Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Gorge Amphitheatre in George Washington

You are looking at The Gorge by George, Washington.

George is a town. The Gorge is an Amphitheatre that can seat 25,000, give or take one or two, concert goers in a scenic outdoor venue overlooking the Columbia River Gorge.

The Gorge is considered to be one of the best, and most scenic ,concert venues in the World.

Most of the World's top acts have played at The Gorge, including Red Hot Chili Peppers, Aerosmith, Shania Twain, Ozzy Osbourne, John Mayer (John Mayer is back at The Gorge this weekend, Saturday, August 28), Van Halen, Rush, The Police, The Eagles, Pearl Jam, The Dave Matthews Band (Dave Matthews will be back in The Gorge Friday, Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day Weekend), David Bowie, KISS, Coldplay, Blink 182, Britney Spears and many many more.

Pearl Jam released a boxed set of their entire performances at The Gorge from 2005 to 2006, titled Live at the Gorge 05/06.

The Dave Matthews Band released a recording recorded at The Gorge, called The Gorge.

Brooks & Dunn's Only in America video was filmed at The Gorge.

Keith Urban will also be at The Gorge, with The Dave Matthews Band, this coming Saturday, August 28. Brad Paisley shows up at The Gorge September 11, the 9th Anniversary of 9/11.

The Gorge is also home to an annual Memorial Day Weekend event called the Sasquatch! Music Festival presented by the House of Blues, with a focus on indie rock bands, with some alternative rock, hip hop and comedy acts thrown in. Headliners from past Sasquatch! Music Festivals include Jane's Addiction, Nine Inch Nails, R.E.M., Coldplay, the Beastie Boys, Beck, Ben Harper, Bjork, among others.,

Among the scenic attributes for which The Gorge is popular, concert goers also like the terraced lawn seating and the reliably good weather.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Seattle One of the 10 Best Cities for the Next Decade

Kiplinger Magazine conducted a search for the top cities in America poised to boom in the next decade, evaluating cities for growth and growth potential.

Kiplinger found that some U.S. cities may have been slowed by the Great Recession, but, though slowed, they still have managed to thrive by "lifting good old American innovation to new levels."

Seattle was #2 on Kiplinger's list of the Top Ten Towns ready to boom in the next decade.

The #1 city lifting good old American innovation to new levels is Austin, Texas. Apparently Austin has a high fun factor, despite not having some of the fun things Seattle has, like a Space Needle, Monorail, Pike Place Market, Ferries, Cruise Ships.

Austin has no team in the NFL or the major baseball leagues.

Seattle is surrounded by water and mountains. Austin does have a lake. And hills.

In the article titled "10 Best Cities for the Next Decade" this is part of what Kiplinger had to say about Seattle...

"Rain City? We'd say Brain City. Home to a well-educated workforce, a world-class research university, ├╝ber innovators Microsoft, Amazon and Boeing, and a host of risk-taking, garage-tinkering entrepreneurs, Seattle crackles with creative energy. "We only have two products here: smart people and great ideas," says Mark Emmert, president of the University of Washington.

Seattle is revising its tax, zoning and permit policies to make them more business-friendly, says Johnson. Meanwhile, this sophisticated Pacific Rim city has other qualities to recommend it, including great food, a glorious setting, an outdoorsy culture, enough rain to keep the locals' complexions looking dewy -- and, yeah, plenty of smart people."

Rounding out the Top 10, after Austin and Seattle are...

3. Washington, D.C.
4. Boulder, Colorado
5. Salt Lake City, Utah
6. Rochester, Minnesota
7. Des Moines, Iowa
8. Burlington, Vermont
9. West Hartford, Connecticut
10. Topeka, Kansas

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Northwest Exposure Not In The Northwest

You may be thinking this sign painted on the side of a building is maybe in Roslyn, Washington, with Roslyn playing Cicely, Alaska on the CBS hit TV show called Northern Exposure.

