Monday, June 20, 2016

Yakima, Washington

June 10 - 13, 2016:

It was sunny and beautiful at the John Dale area in the morning and I hated to leave, but secretly the constant wind gets tiring.  So off we go across the Columbia River Bridge and uphill into Washington State.  It was Route 97 all the way to Yakima, Washington with much traffic and much wind, not a pleasant drive.  The Yakima Valley area is all about fruit and vegetable farms, a veritable green oasis, thanks to irrigation.  Eventually, we get onto Route 821 north which takes us into the Yakima Canyon.  Our campground, the Big Pine Campground, is about 9 miles into the canyon which is a serious canyon cut by the Yakima River.  It’s a beautiful campground right on the river, surrounded by the canyon with no hookups.  The Yakima River, like all the rivers here, flows fast, clear and wild and is a highly regarded fishing stream. 

Wind Turbines cover the hilltops on the Washington side

I noticed a tunnel above the current roadway in the Yakima Canyon and investigated.  It turned out to be an older, long abandoned,  road course.  The tunnel area looks like a street gang hangout with lots of spray painted unattractive graffiti.  I happened to be there with a rough looking family group who may have responsible for some of it.

The old roadway

A scenic view from the road

Inside the tunnel 

Another roadside pull off along the Yakima Canyon Road has a short trail which ends at this beautiful viewpoint.  It overlooks the Canyon, the Yakima River and the Railroad.

View looking into the Canyon

There were many of these beauties along the trail

We took a ride north through the Yakima Canyon to the town of Ellensburg which has a beautiful vibrant downtown.  It was quite a surprise, did not expect much, we actually liked it better than Yakima. 

The Davidson Building is a gem

As is the Kleinberg Building

Also the National Bank

The Rodeo is a huge event here

Saturday is the much anticipated Yakima Blues and Brews Festival in downtown Yakima.  Yakima was a disappointment, the historic downtown has a few gems like the Capital Theaterand the "Great Northern Train Station", but not much to rave about.  We came upon a small corner park area with objects encased in glass fronted display panels with accompanying stories.  It was wonderful, but sadly someone had broken into several of the panels and taken the contents and some of the lettering was faded away.

A favorite sign, it rotated and the muzzle tip was illuminated

The old theater was restored and great

Nice park area with interesting displays

Beautiful brickwork across from the Train Station

The original Great Northern Train Station, now converted
into a coffee shop, but freight trains still run by

The street was closed off for about a block for the Blues and Brews Festival where they had several local breweries, wineries and food vendors on site for beverages and food.  The bands were all good, but as usual at these events, about half of the (so called) blues bands, are not what a purist would call blues.  I’m fine with that, as long as it isn’t too jazzy or to much soft and smooth.  I like my blues to be loud and rough !   The last band we heard, the Scott Pemberton Band, was actually the most exciting band there, but not real blues, they called it "Timber Rock".  The first band, CD Woodbury, my favorite, was the most traditional and did an incredible rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe”.  Billy D and the Hoodoos were the best all around blues band.  The other two touring bands, who were the actual headliners, were too smooth and soft for me.  One thing we noticed, in Yakima they don’t dance much and when they do it’s pretty bad, just like me.   It’s a big change from the southwest where dancing seems to be inbred.

CD Woodbury was incredible

Billy D and the Hoodoos with a couple of dancers.  They eventually
got people out there after threatening to stop playing

Walter "Wolfman" Washington and the Roadmasters

Festival view

On Sunday, we headed north of Ellensburg to the towns of Cle Elum and Roslyn.  They are both classic Oregon towns with much character and a coal mining heritage.  Cle Elum has a few interesting buildings, but the main attraction seems to be a highly rated bakery (closed on Sunday) andGlondo’s Sausage Co”. I also wished I could have visited the “Telephone Museum” and had a beer at “The Caboose” bar.

The Telephone Museum

Interesting old ghost signs

Glondo's Sausage Co.

The Caboose

The town of Roslyn was very cool, I have elevated it to my favorite places.  It was the first day of their Farmers Market which was one of the best we have been to.  The original buildings in town have somehow survived and have been left mostly original or at least tastefully redone.  The downtown was packed with people, there were several good restaurants, interesting shops and live music going on.  We heard a woman playing guitar and singing beautifully at a bar on the edge of the market and stopped for a beer.  She had a great voice and was doing classic stuff, even Bob Dylan and doing them well.  “The Brick” bar  which claims to be the oldest continuously operating bar in Washington has a running water trough that runs along the bar floor that originally was used as a spittoon.  It was thought to be more sanitary ?  We wanted to eat there, but there wasn’t an empty seat in the house, so we settled for the beautiful “Roslyn Cafe”, not too shabby, which is another local favorite.  Roslyn has been used in several movies and most notably in the CBS television series Northern Exposure where it portrayed the fictional town of Cicely, Alaska.

This Farmers Market is a great one

The Hula Hoop girl was interesting

The famous much photographed Roslyn Cafe

Entrance to The Brick

Our beautiful campsite turned somewhat "bad" when a group of somewhat trashy young ladies pitched their tents next door.  It must be a girls gone wild weekend event or something.  They were swilling beer, talking trash, (the language made me blush) and playing country and rap music rather loudly.  I really didn’t care to see that sun burned, fat one in the bikini with the cigarette hanging out of her mouth either !  This is a hidden peril of staying in a rustic campground on a weekend.  

Everywhere we go seems to next to a rail line, this campground has one across the river, the trains are not frequent and they don’t blow the horn, but lots of wheel noise.  Many RV’ers complain bitterly in campground reviews about train noise, but it doesn’t bother us much, in fact I sort of like it.

Does the noise doesn't bother the fish ?

The Yakama Indian Tribe has a large reservation southwest of the city of Yakima.  This is huge Cherry and Hops growing country with extensive fields and warehouse buildings.  This area produces approximately 75% of the Hops used in the country primarily for beer brewing.

I traveled to the town of Toppenish in the center of all this agriculture to take a look at the murals.  Toppenish claims to be a city of museums and murals and they aren’t lying.  They have 70 plus professionally done historic murals around town along with the “Hop Museum”, the “Northern Pacific Railway Museum” and the “Yakima Tribe cultural Center”.  The city is entirely on Indian Reservation land, but seems to be inhabited mostly by hispanic farm workers.

Great mural on the Safeway Market

Mural depicting the Indian treaty of 1855

Interesting figues painted in all the windows

A favorite indian gambling game

Mural of famous Chiefs

Alex McCoy, a famous Yakama Chief and horseman

The Hops Museum

The entire landscape in this part of the country is volcanic in origin and I'm thinking if these mountain chains were to erupt again, it would probably be the end ? Of course, not much chance of that in our lifetime, they say, but that day will come and our civilization will end up like the dinosaurs, my sobering thought for the day.

With that in mind, our next stop is Mt. Rainer National Park, considered to be an active Volcano;

Twinkles and Slick

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