. It was perfect. We pulled into our campground and David and Josh were able to set up the RV in dry, even somewhat warm, weather.

We drove back into town to get dinner and it was pleasant enough weather to get out and walk a little bit. The streets were already decorated up for Christmas and the blue and white lights looked very peaceful in the dark night sky.

David & Nancy at the Cranberry Museum, Long Beach, Washington

David & Nancy at the Cranberry Museum

The next morning we woke to thunder, but by the time we got up and around it had stopped and again the weather was pleasant. We did some of the things we planned to such as visit museums, then had a warm, filling lunch at the Cottage Bakery. We had never eaten there before and enjoyed it thoroughly – especially the pastries we bought once we finished lunch. Delicious, sweet pastries that we ate until we were miserable. Well, wouldn’t you, too?

The Cottage Baker, Long Beach WA

The Cottage Bakery

Chili and Cornbread at the Cottage Bakery, Long Beach WA

Chili and Cornbread at the Cottage Bakery

The pastries at Cottage Bakery, Long Beach WA

The pastries at Cottage Bakery

We finished up in town with drinks at the Pickled Fish, a cute little restaurant and bar on top of the Adrift Hotel. We even had a view of the sunset. A quiet, beautiful day at the beach.

Nancy and Sue enjoying drinks at the Pickled Fish, Long Beach, WA

Nancy and Sue enjoying drinks at the Pickled Fish (photo by David Keaton)

The next morning started uneventful. I got on my phone and saw that my daughter had posted that she was having terrific thunderstorms in Hoquiam. “Odd,” I thought. We weren’t that far away as the crow flies. I hopped in the shower and after I got out and had just finished getting ready, my phone, Josh’s phone and Sue’s phone started buzzing. I looked at my phone feeling quite confused. It showed a weather alert from the National Weather Service, saying there was a tornado warning in our area and to take shelter immediately. We all kind of looked at each other. I figured it must be a mistake, it was meant for some other area. I quickly posted on Facebook asking if anyone else had a tornado warning. We started putting things away, figuring we would just get busy getting out of there.

Then the campground host knocked on our door and told us to get to the restrooms which are partially underground. We decided maybe that was a wise idea. Now, having watched shows on tornado-chasing, we really do know that warnings are important. But I just really couldn’t believe there was one ON THE BEACH! So I wasn’t scared, which could have been a bad thing, because then we also didn’t feel an urgency.

Josh grabbed his new boots, even though he had shoes on. “Josh, why are you taking your boots,” we asked. “I don’t want anything happening to my boots!” he responded. We explained that we would buy him more new boots if anything happened to him and he reluctantly left them.

David goofing off while we're in the "basement" restrooms

David goofing off while we’re in the “basement” restrooms

We hurried on down to the restrooms and kept an eye on the sky, thinking we would see stuff flying around if a tornado was close. Sue kept telling us to get down there, she had lived in Michigan and knew about tornados. But since we really still didn’t believe it we kept looking around for the funnel cloud. Then another couple who had left their RV showed up – with a bag of pastries from the Cottage Bakery. We laughed as we realized what they had. That’s when it hit me – what would you grab in an emergency like that? We all have our priorities, sometimes we don’t even recognize them, but boots and pastries were apparently the concern that day.

Sue in the "dungeon"

Sue in the “dungeon”

Finally, Sue went to an inner basement room, called “the dungeon” by the others but we were still dumb enough to keep looking. Then large hail started falling and that’s when David and I got a little more concerned. Josh, being Josh, wanted to go out and run around in it, basically to see if it would hurt. That’s Josh. But David told him absolutely not, it could be the front side of a tornado. So Josh sulked and went down into the basement.

Large hail, Long Beach, Washington tornado warning

Large hail

We went into the clubhouse which is over the basement and each watched from windows, with the theory we would have time to head to the basement if we saw anything. We were probably wrong, and that’s probably how a lot of people get killed during tornadoes (in other words, don’t try this at home.) But it ended up OK. Just minutes after the hail, the warning ended so we headed back to our RV. It was still pouring down and we got soaking wet just on the walk. Then poor David and Josh got even more wet as they tried to hurry and unhook the RV, while the thunder still roared, sounding like the world was cracking open.

Finally, we were done and headed on our way, stopping at the Loose Caboose Café for a breakfast we didn’t have a chance to eat earlier. That’s when the weather calmed down and it stopped raining – once we were all done and inside.

We were probably too stupid to know what kind of danger we were in, but even having a completely unusual tornado warning at the beach won’t stop us from going there again. Heck, we’re already wondering what we’re in for the next time we go!

Categories: RV/Camping, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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: , , , , | 2 Comments

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