Well, you would be wrong if you thought this sign is in Rosyln.

You will not find this sign in Washington, or any of the other Northwest states, not in Idaho, not in Oregon.

You will find this sign in Oklahoma. I was driving backroads in Oklahoma, making my way from Turner Falls Park to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

I stopped at a convenience store in a town about 20 miles east of Turner Falls, about 40 miles north of the most northern part of Lake Texoma. The name of the town is Sulphur. When I exited my car I was surprised to see the Seattle Space Needle on the building next to the convenience store.

The sign says "Northwest Exposure, An Oasis, Home of Lee's Drum On Arts & Crafts." With one more word I can not make out.

I thought the two items in the lower right might be muffins, maybe they are drums. In addition to the Space Needle other Northwest iconic type images, on the sign, are a mountain that could be Rainier. A coffee cup. In the coffee cups sailboats sail. With a bald eagle in flight. There are a lot of bald eagles in Washington, but they are not an image one associates with Washington.

Upon first glance I assumed this was a defunct coffee espresso stand of the sort that overpopulates Washington. I assumed this due to the big coffee cup in the middle of the sign. But the coffee cup is not filled with coffee, it's filled with blue water. And sail boats.

The mystery of the Northwest Exposure in Sulphur, Oklahoma, will likely never be solved.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cascade Days This Weekend in Concrete in the Skagit Valley

This weekend, Saturday, August 21 and Sunday, August 22, the annual Cascade Days takes place in the heart of the Cascade Mountains in the Skagit Valley town known as Concrete.

Hundreds of ducks waddling in the rubber duck races is one of the more popular parts of Cascade Days.

There is also a pie eating and watermelon eating contest.

Along with a pet talent show, firemen's muster, logging show and classic cars.

Cascade Days Schedule

SATURDAY, August 21

9 to 11 a.m. — Parade line-up; west end of Main Street

11 a.m. — Parade; Main Street

1 p.m. — Parade awards; corner of Main and Baker streets

12:30 to 4 p.m. — Classic car show; Main Street

1 to 2:30 p.m. — Firemen’s muster; Town Park

1 to 4 p.m. — Kids’ activities/games, fish tank, entertainment; Town Park

2:30 to 4:30 p.m. — Log show; Town Park

5 p.m. — Duck race; Main Street

7 to 11 p.m. — Cascade Ramblers; American Legion

SUNDAY, August 22

(All events take place in Town Park)

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Information booths

10 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Entertainment

11 a.m. to noon — Pet Pride and Talent Show

12:30 to 1 p.m. — Pie-eating contest

2 to 3 p.m. — Watermelon-eating contest

3 to 3:30 p.m. — Jams and Jellies judging

3:30 p.m. — Button Drawing

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hiking the Sauk Mountain Trail to the Top of Sauk Mountain

My favorite former sister-in-law has taken up the sport of hiking. Yesterday she emailed me pictures from the top of Sauk Mountain.

In the picture you see here, I think we are looking south, with the Glacier Peak volcano being part of the Sea of Cascade Mountain Peaks.

On a clear day, from the top of Sauk Mountain, you can see Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan to the north. Looking south you can see the afore-mentioned Glacier Peak and Pugh, Whitehorse and White Chuck Mountains.

On a super clear day you can see Mount Rainer, to the south and the San Juan Islands, to the west.

The last time I hiked to the top of Sauk Mountain it was not clear day. It was snowing. The trail was icy. I was hiking with my favorite former sister-in-law's youngest, Joey, who was 13 at the time.

The Sauk Mountain Trail is known for its switchbacks. There are about 30 of them, gradually making an elevation gain of 1,200 feet to take you to the 5,537 foot high summit of Sauk Mountain. From the top you'll find other trails, like one that takes you down to Sauk Lake, or to the site of the long gone fire lookout.

The trailhead to the top of Sauk Mountain is one of the easiest to reach in the North Cascades.

