Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Mt. Rainier, Washington: An ideal Fall Destination

Fall is a fantastic time to explore Mt. Rainier, Washington. The summer crowds have waned and the brilliance of the huckleberry bushes and vine maple is stunning. Fall color peaks mid-October through November although you’ll find fall beauty from mid-September on. I discovered the brilliance of autumn on the mountain one year touring courtesy of Visit Rainier.

Whether you are traveling Chinook Pass, State Route 410, or White Pass, U.S. Highway 12, you will be astounded by the brilliance of fall colors. Cottonwoods, willows, elderberry, aspen, tamarack, and every deciduous tree and shrub is in transition and the colors will amaze you.

Visit one of the Great Lodges of the West
If you love the venerable National Park lodges as I do, you’ll want to put a visit to Mt. Rainier’s Paradise Inn on your list. This year, not only is it the National Park Service Centennial, it’s the 100th Anniversary of Paradise Inn.

The inn is located in the area at the foot of Mt. Rainier originally named Paradise by James Longmire. Longmire thought the glaciers and beautiful wildflowers were, indeed, “paradise.”

The Paradise Inn was built in 1916. It was designed by a Tacoma architect in the rustic open-beam tradition of the National Park lodges. Logs for the inside of the building were hauled to the site by horses. At the time of opening, Paradise Inn had 37 guest rooms and a 400-person dining room. The Inn enabled travelers from Longmire to take a toll road and then, after their long journey, relax and stay overnight.

Today, Paradise Inn is in an area frequently visited. The park’s main visitor’s center is across the large parking lot. Trails to the falls and through beautiful red and yellow fall foliage begin at Paradise.

When you visit, you’ll still see the beautiful woodworking and rustic furniture created by Han Fraehnke, a German carpenter. He hand-built the piano and the grandfather clock in the lobby. There are huge tables and chairs dating back to the time of the original lodge. Visitors love to have their pictures taken sitting in the throne-like log chairs.

The lobby has two open levels. If you look up, you’ll no doubt be intrigued by the huge hanging lamps with wildflower-design shades. They are replicas of the original shades that were hand-painted by park employee’s wives. There are 64 lampshades in Paradise Inn representing the wildflowers so many visitors come to see on Mt. Rainier each Spring.

Paradise Inn is worth exploring. Although it has undergone a renovation, much of it is original and many quaint touches remain. There is a carved log bear in a corner of the lobby inviting visitors to deposit their “bear mail.” Take the stairs to the second level and find a small table to play a board game, write a postcard or check your e-mail.

Today, the Inn has 121 guest rooms, the Paradise Inn Dining Room, Tatoosh Café (kind of a snack bar/coffee shop), gift shop and, of course, the fascinating lobby. There is also an annex with more modern rooms.

The lodge guestrooms are small by today's standards and you can’t expect the modern amenities of televisions, telephones, and internet. Complimentary fluffy guest robes are provided for trips down the hall to the bathroom. By staying in the main lodge (the annex has rooms with private baths) you’ll be able to experience what a National Park Lodge was like in the day when travel to a place like Mt. Rainier was considered an adventure and a luxury.Paradise Inn is open seasonally and closes October 3rd after breakfast this year.

The National Park Inn located in the Longmire Historic District of Mt. Rainier National Park is open year round. The Inn has 25 simple rooms, a casual restaurant and general store located in a vintage 1911 log cabin.
Things to Do
Fall at Mt. Rainier is a transitional time. You may have warm sunny days for your day hikes and stops to see the sights or you may encounter an early snow. My September visit was warm and afforded us the opportunity for many scenic day hikes to enjoy the fall foliage and waterfalls. The red vine maple and high elevation huckleberry bushes were full of color. Add in a bright blue sky and the white of the glaciers and you’ll have some great photo opportunities as you hike along the trails or view the mountain from the lodge or visitor’s center. Visit Rainier has a helpful list of fall hikes at Mt. Rainier.

In Elbe you’ll find the Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum. In fall, the railroad schedules special events such as The Great Pumpkin Patch Express and The Washington Wine Express.

Visit Rainier has other great ideas including geocaching, mushroom foraging and huckleberry picking.

