Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Escape to Pendleton

We learned about a world class saddle maker, Duff Severe, whose work can now be found in the Smitsonian. When the leather got too heavy for him, he started making masterpiece minatures. Carol is standing next to a small grouping of them at the Underground Museum in Pendleton.

The scrap bags above were all that Carol wanted to purchase, even though she took oodles of cash down to Pendleton. The scraps are cut from the edges of blankets into a fairly long string of material, 1 or 2 inches wide and 20 feet long. Here, the clerk is showing our Empty Nester groups how to hand crochet an area rug.

This is part of the Underground tour. A local meat packer kept his stockroom below the main street level store and the ice kept better. This local guy is our tour guide and, except for the gazillion stairs up and down, his job looked like my dream job in the near (aka retired and not caring about money) future.

Carol gets symoblism here in the Woolen Mills museum. The natives had patterns of significance that the wove into their products. I feel they have lost the ability to accurately portray a human head, but hey, who is to critic? Pretty sure sheep were not indigenous to this area, anyway, so some missionary taught them that heads are supposed to look like Army tank turrets.

Echo Oregon--pimple on the nose of America. However, it was a low point on the Umatilla River, so the Oregon trail passed through here. This is a picture of an old, old jail cell in Echo. Carol says the rest of the group isn't keen stopping to see these things but they love to watch Dennis drool at looking at historical stuff.

Two weekends ago the ladies of our empty nesters group declared the need for a break from teaching school--a no classess, no phone calls, no Temple obligations, no Sunday services break from all of it. Amazingly we settled on a two night-three day stand only 65 miles away--Pendleton, Oregon. No roughing it, and minimal pressure to eat breakfast before 9. Stayed at the Hampton Inn, of course. The blanket with the indians and Carol in her too cool Pendleton jacket is from the tour of the woolen mills. Again--a fair share of walking, but the group is patient with my pace. The final picture is of a wool loom at work. I love the colors but not enough to drop $179 for a factory seconds blanket. Home again Sunday night with a nearly full tank of gas and a couple of recharged school teachers.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Walla Walla Sweets

No pictures, so boring, right? Well last Friday night was fantastic again. Once a year (occasionally more, but rarely) we get together with Bill and Laurie Pofahl for a spare no expenses night on the town. That town being the WW. Bill has been ordering tickets to the outdoor musical theater there for many years and we have gone with them the last 12 in a row.This year the show was "Hairspray." First, we usually eat dinner in WW at some pricey place. This year it was the Backstage Bistro, an eclectic barbecue place to be sure. Carol and I split delicious crab cake appetizers, then she went with a spinach salad while I chose spicy asian salad. entree-- flatiron steak for m'lady and baby backs for myself. Carrot cake for me and a fruit compote for Carol. Total cost? About $110 for us two. On to the show, which deals with a fat chick who loves to dance but is not accepted into the crowd so goes to "Negro" night and has a ball. I didn't think WW had enough black folks to fill the cast, but they did okay. Home at blessed midnight. Can't wait until next year, OR if Garrison Keillor is anywhere within a 150 mile radius. Love you Pofahls.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

So, what's the deal with Condon and Fossil?

Well, there is nothing really special about these "seen better times" towns of around 700 people in central Oregon. Our empty nester's group went to Fossil last February in the hopes of digging fossils. One and a half inches of snow put the kibosh on that activity, but we hung around the old ranch house in the evenings, went to the underpopulated Branch for Sunday, played "Hand and Foot" card games into the wee hours of the night and vowed we would return often to this quiet burg. When I saw that Condon, some 20 miles north was touting a 4th of July celebration it all clicked. No work, no calls to teach a class, no calls to accompany Carol's folks to this or that. And Heather and Brandon with a 3- and a 5-year old. Took off after Sunday School and drove the 70 or so miles to Arlington where we cooled down at the town beach, watching the kids enjoy themselves, and soaking in the shade. On to Condon 37 curvy miles of Highway 19 to the South (Carol has to drive to avoid motion sickness) to check into the only hotel in town. Hotel Condon is restored from 42 to 18 rooms. Classy fixtures, squeaky floors and a cheese and cracker tasting at 4 PM. Gpa crashed while Gma and clan took in the "lay of the land." Decided to drop down to Fossil for a mediocre but available dinner. Again, the lay-of-the-land explorations continued with Carol leading everyone but me up to the fossil beds, now immediately available. No supervision, nobody else, the gentle digging and rock splitting revealed several treasures until we decided to head back to Condon. Asleep to the sounds of farm boys setting off M-80s in the streets, but we slept well enough. Brandon and Heather were up early (7:15 or so) and off to the 8K run where they had to hitch a ride to the starting point. Breakfast was continental and enough to satisfy the slow awakening boys and the grandparent babysitters. We could tell Brandon was dying to get back to the fossil beds, but we made him stay for the parade. Heather had set up our lawn chairs in the shade on Main Street (actually still Highway 19) and as we waited for the parade to start we couldn't resist the chuck wagon feed right around the corner, and I couldn't resist still another book from the bookstore across the street. The library had a clearance sale right in the bldg behind us so Carol and Brandon each loaded up for $10 each. Carol bought a new purse and then the parade began with showers of candy from the participants to the point where children were getting selective on what they'd get out of their lawn chairs to pursue: "Is that just a sucker? Aw, let it sit!" The parade went from right to left and nobody left because it came back going left to right. What fun. They then set up ramps to start soap box derbies and that was cool for one round and then I conceded to the almost rabid dog son-in-law to head back to Fossil. However, with a twist. I took Heather in the car, while everyone else went with the kiddie seats. Hev and I went after some old barns to photograph (see her blogs for the spectacular results). I was amazed as this girl climbed grades, walked through cheat grass in her sandals and we had a ball. She ended up startling 5 deer in three locales, along with several hawks who circled their interruptive guest. At the top of one hill we could see Mt Hood and Mt Adams in the distance. We met up with the fossil diggers at 3:00 and drove home with exhausted gma and kids. Home at 6:30 or so, we bought Mexican and said "good night." No attempt at fireworks. So, what was so special about Condon? Well, the fact that it wasn't really so special, so no crowds, no rude folks and everything was at a relaxed pace. And the them was independence day, not entertainment.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Las Vegas Retreat

Well, took advantage of an opening at Sin City time share and rented a three bedroom condo. Hev and her family as well as Carl and his family filled the joint. Grandma served as Pied Piper again with her mysterious bags of gifts and flair for entertaining the grandkids.

Not very flattering of me (horizontal stripes add 150 lbs), but this was our discovery this year. Lola's kitchen. I'm having catfish and grits. Carl is having Jambalaya. Definitely something for the next trip.