Saturday, January 31, 2009

Tour of the Back Roads 4

If I'd started this tour of the back roads just two days later, this would have worked out perfectly. The young person buried here died on February 2, 1903, so Monday will mark the 106th anniversary of his death. I think it's safe to assume that no one who knew him personally is still alive today, though it is possible. This little one died at age 11. When wandering through cemeteries - new or old - I always have to stop and think of the parents of these children who didn't live to fulfill their life dreams and goals. Join us again tomorrow for more of the back roads of the WWV.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Tour of the Back Roads 3

As we continue along our tour of the back roads of the WWV, our next stop is Valley Chapel Cemetery. With the snow on the ground, it's hard to tell how many graves actually fill this small place of memories and loved ones, but those headstones that rose above the ground numbered less than 20. Most of them marked graves that were between 100 and 120 years old, making this yet another pioneer cemetery. (See my previous post on Pioneer Cemetery on the outskirts of Milton-Freewater.) Tomorrow we'll take a look inside of the cemetery, at some of the very old gravestones laid with love and tears.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tour of the Back Roads 2

This week we are touring the back country roads between MF and WW/CP. Yesterday was the beginning of the tour, so check yesterday's post for more information and the first stop. Today's stop is another typical scene along the back roads: livestock. This is a farming community, after all, and animals are crucial to successful farms. Perhaps not as much so as 100 years ago, but most farms still have at least a couple of horses, some cows, and perhaps chickens, goats, or sheep. This horse was huddled behind a large tree, procuring some shelter from the chilly winter breeze blowing snow all around the valley. Check back tomorrow for the next stop on our back roads tour.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tour of the Back Roads 1

Welcome to the tour of the back roads! This week we're going to see what the countryside between M-F and WW/CP is like. Make sure you bring a hot's gonna be a cold drive.

When you leave Milton-Freewater and head north toward College Place and Walla Walla, there is the direct route, which takes approximately 7-10 minutes, and there is the much more interesting route, which can take half an hour to an hour or more, if you do it "right." There are plenty of back roads surrounding the cities in the WWV, and most are very fun and interesting to drive. Since I like taking photos, and my sister does, as well, we decided on Sunday to go for a drive on the back roads with our cameras. Husband drove, and we sat staring out the windows, eager for a good shot at anything, really. Because the roads were a little iffy (the snow and ice made stopping suddenly pretty much impossible), some of our shots were taken while the car was still moving. Such is the case with this photo of a typical WWV orchard in the winter. I'm not sure what these trees grow...perhaps apples, or maybe pears. I suppose this summer we will find out!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Winter Landscape

This weekend it snowed again. Just a bit, though - nothing like December. We only have about 2 1/2 - 3 inches at our house, and in some places there is barely an inch. I do like how it makes the world look wintry again, rather than just plain cold and grey. The sky was grey and overcast when I took this shot of the river on Sunday afternoon, but the snow brightened everything, in spite of there not being much to speak of. Just looking at this water rushing by beneath me made me cold. Monday morning as I was eating breakfast, our thermometer said it was 10* F (approximately -12* C). Over the next couple of days I'm going to take you on a tour of the back country roads between Milton-Freewater and College Place/Walla Walla. And it will be a wintry drive, so bring your coat and mittens!

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Old Plant

I can't read the numbers perfectly, but I think the date says 1928. Even here in the western United States a building from this era is considered quite new, although buildings start becoming "old" when you get back to the 1800s, which will make a lot of you laugh. Remember, this is one of the newest parts of the world. This old power plant sits on the banks of the Walla Walla River, nestled up against a hillside and blocking one's view of the lovely riverside path that meanders through brush, trees, and other bits of nature. Again, this is not a place to hang out after dark, or probably even close to it, but during the day it's kind of fun to explore. And yes, this is how dreary it really looks in January. Surprisingly, there are still bits of green in the valley, but my guess is this has something to do with its proximity to the river.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Wall Art 2

Here is the second part of yesterday's post. For more information on what and where this is, see yesterday's post. Enjoy your Sunday!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wall Art

