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Celebrating People, Places & the Good Life in SW Washington State
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Posts from — April 2010

Hulda Klager’s Legacy Blooms On

The year is 1903. Woodland resident Hulda Klager reads about Luther Burbank’s plant propagation work. Tired of peeling small apples for pies, she hybridizes a larger apple. From that work, she moves to lilacs and changes the history of the flowering shrub. After years of creating new varieties, she starts the tradition of annual open houses, sharing her plants with lilac collectors.

Thirty years later disaster strikes. Imagine that your life’s work is washed away. In 1948, a flood destroyed most of Hulda’s collection. At age 83, she started over. Many people who had purchased her many varieties came back with plant starts. She re-planted her collection and continued her spring open houses until her death at age 96 in 1960.

Today, the fragrant collection and the 1889 Klager home are maintained by the Hulda Klager Lilac Society. You can see the results of Hulda’s work, tour the Klager farm house and purchase plants every spring from mid-April through Mother‘s Day during Lilac Days . During the rest of the year, the grounds are open from 10 am to 4 pm, seven days a week. Details here .

Here are a few photos of Hulda Klager’s floral legacy:

City of Gresham

Katherine Havemeyer


Lilac Sunday


April 21, 2010   2 Comments

Where is the Happiest Place in Southwest Washington? And ZEST’s Winner is…

In February, we announced ZEST’s first contest. We were seeking the happiest place in Southwest Washington. It has been great fun reading the entries. Five judges scored each entry and ultimately chose one winner and 10 honorable mentions.

In the words of one judge: “I want to visit all of the places.” So does ZEST. We will be featuring many of the ideas in future posts. Thank you entrants for such fun suggestions!

So, drum rolllllll, here is our winner! Shelley Burch is the winner of a $50 gift certificate to the Southwest Washington restaurant of her choice. And the Happiest Place is:

Kites and Happiness on the Long Beach Peninsula (photo by Spence Photo Design)

Pacific county it’s for me. Can run whee along the beach. While the wind blows free. The ocean rolls in and out. The gulls fly without a doubt. Kite’s fly without hitting a wire. Flying low or even higher. Sand castles are made to show your creative side. Downtown Long Beach bumper cars give a great ride. And Marshes Museum is a great place to see. Give me the ocean it’s Happy for me.

Congrats, Shelley!

And now for our 10 Honorable Mentions, all of which are Happy Places, too.

Beacon Rock is the happiest place in Southwest Washington. It is a beautiful hike that our whole family loves to take many times a year. Every time we climb Beacon Rock it brings us closer together as a family. We love having our out of town friends join us on the hike to see some of the beauties the northwest has to offer. We love Beacon Rock!

Riverside Park in Lexington, for 33 years has been a very happy place for me and my family. Living so close to this wonderful park is enchantment packed into a small space. Spring and summer the big maples provided shade to sit down and enjoy your surroundings. In the fall, great piles of leaves to kick around, watching the antics of the squirrels. In winter with snow, a wonderland of peace and quiet to explore.

Along the shores of Silver Lake lies a tranquil, happy place, where for a flat mile, one can walk away any worries. Bird watching is abounding, the frogs sing, and fish jump. Around Milepost 5 up the Spirit Lake Highway, the path around the lake at the Mt. St. Helen’s information center is a happy retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Come here to enjoy the silence of nature.

Downtown Camas, WA is my choice for happiest place because it’s a throwback to simpler times with charming stores, great coffee & restaurants and even the Camas Paper Mill. I’ve gotten over the fact that the mill isn’t real pretty and love it because it’s the reason the town was born. My work dream has come true as a store owner in this lovely downtown.

The happiest place around is the Discovery Trail. Beautiful native plants, wildlife, Burnt Bridge Creek and the riparian environment make for a pleasurable walk or bike ride. The path is smooth enough for strollers and wheelchairs. Plus the friendly people and cheerful dogs can brighten a gray day!

If happiness equals sublime contentment, then Lacamas Park at Round Lake near Camas is the happiest place in southwest Washington. The pristine, glassy calm of the lake ringed with towering evergreens will do your soul a world of good. Watch baby ducks or a distant kayaker create ripples in the reflection of trees and sky. Playground and picnic tables provide the perfect family picnic spot with well-groomed trails for walking off the calories after lunch.

Stevenson is the happiest place. I drove there on my birthday to visit the quaint, but active town. Antique stores and small streets compliment the luxurious Bonneville Spa. Stevenson is the gateway to the Bridge of the Gods where you can watch colorful windsurfers. The best salmon dinner is at the Crab Shack where you can sip wine and overlook the river and native trees. The view from the patio of Mt. Hood is exquisite!

