Ecola State Park

Having spent a comfortable night in our yurt at Cape Lookout, we drove north to Ecola State Park for some hiking. Ecola has some very good views.

Some might wonder why we drove a couple of hours from where we were staying, a place with many hikes, to another place for a different hike. This has to do with the fact that Tillmook Head is not in–or near–the city of Tillmook, or even in Tillamook County. I didn’t realize this when planning the vacation, and so a lengthy drive it was.  It’s okay. We got a lot of reading done from the read aloud books. (Matt read, I listened.)

Here we are with the ocean. Things you can’t see: the many tourists on either side of us, also looking at the ocean and taking photos.

The Oregon Coast is crazy beautiful, and we heard the people around us speaking all sorts of different languages.

We then drove a bit more to the Indian Beach trailhead area where we started a hike up to the Tillamook Lighthouse viewpoint.

At the beginning.

We hiked along quite nicely, and it was only when we got to the Hikers’ Shelter that I realized we’d already done this hike.  It was 2012 and you can refresh your memory here.  We had better weather this time.

The non-zoomed view of Tillamook Rock Lighthouse.

The zoomed view!  I’m quite glad I wasn’t the lighthouse keeper for this lighthouse.

Matt indicates this is our second go-round.

Drift Creek Falls

It’s vacation time!  We started our vacation by driving to Lincoln City so we could get a McMenamins Passport stamp.  Then we had some time to kill before we could check into our yurt at Cape Lookout State Park, so we did this hike, which was a good family-friendly hike as advertised.

After hiking a bit (and going off in the wrong direction for a bit) we arrived at the falls. But to see the falls we had to cross a suspension bridge!

What a great reward!  I love a good suspension bridge!

Then there was another half mile or so to hike down to the falls area.  We hiked down, but did not wander into the water as the children and dogs did.

Overall, this was a fun hike in an area where we would not normally hike.  Thanks Statesman Journal, for clueing me in.

Our first time at Breitenbush Hot Springs Resort

Matt turned 40 and we decided to celebrate with a trip to Breitenbush Hot Springs. It was a good decision.

Our cabin was very roomy for two people.

At Breitenbush, you are provided with a bottom sheet, but bring your own blankets and pillows.

All of the heat is provided by geothermal energy.

I loved the beadboard siding and the many hooks to hang things on.

Our cabin exterior.

They had indoor showers, but this is a picture of the “new” outdoor showers and they are great. Breitenbush provides the biodegradable soap.

Interior of the outdoor showers. There’s something about showering outside that is so fun.

The bathhouse, one of men and one for women.  There was also a restroom building near our cabin.

Breitenbush is a year-round operation, and I loved this snow shoveling schedule posted.

It must be some operation to clear all the roads when it starts to snow.

There are multiple fire stations on the property. This is one of them.

In the warmer months you can rent a tent.

There are a lot of good hangout spaces. This one is near the Sanctuary, where a lot of the classes are held.

They ring a gong to call people to the thrice-daily vegetarian meals that are mostly organic.

A view of the lodge.

Some steam escaping from a too-hot stream near the lodge.

The sign keeping us all away from the very hot spring.

Originally Breitenbush was a regular hot springs resort, rather than a hippy granola hot springs resort. My mother visited it when she was a child.  I was excited to find a remnant of that time: the traditional-style swimming pool.

More steam coming from more hot water.

One of the meadow pools. These were my favorite pools.  There are three of them and their temperature gets progressively hotter.

The view from the pool.

I love all the hooks affixed to the sheltered bench near the pool.
The view from the silent pool.

I’m always interested in how operations work, so I was happy to find this schedule tucked away on the back of a bench/structure thing.

Some really great details have gone into Breitenbush, such as the wood that creates this bench.

There are outdoor showers that help you cool off from your soak.

The sauna, which more like a steam room, not a dry sauna. While the hot pools at Breitenbush somehow manage to escape the stinky sulfur smell I associate with hot springs, the sauna is the most sulfurous smelling.

One must duck to get into the sauna.

The resort generates it’s own power from the Breitenbush River. They have also built a fish ladder.

A view from the bridge over the Breitenbush River.

And a view of the river itself.


The kitchen always had music coming from it.  It’s probably a big job to provide three vegetarian meals per day for the resort guests.

Where we got our massages.

One of the vehicles.

The forest shelter building.

Us in front of the lodge. Notice how people hang their towels along the deck in front of the lodge. That was one of my favorite details.

Once you park your car in the parking lot, you use these carts to bring your things down to your cabin. Then you never see your car for the rest of your stay.

This was a great place to celebrate a big birthday.  It’s such a relaxing place.  When I wasn’t sleeping, I was lounging, or soaking, or eating a good meal.

