Friday, July 31, 2009

Skywatch Friday

Like Salt Lake City, the Northwest is full of Latter-day Saints (otherwise known as Mormons). In fact, Boise, Idaho, actually has more Mormons per capita than Salt Lake City. Washington and Oregon are no exception to this; buildings such as this - complete with easily recognizable Mormon steeples - are the norm around here. This one is in Milton-Freewater, and is nearly surrounded by orchards.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Unknown Beauty

This is another flower I don't know the name of. I want to say it's a type of rose, but I'm really not a horticulturist! These flowers were also prolific around the river at Rooks Park. Which, I guess, is not really a river, but a creek by name: Mill Creek. I just loved the delicate pink of these mostly white blooms.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Busy at Work

I was borrowing a camera over the weekend and my husband and I went to Rooks Park, which I've mentioned on several occasions here on this blog. Rooks has a few dozen acres and is surrounded mostly by fields, but is a mere 10-minute drive from the heart of downtown Walla Walla. The camera I was borrowing had a fun macro feature which I've never used before, so I played with it a lot. Here's some kind of insect that resembles a bee but wasn't really, exploring a flower bunch near the river. Though these flowers/plants are very common in this area, I can never remember the name of them. Anyone know?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Day Trip

Recently some friends of ours got married in the little town of Cove just outside of La Grande, Ore. The drive is just under 2 hours from the WWV, so it's an easy day trip and again, a pleasant reprieve from the stifling summer evening heat in Walla Walla. I like this picture because it tells a whole story - I actually took it in b/w, and didn't alter it after snapping.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Evening Light

I've shown a couple of pictures from La Grande before; this is another. La Grande is only 90 minutes away from The Walla Walla Valley, and is a fantastic place to visit. It's beautiful there in the Grande Ronde Valley, and because of its close proximity to the western border mountains (the highest peak of which is known as Mt. Emily), the evenings cool off much quicker and to much lower temperatures than the WWV. The other factor is that La Grande is at approximately 2700 feet; the WWV's highest point is just over 1,000 feet. Here the evening light is highlighting Mt. Harris, the highest point on the eastern side of the valley.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Still Showing

I saw this movie last Monday and really wasn't all that impressed. I saw it at our one and only indoor theatre in the Walla Walla Valley. The only other place to watch movies (besides your living room) is the drive-in in Milton-Freewater. This cinema has about 10 theatres in it. It's rather small, but it serves our small population well. (There's only about 50,000 in the whole valley.)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Religious Bug

I love these little guys. This is a small one, but the Praying Mantis is a really fascinating bug. I'm not usually too interested in insects, but these are harmless and quite fun. And they are quite often found in gardens and yards during the summer. Here my sister models her find for the good of the people.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Skywatch Friday

All credit goes to my sister for this shot, which I absolutely love. The sun was painting a fabulous piece of artwork for us one evening as we were about to enjoy some ice cream at Dairy Queen in Walla Walla. She didn't have her camera, so she grabbed mine and snapped away. I love the outcome.

Go and check out more Skywatch images at the Skywatch Site!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Close Encounter

This curious cat came up to investigate as I was taking photos on the grass at a park in Athena, Ore. Athena is about 20 minutes from Walla Walla, and home to the Caledonia Games I've posted about a couple of times. I don't know who she belonged to, but she was inquisitive and friendly, as well as cute.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Union-Bulletin

The sun came through at an odd angle, causing this scene to look heaven-blessed. This is the local paper, the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. The office is located downtown, just a block or two from Main Street. They do quite a good job for a small-town paper, and their staff of editors and writers is wonderful. The city editor actually just became a daddy for the first time last week. (Congratulations, Alasdair!) If you're interested, check out their website (which is currently under renovation and will hopefully be upgraded soon).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


These birds, although beautiful and reputedly intelligent, are quite annoying. They are very prolific around the Pacific Northwest, but typically avoid cities. This one was resting on the fence around a local elementary school located behind the movie theatre. (And yes, we only have one theatre.) I wish I could've caught a shot of him flying, so you could see the real beauty of these birds, but he took off too quickly and there wasn't enough time.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Common Scene

This is something you see a lot here this time of year - dogs with their happy faces stuck as far out of the car window as possible, tongues, jowls, and ears flapping in the wind. The warmer weather makes just about everyone happy.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Another Whitman Shot

Though I keep meaning to collect some photos from around the Whitman College campus, I haven't managed to get very many at a time yet. So I'll post them as I get them, and maybe someday I'll get over there to stock up. Summer is a great time to do it, because there are many fewer people wandering around looking at you funny for taking pictures. I love that on every lamppost on this campus there is a banner with the school's name on it. I think every college and university should do this. It just makes it look classy.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Skywatch Friday

This gorgeous sky greeted me as I headed into town on Saturday evening last weekend. The sun was a blazing ball of orange and gold as it sunk lower and lower. Though I wanted to get another photo of it as it transformed into an even larger glowing sphere of red and orange, I couldn't get to a good enough vantage point before it melted into the horizon altogether. At least I managed this shot. It was taken over the treetops and roofs of northern Milton-Freewater, just as you are getting onto Highway 11 headed north.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Caledonian Games

This past weekend was the Caledonian Games in Athena, Oregon. Athena is just across the border from Walla Walla, and about a 20-minute drive. Though it's a small town, it comes alive for this event every year. You can read about our experience last year on this post. Among other things, they have the sheep dog trials. This is probably one of my favourite events, though most of the weekend is a lot of fun. There is a trailer full of sheep that none of the participating dogs know. For each dog, four random sheep are let out of the trailer for the run, and the dog then follows orders from its trainer/owner to complete the required tasks. The owners use a series of whistles and calls to tell the dog what to do. The human doesn't move from his/her spot at the end of the field - they just watch their dog and whistle/call out commands.

