Tag Archive | Yakima

Yakima Valley Historical Museum

The Yakima Valley Museum lies in the heart of The Palm Springs of Washington – for you non-Washingtonians, that’s Yakima. If you are from Washington, you have probably heard of the nickname, or seen the now faded sign that greets you as you enter Yakima. It got its nickname from the more than 300 days of sunshine that Yakima receives – see? Not all of Washington is rainy… People either love the sign or hate it; there is no in between. I love it.

Anyway… The Yakima Valley Museum was founded in 1952, and is a great example of a small town historical museum. They have exhibits ranging from turn-of-the-20th-century furniture to neon signs, rocks and semi-precious gems, different species of fossilized trees, Native American clothing and bead work, and a huge collection of horse drawn vehicles. Phaetons, carriages, wagons and even a horse-drawn hearse. Other items in the collection include a whole bunch of taxidermied birds and animals, wooden boats, and paper Valentines.

While we were there, there was a special traveling exhibit on Sasquatch – does it exist? The museum curators don’t really weigh in, but the collection was obviously put together by believers. With no firm evidence. There are some foot casts (easily faked), some articles about hair samples, and a cute yet disturbing diorama of a Sasquatch killing a deer. I totally would have done better at diorama making if Sasquatch dioramas had been an option in elementary school…

And of course, no Sasquatch exhibit would be complete without a copy of the Patterson-Gimlin film. You know the one in 1967 showing a female Sasquatch (though I’m not sure how they decided it was a girl) walking away from the camera? I know you have seen it. Well, apparently it hasn’t been debunked (according to these museum curators anyway…) and the one guy that was there (the other guy has since died) still insists that he wasn’t involved in any sort of a hoax.

Let’s just say that the exhibit didn’t make me a believer; I’m still fairly far over to the “Sasquatch doesn’t exist” side. That said, I do recognize that the forests in the Pacific Northwest are still very wild places. A couple times a year here, someone disappears, usually just off of an established trail, and no trace is ever found.  So, in theory, there could be a large animal hidden there. And no, I’m not saying I believe the people who have disappeared have been eaten by Sasquatches – I’m just saying there are a lot of still remote, wild places here.

The museum also had an interesting exhibit on the internment of Japanese during World War II.  Yakima had a sizable population of Japanese before the war, and the forced removal had a big impact on the community.  Many white citizens were sympathetic to the Japanese, agreeing to store the belongings that could not be taken to the camps.  Some Japanese did not return after the war, and were never found.  The display includes items that were never reclaimed from storage by these internees.

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We wrapped up at the museum just in time for a late lunch, so we checked out the 50’s style diner that is attached to the museum. It was built using salvaged pieces of actual 50’s style diners, and the interior really does look like it’s been there since then.

I loved the vintage look of the Soda Fountain

I loved the vintage look of the Soda Fountain

I got a huckleberry milkshake – so delicious!, and a pulled pork sandwich. Jon got a turkey sandwich. Both were served with coleslaw and chips. The food was good, but not amazing; it was the milkshake that was the real star here. It was made by hand with hard ice cream.

My milkshake at the Museum Soda Fountain

My milkshake at the Museum Soda Fountain

After lunch we were ready to taste some wine! I had some places on my list that I wanted to visit, based on checking out their websites.  I’ll post about those next!

The Treveri Cellars Sparkling Syrah Brut

Jon and I took advantage of the long weekend and took a brief trip over the mountains to Yakima.  We wanted to visit a few wineries and do some relaxing with our precious days off together.  One of the wineries I was excited about visiting was Treveri Cellars, one of Washington’s few sparkling wine producers.

But when we got there – they were closed for maintenance!  There had been no mention about this closure on their website, which was pretty disappointing.  It shouldn’t be that hard to give customers a heads up!  Big fail…

So instead of tasting the Treveri lineup, we just tasted one bottle that we managed to find in a wine shop on the way out of town.  The Treveri Cellars Sparkling Syrah Brut.  This wine is a non-vintage wine; truly a red sparkling wine, rather than a brut rosé.  It has a very light effervescence; the bubbles are much less pronounced than other sparkling wines.

On the palate, there are flavors of dark berries, along with a dry, yeasty tartness that is so important to a sparkling wine.  It is a unique wine that really came together well.  I really enjoyed it.  I just wish I had the opportunity to try their other wines!

Faster Food If I Had Caught It Myself!

Fitting with the travel theme of this blog, I was at a conference with several coworkers last week getting “knowed up” on the latest and greatest in our profession. Thursday evening, we decided to get a more substantial dinner after the evening social. So we headed down further into downtown Yakima, Washington and happened upon Café Melange. It looked nice, and very upscale, so we decided to try it out.

When we arrived the restaurant was half full – there were about 9 tables in all. We were seated right away, and they brought us water and menus. And that’s when it started going downhill. Because then we sat. For over a half hour. The server explained once that she was getting caught up and would be right back over, but then we sat for a while after that. The two couples that came in and were seated after us got to order before us. After about a half hour, the server FINALLY took our order. We thought – “ok, we’re moving now!” But no, even though we only ordered appetizers, we were in for more waiting. Let’s put it this way, I probably could have left the restaurant, gone to the grocery store, bought all the ingredients, rustled up plates, utensils and a frying pan and hot plate at the hotel, and still had our appetizers prepared before the restaurant did. It took SOOO LONG! I’m glad Jon wasn’t there, because he would not have been able to handle it.

Once we got our food (after losing 5 pounds, I swear!), the appetizers were very good. I liked my crab cakes, although they were a little too spicy (they had jalapenos in them). The Caprese salad was good and the tapenade plate was good too. They each seemed a little high priced for what you get though (chalk it up to it being an upscale restaurant). After we were served, our server cheerfully asked us if it was worth the wait. It was certainly the wrong thing to say at that point – you should have seen the looks on our faces when she said it!

