5 Fun Facts: Idaho – Sun Valley

Sun Valley has been drawing tourists for over 80 years. From skiing in the winter to just about every other form of outdoor recreation in the warmer months, you can easily go to Sun River and entertain yourself for days on end. Because I love minutiae, which I understand annoys a lot of people, here are five fun facts about this very fun place to visit.

1. Skiing activities at Sun Valley take place on two nearby mountains, Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain. Bald Mountain has an elevation of 9,150 feet and Dollar Mountain’s elevation is 6,638 feet.

2. Sun Valley was developed in the mid 1930s as the first destination winter resort in the United States by W. Averell Harriman who was chairman of the Union Pacific Railroad. One of his main reasons for developing it was to increase ridership on Union Pacific passenger trains in the American West. 20 years later, Harriman would be elected as the governor of the State of New York.

3. Modern skiers depend on chair lifts to get them from the base of the mountain or the lodge up to the tops of the ski runs. The first ski chairlift in history was built in 1936 for use on Proctor Mountain, just two miles east of Bald Mountain. Two more chairlifts would be built and put into use in Sun Valley before any would appear at any other ski destination in the world.

4. American author Ernest Hemingway completed For Whom the Bell Tolls while staying in the Sun Valley Lodge during the fall of 1939. A little over 20 years later, Hemingway would commit suicide in his home in Ketchum, Idaho a short distance away.

5. In 1942, the resort at Sun Valley was closed and converted into a convalescent hospital for U.S. Navy personnel involved in World War II. It reopened as a ski resort in 1946.

Idaho’s Cataldo Mission

Northern Idaho is another of the very beautiful places we can enjoy easily in the Northwest. Coeur d’Alene is a popular vacation destination with a lot to offer, including golf, shopping, boating, swimming, biking, and more. This area also has an interesting history and some notable historical attractions worth seeing too.

Just east of Coeur d’Alene is the Cataldo Mission which is a very nice stop on a road trip through the area. The Cataldo Mission sits within the borders of Old Mission State Park. This mission was built in 1848, 42 years before Idaho was even a state. The Greek Revival architecture is very pleasing and just begs to be photographed. Entering this old church gives you the feeling of what it must’ve been like to do so all those years ago in land that had not even been made into a state yet.

I like historical facts and even trivia, and getting the chance to enjoy a fine historical site and at the same time witness some major Pacific Northwest trivia at the same time is too much to pass up on. Think about that as you’re driving down Interstate 90 through the Idaho Panhandle and debating whether you want to stop at the Cataldo Mission. If you pass on it, you will be passing on having the opportunity to walk right up to and into the oldest standing building in the state of Idaho.

In addition to this historic building, which alone is totally worth the stop, Old Mission State Park is also home to two old cemeteries, a visitors center, and a nature trail.

If you’re in the Coeur d’Alene area, make sure you head on out to the Cataldo Mission.

Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort

MtHoodMeadowsSkiResort

Mount Hood dominates the skyline when looking east from Portland. The visual effect of the mountain over the city is incredible too. But Mount Hood is much more than just something to look at from afar. Mount Hood begs for visitors to come out and explore and enjoy its slopes.

The Northwest is peppered with a lot of high quality mountain ski areas. This is true in British Columbia, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. One very special place to visit and try the skiing at is Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort near Portland, Oregon.

This is a full service ski resort that offers everything you would want, and so much more. If you are new to skiing, you can take lessons there. You can rent skis and all the equipment you could want and need for a full day on the slopes. You can venture up the mountain via chairlifts and try runs that range from beginner and intermediate level, all the way to expert. After exhausting the slopes, you can even retreat to the lodges down below and enjoy everything from your very own hotel room to dining rooms serving some of the best food in the area.

My favorite of the eating establishments there is the Paradise Grill. Go there, and you can enjoy great tasting barbecue, right out on the sundeck if you’d like. There are plenty of other great options too, including the Schuss Grill, and each of them offer some great food and refreshment for after a long day out on the slopes.

Whether you’re an avid skier or just touring the area on a road trip, stop in at the Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort. Take a day and ski the slopes. If you want though, skip the slopes and enjoy a nice drink or meal up on the side of this beautiful mountain. In fact, you can even find a great deal to do on the sides of Mount Hood during the summer months.

Regardless of your intentions, but especially if you’re a skier, the Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort is a wonderful destination.

You should definitely take the time to visit this excellent destination.

5 Fun Facts: Washington – Gas Works Park in Seattle

At just under 20 acres, Gas Works Park is a popular wide open space in Seattle. It also has a very interesting history and some very cool things to look at. If you go to Seattle, you should really check it out. Here are five fun facts about this great Seattle park.

What’s in a Name?
The name of the park was originally Myrtle Edwards Park. The family of Edwards, who was a city councilwoman and a driving force behind the acquisition and development of the park, later requested her name be removed from it because the park plans called for keeping some of the remnants of the old gasification plant.

The Finish Line
During the season three finale of the reality television series The Amazing Race, Gas Works Park served as the finish line for the race.

Miles and Miles of Pipe
The gas plant that operated where Gas Works Park now sits once used over 1,000 miles of pipeline to get its product to the cities of Seattle, Renton, Kent, and Tukwila.

A Nice Foundation
The tallest hill in Gas Works Park is known as the Great Mound. It was formed by first piling thousands of cubic yards of rubble from the old building formations and then covering them with fresh topsoil.

