Category Archives: Museums

“Outlaw Days” at Mary Olson Farm

When I bought tickets for “Outlaw Days,” I wasn’t sure what it was. But the tickets were only $5 each and I’d heard so much about the Mary Olson Farm in Auburn and the activities there, I thought I couldn’t miss.

You even get music with this interactive play.

Lo and behold, I stumbled onto a real gem. “Outlaw Days” turned out to be a play, but not in the usual sense of the word. Instead, when the scene changed in the production so did the audience and the actors. We followed the play around to different places on the farm and ended up inside the barn for the final act. I’m not sure what they call that kind of play or even if it has a name, but it sure was a fun experience.

The interactive theatre experience centered on a time in 1902 when the Olson family was taken hostage by the notorious outlaw Harry Tracy. I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but the actors make you think it could have been. The acting was stellar and must have been difficult because almost all of them played multiple roles. So there were lots of quick costume and character changes.

 

The play continues this weekend and I urge anyone interested in history or dramatic arts to attend.

The Farm holds numerous events including overnight camping, summer camps for kids, group tours and special events like “Outlaw Days.” A project of the White River Valley Museum, the Farm originally operated as a subsistence farm. In 2011 it was restored to its current state and opened to the general public. The interior of the house is furnished just like an old farm house.

 

Boise’s World Center for Birds of Prey: An Awe-Inspiring Experience

Lately I’ve been traveling quite a bit in the Northwest for travel writing assignments and my most recent journey took me to Boise, Idaho.

Who I slept with at Hotel 43 in Boise.

Boise is home to the World Center for Birds of Prey, a place like no other I’ve experienced and unique in the world. Birds of prey portray grace and confidence to the extent that it reminds us all that nature is in charge. Daily tours and live bird presentations here provide visitors an up close and unforgettable encounter with birds of prey. The facility showcases a California Condor exhibit, an interpretive trail with a stunning panoramic view of Boise, interactive exhibits (lots for children) and outdoor flight shows in the fall.

The Peregrine Fund, headquartered here, is a non-profit dedicated to saving birds of prey from extinction. Throughout the world these birds are threatened by shooting, poisoning and loss of habitat. A 30-year effort successfully removed the Peregrine Falcons from the endangered list. Now they are trying to help other birds of prey.

This is Wally, an Eurasian Eagle Owl in training. Notice his markings resember that of a tiger.

 

Endangered birds are raised here and released to their natural habitats.

The Falconry Archives, in a separate building, honors falcons through art. Of special note is the Arab Wing, paid for by the United Arab Emirates. Since the 1200’s Arabs have hunted with falcons. An exhibit highlights bird hoods so ornate you wonder how many hours of work it took to make them. My guide likened them to fishing flies.  

The Center is very accessible and all on one level. Plan to bring a lunch and use one of the courtyard picnic tables. You’ll not find a better view.

Kids can try on different birds of prey' wings like this one.

I highly recommend this as a must see on your bucket list. I didn’t know about it until I visited Boise, but I’m sure glad that I did.

LeMay — America’s Car Museum

Row upon row of shiny, gleaming cars await your visit.

Courtesy LeMay Car Museum

A project that’s been talked about and in the works for more than ten years opened earlier this month. LeMay – America’s Car Museum (it’s official name) is a four-story, 165,000 square-foot venue, located in Tacoma across from the Tacoma Dome complete with a preservation shop, galleries, banquet hall, meeting space, car storage, a gift shop and a café.

LeMay is the largest auto museum in North America and should boost Tacoma’s economy with an estimated 425,000 visitors and $32 million in visitor spending and employment locally.

Courtesy LeMay Car Museum

Rotating exhibits tell the story of the automobile. The museum houses 15 display spaces, which include three galleries six ramps (which can hold 12 cars each) three viewable storage galleries and three primary end galleries.

Museum’s Namesake

The museum was named for Harold LeMay who was an “extreme” car collector. His collection made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. Some might call him a car rescuer because according to his wife, Nancy, he bought cars so they wouldn’t be destroyed. So he had a huge variety of makes, models, shapes and sizes. And it was his dream to share them with everyone. Although LeMay won’t see the finished museum, because he died in 2000 at the age of 81, his dream lives on through Nancy and a host of workers and volunteers.

“Harold had a lifelong passion for autos,” says Scott Keller, chief marketing and communications officer for the museum. “What’s unique about this collection is that it’s eclectic and offers something for everyone.”

