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Celebrating People, Places & the Good Life in SW Washington State
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September: Anime, Alpacas and Art plus Roller Dolls and a Rod Run

With summer winding down, there aren’t as many events happening around the region. But if quality trumps quantity, it will be a great month to tour the area.

September 3-5Chelatchie Prairie Railroad Trip – The Chelatchie Prairie Railroad will be taking 10 mile trips out of Yacolt on Labor Day Weekend. Check the Web site for reservations.

September 3-5Kumoricon – Anyone who is interested in Japanese anime should head to the Kumoricon 2011 convention in downtown Vancouver. Events will be at the Hilton Hotel and the Red Lion at the Quay. Anime lovers in costume will be wandering the streets. Should be very interesting!

Kayaks along the Columbia

September 9-18 Lower Columbia River Kayak Roundup – These folks are into serious kayaking! It’s a great way to explore the Puget Island area. is an instructional retreat for kayakers of all levels. 2011 will be the 5th and final event. Full-day and half-day classes are offered on the weekend, and intensive multi-day programs are offered during the week.

The Rainy City Roller Dolls

September 10Roller Derby! – Centralia’s Rainy City Roller Dolls take on Salem Oregon’s Cherry City Derby Girls at the Back to School Beat Down.

Cars in a Past Rod Run

September-10-1128th Annual Rod Run to the End of the World – A mass of vintage cars are expected for this annual auto gathering in Ocean Park. But it’s not just about the cars. Jamie’s Rock & Roll Legends with Elvis, Merle Haggard, Patsy Cline & Connie Francis will perform live on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The beach will be rocking this weekend!

Seattle's jazzy Groove for Thought

September 11Groove for Thought – They were fabulous on The Sing-Off (watch their performance here) and now the Seattle a cappella singing group performs a fundraising matinee concert for Pearson Air Museum. Get your tickets here.

Alpaca from the 2009 Tour

September 1713th Annual Clark County Harvest Celebration Day – Nine farms will be open for visitors from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This is a great way to see rural Clark County and it’s free!

September 17 and 18ARTrails – Check out the 9th Annual ARTrails Open Studio Tour. This self-guided, free event takes you though the towns and backroads of Lewis County to visit the artists and studios of Lewis County.

September 30 & October 1 Columbia River Country Days and Grays River Covered Bridge Dinner – There will be a Farmer’s Market, Pumpkin Patch, Farm Tours,
Old Time Auction, and an October 1st dinner at Grays River Covered Bridge. For more information, call 360-795-3278

September 2, 2011   No Comments

May Meanderings: Bike rides, trains, tall ships, wine tours and more…

Spring events are in full force now in Southwest Washington. Here are a few ideas to get you out the door:

May 3 – The 39 Steps – Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts in Longview. This 2008 Tony award-winning play “The 39 Steps” is a madcap romp through one of Alfred Hitchcock’s finest films. Adapted for the stage, it became one of Broadway’s longest-running comedy thrillers. With a cast of 4, this show has more than 150 characters to keep you on the edge of your seat.

May 7 – The 28th Annual Ride Across Clark County (RACC) sponsored by the Vancouver Bicycle Club WARNING! This event may be sold out. Check the Web site for availability of this scenic and popular day-long ride. Four loops to choose from – 18, 34, 65 and 100 miles

May 7 – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. National Train Day, Historic Train Depot, 210 Railroad Ave, Centralia, WA National Train Day commemorates the anniversary of the transcontinental railroad’s inception. Special displays and events will be in the Historic Railroad Depot in downtown Centralia.

May 14 – 8 p.m. Al Stewart Concert at the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center in Stevenson. Remember the Scottish singer-songwriter’s 1976 hit Year of the Cat? Skamania Performing Arts Foundation, 541-400-9792

May 14 and 15 – Vancouver Symphony Orchestra conducted by Salvador Brotons. Concert times are 3 pm on Saturday and 7 pm on Sunday. Last regular concert of the season. The program will feature Concerto for Horn by Brotons. Roman Festivals by Respighi and Audience Choice (voting now closed).

May 14, 12-4 pm – Cathlapotle Plankhouse, Carty Unit of the Ridgefield NWR, 28908 NW Main Ave., Ridgefield. Artist Judy Bridges, Cowlitz basket weaver, will demonstrate basket weaving techniques. Visitors will have the opportunity to view examples of her basketry and ask her questions about her craft.