To get to the trailhead drive Highway 20, also known as the North Cross State Highway, about 10 miles east of Concrete. Shortly before you get to Rockport State Park take a left and head north on Sauk Mountain Road, also known as Forest Road 1030.

Sauk Mountain Road is a fairly steep road. Drive carefully heading up and down. After about 7 miles you will come to a junction with Forest Road 1036. Turn right on spur 1036 and in a short distance you will be at the Sauk Mountain parking lot.

Due to its easy accessibility and great views, the Sauk Mountain Trail is very popular from the time it is snow-free, usually by late June, til the snow arrives again in late fall.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Seattle's Cruise Ship's Economic Windfall Environmental Downfall

When I moved from the Seattle zone, in 1998, I don't believe any cruise ships called Seattle home.

That is no longer the case. I remember returning to Seattle a few years ago and seeing one of the cruise ships on Elliott Bay for the first time. The ferry boats are big. The cruise ships dwarf the ferry boats.

The biggest cruise ship to dock in Seattle is owned by Carnival Cruise Lines. The ship is called Carnival Spirit. It is 13 decks tall, has 16 lounges and bars, 3 restaurants and 4 swimming pools, one with a water slide, for the 2,124 passengers on board.

Seattle's Alaska bound cruise ships bring around 900,000 tourists to Seattle annually.

I spent a day in Seattle, Thursday, August 7, 2008. Seattle has always had a lot of tourists on any summer day, but now, 10 years after I moved away, it had noticeably hugely increased. I assume a part of that increase is the docked cruise ships.

Obviously having the cruise ships in town has generated a lot of money.

But, apparently there is a downside, an environmental downside. The EPA estimates that on a single day a typical cruise ship generates 21,000 gallons of sewage, 1 ton of garbage, 170,000 of wastewater and up to 6,400 gallons of oily bilge water.

Cruise ships dump incinerator ash and sewage sludge into the ocean. It is legal to dump untreated sewage if you are more than 3 miles from shore.

Canada, with its penchant for dumping untreated sewage into pristine water, like Victoria's sewage dumping into the Straits of Juan de Fuca, is much more lax about what it allows to be dumped in its water.

Most cruise ships burn a very cheap grade of fuel, called Bunker-C. This is a tar-like substance that burns dirty.

WashPIRG estimates in one day a cruise ship with 3,000 passengers and crew spews out the air pollution equivalent of more than 12,000 cars.

The overseeing agencies are getting pickier and the cruise ship industry is trying to clean up its act and is making some changes.

I have never floated on a cruise ship. The idea has no appeal to me.

Friday, August 13, 2010

21st Annual Stillaguamish Festival of the River & Pow Wow

This weekend, Saturday, August 14 and Sunday, August 15, the 21st Annual Stillaguamish Festival of the River & Pow Wow takes place in Snohomish County's River Meadows Park in Arlington, located at 20416 Jordan Road.

The Live Music & Pow Wow are free, parking is $5.

On Saturday you can enjoy The Neville Brothers, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Charlie Musslewhite and others.

On Sunday it's Jake Owen, Emerson Drive, The Band Perry and more.

The Stillaquamish put on a traditional Salmon Bake, you can run in the Stilly 5K Fun Run, there's a Logging Show. And the Stillaguamish Pow Wow.

The Stillaguamish Festival of the River celebrates the Pacific Northwest's environment and diverse cultural communities. At the festival you will learn about water quality and salmon habitat.

There is a giant storytelling turtle tent, interpretive salmon habitat tours, arts & crafts, the aforementioned Stillaguamish salmon barbecue and a lot of live music.

Along with the music, food and pow wowing, you can watch wild bird shows with eagles, owls and hawks. There are crafts and games for kids, sawing competitions and a lot of Pacific Northwest Native American culture.

Skagit County Fair in Mount Vernon Ends Saturday August 14

The Skagit County Fair 2010 edition started up Wednesday, August 11. It ends tomorrow, Saturday, August 14.

