Monday, July 30, 2012

Oregon Brewers Festival

Yesterday's big activity (after we figured out how to get to a MAX stop that both runs on the weekends and has public parking -- it took us three tries to figure that out) was to attend the 25th annual Oregon Brewers Festival, held at Portland's Waterfront Park.

In 1988 when the whole thing started, there were only four microbreweries in Portland:  Bridgeport, McMenamins, Portland and Widmer.  Now Portland has 49 independent little -- and not so little -- breweries.  This year, 82 craft breweries from across the nation (including Epic, Redrock, Uinta and Wasatch from Salt Lake City) served over 30 styles of beer plus another 40 specialty beers for a total of 86 different beers.  

To partake, you had to buy a souvenir mug for $6, then buy as many wooden tokens as you wanted for one dollar each.  One token would get you a "taste" or about four ounces in your mug while four tokens got you a mugful.

I had six token's worth of mostly weird stuff -- peach beer (yay!) cherry beer (yuck - dumped it out), lavender beer (much better than it sounds), porter (my go-to beer along with stout, but stout was out) and two helpings of a light, fruity one called "Berry White" recommended to us by friends-we-made-at-the-festival Ann and Susan (yay for the beer and for Ann and Susan who are from Maryland and thinking of moving to Utah or Oregon -- both good choices).  Other than tastes of mine Jim stuck with his usual IPAs, his favorite being "Rye Not IPA" made by Portland's Columbia River Brewing.

Besides beer, the festival featured live music, a root beer garden for kids and designated drivers, classes and informational booths, stuff to buy (Jim got a SNOB --Supporter of Native Oregon Beers--T shirt), and people everywhere.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Owen turns 3

Yesterday was grandson Owen's third birthday party, attended by a large handful of enthusiastic family and friends. Here are Grandpa and Owen at the birthday party "pregame ."
Owen and his mom explore one of his gifts: a Little Tykes Kitchen.  Next step:  become the consummate cook like his mom and a great griller like his dad.
Owen with a little birthday cake frosting.  The birthday party had a race car theme; Season made a birthday cake that even included M and M's resembling a crowd watching a big race.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On the banks of Lake Chelan

We’re on our way back to Portland for a second family/friends visit. As I write, however, we're spending the night at Lewis-McChord Air Force Base Travel Camp north of Olympia, WA, where we stayed a few weeks ago.  Since we've been without an internet connection for a few days, here's a recap of what we've been up to:
After we left Leavenworth, WA, we went north because Jim wanted me to see the tiny town of Steheken, WA.  Steheken is on beautiful 55-mile long Lake Chelan, the third deepest lake in the US (after Crater Lake and Lake Tahoe) and the 9th deepest lake in the world. Steheken is accessible only by air, water or foot, and in the early 1990’s Jim and Season hiked there with some friends.  They did an 18-mile, two day trek up one side of a mountain and down the other into Steheken, which has about 85 full-time residents.  
Jim’s plan this time was to reach Steheken via boat, so we booked a campground on Lake Chelan to explore the options.  Getting to the campground turned out to be somewhat problematic.  First, an unexpected detour took us on the wrong side of another big lake.  Then we went to the wrong campground.  But we finally got where we supposed to be:  Twenty-Five Mile Creek Campground on the Lake Chelan’s west side.  And I can now emphatically state that we have finally stayed at a place that didn’t meet Bev's low campground/motel standards, so you know it’s not good.  But we arrived, we were safe, and we were still speaking to each other.  Life is good.  And -- we got to take a boat to Steheken.  What a gem.  We’d like to take the ferry to Steheken next year and stay a week.
Our campsite (we're in the middle in the photo above) at Twenty-Five Mile Creek Campground.  It’s a dirt, weeds and gravel lot and our tent neighbors were party animals.  But it’s on beautiful Lake Chelan and just three miles from where we took the ferry to Steheken.
These alpacas docked at the campground.  They were going to carry supplies to a Forest Service ranger.
A photo in sore need of a really great caption. Any takers?
The day before we went to Steheken, we walked around the 
town of Chelan, at  the south tip of Lake Chelan. It has 
wineries, resorts and beautiful scenery.

