Thursday, July 02, 2009

Brews, Blues and BBQ

Well, we made it back! It was a fun, but exhausting trip. Maybe we are just wimps and need to travel more (I'm actually sure this is true), but man! I did most of the driving (habit, I guess), about 800 miles, but my poor DH got stuck with the last part of the return when we got stuck in crappy traffic. Yay I-5!

The event was held in a pretty small town, on a small site with a not-so-small number of people. There were about 10-12 breweries, so rather small. I was slightly disappointed that there weren't more, but also that several of them were from the Seattle area, so not new to us. However, the rest were new and more local to the event. They made some nice beer, too. The BBQ side of things was also pretty small and not all local to the event, but still tasty!

I took some knitting, but in the end, I only worked on it in the hotel room. It was just too crowded at the Brew event. And hot. Somehow, I did not want to touch the wool yarn sitting in the bright sunshine. lol

We didn't fully plan the whole trip before leaving. I mean that I found some interesting things to do on the trip, but we had no idea what we would try to do, or what order we'd try to hit everything. So, the first stop turned out to be Ape Cave. Turns out DD2 does not like caves. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. In the end, we rented a lantern and went in for about 15-20 minutes, then left. I hope she was just being a squirrel and isn't really claustrophobic. The rest of us like caves and I'd like to visit more sometime. Still, an interesting little adventure. It was amazing the temperature difference between the topside and just going down the stairs, at least 20 degrees.

We rolled into the hotel around 7 or so in the evening. We checked in, then headed out to a local brewery for dinner. Yummy pizza and a nice view of the Columbia river. The hotel (well, it is billed as a resort, but cost significantly less than most of the hotels I looked at) had no TV or phones, so we played some games and went to bed to rest up for the next day. Sadly, no one really slept much.
The next day we got up and drove East to Maryhill. Our intended destination was the Maryhill Stonehenge site, but we also went to the Maryhill Museum of Art. The museum was a delightful find. They had an exhibition from the Hudson River School, though they did not have my favorite (Frederic Church) in the lot. There's also a collection of sculpture and sketches from Aguste Rodin permanently on display here.

The same fellow responsible for the museum, Sam Hill, also built the Stonehenge monument. My apologies to everyone who've seen the real Stonehenge (not me, sadly). This monument is a testament, in many ways, to why research (ahem, librarians!) is useful. You see, he built the monument to honor the young men in that area who lost their lives in WWI (13 of them, I think). He built it in the mistaken belief that Stonehenge was a sacrifical site, thus the sacrifice of the young lives in the war. He also failed to understand that there is a particular orientation of the stones in Stonehenge, so did not even factor that into his considerations when building this site. Lastly, it isn't to scale and nothing there indicates the difference.

Okay, that sounds horribly critical doesn't it? It was in a lovely location, a high bluff overlooking the Columbia River and some vineyards. (This area of WA state is big on wineries.) I think it is really cool that he was so moved by the loss of life and the war that he built such a lovely memorial for these young men. But, as I am increasingly sceptical that I'll ever get to England, I'm a bit bummed that it was so poorly researched before being built. That said, construction was started in the 1920s, so not sure what information was available at that time anyway.

At this point, please let me mention that it was hot. For my friend in TX, it was probably a lovely day at 86F, but for me, TOO HOT. There was little shade. So, after a long morning spent out driving in the sunny warm weather, we then headed off to the brew event itself. We stayed a few hours, the left to rest at the hotel. I "took the waters" and had a mineral bath & wrap. As I sat there in a tub full of rather warm water piped in from the hot mineral springs I did take some time to ponder the question of my sanity. Hot day in a hot tub. In water that smelled quite a bit of eggs. But, you know, it was all about the experience. Right? Later that afternoon, we went back the Brews event and had another round of tastes and BBQ. It was late enough that the temperature was cooling a bit and we sat and watched a bunch of folk kite boarding on the river. It looked like loads of fun.

The next day we were heading home, so we crossed the river at the Bridge of the Gods, because who can resist that name? Then we drove up the Oregon side of the river and visited numerous waterfalls along the way. This one is Multnomah Falls. Perhaps not my best picture, but I took so many I finally just had to grab one. We got out and walked around (or hiked) most of the falls we came to, so we spent quite a while on the trail.

At Multnomah, there was some event going on, so the kids did some crafts and we browsed the tourist center stuff. While there I found this little gem.

Yes, folks, it looks like maybe El Chupacabra has migrated up to Oregon. Then again, it turns out that Skamania County (where the brews event was taking place) is officially a Bigfoot Refuge and it is illegal to hunt/kill Bigfoot in Skamania County. See, for all of my research into what to see on the trip, I failed to discover that this area is big on Bigfoot sightings, or that there are ordinances declaring the safety and heavy penalties for harming Bigfoot. Back to this little notice, though, I was curious if El Chupacabra could coexist with Bigfoot, or if, perhaps, the locals were misidentifying the creature. Maybe the Oregonians, who are essentially just across the river, mind you, want all the crazy critters they can collect. I mean, Bigfoot can probably swim or something, right?

Having had my little X-Phile moment of squeeing, and after enjoying the falls, we made our way back to WA state and headed up to the Johnson Observatory for a lovely view of Mt. St. Helens. I got behind every. single. slow. tourist. on the way up the mountian. DH had a clear shot down, but then got caught in the STOP and go traffic for 2.5 hours on the highway. The girls enjoyed the view, and we watched the (new to me) movie about the eruption and wandered around a bit. I haven't been there in about 15 years. It is astounding how much the plants/trees have grown up in that time! It is beautiful and amazing to see nature going about its business reparing all the damage.

Finally, after over 12 hours in the car, we made it home, unpacked, and collapsed. A great trip, but it took two days at home to recover from the fun.

Now to prep for the Tour de Fleece!