Betty Jo Bouvier, one of the Woolley Wild Women is heading to Mount Vernon to the fair today. To see a 5 year old's Bunny 4-H display. At least that's why Betty Jo said she was going to the County Fair for the first time in years.

I suspect the real reason Betty Jo is fairbound is so she can participate in the Homebrew Competition. The Brewers Choice Awards are to be announced around 2pm Saturday. The categories of beer that Betty Jo might get to sample include American Pale Ales, India Pale Ales, Light Ales, Amber Ales, Dark Ales, Light, Amber and Dark Lagers, plus Other Beers, like those flavored with fruit.

It costs $7 for an adult (19-64) to get in the fair. Seniors (65+) are $6. Kids (7-18) are also $6. Under 6 is free.

Entertainment at the Skagit County Fair

Friday, August 13

11:30AM Roberto the Magnificent
1:00PM Hypnotist Jennifer Harris-Balch
2:00PM Poor Man’s Jug Band
4:00PM Hypnotist Jennifer Harris-Balch
5:30PM Bad Apples
6:30PM Candysound
7:30PM The Halyards
8:30PM The Lonely Fores

Saturday, August 14

11:30AM Roberto the Magnificent
Noon Polecat
1:00PM Hypnotist Jennifer Harris-Balch
2:00PM Poor Man’s Jug Band
3:30PM Queen’s Bluegrass
5:00PM Hypnotist Jennifer Harris-Balch
6:00PM The Fair & KSVR Radio presents: Gallos Musical
7:00PM Alegres Musical de Durango
8:00PM Atrevidos de Mexico

Please show up for my 7PM Alegres Musical de Durango performance.

Directions to the Skagit County Fair

From I-5, take the Anderson Road Exit 225
Head West on Anderson Road
Turn Right (North) onto Old Higway 99 South Road
Old Highway 99 South Road becomes South 2nd Street
Turn Left (West) onto Taylor Street

Parking is at the South Gate off of Taylor Street.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cape Flattery, Tatoosh Island, Fuca Pillar and the Makah Indians on the Olympic Peninsula

You are looking at a picture of me, back when I was young and skinny, with a full head of hair, leaning against a tree that is leaning towards the Pacific Ocean, far below, at Cape Flattery, way out in the northwesternmost point of the Lower 48 of the United States.

Cape Flattery is located on the Olympic Peninsula, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Straits of Juan de Fuca.

Cape Flattery is on the Makah Indian Reservation. The Makah are famous whale hunters. Besides hunting whales the Makah have built a nice boardwalk trail that will take you to the northwesternmost point in the United States.

It is an easy trail to hike, but the view at the end is not for the acrophobic. It is a long fall down to the crashing waves. A simple wood railing fence provides some sense of security. The waves crashing below, at times, have been among the biggest waves ever seen.

From Cape Flattery, offshore about half a mile you will see Tatoosh Island. The Makah used to use Tatoosh Island as a base camp during fishing season. The island is named after a Makah chief named Tatoosh.

In 1854 Cape Flattery Lighthouse was built on Tatoosh Island. The Cape Flattery Lighthouse first lit up in 1857. In 1872 a loud steam-powered fog horn was added to the lighthouse.

On the west side of Cape Flattery there is tall rock pillar, named Fuca Pillar. Named after Juan de Fuca.

My oldest cousin, Scott's his name, last year took a road trip. He wanted to go from the northwesternmost point of the lower 48 to the most southern point of the lower 48.

So, to start his trip he drove from Woodinville out to Cape Flattery, and then made his way across America til he got to Key West, Florida.

Below, you are on a boat looking at the Cape Flattery Lighthouse on Tatoosh Island.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Washington's Pacific Ocean's Ocean Shores is Celebrating 50 Years of Coasting

I saw the ad on the left in the Skagit Valley Herald online this morning. The ad put Ocean Shores on my mind.

