Summer! What fun we had. Passengers touring Hell’s Canyon take time out for a swim in the Snake River after a jet boat trip up the river to see Hells Canyon Dam and running the exciting Wild Sheep Rapids and Granite Creek Rapids. Want to know more? Check out our video of a Jet Boat Tour of the Snake River from which this scene is taken.
This beautiful, but unexpected, waterfall will be found at a sharp curve on US Forest Service road 517, otherwise known as the Seven Devils Road, that leads to Heavens Gate Lookout from the town of Riggins, Idaho. GPS coordinates: N 45, 23.3308, W 116, 27.3219. Elevation: 6,089 feet/1856 meters. The lookout, at an elevation of 8,100 feet, offers splendid views of the Seven Devils Mountains as well as Hells Canyon.
One of the delights of travel is making new discoveries such as Koehoe’s Agate Shop in Bigfork, Montana. Koehoe’s has a well respected reputation for offering quality gem stones from around the world including agates, jade, opals and many other prized and precious gems.
Many of Koehoe’s gems find their place in high-end, custom-made jewelry comparable to what one would find in prestigious jewelry stores around the world including rings, bracelets, necklaces, ear rings, broaches and assorted pins.
The shop also is home to an assorted collection of rocks and minerals fashioned into a variety of art objects, some of which are in the shape of large rectangular slabs cut and polished to reveal images of various sea creatures including fish, stingrays and the chambered nautilus. These slabs make beautiful accent pieces or perhaps could be used as counter or table tops.
Particularly impressive is a variety of fossilized chambered nautilus shells. Josh Covill and Muir Van Rinsum, two of the shop employees, explained that when the creature inhabiting the shell dies, the shell sinks to the ocean floor where it eventually becomes covered and buried in mineral rich sediment. The fossilization process preserves the design and shape of the shell in extraordinary detail and beautiful colors. The colors, often seen as iridescent greens, reds, yellows and blues are indicative of the particular minerals in the sediments.
The shop is such a rare and enjoyable place in which to browse, I could not resist making a small purchase. Remembering I had in my pocket an old money clip still used but which no longer bore the original scrimshaw inlay; Muir helped me find the perfect piece of jade to replace the lost scrimshaw.
You will find Koehoe’s Agate Shop at 1020 Holt Drive, Bigfork, Montana. Phone: 406-837-4467.
I’m visiting Ashford, Washington for the weekend to attend the town’s “On the Road to Paradise” First Annual Spring Wine Tasting event on Saturday. First stop was to check in with Jasmer’s Cabins at Mount Rainier to pick up a key and directions to my cabin for the weekend. Met my hosts and owners of Jasmer’s Cabins, Luke and Tanna. They greeted me with a warm welcome and cheerfully provided answers to my questions about the area.
Luke and Tanna had chosen a newly remodeled cabin for me located in a quiet location yet not far from the town of Ashford, nearby restaurants and the entrance to Mount Rainier National Park. Cabin was fully equipped with TV, hot tub, and barbeque. Very comfortable and restful place to stay, yet close to the mountain and various services.
There’s more than meets the eye at Ashford, Washington. First impression is that of a sleepy little community that’s not much more than a speed bump along State Route 706 for slowing down the traveler in a hurry to reach Mount Rainier National Park and experience the grandeur of the 14,410-foot mountain that is the centerpiece of the park.
On one side of the highway, you’ll find the US Post Office and Suver’s General Store. On the other side, you’ll see several buildings including a restaurant and a small complex of buildings known as Rainier Basecamp that house a number of local merchants and businesses including Whittaker’s Bunkhouse; Rainier Mountaineering, Inc.; Summit Haus and the Mt. Rainier Visitor Association’s visitor center.
What’s unseen are dozens and dozens of cabins offering rest and respite in beautiful natural settings including creeks and forest canopies scattered in and among the woods on either side, up and down and off the highway leading to Mount Rainier. The cabins also make excellent base camps for lingering in the area to truly get to know the mountain and enjoy it’s many attractions including wildlife, old-growth forests, creeks and rivers, wild flowers, hiking trails and incredible scenery.
Tanna Osterhaus, who, with her husband Luke, owns Jasmer’s Cabins at Mt. Rainier, says, “People who visit Rainier for just a day or night often don’t come back. But people who stay two days wish they could stay longer and often do come back.” The latter are the ones who discover there is much to enjoy and appreciate the time to slow down, disengage from worldly affairs, and relax in one of the most beautiful and remarkable places in the world.