More Information
Visit Mt. Rainier

Saturday, August 27, 2016

100 Geocaches to Celebrate the National Park Centennial

Ready for a new adventure? On September 16th, the 4th and final series of caches for the Centennial GeoTour will be placed. This will total 100 geocaches placed around Mount Rainier and in their gateway communities such as Enumclaw. 

If you haven’t tried geocaching yet, it’s an outdoor “treasure hunt” using a GPS-enabled device such as a smartphone (with a geocaching app) or GPS receiver. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then look for the geocache (container) hidden at that location.

Read about Visit Rainier Blogger Kari Desser’s experience geocaching around Mt. Rainier.

The 100 geocaches on the Visit Rainier Centennial GeoTour highlight the rich history, scenic wonders, quaint communities, and hidden gems of the Mount Rainier region. Fall is a beautiful time of year to be up on the mountain.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Experiencing a Site of Conscience: Bosque Redondo and the Navajo Long Walk

Many have not heard about "The Long Walk" and Bosque Redondo at Ft. Sumner, New Mexico. Sometimes it is easier to forget painful chapters of our past.
I volunteered for five years with the traditional Navajo elders on the Navajo Reservation. Through the Adopt a Native Elder program I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with elders as old as 100 years during my twice-yearly food runs. We did bring clothing, food and medical supplies. But the Adopt a Native Elder Program is about building bridges of hope and understanding between our two cultures. 

So we talk and learn about each other. I have been moved by their mentions of "The Long Walk," a forced relocation from their homeland in Arizona to the Bosque Redondo area of New Mexico. Some of the elders recalled their older family members talking about the relocation with great sadness.
Bosque Redondo Museum and Grounds
I also had the pleasure of seeing unusual brightly colored weavings done by some of the Navajo women. The weavings were called "Germantown" style. I was told that the Navajo only used the commercial yarns to weave when the natural yarn and dyes were unavailable. Before the Navajo were relocated to Bosque Redondo, the beautiful Churro sheep they had used for wool yarn were destroyed.

I was both horrified and perplexed by what I heard. I was determined to find out more and wondered why many people had not heard about "The Long Walk." Or was it that people didn't want to talk about what they knew? I decided that I needed to go to the memorial site at Bosque Redondo, New Mexico, both to find out more, to see what the area looked like and to try and piece together what I had heard about "The Long Walk."  

Brief History of The Long Walk
Stories about "The Long Walk" have inconsistencies. Some say that the U.S. Army had experienced hostilities from groups of Apache and Navajo people and needed, somehow, to pacify them. Others say that there were valuable minerals to be mined on the lands. For whatever reason, it was decided that the Native people were a threat and should be moved. The Mescalero Apache were moved to the Bosque Redondo area and then the Navajo. I was told that the Navajo, who lived on vast lands, decided to hide so that they could not be captured and relocated. Kit Carson and the U.S. military retaliated by destroying their homes, fields and livestock. With no food, no means of survival and having no shelter, the Native people ended up coming to forts out of necessity. They were then banded together and relocated, being promised at the end of the journey, fertile farmland.  

This ‘scorched earth’ campaign of Carson’s “designed to starve the Navajo into submission” would be aptly called by the Navajos “The Fearing Time.” (Bosque Redondo Memorial Website History)

The walks started in January 1864. Groups of Navajo led by the Army were relocated from their traditional lands in eastern Arizona Territory and western New Mexico Territory to Fort Sumner in an area in the Pecos River valley. The journey was 450 harsh miles and many died during the trek.

Ultimately, by mid-1865, between 8,000 and 9,000 people were settled on an area of 40 square miles. After much hardship, the fleeing of the Apache people, and finding that the saline condition of the Pecos River flowing through the Bosque was not conducive to growing corn, beans and squash, the Navajo negotiated a treaty. The Treaty of Bosque Redondo between the United States and many of the Navajo leaders was concluded at Fort Sumner on June 1, 1868. The treaty provided for a return to the Navajo lands, supplies so that they could re-establish farming, compensation to tribal members, education for the children and provisions to protect the Navajo from having something like this happen in the future.
Treaty Rock is a good place to leave an offering.
Navajo Ghost Beads
Going to the Memorial at Bosque Redondo
Not many people travel to the Bosque Redondo Memorial at Fort Sumner State Monument. The Navajo people don't want to go as it represents a very dark chapter in the history of their people. The rest of us may not know about "The Long Walk," and if we do, we find that the area is very out of the way. You have to want to learn more and to experience the area to drive out to the memorial. It is off the beaten tourist path.