Summer of 2004 was the last time I've been to Ocean Shores. I recollect going to the rock jetty that sticks out into the Pacific Ocean at the entry to Gray's Harbor and seeing a pair of whales blowing their spouts and seals playing.

The town of Ocean Shores got its start in 1960 when Ralph Minard sold the family cattle ranch, that he'd been operating since 1929, which his grandpa, A. O. Damon bought from Matthew McGee in 1878, to the Ocean Shores Development Corporation for a million dollars.

The Ocean Shores Development Corporation was banking on the Washington State legislature allowing a big Ocean Shores casino. In anticipation of the casino boom to come, the OSDC starting selling lots. Rumors of a big California development quickly spread. Lots sold, sight unseen, prices rose. A road system was laid out, street lights installed.

And then Hollywood came to town when the Ginny Sims Restaurant and Nightclub opened. For Ginny Sims Grand Opening chartered planes flew in Hollywood stars. Over 11,000 people showed up to star gaze.

By 1961 canals were being dug, a golf course had golfers. By 1963 there was a marina, motels, mall, restaurants and an airport.

Also, in 1963, the S.S. Catala arrived from California to become a floating Boatel, docked at the south end of Ocean Shores, near the entry to Gray's Harbor. Two years later a big storm ran the S.S. Catala up on a sandbar, where she remained as the most famous shipwreck on the Washington coast til she grew so rusted and dangerous that she was removed. But, for decades, that shipwreck attracted a lot of visitors.

Including me. That's me, in yellow, standing on the sloping deck, next to a smokestack.

The Ocean Shores Development Corporation never did get approval from the state to open a casino. Many years later, however, the Indian Tribes of Washington won their sovereignty battle with the state and started opening casinos, including Quinalt Beach Resort and Casino, near Ocean Shores.

By the 1970s my grandma bought an Ocean Shores lot. We used it often as a base for razor clam digging. Then in the 1980s my mom and dad bought an Ocean Shores lot. The reason why escapes me now. A lot of people bought a lot of Ocean Shores lots.

By the turn of the century many beach homes had been built in Ocean Shores, developed all the way to the southern end jetty.

Ocean Shores has always been one of my favorite places in Washington, largely due to many fond memories of fun times as a kid.

I remember when I was 5, camping at Copalis, which is a town north of Ocean Shores. My little brother, 4 and I walked to the beach and somehow I lost my brother. This turned into a big deal. I think I may have gotten in trouble.

Driving on the beach is another fun thing at Ocean Shores, until you go too far and get stuck, which only happened once to me, in my antique 1965 Mustang.

I think I've just about convinced myself that I need a visit to Ocean Shores. Last time I was there I had the best fish and chips ever, made with fresh cod. Plus razor clam chowder. And a fresh blackberry shake.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Washington State's Festivals, Fairs & Events

I'm sure I missed one or two of the festivals, fairs and events that occur all over the state of Washington. I know I did not list any festival, fair or event that takes place in Seattle, like Seafair, Bumbershoot, Bite of Seattle, the Northwest Folklife Festival or any of the other Seattle festivals, fairs or events, because that would have made this list way too long.

The Skagit County Fair, it being a classic small town type fair, takes place in Mount Vernon starting August 11, through August 14. You will find county fairs taking place all over Washington during the month of August, leading up to the big one, known in Western Washington simply as The Fair. It's when you Do The Puyallup and go to the Western Washington State Fair, one of the biggest in America, running this year from September 10 - 26. This year's clever slogan for The Puyallup is "Free Your Glee."

Washington Fairs, Festivals and Events listed alphabetically by the town in which, or near, where it takes place.....