Coming home from the beach

We completed the Gearheart page of our passport (and I finished one more activity on my old passport that got me a $20 gift card) and chose our prizes. Matt went for the silicone cup, I went for the key ring/bottle opener, because I believe it’s good to have a back stock of key rings.

On the way home we stopped in Astoria to do some Job Spotting. I enjoyed the humor in this sad sign.

Here are a bunch of container ships, lined up along the horizon. It was hard to tell if they were coming or going.

Timer photo!

While Seaside was chock full of hiring signs, Astoria didn’t have very many at all. My theory is that families come to Seaside for Spring Break, so they start their hiring earlier than other costal towns.

We also did some experimenting with how best to divide the hiring signs we saw. Job Spotter quickly caught on that we were together and despite switching up a lot of variables, we ended up deciding the best method would be to trade off. Even with the many rejected duplicates, we made more than $20 in Amazon credit between the two of us. In two days!

An overnight at the beach

We spent our final Cosmic Tripster hotel stay at McMenamin’s Gearhart Hotel.  But on our way there we stopped in Seaside for lunch and to maybe do some Job Spotting. (Matt has been introduced and also enjoys Job Spotting.)

This Inverted Room is a fun new tourist attraction.  You pay $6.00 per person and you can take photos of you in inverted scenes.  I find this concept rather brilliant, as it requires nothing more than the invention of inverted scenes, the rental of a storefront, and someone to take people’s money.

Here’s an example of one of the inverted scenes. We did not go in because it was not open.  The hazards of a mid-week early-spring visit to the Beach.

The name of our room.  This is a hotel with an 18-hole public golf course, so all the rooms have a golf theme.

Here is the quote that inspired our room.

Our self-portrait in front of the hotel.

A walk on the beach.  (And why I love the beach in winter.)

Driftwood

The Gearheart Hotel was built long ago, and had some hard times before its revival as a McMenamins property. In the meantime, other properties were built between the hotel and the ocean.  But if you squint…

…you can see we had an ocean view.

This was a very quiet McMenamins property which I think would benefit tremendously from the addition of a soaking pool.  They are adding more guestrooms which will open this summer, but they will not be adding a soaking pool. Alas.

Minnesota State Fair Day Two: Sunset, Amateur Talent Show, Fireworks

The sun was beginning to set which meant it was time for…

The Amateur Talent Contest Finals! (Sponsored by Jack’s Pizza.)

There were 26 individual entries into the contest. They had been winnowed from the daily talent contests held at the fair, after passing their audition in July.   There were seven preteen, nine teen and 10 open participants.  All of the talent on display was amazing. I was amazed that the judges could pick any winner.  (And then mostly annoyed at what they did pick.)

Some highlights for me were Gigi Bragg, who was a tiny little thing that killed it with “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”  After everyone had performed they had time-filling stuff while they tallied results.  The singer and the band did “Don’t Rain on my Parade” and I found it to not be as effective.

I also really loved Eden Nesburg & Page Mackendanz, who sang “River Deep, Mountain High.” Their music cut out early on–something the crowd only became gradually aware of. They got to come back later on to re-do their performance. Both performances were filled with joy and memorable.

I also enjoyed Amber Feind & Mikayla Meyers, another vocal performance but in the open division.  Aside from liking them, I also liked that they were two normal-looking women who were not as young as some of the people in the open division.  The Famrez Dance Team was really great to watch too.  I like when acts with multiple people advance.  Every person you add to your group makes it that much harder to schedule practice time.  The beatboxing guy, Cameron Latinen, was also quite good.

In the end, a lot of classical musicians won, which I find boring.  Though Gigi Bragg did win third place in the Preteen division.  I also shouldn’t be really grumpy about the Teen division because a band of middle school kids playing “The Thrill is Gone” won, but the other two winners were opera (the kind of flouncy opera that I do not like) and violin.

In the Open division, all three winners were men, which annoyed me, although my beatboxing guy came in third place and Rush Parrish, the overall winner seemed to have an enthusiastic following. He won $10,000 (and quantities of Jack’s Pizza) so this contest was no joke.

Just in case you might forget who the sponsor was.

Afterward, there were fireworks.

And with that, I attempted to buy olives on a stick, failed due to the late hour and settled for mini-donuts. I headed off to wait for the bus home. 

The Minnesota State Fair was a wonderful experience and I could have done an additional day to catch all the things I missed, even after spending more than 16 hours at the fair. I also learned too late that the fair opens at 6 am, and it would have been fun to start the day with the fair, to see the difference in crowds, activities, lines, etc.

For those of you who haven’t had enough of the Minnesota State Fair, please enjoy this documentary from the Twin Cities PBS station: State Fair Traditions

It’s got a lot of good stuff, both interesting vintage photos and interesting facts (The fair is 320 acres. Attendance numbers are triple what they were in the 1930s, but in the same amount of space.)  It’s also fun to see some of the work that goes into making the fair such a fun experience.