Courtesy LeMay Car Museum

 

From the 1930 red Duesenberg Model J which sold for a minimum of $13,000 new to the 1983 Mercury Marquis Station Wagon, the collection focuses on America’s timeless love affair with the automobile. Keller says many of the cars have a very colorful history.

Lemay traveled throughout the United States buying cars.

“Harold would see a car he wanted to maintain and buy it,” says Keller. “Part of preserving the autos was caring for them and driving them, although not all of the vehicles in his collection are drivable.”

He was able to buy so many cars because of the very successful waste management business he started, says Keller. At the time of LeMay’s passing Harold LeMay Enterprises was the 10th largest refuse business in the United States.

Heather Larson writes about the Pacific Northwest from her office in Tacoma, Washington hoping she can entice you to visit or share your own memories of the region.

King Tut Exhibit Opens in Seattle

Tomorrow, May 24, 2012, the Pacific Science Center welcomes visitors to view Tutankhamun: The Golden King and The Great Pharaohs’. Today, I had the privilege of seeing this phenomenon as a member of the press. I love my job. Go if you can. It won’t be shown again anywhere else after January 6, 2013 and the Science Center expects to sell out.

Seattle hosted a similar exhibit in 1978, but the current one contains twice as many artifacts. People who attended in 1978 recall waiting in long lines. This year that problem has been solved – you buy tickets for a certain day and timed entry. So far 90,000 of those tickets have been sold.

Possibly the first flip flops. Photo credit to Sandro Vannini, National Geographic.

King Tut became a king at 9 years of age and forensic analysis says he died at age 19, probably from an infection in a fractured leg. Even at this young age, he had everything he could possibly need in his tomb.

More than 100 remarkable objects discovered in King Tut’s tomb are on display. I found the complexity and intricacy of the jewelry fascinating. Small beads and miniature cornflowers make up a necklace called the Gold Collar. A Necklace and Pectoral of Mereret looked unlike anything I’ve ever seen, but could almost be described as a pendant that was also a very intricately-crafted picture. Twenty-five amulets were found around the neck of the mummy.

Much of what was found in King Tut’s tomb was created specifically for the afterlife. A gold Pair of Sandals adorned his feet while finger protectors were worn over his rings and toe protectors covered his toes – all to protect him in the afterlife. You’ll find a model of a boat in the exhibit because the Nile River was the main source of transportation in Ancient Egypt. Thirty-five ship models accompanied the boy King in the tomb so he could boat wherever he needed to go after death.

You can tour the exhibit with an audio accompaniment, which I highly recommend. Different music, composed for each of the galleries, transports you back in time and helps you experience 2,000 years of Egyptian history. These ancient treasures remain one of the world’s greatest legacies. The beauty, preservation and stories behind each item evokes all kinds of emotions. Reserve your ticket as soon as you can.

King Tut's finger and toe coverings

Pacific Science Center members receive a substantial discount. Non-member adults pay $27.50 for Mon.-Thur. or $32.50 for Fri.-Sun. Youth (6-15) are $16.50 for Mon.-Thurs. and $21.50 for Fri.-Sun and children (3-5) pay $15.50 during the week and $20.50 for Fri.-Sun. Admission gets you into the Pacific Science Center for the day and if you can take advantage of that as they know how to entertain there.

Bellevue’s KidsQuest Children’s Museum Fun for Adults

When I visited KidsQuest, I had to wear a sticker that said, “Unaccompanied Adult…and wishing I were a kid again!

How true. I just wanted to dig right in and play alongside the kids.

Kids Quest Children's Museum

The first area you come to contains “Waterways.” Our guide reminded us, “There is no wrong way to play with water.” The kids there at the time seemed to agree as they splashed and guided boats through the channels. Then I was distracted by a staff member playing with green slime.

Water play is fun at any age

The museum staff makes their own slime, which takes on some very elastic properties.

So many play areas, so little time. I ventured into the Hard Hats Area without a hard hat, where I became mesmerized by this special green sand called Moon Sand that stuck together so you could make balls out of it. On to fiddling with nuts and bolts.

Unfortunately I couldn’t drive the semi-truck in the Large Science area as the driver’s seat was occupied. But I heard the driver turn the key and the sound the truck made.

When you go, don’t forget to try the scarf shooter. The scarf wends its way through all kinds of tubes and comes back to you, usually behind where you’re standing.

Currently the museum is located in the Factoria Square Mall, but it has outgrown the space and will soon be moving to downtown Bellevue.

KidsQuest is free the first Friday of the month between 5 p.m.-8 p.m.

I can’t wait to take my granddaughter there so I don’t have to wear the “unaccompanied adult” sticker and can play to my heart’s content.