Country Fair - September
Anacortes Arts Festival - July/August
Arlington NW Experimental Aircraft Association Fly-In July
Ashford Rainier Mountain Festival - September

Bainbridge Island Christmas in the Country - December
Bainbridge Island Bluegrass Festival - July
Belfair Taste of Hood Canal - August
Bellevue Aki Matsuri (Fall Festival) - September
Bellevue Strawberry Festival - June
Bellingham Festival of Music - August
Bellingham LinuxFest Northwest - April
Bellingham Subdued Stringband Jamboree - September
Bonney Lake Alls Faire - June
Bremerton Kitsap County Fair & Stampede - August
Buckley Log Show - June
Buckley Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire - August
Burlington Berry-Dairy Days - June

Carnation Camlann Medieval Village - September & October
Cashmere Chelan County Fair - September
Chehalis Cascade Country Cook-Off - August
Chehalis Garlic Fest - August
Chelan Lake Chelan Bach Fest - July
Chelan Lake Chelan Fine Arts Festival - August
Clayton Community Fair - July/August
Colville Red White & Bluegrass Festival - July 4
Coupeville Arts & Crafts Festival - August
Coupeville Penn Cove Mussel Festival - March
Coupeville Whidbey Island Kite Festival - September
Covington Days - July
Cusick Pend Oreille County Fair - August

Davenport Lincoln County Fair - August

Edmonds Arts Festival - June
Edmonds Jazz Connection - May
Ellensburg Kittitas County Fair - August/September
Enumclaw Street Fair - July
Enumclaw King County Fair - July
Enumclaw Scottish Highland Games - July
Ephrata Basin Summer Sounds - July
Everett Fresh Paint Festival - August
Everett Sausage Fest - October

Federal Way Festival Days - August
Friday Harbor San Juan County Fair - August

Gig Harbor Maritime Gig Festival - June
Gig Harbor Scandinavian Nordic Festival - October
Gig Harbor Quilt Festival - September/October
Goldendale Klickitat County Fair - August

Hoquiam Satsop River Rock Festival - July
Hoquiam Shorebird Festival - May

Issaquah Salmon Days Festival - October

Kalama Blues Festival - July
Kennewick Benton Franklin Fair and Rodeo - August
Kennewick Untapped Blues Festival - May
Kent Cornucopia Days - July
Key Peninsula Community Fair - July

Lake Chelan Bach Fest - July
Lake Stevens Aquafest - July
Langley Choochokam Arts Festival - July
Langley Island County Fair - August
Leavenworth Autumn Leaf Festival - September
Leavenworth International Accordion Celebration - June
Leavenworth Oktoberfest - October
Longview Cowlitz County Fair & Rodeo - August
Lynden Craft & Antique Show - October
Lynden Northwest Washington Fair - August

Maple Falls Joowanaroo Free Music Festival - June
Marysville Strawberry Fest - June
Monroe Evergreen Fair - August
Morton Loggers Jubilee - August
Moses Lake Grant County Fair - August
Moses Lake Spring Festival - May
Mount Vernon Bigfoot Bluegrass Jamboree - May
Mount Vernon Skagit County Fair - August
Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival - September

Naselle Finnish-American Folk Festival - July/August
Newport Pend Oreille Valley Lavender Festival - July
North Bend Festival at Mt. Si - August

Olympia Capital Lakefair - July
Olympia Procession of the Species - April
Olympia Thurston County Fair - August
Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival - August/September
Othello Sandhill Crane Festival - March

Port Angeles Clallam County Fair - August
Port Angeles Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival - October
Port Angeles Juan de Fuca Festival - May
Port Gamble Old Mill Days - June
Port Orchard Fathoms O' Fun - June/July
Port Townsend Jefferson County Fair - August
Port Townsend Victorian Festival - March
Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival - September
Poulsbo Viking Fest - May
Pullman Lentil Fest - August
Pullman/Colfax Palouse Empire Fair - September
Puyallup/Graham Pierce County Fair - August
Puyallup Western Washington State Fair - September
Puyallup Sewing and Stichery Expo - March

Renton River Days - July
Republic Ferry County Fair - August/September
Ritzville Blues Festival - July
Ritzville Wheatland Communities Fair - August/September
Roslyn Moose Days - July