There are three parts to these competitions. First, the dog must herd the sheep through a "gate" made with portable railings in the middle of the field. Then, he must guide them through a specified course (made up of a couple more portable railings), and finally, he must herd the four sheep into a portable pen on the field, while the owner comes behind to close the gate. This completed, the dog is finished. It is incredibly fascinating to watch, because these dogs are VERY good at what they do.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer Rain

Surprisingly, a place as hot and dry as the Walla Walla Valley occasionally gets rain in the summer. It happened on Monday, in fact. These two girls were walking high and dry across the Walla Walla U. campus under their umbrellas. The small shower we enjoyed cooled off the temperature noticeably. Which, especially since I'm 39 weeks pregnant, is always a good thing in the summer.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Blue Mountain Mall the Walla Walla Valley's only mall. When I arrived in 2001 it was a pathetic excuse for a mall. It has only gotten worse. Currently the sign is only half correct; Sears and ShopKo are still there, but the Food Court and Gottschalks are long gone. Granted, our "food court" consisted of a pretzel and lemonade place and a Chinese food shop that may or may not have been laundering money. (We joke about that because no one could figure out how they stayed in business otherwise, and they had a sign up that they only accepted cash.) What you can see in this picture is actually a building separate from what used to be the mall. (The actual mall is behind this building.) A rich individual from California (or so I've heard) bought the property and was all set to fix it up...but this is the second time this has happened in the last five years and both times work was started and then abruptly ended without being completed. This building was supposed to be (at least partially) a Ross Dress for Less, but the sign saying "Coming Soon!" has started to fade over the months.

While the mall used to contain a hair salon, several jewelry stores, a health food place, a cutlery store, a Payless Shoe Source, a Bath & Body Works, a toy store, and a couple of other small things outside of the anchor stores listed on the sign above, they slowly closed, one by one, until all that was left was a jewelry store, the two food places, Sears, and ShopKo. Now all that is left is Sears and ShopKo, and you can't walk between them inside because the mall itself is closed and - if you could get to it to see it - open to the air outside because they knocked out several walls.

One of these days we may have a useful shopping area. Perhaps by the time my unborn children are in high school?

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Friend in the Field

Today's is another photo from Whitman College. This isn't the best picture because I had to snap it fast. I was walking along the sidewalk when I noticed this man running his hand along the face and neck of this wooden horse. It looked so cute - almost as if he were soothing it or talking to it after a long day of work. Whitman College has quite a bit of interesting art on its campus...some of it I don't particularly care for, but this horse I think is beautiful. It looks to be made of driftwood and stands on their quad - the biggest open expanse of grass on the campus.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Mid-Morning Break

Most of you have probably seen the inside of one of these: Starbucks. We only have two real Starbucks cafes in the WWV - I say "real" because there are two inside of grocery stores, which I don't really count as real Starbucks. This one is located on Main Street in downtown Walla Walla. The other is along Highway 11 on the southeastern side of town. On this sunny morning, several people were in this ambient cafe sipping their favourite drinks and taking a break from the real world for a while.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Marcus Whitman

If you've been following my blog at all, you've probably noticed quite a few mentions of the name Whitman. It's a very popular name in this valley, due to the history of the Whitmans: Marcus and Narcissa. A summary of their story can be read by visiting this posting. This friendly statue of Marcus Whitman stands at the very eastern end of Main Street in Walla Walla, and really struck me for the simple reason that he is smiling. Not many statues of people show them smiling and happy. I liked that this one did.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Skywatch Friday

Just a couple of hours' drive from the WWV is Wallowa Lake, a beautiful area nestled at the base of the Wallowa Mountains. It's a major tourist attraction with adorable little towns scattered around it. Enterprise and Joseph, Ore., are the biggest towns, with populations of 1,718 and 1,054, respectively. The entire county has only 7,000 residents. Just last weekend we went to watch the fireworks over the lake, and just before they started, I caught this scene with my camera. I love how the mountains and trees are barely visible as sillhouettes in front of the nearly full moon.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Summertime Transport

I spotted this bike parked in front of a house on 4th Street in College Place and I instantly saw it in black and white. I love these old beach bikes...they're in style around these parts right now, though they aren't cheap bikes! This one was white and looked brand new. I'd love to take it for a ride on a summer evening.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Modern Art

In a college town, you'll find all sorts of dwelling places. Aside from dormitories (which we're not allowed to call that anymore - they're residence halls), there are spacious two-bedroom apartments, studio apartments, run-down rental houses, well-kept rental homes, and the big expensive houses on the hill where the faculty live. This is an example of a college student apartment: older building, a couple of new things, a couple of old things, and random stuff on the walls. This apartment is inhabited by some friends of ours who are expecting their first child (a baby girl) in November. She works part time and he's a full-time student finishing his last year at Walla Walla U. Her sister is an artist and gave them some paintings for their adorable little upstairs apartment. It's a small place, but I love the ambiance. It's relaxing and very "hip."