On a sunny autumn day I headed from Santa Fe, south on 285 south through Clines Corners and east on I-40 through prairie land. The drive was primarily on lightly traveled roads and so it gave me time to reflect on the Navajo people, their love of their land and four sacred mountains. How could anyone believe they had the right to move the Navajo? And, as I drove, I considered how it would be to walk through this high desert with no shelter, open to the elements. Men, women, children and elders endured this walk.
This painting is a moving depiction of the
horrors of the Long Walk across open high desert.
At Santa Rosa, New Mexico, I turned off the interstate and headed for the little town of Fort Sumner. The area was open, there were few trees except for cottonwoods and there were some large ranches. It felt like west Texas. It was so different from the Navajo's homeland dotted with herds of sheep and surrounded by the four sacred mountains. The land and their lives and culture are so intertwined. I could not imagine them apart from their lands.

My mood became more introspective as I neared Ft. Sumner. I had heard so much about the history there and it was all very dark. Ft. Sumner is an interesting small town with vintage buildings and a few historical landmarks. The legend of Billy the Kid seems to be the main draw with a commercial museum and gravesites. But I was focused on reaching the historic Ft. Sumner site and Bosque Redondo. Signs led me a few miles out of town through farmland (mostly alfalfa is being grown there). I reached a sign leading me into an area of cottonwoods and a building with a teepee shaped entrance.

In 1991, New Mexico State Monuments, the Museum of New Mexico, Navajo, and Apache leaders, began the creation of a memorial to truthfully acknowledge the history at Bosque Redondo. The Bosque Redondo Memorial opened at Fort Sumner on June 4, 2005, with New Mexican, Navajo, and Mescalero Apache leaders present. The memorial, designed by Navajo Architect David Sloan is shaped like a Navajo Hogan and an Apache teepee, and provides an interpretive trail and in-depth information about the history of Fort Sumner and Bosque Redondo Indian Reservation.  

At the Memorial
I had to realize, as I entered the memorial building, that the Navajo people no longer are in the area and most choose not to visit. I was greeted by a friendly Anglo man who proceeded to give a young couple from Dallas and myself an oral history of the area and "The Long Walk." He was knowledgeable, engaging and objective about the history.

I learned much from him including that the "Walk" was not one, but multiple treks along different routes. And I learned that corn could not be grown in the area once the people arrived due to water quality and an infestation of moths. So the military ended up trying to feed and clothe the people there, albeit poorly. I learned that the Apache and Navajo did not get along due to the difference in their lifestyles (the Apache were not farmers), and pictured that the encampment must have been a total disaster. Crops couldn't be grown, people didn't want to be there, the two tribes did not get along and for what purpose?

After the talk, I explored the grounds. You can take an audio tour as there are numbered stations on the memorial grounds. I was drawn to the Pecos River and found a nature trail along the water. I found peace along the river as I walked along the golden paths. I imagined the Navajo coming to the river for water.
The beauty of the bosque and river provided some peace
in an otherwise troubling setting.
On the grounds I found a reconstruction of the Fort Sumner ruins. The original fort was burned years ago and there is little that you can see from that era. Also on the grounds is a memorial to the treaty that the Navajo negotiated with the U.S. Government and a place where rocks have been placed that represent all the areas of the Navajo Reservation.

Not much is on the grounds but the feeling of despair remains. Aside from my walk along the river, I had the same feeling visiting those grounds as I did when I visited the remains of the Dachau concentration camp in Germany. That is a strong statement to make but it is the way I felt.
From the four corners of the Navajo Reservation, these rocks were brought.
The Navajo people still prefer not to return to this area.
The Visitors Center
After touring the grounds I returned to the Visitors' Center. There are educational displays about the "Long Walk" and Bosque Redondo and a video to watch. But what I found significant were the haunting paintings and murals. They depicted this dark era well and were a good representation of what "The Long Walk" must have looked like. The memorial continues to grow with a new phase being added.
It is through the murals and paintings at the Visitors Center
that the story of The Long Walk can be understood.
When You Go
The drive to Bosque Redondo is about two and a half hours from Santa Fe. And, it is a rather short trip for anyone passing through Santa Rosa on I-40. It is important to go to this site to truly understand our history and the tragedy which was part of it.