Florence, Oregon: 12:50 PM
Old Town lies immediately east of Highway 101 and the historic Siuslaw River Bridge in an area along the Siuslaw River. Map
The popular area hosts numerous and various shops including art galleries, restaurants, and many stores offering antiques, clothing, gifts, candy, ice cream and other specialty foods.
At the east end of Bay Street is the Port of Siuslaw Marina serving recreational and commercial boaters and fishermen. The marina features a commercial wharf and docks, waterfront boardwalk and a RV campground.
Florence, Oregon: 10:30 AM
Old Town, a section of several square blocks down by the Siuslaw River in Florence, Oregon is a popular attraction whether the draw is for sightseeing, shopping, dining or all three. Of particular interest to me on this morning was coffee. A kind lady at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center mentioned I might find what I was looking for down in this area of town.
Sure enough, I found the perfect place at the Siuslaw River Coffee Roasters and Coffee House at the west end of Bay Street down near (almost below) the historic bridge built in 1936 that enables travelers cruising US Highway 101 to cross the Siuslaw River.
Eclectic, and perhaps funky, in both furnishings and layout, the coffee house felt warm, comfortable and like the place where one might want to hang out with friends and family or perhaps even alone with a book or laptop on a cold rainy day
The coffee house isn’t particularly large but patrons can chose from several seating areas including a leather couch in front of a stove, a small alcove where several can gather to pass the time of day or enjoy their coffee in privacy, a large table in front of the french doors leading to a deck overlooking the river, the deck itself which offers an array of several wrought-iron tables and good views of the river.
On this particular morning, a small group of local residents were occupying what one patron called the “Alpha” table and visiting about who knows what. They apparently are participants in a regular gathering to chat about the weather, news of the day or just about anything that attracts their attention at any given moment.
Standing in line to order my particular preference I happened to strike up a conversation with Rachel Pearson, a woman active in the local community who does a lot of volunteer work for schools and also occasionally contributes to the local newspaper. Rachel and I chatted for some time sitting out on the deck watching the river roll by. She told me about the move she and her husband, a physician, made from Wisconsin to Florence some years ago and how they have found a wonderful community here and particularly so for raising children. Rachel also shared with me a bit of the background and history of the coffee house.
Owned by John and Kathy Stone, their coffee is roasted on the spot with a Diedrich 30-pound roaster that sits in a small room behind the service counter. The coffee is always fresly roasted and at a volume sufficient to supply the daily needs of their customers plus have a few pounds available for those may want to buy their beans by the pound.
9:15 AM Wow! What a Weekend in Leavenworth, Washington. Last night attended the town’s ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the long-awaited opening of Amtrak’s new Icicle Station and the return of passenger service to Leavenworth. And today, its day two of the annual Autumn Leaf Festival.
First stop, however, is my morning latte! Discovered a new coffee house here earlier in the month when I came over for a general membership meeting of the Chamber of Commerce and discovered Haus Dog Kaffee & Tea.
The family-owned coffee and tea house is conveniently located on the west end of Front Street and is within easy walking distance of the several area hotels and the center of town main attractions.
The owners, Regina and Klaus Ulmke, have created a delightful European-style coffee and tea house featuring Italy’s LaVazza Espresso coffees and Harrisons & Crosfield English Teas plus an assortment of baked goods, fruits, jams and condiments all served in a setting of attractive wooden tables and chairs, colorful blue umbrellas, decorative place settings and an abundance of flowers in front of the backdrop of Icicle Ridge and the Cascade Mountains.
7:00 PM Let the Celebration Begin!
Music, dancing and food greet dozens of guests arriving for the festivities and ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of Icicle Station in Leavenworth, Washington and to welcome the first inaugural run of new passenger train service along Amtrak’s Empire Builders route between Chicago, Illinois and Seattle, Washington.
8:08 PM. Supporters of the new Icicle Station in Leavenworth line the long length of the railroad platform as Amtrak’s Empire Builder slows to a crawl and them stops to allow more than 70 passengers who had boarded in Seattle to disembark and participate in the ceremony commemorating the opening of the new station and passenger service.
The ceremony concludes with comments, congratulations and thanks from Mayor Rob Eaton and a variety of other dignitaries representing the city of Leavenworth, Washington State, Amtrak and BNSF.
Folks interested in visiting Leavenworth by train can call Amtrak at 800-872-7245 for reservations, or, book online through Amtrak’s web site.
Leavenworth, a city nestled on the eastern side of Washington’s Cascade Mountains, recreated itself decades ago as a Bavarian Village and is one of the most popular destinations in Washington State and the Pacific Northwest. The city is an all-season destination featuring numerous indoor and outdoor activities and attractions. Accommodations abound whether your preference is camping, cabins, hotels, bed and breakfast accommodations, or vacation rental houses.