May 15, 12-4 pm – Cathlapotle Plankhouse Carty Unit of the Ridgefield NWR, 28908 NW Main Ave, Ridgefield. Artists Greg Robinson, member of the Chinook Indian Nation, and Greg Archuleta, member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, will be in the Plankhouse doing carving and Chinookan lifeways demonstrations. Visitors will be able to see some of their beautiful artwork as well as talk to them about Chinookan art and culture.

Hawaiian Chieftain (left) and Lady Washington cruising together in Grays Harbor near Westport. Photo by Ron Arel, Coastal Images.

May 18-19 – Nautical Renaissance The Port of Ilwaco welcomes back Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Tall Ships, The Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain. Self-guided tours are hosted by the crew wearing period costumes. ($3 requested donation). Adventure and Battle Sails are also available. Visit the Web site for prices and other details. From Ilwaco on May 19th guests can book passage to Astoria where the ships will offer tours until May 22, coinciding with Astoria’s opening celebration of its 200th birthday. Contact the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority in Aberdeen (360) 532-8611 or (800) 200-5239 for details and schedules. Go to www.ladywashington.org to track the ships’ locations and purchase discounted price tickets. (Note: There will also be a sail in Ilwaco on May 3rd.)

May 21-22 – 31st Annual Herb and Garden Festival at Pomeroy Living History Farm Thousands of fresh herb and garden plants, many organic selections plus entertainment, farm café, vendors and the herb garden. Admission is free.

May 28-30 – Memorial Day Weekend Clark County Spring Wine Release Visit 11 Clark County wineries in one weekend! See the Web site for details and maps.

May 28-30 – Memorial Day Open House Weekend at Columbia Gorge Wineries Visit more than 30 wineries and tasting rooms on both sides of the river. Details on the event Web site.

Wow, what a May! This is just a small fraction of what is scheduled. See you out there in Southwest Washington!

April 27, 2011   No Comments

Consider the Cranberry.

{Full disclosure from the writer: I love cranberries. This will not be an expose or even objectively reported. However, no free cranberry products were accepted during or after the researching of this blog post. We bloggers have our ethics, right?!}

Consider the cranberry. One of a very few fruits native to North America. Used by Native Americans for food, medicine and dyes. Named “crane berry” by Dutch and German settlers.

Ocean Spray, the cranberry grower co-op, which reports selling seven out of every 10 cranberries in the world, is out to educate us about the cranberry. Me, too.

Did you know these cranberry facts?
• U.S. cranberries are grown primarily in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Oregon and, of course, our beloved Washington. Of those states, Washington ranks fifth in harvest size. I asked. Enquiring minds want to know.

• 20 percent of cranberries are consumed during Thanksgiving. I thought it would be a higher percentage. Then again, you can only eat so many cranberries during one dinner.

• Sailors used cranberries to prevent scurvy. I am married to a sailor. He has never had scurvy to my knowledge. It must be the cranberries I feed him. Case closed.

• Cranberries bounce. It’s true! I tested this statement at home. This, by the way, was discovered by a New Jersey grower named John “Peg Leg” Webb, who dumped his crop down steps because he couldn’t carry the berries. The fresher berries bounced. The rotten berries didn’t. This led to the creation of “bounceboards” which help growers separate their berries. Who knew?!

I will admit that I have had misconceptions about cranberries over the years. As a child, I assumed that cranberries came only in cans. On Thanksgiving and Christmas, a can was opened and a jiggly, red, cylindrical mass with grooves appeared on the table.

Years later, when I moved to the Northwest, I thought, like many, that cranberries grew in large ponds. Wrong again! Cranberries grow on vines in marshy bogs and, in the fall, are “wet harvested” when the bogs are flooded with water and the berries float to the surface or “dry harvested” with lawnmower-like machines. Something else I didn’t know – cranberries are perennials.

So how do WE celebrate the cranberry?
In Southwest Washington, we have apple tree and cherry blossom festivals, crab and salmon celebrations. The bog-rich, Long Beach Peninsula knows how to honor the cranberry. The Cranberrian Fair was first celebrated more than 100 years ago.

This year, the October festivities started at Ilwaco’s Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum, which is well worth a visit with or without cranberries. There, 101 cranberry-peach pies were sliced by the ladies of the Willapacific Chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), who were raising money for college scholarships. A craft fair offered art plus cranberry products and baked goods. Cranberry bread, cookies, jam, sauces were featured. We immediately consumed pie and cookies, tasted cranberry chutney and purchased a five-pound bag of cranberries from a grower who was selling on the street.