Another geocaching photo. I have a lot of these, since I entertain myself by stocking up on daily photo blog shots while husband searches through brush, water, mud, grass, trees, and sometimes questionable items to find whatever cache may or may not be there. Really, I make it sound worse than it is, but the most enjoyable part to me is finding new things and documenting them with my camera. And, of course, sharing them with you afterward. This shot has two parts; tomorrow you will see the other part. This wall borders a parking lot in a small park next to the Walla Walla River. Apparently we have a lot of talented wall-painters in this valley...or else just one who really likes doing it. This particular section of the river flows through the southeast part of Milton-Freewater. I believe what used to be at this location is an old water plant, but I'm not certain about that. The building has been converted into a covered picnic area, but in all honesty, it's not a place I'd want to spend time exploring after dark. We found plenty of broken beer bottles, among other things. Including the geocache, which was along a riverside path behind the old plant/picnic area. Monday I'll show a photo of the old building.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Going Deeper

Walla Walla recently welcomed a new Thai restaurant, and I have enjoyed it twice now. I intend to enjoy it many more times in the future! The food is superb (I love the yellow curry), and the atmosphere is simple but pleasing. The staff is kind and polite, and going to Thai City is just an all-around enjoyable experience. Plus, you can get one of THESE. It's a "mile-high" (that's what I call it) Thai iced tea. Mmmm! It's light on the top, medium in the midde, and dark on the bottom. As you mix them with the straw, the colour darkens on top and lightens on the bottom until the entire glass is the colour of an orange-tinted mocha. And the taste is to DIE for. Delicious! I love that the glass is so large, too. It's the perfect amount to have with dinner.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Making History

I wish this was a better picture, but I didn't want to ruin it by adding flash. And I only have a point and shoot, so I'm no expert photographer!

I'm sure a lot of American CDP folks are posting photos on this topic today (and perhaps tomorrow). It's a big day for us - we swore in our first black president, the 44th this country has elected. Barack Hussein Obama gave a wonderful inaugural speech this morning (which was afternoon back in D.C.), and I sincerely enjoyed being able to watch this momentous occasion. If you enlarge the photo, you might be able to make out an ear belonging to the person in front of me at the event where we watched it on a large screen on the Walla Walla U. campus.

Here's to the future of the United States of America. No one knows what the future holds, but one things is for sure: Most of us, as of this morning, have renewed hope. And will continue to pray.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I Have a Thing...

For scraggly trees. I can't help it, I get snap happy when I see them. I'm not sure what it is about them...perhaps the mystery, the unknown...or perhaps the potential. The promise of spring coming again. Whatever it is, here's another one for you to enjoy, taken during the same geocaching trip as yesterday's post. This is down in the flatter part of the valley, on the edge of a field. At the base of the tree (kind of hard to see in this shot) is the irrigation ditch. In January they're empty.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hill With a View

Another geocaching photo. My husband is way more into geocaching than I am, though I find the concept interesting. I just don't like spending half an hour searching for something. The fun part is following the GPS to an unknown destination. It's like a Christmas morning surprise journey. But once you get there, if you can't find the cache within about 2 minutes, I'm bored. Poor husband, I know! Anyway, this photo was taken on the hills south of Milton-Freewater last January (that's M-F down the hill in the distance). The stormy skies are typical for this time of year, and is, in fact, what we had some of last week. This week it was sunny and beautiful for two days and the rest has been foggy/cloudy/grey/drizzly. Nice if you like that sort of thing. I don't mind it. But I actually did like the sunny days. So we are back to wearing coats outside, etc....I'm actually wearing a scarf today. Ah, the weather. One never knows what to expect!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Skywatch From My Office

The other day, after a gloomy afternoon full of dark and grey-black clouds, the evening brought out all its finery and put on a show for those of us who noticed. The sky lit up, and trees were painted a brilliant gold against the sky. This shot was taken from my office window, since it happened around 4:30 and I was still at work. I just loved the soft glow of the last lights of the day.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Forgotten Photo

I meant to post this photo back with all the other ice and snow photos a couple of weeks back, but neglected to. So here it is now, since it's still January and winter. This is a photo of a light switch on our front porch with cobwebs on it...that were coated in ice when the fog rolled in and froze a couple of Sundays ago. My husband loves this photo because he thinks the spider webs just look so cool. I agree. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your mindset), the freezing cold weather is gone and we are experiencing early spring. I don't think it will last; I think we'll get some more below freezing days, but we'll see! Right now I'll enjoy walking outside with sunglasses and no coat.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Andy's Market

One of the most popular grocery stores in the WWV is the Adventist-owned Andy's Market in College Place. By far the smallest, the market specializes in health foods, meat replacements, and bulk items. Adventists are well-known for their health message, which involves not eating meat, and just inside the door down that aisle you can see shelves of Adventist-made meat replacement products, made of soy. They are quite delicious - so long as you don't expect them to taste like real meat! What makes this grocery store unique is the fact that it closes during Sabbath hours. This means that half an hour before sundown on Friday (which changes throughout the year as days grow longer or shorter), someone stands outside the door with a large "CLOSED" sign so no one else will try to shop. They don't reopen until Sunday morning. This is a "slice of life" shot...regardless of the quality. It was taken last Friday afternoon.