The Tree Bike: Fact or Fiction

There’s currently a story circulating on Facebook about the bicycle in the tree on Vashon Island. It’s a made-up story of a boy who left his bike by the tree, went off to war in 1914 and never came back.

I intend to set the record straight. In actuality there is a bicycle that a tree grew around on Vashon Island. But the true story of how it got there is quite different.

In 1954 Helen Puz (who is now 99 years old) moved to Center with her five children. At that time she had been recently widowed.

“People were very sympathetic and generous,” writes Puz in a document on display at the Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Museum. “We were given a girl’s bike and my 8-year-old son, Don, seemed the natural one to ride it.”

Don was none too happy having a girls bike, said Puz, but it was better than none.

The neighborhood boys, including Don, liked to play behind a local restaurant called, “The Den.” (This restaurant is now called Sound Food.)

One day Don told his mother that he had lost his bike and he wasn’t sure where he’d left it. They both let it go because Don was a little embarrassed to be riding a girl’s bike anyway.

 This is a photo of the bike in the tree before someone attached the front wheel. Courtesy of the Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Museum

Forty years later Puz read in the Beachcomber, Vashon’s newspaper, that someone had discovered a bike up in a tree near Sound Food. The bike was five feet off the ground and the tree had grown around it. News of the tree bike even carried to Japan where they made a film about it.

The mystery of where Don Puz left his bike had finally been solved.

If you’d like to see the bike in the tree, directions on how to get there can be found at roadsideamerica.com.

San Juan Island Museum of Art and Sculpture Park: A Must-See

I visited the Sculpture Park for a close-up look for the first time this past weekend and found I was intrigued. My grandson also enjoyed this adventure. Sculptures created in various media by a number of artists are artfully placed throughout the landscape giving off splashes of color, reflections and hints of pieces that make you want to come closer and study them.

The Sculpture Park was first created in 2001. Each year the installations are added. To fully enjoy all the Sculpture Park has to offer, you can go to their next event on Saturday and Sunday, September 3 and 4, 2011, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. where performance artists interpret their sculptures and the theme of the day is art, food and music.

 

To find the Sculpture Park, head to the west side of San Juan Island from Friday Harbor. It overlooks Westcott Bay and is a stone’s throw from Roche Harbor.

The mission of both the Museum of Art and the Sculpture Park is to connect people with art that inspires, challenges, enlightens and educates. The Museum is located in the town of Friday Harbor at 285 Spring Street.

 

Carr’s One-of-a-Kind Museum: What a Gem

This past weekend we had the pleasure of visiting a museum like no other in the Hillyard district of Spokane. That’s why it’s called the “One-of-a-Kind Museum.” Marvin Carr is the owner.

Carr's Museum Sign

A little background about how Carr’s collection got started:  He worked for the railroad, but was forced to retire due to an injury. That’s when he decided to put his energy into building a museum. He collects what he likes and has many “firsts” and several that are the “only one in the world.”

What I found amazing is he doesn’t have a computer or a cell phone, yet he still buys one piece a month to add to his collection. People call and ask if he wants what they have to offer. When he does buy a piece, he researches it extensively at the library so he knows the history behind it.

That’s why when he gives museum visitors a personalized tour, which he does for everyone; you come away with a wealth of knowledge. At 84 years of age, Carr is very sharp and tells some fascinating stories.

When you enter the museum, you’re greeted with life-size lady mannequins that seem so real you want to introduce yourself to them. Then there’s a powder blue limo owned by Jackie Gleason, an 1800 carousel horse, and life/death masks of several movie stars on the wall. Carr showcases the ship, Royal Louis, built out of matchsticks, the oldest typewriter in the world and German nutcrackers that go through 130 different processes before they are declared, “finished.”

One of the many squirrels exhibited throughout the museum

Carr has even made some of the exhibits. I suspect some of those might be the many different character squirrels spread throughout the museum.

What really impressed me about the museum was how clean and organized it is. All the exhibits and the floor are spotless. Although there’s no common theme for what’s there, other than they are items Carr likes, it’s not cluttered or in chaos.

I’d tell you more, but I really want you to visit the museum and see for yourself this hidden treasure in Spokane.

Carr’s One-of-a-Kind Museum is located at 5225 N. Freya, Spokane, WA  99217. Phone:  800-350-6469.

Cranberries: Treasured Berries

Cranberry wine at the Cranberry Museum and Gift Shop

You probably think cranberries grow in water like the ad for Ocean Spray depicts on TV. Actually flooding the cranberry bogs with water is one way that they are harvested. They can also be dry harvested.