From Pump to Play
One of the more unique features of Gas Works Park is the Play Barn. This structure is actually the old pump house for the gas production facility. Many of the original pumps remain located within the Play Barn today.

Staying at Rivertide Suites in Seaside, Oregon

Seaside, Oregon is a small community that sits on Oregon’s northern coastline. In fact, it is just a short drive to Seaside after crossing the Columbia River from Washington. It was first built up as a summer getaway in the late 1800s by a railroad tycoon. More than 100 years later, Seaside is still a fun and pleasant getaway.

One of the things that makes Seaside a nice place to go in the hot days of summer is that the weather is usually a little cooler there than in other locations further south. Seaside also has some strong history surrounding it as it was one of the final spots reached by the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Seaside-RivertideSuites

I’ve stayed twice at Rivertide Suites in Seaside, and each time it was something special. I enjoyed staying within a short walk of the ocean beach but having a nice view of the Necanicum River. There is surprisingly a lot of action on the river and it is fun to watch it all play out in front of you.

Rivertide Suites sits right in the middle of all of the Seaside action downtown. You can find all sorts of eating establishments, shopping venues, and just fun things to see and do within an easy stroll. It also is not far from Rivertide Suites to the famous Seaside Promenade for a nice walk along the shore. You can also easily make it over to the classic aquarium and the city’s video game arcade pretty easily too.

Rivertide Suites is a true first class hotel, and it shows. The indoor pool and hot tub area was immaculate, as was the room we stayed in. There is a gym, wi-fi access, business center, and more. The continental breakfast had a wide variety of choices so that all of us could find something that we wanted.

Seaside-RivertideSuites2

Normally, I love to sample different places when I road trip around the Pacific Northwest. Rivertide Suites in Seaside though had earned a return visit.

A Great Bakery in Spokane: Petit Chat Village Bakery

There’s nothing like waking up and hitting a classic bakery.

Petit Chat Village Bakery

Spokane is a fun city with a lot going for it. There’s Riverfront Park, all of the great shopping possibilities, the tons of awesome bars, and a lot of chances to get outdoors, even in the city. The city of Spokane really does have it all.

Like any place though, waking up in Spokane may just leave you craving a treat that can only come from a quality bakery. Luckily, the last time I woke up in Spokane, I found just that. Petit Chat Village Bakery is a classic bakery and it offers a fun experience to all who go there.

What is their specialty? Hard to say. I sample three different things over two mornings and they were all incredible. On the last day, I even picked up a loaf of sourdough bread for the drive home, and that was also a real treat.

Petit Chat Village Bakery was the perfect find. It provided both a great start to my day… twice, and also provided a great edible souvenir that lasted all the way home, and then some. The people were very friendly too, which we all know helps a great deal.

Next time I’m in Spokane, I’ll know exactly what to do when I wake up in need of a bakery.

Petit Chat Village Bakery2

The Old Montana Prison in Deer Lodge, MT

Old Montana Prison

As a bit of a history buff, I’m a sucker for a historical site. This is especially true when that historical site is basically located right off the highway that I’m traveling down. This is the exact reason I became familiar one day with the Old Montana Prison in Deer Lodge, Montana.

Deer Lodge is a small town located northwest of Butte, on Interstate 90. I was on my way to Butte for the first time in my life when I saw the billboard advertising the Old Montana Museum up ahead. It also mentioned an automobile museum too and I figured that with two intriguing sounding attractions on one exit, that this was a sign I needed to leave the highway soon.

I pulled right up to the prison site, very easy to find, and got out ready to check out this interesting piece of history. The building is in a state of disrepair, but is in so much better condition than I had expected considering that it was first brought into service in 1871. A nice touch was a brochure that detailed what each building in the complex was used for during the time the prison was in use. As I walked around the prison, it was easy to imagine what life would’ve been back then for both prisoners and the guards who worked there. In fact, the more I saw of the Old Montana Prison, the more I couldn’t believe that it was in use as recent as 1979.

My tour of the old prison had ended and I’d gotten my historical site fix. But, I couldn’t leave because the Old Automobile Museum was within walking distance and I had to check it out. This too was completely worth it. With well over 150 automobiles on display, some old, some new, and some incredibly rare, this was the perfect add on attraction to the prison.

If you find yourself driving down I-90, do like I did… go check out the Old Montana Prison.

5 Fun Facts: Washington – Hood Canal Bridge

The Hood Canal Bridge connects the Kitsap Peninsula with the Olympic Peninsula and is a very popular route to take west from the Seattle area.

HoodCanalBridge

Here are five facts about this very cool and very interesting transportation feature.

It Does Have an Official Name, You Know
Known to almost everyone as the Hood Canal Bridge, the structures official name is the William A. Bugge Bridge. Bugge was the director of the Department of Highways in Washington from 1949 to 1963, and was a driving force in the bridge being built.

7… 8… 6… 9!
The Hood Canal Bridge measures in at 7,869 feet long. That’s well over 20 football fields strung together end to end.

That Sinking Feeling
In a 1979 windstorm, the Hood Canal Bridge broke apart and sank. It would not reopen until more than three years later in the fall of 1982. In the meantime, the Department of Transportation reactivated a ferry route from Lofall to South Point that had been in use up until the bridge had opened in 1961.

Two Counties
The two counties that are connected by the Hood Canal Bridge are Jefferson County and Kitsap County.

Up and Down, Up and Down
Due to tidal swings, the Hood Canal Bridge raises and lowers up to 16 and a half feet over the course of a day.