By the way, some of you wanted to know more history on the abandoned church I posted a few days ago. I have since learned that it belongs to the son of a faculty member at Walla Walla U. He purchased it with the intention of fixing it up as a home, but recently no work has been done to it. Speculations are that it was discovered that fixing it up was going to be a much more involved undertaking than anyone expected. It is a rather old building.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Vandalised Onion

As far as I know, there is only one more onion to show you in this series. I hope to get a picture of it soon. And if I've missed one, someone should let me know so I can get a photo of it and post it here for the rest of the world to enjoy. This onion is one of the few I've seen vandalised. The beautiful rust-orange pieces of glass can be seen picked off and on the ground at the base of the onion. It made me sad to see that; this is one of my favourite onions. And some artist spent HOURS cementing each small square to this orb, and someone disrespected that effort and talent enough to ruin it in a few short moments. Sad, really.

Monday, January 12, 2009

More Sweet Art

Well, I finally got some more photos of the onions I haven't posted yet. For those of you who don't know, I started a series a while back of the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Art that began gracing our downtown Main Street last year. Each one was decorated by a different artist, and each one has a unique style. I like them all! This one made me chuckle...not because of that photo above, but for what I found on the other side. A close-up is posted below. At least it's keeping our streets a tad cleaner, right?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Hills of the Valley

Sounds like an oxy-moron, doesn't it? But really, it's true. This valley is a valley of hills. The cliche "rolling hills" really comes true here in the WWV. This is a view from a hillside on the east side of the valley, looking southeast. Husband and I were geocaching and when I turned around to take a look, this breathtaking view is what greeted me. True, it's not the Tetons, the Alps, or the blue Atlantic, but this area really grows on a person. After over 7 years of living here, I've started calling it home, and it really is beautiful. Just don't ask me in July as I hover in front of the air conditioning unit with a popcicle in each hand.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Desert Hills

Previously, I posted photos of Southfork, an enjoyable hiking and biking area just a few miles southeast of Milton-Freewater. It's hard to believe that the beautiful wooded trails along the river there are just a few turns of a road way from flattened fields and desert hills such as these. Most of the WWV is dry and brown. The elevation here ranges from approx. 700 to 1000 feet. Though it is hilly here, it is generally flat, making town biking a breeze. This contributes to the awful summers we have that average out at around 98-100* F (36-40* C). I hope to post photos of the Columbia River someday soon, which just touches the far corner of our little valley before curving off toward the West. The cliffs around that little section of the mighty Columbia resemble larger versions of these desert hills...and are much more picturesque!

Friday, January 9, 2009


This beautiful church building sits on the corner of Forth Street and Ash in College Place. I've always found this view of it to be attractive, but no shot has turned out as well as this one with the snow. It's a bit dark, but I like the newness of the snow contrasted with the run-down facade of the building itself. I'm not sure what this building used to be, but it has not been used since long before I moved to the valley in 2001. I really think if someone fixed it up - new paint, new support, good cleanup of the yard, etc. - it would be a beautiful meeting place. And it wouldn't necessarily have to be a church meeting could be a student building, since it's so close to Walla Walla U. Just my humble opinion...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

MF Frogs 3

The third in my Milton-Freewater Frogs series. This one sits outside of the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). He holds one of the most common Oregon license plates, engraved with ABC 000. Oregon license plate formats are 3 letters and three numbers, though not necessarily in that order.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Natural Arrangement

Florists and nurseries probably spend hours putting together what nature does so beautifully all by herself in a matter of what must be moments to her. Another shot of the beautiful wonderland we had in the WWV on Sunday.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Pioneer Cemetery

I realized after yesterday's post that I didn't follow through with my promise of a photo of the entrance to the Pioneer Cemetery I talked about on Sunday. So here it is a day late...with my apologies. To read more about this cemetery, see my previous post.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Beauty Before the Beast