Sedro-Woolley Loggerodeo - July
Selah Community Days- May
Sequim Irrigation Festival - May
Sequim Lavender Festival - July
Sequim Olympic Peninsula Birdfest - April
Shelton OysterFest - October
Silverdale Whaling Days- July
Skagit Valley Farm Tour - October
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival - April
Snohomish County Festival of Pumpkins-September/October
Snohomish Klahaya Days - July
Snohomish Antique & Classic Motorcycle Show - May
Southeast Spokane County Fair - September
Spokane County Fair - September
Spokane Lilac Festival - May
Stanwood Garden Faire - April
Stanwood - Camano Fair - August
Stevenson Skamania County Fair - August

Tacoma Freedom Fair - July 4
Tacoma Daffodil Parade - April
Tacoma Highland Games - June
Tacoma Wintergrass (Bluegrass) - February
Tri-Cities Lewis & Clark Bluegrass Festival & Dutch Oven Cooking Rendezvous - June
Tri-Cities Wine Festival - November
Tukwila Backyard Wildlife Fair - May

Vancouver Wine and Jazz Festival - August
Vancouver Discovery Walk Festival - April
Vashon Island Earth Fair August
Vashon Island Strawberry Festival - July

Walla Walla Hot August Blues Festival - August
Walla Walla Fair and Frontier Days - August/September
Wenatchee Apple Blossom Festival - April/May
Wenatchee North Central Washington Fair - August
Westport Windriders Kite Festival - July
Whidbey Island Kite Festival - September
Winthrop Methow Music Festival - August
Winthrop Blues Festival - July

Yakima Central Washington State Fair - September/October
Yakima Folklife Festival - July
Yakima Valley Fair & Rodeo - Aug

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Getting a Berry Milkshake at the Sakuma Market Stand in the Skagit Valley

Saturday, August 2, 2008, on the way to Bay View State Park to meet my great nephew Spencer Jack for the first time, we stopped at something new that had been added to the Skagit Valley since my last visit to the valley.

As far back as my memory goes, the Sakuma Brothers have been renowned farmers in the Skagit Valley. When I was a kid, as I remember it, it was mostly Strawberries that the Sakuma Brothers grew.

The new thing I was taken to was the Sakuma Market Stand. This is the very well done brainchild of Sakuma brother Richard. I remember him as a football star.

Nowadays I regularly get beaten, at Scrabble, by a Sakuma Sister living now in California.

The Sakuma Market Stand is a big operation. There's the Market, the Ice Cream House and the Bakery.

At the Sakuma Bakery you'll find shortcake suitable for Strawberries. You'll also find a variety of pies, including berry pocket pies.

Seattle Restaurant magazine picked the Ice Cream House's Sakuma Market Berry Milkshake as the best milkshake to be found in the Seattle region.

At the Sakuma Market Stand you'll find fields of Strawberries, Blackberries and Blueberries, where you can pick your own. Sakuma Brothers have added something called Haygrove Tunnels to protect the berry pickers from inclement weather.

Sakuma Brothers Mass Transit takes berry pickers out to the fields in wagons pulled by tractors.

You'll find Strawberries, Blackberries, Raspberries, Boysenberries, Tayberries, Wild Mountain Blackberries, Loganberries, Marionberries, Apples, Sweet Onions, Tomatoes, Carrots, Cucumbers, Sweet Corn, Pumpkins, Squash, Lettuce, Garlic, Cauliflower, Broccoli and Potatoes.

And, on top of all that produce, the Sakuma Brothers are one of only two commercial tea growers in the Continental United States, with more than 5 acres of the fertile Skagit Valley planted with tea leaves.

It is easy to find the Sakuma Market Stand. It is a short distance east of the intersection of Cook Road and Chuckanut Drive. Exit I-5 at Cook Road and head west on Cook Road toward Chuckanut Drive. The Sakuma Market Stand will be on your left in about 1/3 of a mile.