The view towards Steheken from the boat.  Thirty families 
(85 people) live in Steheken year round. In the summer 
the population gets up to about 300 people. Steheken is 
Native American for “the way through” and the area 
provided an east-west passage way through the Cascade 

The view as the boat pulls in to Steheken.  We took the red 
bus on the left for a short tour narrated by both a ranger 
and the bus driver; along the way we stopped at a water 
fall and a bakery. That’s my kind of tour. The bus driver 
told us she’d recently married the lodge's chef; we were 
in a gift shop later where we heard him call the bakery 
and ask if he could borrow four lemons and to please 
send them down the mountain with his wife.

Rainbow Falls, the water fall we got to see on 
the bus tour.

Bev at a stop on Imus Trail, a short Steheken trail.

A sea plane takes off from Lake Chelan.  The water
really was this green.

Bev on the boat.  We took a fast boat to Steheken; the
trip took an hour and forty minutes.  We came back
on a larger, slower boat, which took two hours and
forty-five minutes. The small boat can carry up to
150 people and the bigger, slower one can carry 285

Monday, July 23, 2012

Welcome to Bavaria

The title of my last post should actually have been “Little Germany” instead of “Little Switzerland,” because while the tourist lit variously refers to Leavenworth, WA, as “Swiss," and “Bavarian,” it’s actually designed to be a faux Bavarian Village.  Calling it “Switzerland” is a little like calling Minnesota “Canadian.”  Close but no cigar.
Leavenworth is full of restaurants (Sausage Garten, Waffle Haus, Uncle Uli’s Pub), nutcracker shops, and all things German.  We saw guys in Lederhosen and polka music (cue the accordians and tubas) was piped throughout the town.  
In addition to walking around town and stopping at a brew pub, we went to a winery, a fish hatchery and took a hike.

Petunias on display in Leavenworth, Washington.   Jim said if you are going for a certian look, you might as well go all the way.  And in Leavenworth, even the local Starbucks and Safway signs are in a German-looking typeface.
Another photo of downtown Leavenworth, WA.
Jim feeding the fish at the Leavenworth Fish hatchery.  They raise 1.2 million Chinook salmon each year and release then into local rivers; only about one percent of those make a trip back to spawn.  Of those that do, their eggs are harvested and fertilized, the babies raised and the fish released back into the rivers.
We also took a hike on the “Fourth of July Creek” trail in Icicle River Canyon.  We only did  3.5 miles, but the going was all up hill and we were tuckered. Afterwards, I read that it's the "snakiest" and steepest hike in the area.  Fortunately for us, the rattlers were in hiding. As you can see from the photo, there's been a forest fire on this trail within the last few years.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Little Switzerland

Yesterday we left Bay View State park on the Puget's Sound's Padilla Bay and drove 145 miles up the west side of the Cascade Mountains and slightly down the east side to the town of Leavenworth, Washington.  

Leavenworth was a mining town in the 1860’s, then became a railway center with 7 sets of tracks.  Then there was a lumber boom;  Leavenworth had the state's second largest sawmill and thousands of trees were floated down the Wenatchee River.  Then the railroad moved it’s headquarters, the harvestable trees were gone, and the depression hit.  
The economy was slow in Leavenworth for years.  In the 1950s,  a restaurant and motel owner looked at the Alpine setting and remodeled in a Bavarian theme.  Others followed.  In 1965, a town committee called LIFE( Leavenworth Improvement For Everyone) officially agreed to “go Alpine.” 
Today Leavenworth has 20 Swiss-themed festivals a year in a downtown that looks like what I image a small Swiss village resemble.  I’ve never seen so many hanging baskets of petunias in one place. 