The memorial has been dubbed a “museum of conscience” and it is compared to other sites established in recent years to recognize such tragedies as the Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado, and the Cherokee Trail of Tears.

Allow an hour or two to go through the memorial, walk the grounds and contemplate what was done to the Apache and Navajo people. Once I traveled to the memorial, I was glad that I did. I understood more than ever why bridges need to be built between people such as the Navajo elders I visited in northern Arizona and my culture. The visit made me even more aware of what these people had endured in their history and why waking at dawn each day to see their land and sacred mountains is so important to them.  

Writer's Note: There are many opinions and thoughts about visiting the Bosque Redondo Memorial and about The Long Walk. The opinions and impressions here are solely my own. I would invite comments, your impressions and your story about this significant event in our history. Please use our comments section.  

More Information
Treaty of Bosque Redondo  
Bosque Redondo Memorial  
Navajo Rugs and Germantown Weavings  
Adopt a Native Elder Program
International Coalition of Sites of Conscience

Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West  
Books about the Navajo and The Long Walk

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Petrified Forest National Park – A Rainbow of Petrified Wood

The colors in the petrified wood are amazing.
What I love about the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona is the colorful array of petrified wood. You’ll see reds, yellows, purples and more as you walk the trails and enjoy these colorful giants. The park has one of the best collections of huge colorful petrified logs in the world!

What truly amazed me was that the park was once a lush forest with small invertebrates and varied sizes of dinosaurs living there. Scientists are still working the area and finding fossils. When you see the grassy, high-desert plains of the Petrified Forest, it will be hard to imagine that it was once a forest.

This area is also Route 66 country.  Petrified Forest National Park is the only park in the National Park System containing a section of Historic Route 66.

When to Visit the Petrified Forest
If you plan to walk the trails and see the beautiful logs and amazing vistas, you’ll want to visit in good weather. The park and trails are pretty much out in the open. Remember, it USED to be a forest! It will be hot in summer and you’ll get wet when it rains. The park is open every day except Christmas, though.  Please check here for more information

Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark (a museum and bookstore only) is open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. MST year-round.
Even small pieces unearthed by a rain, are
worth looking at... all are different. All have
different mineral content.

I visited one sunny October day when I was on my way to the International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque. We spent the night in Holbrook , the gateway to this expansive park.

Tips for Visiting the Petrified Forest National Park
– The Park is large. Allow ample time even if driving through.
– Wear walking shoes as you’ll love exploring the rocky trails
– Never think you can pick up a piece of petrified wood. It is not only against the law, it may bring you bad luck!
- Ideally you’ll be able to spend most of the day. You’ll want to start at the south end, spend time at the Visitors Center, drive through the park, stopping to enjoy the trails and end with views of the beautiful Painted Desert.

Stop in Holbrook to purchase a souvenir or
just peruse the amazing pieces offered at Jim Gray's
Bring Back Real Petrified Wood
Since you can’t do any souvenir hunting in the Park, I recommend shopping at Jim Gray’s in Holbrook. Be sure and choose a piece of Arizona petrified wood.

More Information
Park Website
Book a Place to Stay in Holbrook and Save

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: 4 from Ilwaco Washington

Visit Ilwaco, Washington, coastal fishing village.

Seattle's Smith Tower to Open for Tours and Events

Don’t you just love the Seattle landmark, the venerable Smith Tower? Smith Tower was Seattle’s first skyscraper. It is recognizable even as you drive into Seattle. 

It has just been announced that tickets are now on sale for the new tour and visitor experience at Smith Tower, reopening to the public on August 25. Presale tickets can be purchased at www.smithtower.com. Be one of the first to experience “The Legends of Smith Tower” self-guided tour celebrating the iconic building’s history and architecture. This tour provides a fascinating and humorous introduction to Seattle through the lens of the city’s first skyscraper.