The next time I'm in the valley I will be on a mission to have one of those Sakuma Market Berry Milkshakes. The last time I was in the valley Blackberries were late in ripening. I badly wanted to have a fresh Blackberry milkshake. To no avail. I did have a fresh Strawberry milkshake though.

If you grow up with Skagit Valley Strawberries being your Strawberry, Strawberries grown elsewhere always disappoint, sadly lacking in real Strawberry flavor. Yes, I am talking about you, California.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Logging in Washington 60 Years Ago

You are looking at a photo taken over 60 years ago, in June of 1950. This is a group of loggers taking a break from the timber, near Acme, in Whatcom County, a short distance from Highway 9.

Third from the right is Vertis. Vertis and his wife, Melva and two kids, Verde and Velvyn, had arrived in Western Washington, eventually, after escaping from Kansas during the Dust Bowl of the Great Depression.

Vertis built a makeshift camper on a truck you started with a crank, very much like the Grapes of Wrath.

Vertis and family ended up in Yuma, Arizona, where one day of cotton picking was enough for Vertis. They then headed north, stopping in Ely, Nevada for a time, with Vertis working in a mine and Melva helping run a boarding house.

The family got a letter from old friends who had been neighbors in Kansas. The neighbors told Vertis and Melva about what they'd found in Western Washington. Work in the woods and cheap land.

And so, Vertis loaded up the family again and headed north.

Having driven myself on modern paved roads the routes traveled by Vertis and family, it greatly impresses me that Vertis did this.

Arriving in Washington, work and land was found, about 50 acres near Alger in Skagit County. The camper was pulled from the pickup truck and became the first part of the house Vertis built.

Life was finally good again. Two more kids were born. David and Lydia. And then, 6 months after the above picture was taken, Vertis was badly injured while logging.

Less than 3 years later twins were born, Big Ed and Wally.

Many years after that I met Vertis and Melva. Vertis was a character with a real bad hitch in his get-a-long, due to the logging injury. Melva was also a character. She was like a living history book, telling tales of the Roaring 20s and life in Kansas. And the struggles along the way of making it to Washington.

Vertis passed away 25 years ago. I'm thinking he'd likely be pleased that a picture of him, in logging mode, had been made viewable all over the world. Vertis would not understood how this was possible, but that would not have stopped him from giving me advice as to what type of computer I should buy.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

11 Year Old Girl Killed at Big Four Ice Caves on Mountain Loop Highway

The Big Four Ice Caves are in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, about 15 miles east of Granite Falls on the Mountain Loop Highway, accessed by a 1 mile, easily hiked, trail.

The Ice Caves are known to be dangerous. Signs caution against entering the caves.

Saturday afternoon a freak incident outside the Ice Caves killed an 11 year old girl and injured her mother.

The mother and daughter were standing on ice outside the Ice Caves when a big piece of ice came roaring down.

I have been inside the Big Four Ice Caves in winter, when it is below freezing, with the caves relatively stable.

I have also been to the Big Four Ice Caves during the spring thaw when high temperatures cause rapid thawing. I remember a large crowd of onlookers, watching from a vantage point, safely hundreds of feet from the Ice Caves, while avalanches of ice and snow came crashing down the steep cliffs, sort of like frozen waterfalls. The ice piles up at the base of the cliffs and eventually the warm temperatures of summer melt out the Ice Caves.

I would think that by July 31 most of the ice and snow had already come crashing down from the cliffs above the Ice Caves. Otherwise no one would have been close to the Ice Caves due to the obvious danger.

A memorable thing about the spring thaw was how loud the ice and snow was when it came tumbling down. The description of what happened at the Ice Caves on Saturday does not match the spring thaw ice tumbling down type scenario.

Others in the area at the time of the accident reported hearing screaming and that the ice did not drop, that it just started shifting.

Those are my nephews, Christopher and Jeremy, exploring the Ice Caves with me in the pictures.