Minnesota State Fair Day Two: Skyride

I headed from one sky experience to the other one, with only a quick stop to collect my walking tour prize.

It was interesting to note that the USA representative for Von Roll Ltd. is located in Sun Valley, Idaho.

There was a long line for this, and as I got closer to the front there was a sign that said, “No single riders Friday, Saturday, Sunday.”  I didn’t want to ride with other people!  But I stayed the course and no one said anything as I stood by my lonesome waiting to get on.  It was fun watching the employees helping everyone get onto each gondola. These hold more people, than the chairlifts, so sometimes it would be parents, three little kids, and a stroller being packed in the car in the few seconds they had to load up.

Here I go:

There were not as many people here today as yesterday.  But not by much.  Yesterday the attendance was 254,431, today was 242,759, which was a new attendance record for this day at the fair.  Overall, nearly TWO MILLION people visited the fair this year, making a new record of 1,977,320

Sweet Martha’s cookies has three locations in the fair.  I only passed over this one from the air, but from walking by, I can guess that they all pretty much looked like this one. Shawn says the trick is to go in from the side.

Here’s the giant slide, yet another thing I didn’t get to.

A “backstage” look at some pretty intense cardboard recycling.

Where I ate my cheese curds and key lime pie on a stick

The agriculture building.

Did you want to go through a giant maze while at the fair? You are in luck!

Overall, I preferred the open air Sky Glider to the gondola-like Skyride, but the Skyride does hold more than two people, making it a better choice for families.

Minnesota State Fair: Sky Glider

Having taken the Fairlift at the Oregon State Fair, I was ready for the Sky Glider at this Fair.

The line was long, so I had time to take pictures of Sky Glider riders.

This was also next to one of three Giant Sing Alongs, where you could group karaoke.

The line I waited in. 

RVs and Fifth Wheels for sale, plus the Space Tower and Great Big Wheel in the background.

Various tractors for kids.

We passed over a few roofs, and I was surprised to see a number of discarded bras.

The Great Big Wheel.  Yet another thing I couldn’t quite fit in.

The “feet” picture.

Me with the Great Big Wheel

Maybe you’re in the market for a new riding mower?

There was a rental space, where Molly & Bob had chosen to celebrate their 50th anniversary.  The other half of the rental space was a wedding!

Looking to buy some kids’ play equipment?  Lowest prices of the year.

So many people.

Minnesota State Fair Day Two: Eco Experience Progress Center and Log Rolling

The Eco Building had all sorts of fun stuff, like this tall, talking Paul Bunyan  He demonstrated not just recycling, but why it’s important to think before you buy.

Air hockey?  Nope.  It’s time to defend your storm drain.

Here’s an illustration of the water table.

And a bar that serves water.  Speaking of, the Eco Building had water bottle refill stations and no line for the bathrooms.

If you wanted, you could pedal a bike and make this bigger bike go.

There was a display of a variety of different bikes used in Minnesota.

Outside the Eco Building, you could try your hand at log rolling.  It looked pretty difficult.

These two participants fell off quickly. Here are the rules.

Minnesota State Fair Day Two: Minnesota 4-H State Arts-In

Look at this glorious Art Deco building!  The Walking Tour brochure says: “Concrete in the building’s horizontal base and central tower conveys a sense of strength meant to boost morale during [the Great Depression.]”

I am here to see the production of “More Than a Wish.”  The State Arts-In is something I’ve never heard of before, so I’m guessing this is a unique-to-Minnesota 4-H experience, or only happens in states where 4-H is a Very Big Deal.  From the brochure:

Minnesota 4-H State Arts-In is a life-changing experience for youth 15-19 years old from across the state. While at State Arts-In, participants develop lifelong skills, and have the opportunity to work closely with professionals who serve as mentors. Each year, 4-H State Arts-In youth perform at least 35 full shows to more than 12,000 audience members.

According to what I’ve pieced together from what the performers told me during the performance and the State Arts-In Facebook page, Prep Week begins on August 10.  At that point, 35 performers, 9 band members, 18 technical crew and 5 costumers from “across the state” (though 34 of 67 come from Anoka county) arrive and create a unique, 30-minute musical which is written, choreographed and staged by the teenagers themselves. Synopsis: Everyone arrives at this beautiful mansion for a fancy party they’ve been invited to.  No one knows why they have been invited. As the songs and exposition unfold it turns out that a brother and sister live at the mansion.  A few people remember helping them out, like when one paid for their gas when they didn’t have any money.  Eventually the brother/sister team reveals that had some hard times in the past, but everyone in the room had helped the brother/sister team at some time.  So that’s why you should always be good people. The End.

There was the guys showcase.

Early on, the girls all shed their long skirts for shorter party dresses, and the guys took off their tuxes.

The Girls had a showcase song/medly too.

Overall, this was a great bit of fun at the fair.  I could have watched it several times.