Most of the cranberries grown in the Long Beach Peninsula area of Washington are sold to Ocean Spray. Other commercial cranberry producing states include Oregon, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Wisconsin. Because the soil and climate of Long Beach closely resembled that of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where commercial cranberry production was already established, Anthony Chabot cultivated cranberries in Long Beach in 1883.

Cranberry harvesting equipment

 

If you’d like to learn about the history of cranberries, Long Beach boasts a Cranberry Museum and Gift Shop. See what role the cranberry industry plays in the economy and look at historical artifacts and equipment built and used especially for cranberry farming.

Celebrating the cranberry is a regular event in Long Beach, with the Cranberrian Fair Harvest Festival. This year it takes place October 8 and 9, 2011. Foods, crafters, bog tours, and more will showcase the area’s rich heritage during the 91st Annual Cranberrian Fair. Collectible Cranberrian Fair buttons will sell for $5 each and cover admission to all events.

A cranberry bog in May

If you love this antioxidant-rich, scrumptious berry, here’s a recipe The Shelburne Inn makes:

Cranberry Raspberry Mousse

From The Shelburne Inn

1 12-oz package cranberries
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup water

Place cranberries, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil slowly until berries “pop” and sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat and reserve.

1 ½ cups cranberry “sauce” from above mixture
2 cups raspberries, frozen but beginning to thaw
½ cup cranberry juice
2 Tablespoons unflavored gelatin
8 oz cream cheese, softened
8 oz “Crème de la Chevre” from Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy
1 cup sugar
2 ½ cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla

Place the 2 Tablespoons gelatin in a small  pan with the cranberry juice and stir it in. Set it aside to soften, about 5 minutes. Heat slowly to dissolve the gelatin and allow this mixture to cool.

Beat the cream cheese and “Crème de la Chevre” with the sugar. Combine the cranberry sauce and frozen raspberries. The heat of the sauce will help thaw the raspberries. Add one half of the berry mixture to the cream cheese/sugar mixture. With the mixer running slowly, add the softened, dissolved gelatin mixture. Then gently fold in the rest of the berry mixture.

Whip the cream  and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Fold it into the mousse and the spoon it into glass serving dishes. Chill if not serving right away. Top with whipped cream made with heavy cream whipped with powdered sugar and vanilla. Optional: you may add a little cinnamon to the whipped cream.

Yield:  12 large servings or 20 small.

Black Diamond: A Blast from the Past

A giant table and chair set at the Black Diamond Bakery.

When a local talks about Black Diamond, another local’s first response is, “Did you go to the Black Diamond Bakery?” That’s because the bakery not only sells very tasty bread that is fresh baked in their 107-year-old brick oven, but also has a fine restaurant, coffee shop, a Northwest shop, a gift shop and is a popular gathering place.

First opened in 1902, the Black Diamond Bakery answered the needs of the coal miners in town. A guy named Willard Hadley built and ran the bakery for years. He installed the special oven that is heated by a wood fire that makes the bread taste so good. Only five bakings can be done a day, which yields 500 loaves, so you don’t want to come at the end of the day hoping to buy some bread. It will be all gone. The frosted whole wheat apple cinnamon rolls are a family favorite and I highly recommend them.

If you want to enjoy your bread as part of a meal, you won’t regret it. Whether you opt for French toast or an omelette with toast, or one of those meatloaf sandwiches you’ll have trouble getting your mouth around, it’s all good. The restaurant also serves dinner, which I’m sure is wonderful, but I’ve not had the chance to try it myself.

A jail out of Black Diamond's history.

After loosening your pants you might want to take in some off the other offerings near the bakery. One of my favorite haunts is the Black Diamond Museum, which is open on Thursdays from 9 a.m.-4p.m., Saturdays and Sundays (winter) from 12 p.m.-3p.m. From the train caboose to the jail to the “Danger” sign in sixteen languages, lots of history can be explored both inside and outside the building. Chances are whoever mans the desk when you visit will be glad to tell you some delightful stories.

A caboose in front of the Black Diamond Museum.

Pick up “A Tour Guide to Historic Black Diamond Washington” at the Bakery and treat yourself to a driving tour stopping at points of interest like St. Barbara’s Catholic Church which cost $2227 to build in 1911 or the Mine #14 Hoist Foundation, believed to be the only artifact left from the Black Diamond Coal Company that is still in place.

Visit www.blackdiamondbakery.com and www.blackdiamondmuseum.org for more information.