Yesterday we took a car tour and a walk by the river.  Today we plan to walk around town, but as I write we are waiting out a rain and hail storm.

Our spot at the Icicle River Campground, about four miles from downtown Leavenworth.  Jim was a little disappointed we couldn't back into the spot (the hook ups would have been on the wrong side) because he likes to have the view from our big back windows.  But it's still nice.
The campground office follows the local Alpine theme.
The view from the bank of the Wenatchee River, where we took a walk.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Essential Eelgrass

This morning we visited the Breazeale-Padilla Interpretive Center, right next to where we are staying at Bay View State Park in tiny Bay View, WA on the Padilla Bay.  The interpretive center explains the importance of Padilla Bay, an estuary (where freshwater from rivers mix with salt water of oceans) of the Puget Sound.  The Braezeale Interpretive Center is on a 64- acre former farm donated by the Braezeale family, who had lived there since 1897.  When the oldest child, Edna, retired from her career as a Seattle school teacher in 1957, plans were under way to develop the nearby mudflats of the bay into an industrial area.  Edna spearheaded a successful fight to preserve the area, and later donated the family farm where she grew up (and lived after her retirement) to the state.
Afterwards, we drove into Anacortes, WA, to refill some prescriptions and get groceries.  We also had lunch and walked around the town, which according to local history was named by an early settler who thought Anacortes sounded like the Spanish version of Annie Curtis, the name of his wife.

Bev looks an an eel grass exhibit filled with grass, water and fish.  Padilla Bay is known for its large seagrass meadows that are important feeding areas for a small sea goose called a brant, and is a nursery area for young fish and crabs. 
The Padilla Bay is an estuary where the Skagit River dumps into the Puget Sound. The bay is very shallow; at low tide, the eight mile by three mile bay is nearly empty and at high tide it's flooded.  It repeats its full bay/nearly empty bay cycle roughly every 24 hours. Above, Jim stands on a tree stump at the “beach” on Padilla Bay just across the road from the Breazeale Interpretive Center at about 11 a.m. today.  In the photo immediately below, he’s in about the same spot at 3:30 p.m. today.
An interesting rain gutter down spout we saw in Anacortes.
In the bay off Anacortes we saw Samish Indians practicing their paddling skills.  Members of what's called the "Samish Canoe Family" take their canoes to local festivals and events and also participate in races. The Samish have been living in what is now northwest Washington since “time immemorial.” 
Over 125 (at last count) murals are painted on wooden cutouts attached to downtown Anacortes buildings.  They been created since 1984 by Bill Mitchell, described in a visitors’ guide as a “local artist, historian and colorful character” and feature local people -- mostly past, some present.  We came across the one above as we turned a corner and Cooper went nuts.  Here Jim tries to show Cooper that the man with the fish is OK. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

We can see Canada from our rig

As I write this, we’re camped at Bay View State Park near Mt. Vernon, Washington.  However, we’ve spent the last four days at Widbey Island Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island in Washington State’s Puget Sound.  While on Widbey Island, we kept getting “roaming” signals on our internet router, plus I got a text from Verizon that said “Welcome to Canada,” so I didn’t  post anything for fear of incurring a large number of loonies.  However, my mom asked me why I haven’t posted for a while, so it’s time I did.
Jim thought Cliffside, the Widbey Island Naval Air Station campground, was the nicest RV park we’ve stayed in.  I’d agree, at least when it comes to private or military RV places.  This RV park is brand new and every spot has a view of the Puget Sound.  
Widbey Island is 30 miles northwest of Seattle.  It’s the largest island in the Puget Sound and the fourth largest island in the lower 48.  The naval base takes up most of the northern portion of the island and is definitely the nosiest of the military bases we’ve stayed at -- the fighter jets really roar out over the Sound.  But this is, after all, a Navy Air Base.  
While staying at the base, we strolled through the Widbey Island towns of Oak Harbor and  Coupeville; toured nearby Fidalgo Island’s Anacortes, and took the ferry to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.  Then this morning we left the base and made a short (30 mile) trip to Bay View State Park.
We haven't let him drive yet, but apparently Cooper wants
to.  Not pictured here are the navy decals we got for the
front windshields of both the rig and our tow car.  The
policy on getting your car on base has been different
at every military installation; we’re hoping having actual
decals will help. To get them we just had to go into the
base visitor’s center with Jim’s driver’s license, military
ID, and the registration ad proof of insurance for both