After we finished our appetizers, we had to wait for awhile for our server to stop flirting with the gangsta/hoodlums who had come in before she would come back to our table. All 5 of us had our credit cards neatly placed on the table beside our plates, yet she still asked if we wanted dessert! Several in our group had wanted dessert, but by then it was way past our bedtime, and if we had ordered dessert we probably would have been stuck there another hour and a half. Then after she ran the bills, she managed to drop the credit card slips all over the floor on her way back to the table. It was like the Hansel and Gretel trail of breadcrumbs!

All in all, we were there for over 2 hours, for appetizers and water. I don’t think I need to say that I’m sure none of us will be going there again. And if you are ever in Yakima, I would steer clear of Café Melange. Unless you are not hungry at all – then it might be a pretty cool place to hang out!

Yakima – the Palm Springs of Washington

This afternoon I headed over to Yakima for a work conference. The weather is much nicer here than it has been West of the Mountains. This will be my first conference since I started my new job almost 4 months ago, and I’m getting to travel with a great group of coworkers. Yakima is forecast for highs between 70 and 78 degrees while I’m here, so it sounds like I’ll get the dose of sunshine I’ve been needing so badly. I brought my swimsuit, in case there is any pool sitting time, but outside of the conference I’ll probably be networking and hanging out with my coworkers. The real selling point to any conference in Yakima is the wine. There are several evening hosted bar events, so we will hopefully have the opportunity to try wines that I haven’t tasted before – and all for free.

In addition, Yakima as a couple of tasting rooms downtown, within walking distance of the hotel we are staying at. So it should be fun. One of my younger coworkers has been looking forward to this for weeks (months really) – she’s been plotting and planning every free second that we have, and it will all be consumed with wine (no pun intended). Now, don’t get me wrong – I’ll be listening attentively during the conference sessions. The conference topics are right up my alley, and I’m looking forward to learning from some really good speakers. It’s just that once the workday is done, I’m planning to enjoy myself – the sun, the leisure (no laundry or dishes!), and some great company.

Jon and I were planning to spend an extra couple of days touring after the conference was over. It gets over at noon on Friday, so we were planning to have Jon come over and pick me up in his car, and we could head out for a weekend trip. It seems that circumstances collided to make any long of weekend getaway an impossibility. First, we planned to go to Walla Walla, but then we found out that Walla Walla is having their balloon festival this weekend and all the hotels are booked. We talked about heading down to the Columbia Gorge, and staying in The Dalles. That sounded like a go – but then Jon got requested to substitute teach on May 12 and 13. That would mean that he wouldn’t get over to Yakima until at least 5 pm and we would still have a couple hours to drive before we got to where we are staying.

In the meantime, Biz’s tooth surgery got scheduled for May 4, and ideally I would be doing warm salt-water rinses everyday as the stitches come loose. Obviously I can’t be there during the conference, but coming home on Friday just seemed necessary in order to give him the care he needs. Sigh… It will be cheaper this way anyway – and Jon and I can do something more involved on Memorial Day weekend.

More on my adventures in Yakima soon – once I actually have some!

Escape from the Yakima Valley

As usual, any good wine tour eventually comes to an end. So, unfortunately, Monday morning, we got up, and got ready to check out from our home away from home. Jon is outstanding in this capacity, because he will pack up the car with all of our wine and assorted junk while I am showering and doing my hair, as long as I am willing to make room in my suitcase for the things he can no longer fit in his. Don’t ask me why Jon who can’t fit his stuff in his suitcase – it would make much more sense if it were me who couldn’t jam everything in for the return trip. But, it is what it is, so I put his jeans, shirt and sweatshirt in mine and called it good.

We headed out once again in the beautiful blue sunshine that is Eastern Washington, got on the road, and said farewell to Yakima. The Precision Fruit and Antique Stand still wasn’t open. However, we lucked out, because the Thorp Fruit and Antique Stand was open! I’ve been driving by this place on my way back and forth to Eastern Washington for years, and have never been there. So, finally, I can say I have! Of course, keep in mind that they didn’t have much in the way of seasonal fruit, given that it is February, but they do have all sorts of neat local jams, marinades, and sauces. And wine. We saw several that were local, including a few that we hadn’t had a chance to get to. They even had the Piety Flats Black Muscat, which was sold out at the winery, and I had read good reviews about (of course I got a bottle). Jon tried out the Hyatt Winery red blend (he opened it when we got home, and declared it one of his favorites from the weekend). The upstairs is really where it’s at though, for me anyway. Two floors of antique mall booths – I was in heaven. Jon was very patient, letting me browse all the way through, and only occasionally coming to ask how far I had gotten. And in the very first booth, just waiting for me, I spotted a trio of Howard Pierce Quail – the mama and two babies.

For those of you who have never heard of Howard Pierce, which I’m sure is most of you, he was a potter in California from the 1930s until his death in the early 1990s. He and his wife made all sorts of pottery figurines, mostly animals, but also saints and angels, vases, and some other random items like lapel pins. His style is very distinctive, semi-abstract, and very earthy. They used just one ‘not so large’ kiln, and as a result, Howard Pierce was never mass produced. You don’t see Pierce items all that often, but when you do you will recognize them. This is the little quail family that went home with me, and made the end of my weekend!


Aren’t They Cute?

Our drive back across the pass was uneventful, although there were a few snowflakes coming down (they were not sticking, although Jon swears they were). And of course, once we crossed the County line close to home, it started raining, just to welcome us back. Until next time…