Saturday night a fog rolled in. Temperatures dropped to somewhere around 10F, and the moisture in the air froze to anything it touched. This made Sunday morning amazingly beautiful. We woke up to a frosted winter wonderland that made me smile. And I went outside in my pjs to take photos as soon as I got downstairs. Above is a close-up of leaves on one of my rosebushes that I haven't trimmed back yet. (Don't judge me - I'm not a gardener!) I've got a couple more photos from this frosty world that I hope to post over the next couple of days. Enjoy them, because I probably won't be able to take more for a while. A warm wind came in last night and melted everything...making the WWV a giant puddle of slush. And yes, it's gross. So for now...enjoy the photos!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Stormy January

I suppose some would consider this a better picture for Halloween than early January, but oh well. This was taken in January 2008, and it shows what the winter weather is usually like in the Walla Walla Valley. This is an old graveyard my husband and I stumbled upon while geocaching in a wheat field on a hill not too far from our house. It's called Pioneer Cemetery, probably because the graves are all for some of the first people to settle in the WWV. Most of them are illegible by now, and weather (and probably some "helpful" teenagers with nothing else to do) has taken its toll on the stones. You can see the WWV in the background, down at the base of the hill. Tomorrow I'll post a photo of the entrance to this somewhat spooky old cemetery.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Whitman Mission

Marcus and Narcissa Whitman were missionaries to the Walla Walla Valley natives starting in 1836. The valley was then in what was known as the Oregon Territory, but is now part of southeastern Washington. The settlement became a stop along the famous Oregon Trail, and was known as Waiilatpu (why-ee-LAHT-poo), meaning "Place of the Rye Grass" in the Cayuse language. Marcus farmed and provided medical care, while his wife, Narcissa, set up a school for the native children. The sudden influx of white people brought with it disease and sickness. In a short amount of time, many natives were dying with measles. The medicine to cure measles known to the white people didn't have the same effect on the natives, leading to more white people being healed than natives. This, coupled with the intense nature of the conversion attempts of the Whitmans and their white friends, led the natives to believe that Marcus was killing the natives and only healing the white people. Over the course of several weeks, 53 women and children were held hostage by the natives until negotiations were finally settled for their release. Unfortunately, in the angry acts that followed the hostage-taking, the Whitmans were murdered in cold blood by the very people they were trying to help: the natives. Today, Waiilatpu is an historical marker along Highway 12 just north of Walla Walla and College Place. Whitman Mission is a few miles outside of town, located on several acres of beautiful tree-filled land. It's free to park and enjoy the picnic area, and a minimal fee (used for upkeep and staffing) allows you to explore the grounds and the museum, as well as the monument to the Whitmans located on a lone hill to the east of the museum. This photo was taken on the grounds of the Whitman Mission during the winter two years ago.

Friday, January 2, 2009

MF Frogs 2

The second in my Milton-Freewater Frogs series. If you're interested in the history of the frogs, read my first series post (Jan. 1, 2009). This frog is outside a gas station convenience store that used to be called Zip Trip. (I'm not sure of it's new name.) He's sipping on an ICEE, a slushy drink I used to love as a child. Back then they came in cherry and blue raspberry. Now you can get them in dozens of flavours, depending on the convenience store's options. This frog sits on the main drag in MF.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

MF Frogs 1

Fishing frog (missing his fishing pole) next to the Walla Walla River in M-F.

Milton-Freewater has a city mascot. It may seem odd, and it probably is, but it's fun, too. The reason it has its own mascot is because during the summer, there is a community event (similar to a fair) called Muddy Frogwater Days. (It's supposed to be a clever twist on the town's name.) Hence, everything in Milton-Freewater is about frogs. Back in 2004, the city decided to do some branding in an attempt to "sell" the town as a great place to be. Or rather, a "Toadly awesome place." The New York Times even wrote a piece about the town's attempt to add itself to the map. (Which, by the way, didn't work, because after they made a big deal about the frogs, nothing else happened, and M-F was still the run-down, dirty, uninteresting town it always was.) Hence, the Milton-Freewater frogs. Many establishments in town have frog statues in front, with frogs doing something to do with the place of business. For instance, frogs sipping beer in front of a bar, frogs reading in front of the library, etc. I'm going to start a series today to show you those MF Frogs. All of them. So, get're about to enter Muddy Frogwater Country.