East Fork Cellars (aka E.F.C.) IS THE HAPPIEST place! You will never experience wine and fun like this! East Fork Cellars is a local wine tasting room with a Blue Grass/ Rock n’ Roll/ Celtic feel. Where else can you go on a Tuesday night, tasting a “Rat Cellar Red” wine while jamming to a Blue Grass session or toast with a Granny Smith apple Riesling while rocking to the “Cellar Rats” on Friday night?

My happiest place is on the lake at Speilyai Bay at Merwin Lake on the border of Clark and Cowlitz Counties. It’s pure joy spending a warm summer day boating in this most beautiful place where there are waterfalls, beautiful water so clear that you can see the fishes swimming, bald eagles flying overhead, an occasional deer drinking alongside the water and butterflies on the beach. These are my happiest times on the boat with family and friends.

Canoes frame the park and the big river beyond. Happy sounds of squeals and laughter fill the air as I meander through the
Cottonwood Beach trail on the Columbia River in Washougal, Washington. The place has a pulse and moves. Children scurry with little pails and shovels, bare chested drummers nod and beat out powerful sounds. Kayakers in yellow and blue canoes pick up the rhythm as they paddle past. A couple frolics and water sprays.

Thank you, all who entered the contest. We look forward to writing about these happy places in ZEST in the future!

And if your happiest place in Southwest Washington is on the list, feel free to comment on it. If it isn’t there, add a comment, too!

April 14, 2010   2 Comments

“Creeking” on the Lewis River

by Julia Anderson
Kayakers from throughout Southwest Washington gathered on the East Fork of the Lewis River in Clark County on Saturday for a competition they call “creek boating or creeking.” Some 40 competitors sized up Sunset Falls with its roaring spring run off before testing themselves against other kayakers and rafters on a timed course.

Creeking on the East Fork of the Lewis River

Sponsored by Alder Creek Kayak with a store on Hayden Island and Next Adventure, an outdoor gear store in Portland, the event is one of several hosted by organizers of Northwest Creeking Competition, a loose group of kayak enthusiasts.

On Saturday, the parking lot at Sunset Falls, east of Battle Ground and south of Yacolt was filled with kayaker vehicles, trailers and gear and lots of fans including a large number of dogs (on leashes). Volunteers staffed a registration booth with race fees ranging from $10 to $20 depending on the event.

Believe it or not, kayaking can take many forms…hard-shell long- and short-boats, inflatable kayaks and even rafts with both men’s and women’s races. About mid-day, two-man rafts were plunging over the falls with a few landing upside down with their paddlers forced to swim. Don’t worry, despite the sunny warmer weather most competitors were wearing dry suits to protect against cold water temperatures. The day ended with a raffle and barbeque.

For more information on Northwest Creeking Competition, visit

April 13, 2010   No Comments

What Would You Do With One of the Northwest’s Most Important Archaeological Sites?

What would you do if you were developing a plan for the premier archaeological site in the Pacific Northwest – land and buildings that were a pivotal part of Northwest history? Share your thoughts!

The Fort Vancouver National Historic Site master planning process is starting for the East and South Vancouver Barracks. The Master Plan is scheduled for completion in 2011. With the upcoming transfer of the East and South Barracks, both the land and structures, to the National Park Service from the U.S. Army Reserve, a master plan is needed to determine the rehabilitation and public use of the Barracks.

Turn of the Century Vancouver Barracks Buildings

What a treasure trove! The site has:
• Nearly 30 military buildings, many of which were built at the turn of the 20th century
• Archaeological sites of various historic periods that could document Pacific Northwest life over hundreds of years
• Mature groves of Garry oak trees and expansive parade grounds
• Historic, cultural and visual connection to Fort Vancouver, the Pearson Air Museum and Air Field, and Officers Row

Parade Grounds from the Gazebo

Historic Garry Oak Grove

Barracks and War Memorial


Parade Grounds from 5th Street

The East and South Vancouver Barracks will be managed by the National Park Service. NPS planners are asking citizens to answer these questions:

• What do you like best about the East and South Barracks?
• What opportunities do you see for these areas?
• What issues and alternatives do you think the plan should address?
• What challenges should we keep in mind?

Now is the time to share dreams and ideas for the buildings and grounds. How would you like to see the site used? Get creative!

Your ideas and comments are needed now! Comments will be accepted until May 1, 2010 at online or you can mail comments to Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, 612 East Reserve Street, Vancouver, WA 98661. For additional information, click here for Frequently Asked Questions about the project.

Comment here on ZEST but then, more importantly, send your ideas to the National Park Service at the address above. This is the time to dream. Share your ideas!

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April 10, 2010   No Comments