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Balancing Act

I'm not really sure what the name of this sculpture is, but it certainly is eye-catching. It's one of the many pieces of art on the Whitman College campus. My husband and I ate a picnic lunch on their campus one day last week and walked past this as we were leaving. Anyone care to venture a guess as to what it means?

Whitman College is a prestigious private college in Walla Walla. Its student body is probably somewhere around 1200 and it is well-known for being a place of excellent education...and high tuition. Last I checked a year's tuition was around $32,000, though it may have gone up since then, since I think that was at least a year ago. The high cost of attending WC is well-made-up-for, however...the campus is well-maintained, and those of us outsiders in town joke about how the school's administrators and board members sit around contemplating the challenge of what to build next. "We have so much money...what should we spend it on?"

I'm told that Whitman's endowment is so high that they could have absolutely ZERO students on campus for three whole years and still pay every single one of their staff and faculty members and operate as per the norm. Amazing, isn't it?

I hope to have more WC campus shots soon.

Monday, July 6, 2009


These flowers are quite prolific around the Walla Walla Valley. They are purple thistles, and although they are quite beautiful, you wouldn't want to pick one! The leaves and stems are covered with sturdy, quite sharp thorns you don't want in your skin. So looking and leaving well enough alone is probably the best course of action with these blooms. These plants are typically considered weeds, but when they bloom they almost make up for it wth the gorgeous colour and unique shape.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Pony Rides

I'm not sure what these kids were celebrating, but it looked a little bit like a birthday party gathering complete with pony rides. I spotted this cheerful little crowd while running errands for work last week. Even the pony seemed to be enjoying himself. I'm not sure who the guest of honour was, or if there even was one, but everyone seemed to be smiling and having a good time whatever the occasion. (Who doesn't love a pony ride?!?)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day

My husband made this delicious cherry pie for 4th of July last year in celebration of our independence. We took it on a camping trip and stuck sparklers in it for fun! Happy Independence Day, America. And many thanks to those who have fought in the past to keep our freedom just that.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Skywatch Friday

One of the small towns not too far from the WWV is La Grande, a town of about 12,000 people nestled in the beautiful Grande Ronde Valley of Oregon. This past weekend I traveled there for a wedding which was held at one of the few wineries that have sprung up in this valley. Though the Walla Walla Valley is known for its wine, the grape-growing hasn't spread into the Grande Ronde Valley quite yet, but it's starting to. La Grande is a mere 90-minute drive from the WWV, and is a lovely place to visit all times of the year. Though it does get hot on summer days, the mountains the town is snuggled up against make sunset a lot earlier than most of the state, and the altitude (around 2,700 feet) allows the valley to cool a lot faster than the lower-elevated WWV (we're at between 700 and 1,000 feet, depending on where you are). This is a shot of the sunset on Sunday over the vineyard where the wedding was held. It was a beautiful evening for a wedding.

NOTE: Once again, I find that Blogger has not been publishing my prescheduled posts. It's been happening for 2-3 weeks now. Does anyone have ANY idea how to fix this issue? Am I the only one having trouble with this?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Lunchtime View

I don't really enjoy summer, but one thing I do like is watching the world turn green. After the flowers are gone (and they pretty much are except for a few lilies and some roses), the varying shades of green emerge and spice up an otherwise drab summer valley. Another thing I like is early summer, when the weather is still comfortable and the breezes are enjoyable while you eat lunch at a picnic bench, like I did earlier this week. This was my view as I sat in the shade of this very full-leafed tree and enjoyed my lunch. I walked to one of the most open parts of the Walla Walla U. campus called Kretschmar Lawn (pronounced KRETCH-mahr) for the large glass building which borders one side. It was a lovely quiet summer day on the university campus, which although makes the campus a little lonely, is nice for a peaceful lunch.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Palouse Falls 2

This is Palouse Falls. I talked a bit about it yesterday, so you can read that posting for more information on the area. This is the major waterfall in the area (the rest are about 3-4 feet high), and is 198 feet high. These waterfalls are part of the Palouse River, and lead straight into the Snake River. This shot was taken from the parking area; when you take the hike I mentioned yesterday you end up right at the top of the falls, looking down as it plummets nearly 200 feet to the river below. It's quite spectacular, really.

The heat isn't the only thing that makes the hike somewhat unenjoyable. It is also not really a trail - just a slightly flattened area on a hillside covered in shale rocks. It's easy to slip and tumble. When you fall, the rocks are not only sharp and hard, but also hot from the sun. One must be careful on this hike! Oh, and did I mention that this is prime rattlesnake territory? Just one more reason to watch your step on this hike!