Smith Tower has been revitalized from the ground floor to the Observatory. The interactive tour was designed and developed by the San Francisco office of Gallagher & Associates, an internationally recognized museum planning and design firm. The firm gathered valuable research on the unique history of both building and city creating an engaging tour for visitors to explore and uncover fascinating details about Smith Tower’s storied past through various historical settings and interactive experiences.

The original space on the 35th floor, formerly known as the Chinese Room, is currently in the final stages of renovation and will now be known as the Smith Tower Observatory, home to Smith Tower Temperance café and bar. The Observatory will feature original elements of the historic Chinese Room space including the ornate ceiling tiles, the famed Wishing Chair and other artifacts that pay homage to the vibrant past life of this space and the memories shared by visitors over the years.

Temperance, a speakeasy-style concept, will serve a menu inspired by Prohibition and Smith Tower’s historical Asian influence. Visitors will find a menu composed of light fare including seasonal bites, banh mi sandwiches, a raw oyster bar and craft cocktails celebrating the building and the Observatory’s roots.

Each visitor will be whisked up to the top of the tower in the historic Otis elevators where they will take in 360-degree views of Seattle from the exhilarating open-air observation deck.

Beginning August 25, Smith Tower will offer two new tour and viewing experiences for tourists, tenants and visitors:

The Legends of Smith Tower. A perfect starting point for new visitors to discover Smith Tower, The Legends of Smith Tower tour runs every ten minutes beginning at 10 a.m. every day, with ticket sales ending at 5:30 p.m. and tours ending by 6 p.m. daily.
this 40-minute, self-guided, interactive tour highlights historic artifacts and stories about Seattle through the lens of this historic building, navigating visitors through back rooms and secret nooks. Combining interesting facts and lore with sprinkles of humor and intrigue, this tour makes for a great experience at any age. As you are transported back in time through your tour experience, additional highlights include stunning, 360-degree views of Seattle from the 35th floor Observatory and open-air viewing deck and access to the speakeasy-inspired Temperance café and bar as well as historic exhibits available only to guests visiting the Observatory. Adults: $19.14; children ages 5-12: $14.00; seniors over 65 and military with ID: $17.00.

Straight Up. The ideal option for those who want direct access to breathtaking, 360-degree views of Seattle via the Observatory and open-air viewing deck. With ticket purchase, visitors are granted access to Temperance café and bar, as well as historic exhibits available in the Observatory. All ages: $10.00. Straight Up tickets are available in limited quantities from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Launching this winter, Smith Tower will offer an additional interactive tour experience:

The Bootleg King. An enhanced, self-guided role-playing tour that builds on the Legends of Smith Tower tour and grants access to additional intrigue and participation. Ideal for new and return visitors to Smith Tower, the tour is grounded in mystery, clues and discovery, all tethered to the scintillating story of Roy Olmstead, Seattle’s rum-running Bootleg King during the Prohibition era. This tour includes all features of The Legends of Smith Tower tour, and is enhanced with special clues that unlock additional mysteries and exclusive access to secret drinks for all ages from Temperance café and bar.

Another new amenity located on the ground floor is Smith Tower Provisions, a general store stocked with all the essentials for tenants and visitors. Provisions will offer sweet treats at the soda fountain including nostalgic favorites like floats with all-natural Full Tilt Ice Cream, as well as grab n’ go fare at the deli counter. If you’re in need of a last-minute gift or maybe a dozen eggs, Provisions will feature a curated retail store filled with locally inspired gifts, art, apparel and grocery staples like milk and fresh flowers.

In addition to dynamic tours and Northwest-inspired food and beverage offerings, Smith Tower is the perfect setting for meetings, events, intimate weddings and celebrations. Indoor and outdoor spaces on multiple floors combine to provide more than 4,500 square feet of event space, ideal for the party planner or host looking for a cosmopolitan venue that offers unparalleled views of Seattle in bustling Pioneer Square.