Our camping spot at Widbey Island Naval Air Station.
After a two year remodel, the campground reopened
this June and everything is brand spanking new.

Ken, an Army veteran and our camp host.  Jim and I
think we’d like to do camp hosting in another year
or two;  you get a free camping spot and sometimes
a small hourly wage.

Driftwood sign at the camp.
Don’t leave your sandals on the beach or they’ll
end up in this campsite display.

Bev on a cool, misty day at the campground beach.
Jim near a campground walking path we took several
times.  RVs to the left; Puget Sound to the right.

To drive to Whidbey Island (you can also take a ferry)
you cross 'Deception Pass' via this bridge.   The pass
was so named because when Captain George
Vancouver explored this area in 1792, he thought
the pass deceived him into thinking Whibey Island
was a peninsula.

Sunset over the campground. We're looking straight
at Canada in this photo.

We had lunch at a great restaurant in Anacortes
called “Adrift” where we sat at the counter and
watched the cooks.  Jim recommends the crab

Bev getting a new hairdo on the ferry to Friday 
Harbor on San Juan Island. The ferries can take 
up to 2000 walk on passengers (that's what we 
did; we just left our car in a parking lot) and 200
A view from our ferry of two others, with 
Washington's Mt. Baker in the background.
Jim took this with his iPhone.
Jim on the ferry to San Juan Island.  We tried to 
take the ferry on Sunday, but the one we wanted 
was sold out.  So we went on Monday and the 
ferry was pretty empty.
Approaching Friday Harbor, the largest city
on San Juan Island.  The entire group of islands 
is called the San Juans and the largest of the 
islands has that name as well.  172 islands 
make up the San Juans. Eight of them are 
fairly large and four have ferry service.  There 
are no bridges so all travel to the mainland is 
by ferry, boat or plane. 

The ferry (to the right) as seen from 
Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Olympia Washington

We’ve visited Olympia WA -- where Jim lived from 1996 to 2000 -- twice since we’ve been staying at the Lewis-McChord Travel Camp.  Olympia is just 15 miles south of the military base and is both funky and upscale.  It has beautiful homes and parks, a lovely waterfront with expensive-looking sail boats, and a downtown full of small restaurants and shops -- even a shoe store, and I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen a non-chain shoe store. 

The state capitol as seen from across a pier.  About 46,000 people live in Olympia, which is on the extreme southern tip of the Puget Sound. I've seen more Obama/Biden bumper stickers in our few visits to Olympia than I did in Salt Lake during the entire 2008 election. 
Jim and Cooper walk past some of Olympia's shops.  There 
are dozens of small restaurants, antique stores, second 
hand shops, book stores, jewelry stores ... it was nice to see 
so many independently run businesses.  
Jim and Cooper walk along the beach at Olympia's Burfoot 
County Park.

Bev among the ferns on the path to Burfoot County Park. It is a Hansel and Gretel forest just yards from the salt water.
Jim kayaked a lot when he lived on the Puget Sound.  Today we rented a kayak and took a float around his old neighborhood.  I was at the front of the kayak, and took this photo by holding my arms straight up and pointing the camera backwards.
Another shot from the kayak, obviously.  Jim lived in (and actually built) the house on the far right.
Close up of Jim's former house.  It's the one in the middle.