Cranberries for Sale on the Streets of Ilwaco

The Cranberry Trolley

The Cranberry Trolley transported festival goers to the Pacific Coast Cranberry Research Foundation Museum and Gift Shop on Pioneer Road, where the bogs were flooded. Finally, I could witness a Northwest cranberry harvest – floating red berries, men in waders, machines that could remove and corral the berries. Of course it was pouring rain – a quintessential Northwest experience.

Harvesting the Berries

We learned about the history of the cranberry and industry in the museum. From cranberry wine to dental floss, the museum gift shop showed the diversity of these little berries. A salmon lunch was seasoned beautifully with cranberry barbeque sauce. Is there anything that you cannot create with cranberries?

One of the Cranberry Museum Exhibits

Cranberry Wine from K-W Cellars

Salmon with Cranberry Barbeque Sauce

The harvest may be over but the museum and gift shop are open daily (Apr 1 – Dec 15 and by appointment). And you can do a self-guided tour along the bogs. Don’t forget to buy some cranberries and start cooking. You’ll find recipes and a lot more on the Ocean Spray Web site. Why wait for Thanksgiving? I’m starting now with the Roasted Cranberry Quesadillas.

Floating Cranberries in a Bog

October 26, 2010   6 Comments

10 Reasons to Join a CSA Farm

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This is the the second year that we have bought a half-share of the Red Basket Farm, which is near Battle Ground. Every other weekend we receive a BIG basket of produce from Kate Rae’s CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm. Deliveries start in late spring with greens, peas and other early vegetables. With the coming of summer, our bounty diversifies and increases. Our last shipment weighed 42 pounds! There are many reasons to join a CSA. Here are 10 benefits we have enjoyed:

1. Pesticide-free, ultra-fresh vegetables. This almost goes without saying but we know that our CSA produce is grown in a safe, sustainable manner and that it is harvested right before we receive it.

2. Supporting and getting to know a farmer. Not only do we know where and how are vegetables are grown, we know WHO planted and harvested them. Kate has been known to say our names as she plants potatoes.  It’s nice to know that there is a potato with your name on it! And her potatoes are fabulous when roasted with Red Basket Farm beets, carrots and onions.

3. Sharing produce with our friends and neighbors. We can’t eat all the produce we receive. So we share. Cabbages go to our German neighbor across the street. Spicy peppers go to a friend who is from Mexico. Vegetables build strong friendships!

4. Learning new cooking skills. Orach, kale, shisho greens, Swiss chard – we are learning to cook and eat in new and interesting ways. We still haven’t figured out what to do with mustard greens but we will get there someday! (See the Clark College  Easy Vegetable Meals class listed below.)

5. Visiting the farm. It’s great fun to visit the 70-acre Red Basket Farm. It’s a beautiful site filled with beds of our vegetables, flowers, fruit trees and assorted animals. The surrounding countryside makes for a lovely Sunday drive and Rusty Grape Vineyard and tasting room is just down the road. 

6. The BEST eggs in the world. It pains us to buy eggs in the store after eating the fresh green and brown eggs with such beautiful orange yolks. Kate’s feathered girls know what they are doing!

7. Meeting other CSA members. Each year, Kate has a beginning and end of  year party. It’s great fun to meet the other members and spend time at the farm.

8. Surprise! You never know what you are going to get. This is similar but not the same as #4. It’s an adventure to pick up your veggies and not know what you are getting or, in some cases, what you have received, once you see it. It’s all about learning and being flexible.

9. Flowers. Many CSAs offer flower shares and deliver gorgeous bouquets.

10. Buying local. We buy so many things that are manufactured or grown thousands of miles away. Buying local, fresh produce is a gift to us, to the farmer and, hopefully, to the environment.

Note: On Thursday, September 24, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., Clark College at the new CTC campus is offering an evening class “EasyVegetable Meals” with Betty Hinkle of News Seasons Market. Class members will create:  Mixed Vegetable Grill with Spicy Peanut Sauce; Goat Cheese and Red Pepper Relish Sandwiches; Stir-Fried Japanese Mushroom Noodles; Roasted Root Vegetables; Gazpacho; Cauliflower Bake and Sweet Potato and Nut Bake. Cost is $85. For more information, go to Easy Vegetable Meals.

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September 14, 2009   No Comments