Smith Tower opened in 1914 as the first skyscraper in Seattle and tallest building west of the Mississippi. Located just steps from the picturesque downtown waterfront, Smith Tower has stood as a Northwest cultural icon for more than 100 years, delighting visitors and maintaining its status as a premier office space for companies of all sizes and industries.

Smith Tower will officially open to the public on Thursday, August 25, at 10 a.m. For more details and to purchase tickets, visit http://smithtower.com.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

New Tusk Middle Eastern Restaurant Opens Monday in Southeast Portland

Its hard to keep up with the restaurant scene in Portland. Here's a new restaurant that is creating a lot of buzz. I'll let you know if I have the chance to dine there. Sounds intriguing!

Tusk, the ambitious seasonal Middle Eastern restaurant from the hospitality group behind Portland’s Ava Gene’s, will open to the public this Sunday on East Burnside in Portland, Oregon.

The restaurant will serve dinner nightly, a late night menu until midnight, and brunch on the weekends – all with a focus on seasonal vegetables, whole grains, and Middle Eastern flavors.  The menus are the vision of Executive Chef/Partner Sam Smith. Smith was the opening sous chef at Philadelphia’s acclaimed modern Israeli restaurant, Zahav, where he developed a love for the flavors, textures and style of Middle Eastern cuisine. He spent the last three years in Portland at Ava Gene’s, where he was Chef de Cuisine and developed close relationships with local farmers. At Tusk, he’ll marry the two. The flavor profile and commitment to seasonality also extends into the cocktail and dessert menus.  

Submarine Hospitality partners Joshua McFadden and Luke Dirks recruited an all-star culinary lineup to lead every area of the restaurant: Smith’s Chef de Cuisine Wesley Johnson was also on the opening team at Zahav and is best known in Portland for bringing some of those flavors to Cafe Castagna. Tusk’s Pastry Chef is former Le Pigeon dessert wiz Nora Antene, who spins nostalgic American desserts into artistic creations with the use of unexpected and often savory ingredients. Guests will see vegetables and savory spices on the dessert menu at Tusk, including creations employing the restaurant’s soft serve ice cream machine. All breads and pastries will be baked in-house. The bar program is run by Tyler Stevens, who will draw on his background as a champion barista and most recently as General Manager of Teardrop Lounge to utilize the kitchen’s vegetable juices and herbs on the cocktail menu, as well as creating coffee and tea cocktails for brunch.

Tusk’s interior seats 68 guests, separated into a bright and airy front dining room with a 12-seat marble bar, and a sultry back room which also functions as a private dining space. An outdoor patio off the west side of the building seats 24.  Jessica Helgerson designed the clean, modern interior with white walls, camel-colored leather banquettes and custom designed brass light fixtures fabricated locally by Schoolhouse Electric. The restaurant’s largest art piece is a portrait of Keith Richards floating in a swimming pool above the bar, a statement about the restaurant’s playful attitude.

Tusk will begin taking nightly reservations for the dining room shortly after opening, but bar and patio seating will always remain open for walk-in guests.

Tusk is located at 2448 E Burnside, Portland, Oregon, and open for dinner 7 nights a week (until midnight Mon.-Sat. and 10pm Sundays), and brunch on Saturday and Sunday. Tel. 503.894.8082 tuskpdx.com  Instagram: @tuskpdx  Facebook: TuskPDX

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Fascination with Doors: Travel Writers Love Them!

I was recently invited to participate in a collaborative post about doors and travel. It seems like everyone enjoys photographing interesting doors world-wide. In fact, you'll find whole Instagram accounts devoted to doors... @travelingthroughdoors @thedoorproject are two I suggest following.

The blog, Hello Giggles, has noticed this obsession with hinged entrances and wrote a post about the trend

And, from time to time, I've been drawn to photograph doors. The door I submitted for the collaboration was one that I went through while visiting Taos Pueblo. I was drawn by the color of the door and the sun streaming into the little shop. It was welcoming and intriguing.

"Be an opener of doors" -Ralph Waldo Emerson 
Be sure and have a look at our collaborative effort and see what the other travel writers chose for the post.  Enjoy these "doortraits!"

So now we're off to gather window photos for a collaborative effort. Look for that one soon on Irene Levine's More Time To Travel blog.