The Hague — August 14-15 & 17, 2017

On August 14 we took a bus up to The Hague, where Paulien has a home.  We visited two interesting sites in the area.  The first was Madurodam,  a miniature park and tourist attraction in the Scheveningen district.  It is home to a range of 1:25 scale model replicas of famous Dutch landmarks, historical cities and large developments.

The second attraction was the Beach and Pier in the Dutch resort town of Scheveningen near The Hague. Opened in 1959, the Pier is on an expansive beach that is lined with a multitude of open air restaurants, bars, and snack stands.  We couldn’t resist an “all you can eat” offer of spare ribs.  As we walked along the beach at the end of the day toward our car, we stopped and asked a pair of young waitresses about how the many shops could survive the winters.  We were told that ALL of the businesses are crated up and taken away to be stored for the winter, only to be re-erected the following Spring.

The Pier itself hosts two features that persist year-round.  A huge high tower topped by a crane from which deranged thrill-seekers bungee-jump, plunging to a point just a few meters above the cold sea, and then bouncing back almost to the starting platform.  The tower is also the attachment point of two zip lines that run all the way back to the shore.  The other feature is a gigantic Ferris wheel constructed in 2016 — Europe‘s first Ferris wheel constructed over the sea. The Ferris wheel is over forty meters high and has 36 closed gondolas with air conditioning.  Each gondola offers room for up to six people. Adults pay €9.00 and children under twelve pay €7.00 for a ride that lasts about 20 minutes.

On August 16 we used Paulien’s car and drove up to Delft and Gouda.  I will cover that visit in the next edition of this blog.

On August 17, back in The Hague, Barb and Bill and Colleen ventured out to see a third site.  They visited Binnenhof, a cluster of buildings that houses the meeting place of both houses of the States General of the Netherlands, as well as the Ministry of General Affairs and the office of the Prime Minister of the Netherlands. , and Mauritshuis, an art museum that houses the Royal Cabinet of Paintings which consists of 841 objects, mostly Dutch Golden Age paintings.   Suffering from a severe cold, I stayed back at Paulien’s home.

Amsterdam — August 8-13, 2017

Paulien Wijnvoord, who shepherded us to the appropriate bus so that we could get to her son’s finely appointed and spacious condo in the heart of Amsterdam, met us at Schiphol, the Amsterdam airport. Paulien, who has homes in Bonaire and in The Hague, was house-sitting in Amsterdam while her son was away, and we had been invited to join her. We took full advantage, and saw a lot of the vibrant city. We walked a bunch, and immediately were struck by the ascendancy of the bicycle. They were everywhere! Almost all streets had a bicycle lane, often adjacent to the pedestrian sidewalk. After several near misses we learned to look both ways before crossing a bicycle lane, because they had the right of way. Most sidewalks were cluttered with parked bikes. But what was really mind blowing were the huge – nay, giagantic – bike parking spaces near public attractions and more traditional transportation centers, such as train, bus or ferry centers. Some of these were actually multi-story! We have no idea how an owner could relocate his or her bike after returning.  The other striking, but actually concomitant, feature was the level of fitness of the average person in Amsterdam.  Almost everyone was slim and trim.  Quite a contrast to what we see in America.

We also used extensively the enlightened public transportation system that utilizes electronic cards that can be loaded with a sum and then is appropriately deducted by being held next to sensors as one boards and leaves trams and/or buses.

And we took a ride on a canal boat that was piloted by a congenial and informative fellow from New Zealand who at one point asked if anyone wanted to take the controls for a bit. Barb and Bill each had turns that were undoubtedly extended when he learned of their boating experience.

We visited the Anne Frank Museum, where we avoided the long long lines of would-be ticket buyers by having pre-purchases made by Paulien. The experience was as moving as one would expect, even though the attendees were packed in elbow-to-elbow.

We spent a lot of time in the Rijks Museum, where I think we were all especially impressed by the works of Vermeer and Rembrandt and Van Gogh.  But the best Van Gogh experience was at the Van Gogh Museum itself, dedicated to the artist and his contemporaries.

We took a (daytime) stroll through the Red Light District, where scantily-clad ladies were indeed to be found in doorways and behind large windows.  Many of them were surprisingly good looking.

On the recommendation of the New Zealander, we spent some time in the architecturally spectacular Nemo Science Museum. He gave warning that it was slanted toward youth but we decided to go anyway. We found some interesting displays but eventually fled from the crowded chaos of too many parents and children seeking not only stimulation but also respite from crummy weekend weather. One section of the museum warrants comment. As many readers probably already know, the Dutch are not particularly squeamish about sex. The purpose of the section was to inform teens and pre-teens about social, psychological and physical aspects of sex, and this was done via a large number of frank and detailed illustrated posters. Perhaps the most striking example of the difference between Dutch and American attitudes was the inclusion of a large collection of actual flexible stick figures posed in the (labeled) positions of the Kama Sutra.

Storing the RV in Preparation for Europe Trip — Hood River, OR, August 4-6, 2017

We weren’t taking the RV to Europe, so what to do with it while we were gone?  A very welcome answer appeared in the persons of John and Shirley Nesbitt.  John is the brother of Mike Nesbitt, for whom Bill Bouchard had previously worked, and for whom Bill had done a whole series of fixes on Mike’s huge camping bus.  As a consequence of this relationship, Mike asked John if we could park our RVs on his spacious property in Hood River, OR.  John not only said yes, but he insisted on taking us to Seattle for our flight.

We spent several days getting our RVs settled in, during which John took us to several interesting venues.  The Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum has one of the largest collections of still-flying antique aeroplanes and still-driving antique automobiles in the country.  The airplane collection is mainly focused on aircraft in the period 1903–1941, but also includes light World War II Army, Army Air Corps, and naval aircraft.  The antique cars were built between 1909 and the 1960s, and are still in running condition. There are over 175 autos on display. Most are from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. The oldest car on display is an 1909 Franklin Model D.

The second experience that John gave us began with a trip south of Hood River to a community called Dee. Specifically, to an area which had in the past been the site of a lumber mill. Most of the buildings are now gone with the exception of one huge structure, constructed in 1958. That structure had been most recently employed for storage, but much of the roof had collapsed in Feb. 2017 from too much weight of snow. The contents? Parts of carousels.

But let me back up a bit.

Carol Jackson Perron graduated from Coeur d’Alene High School in 1954. As a youngster, she often visited Playland Pier, Coeur d’Alene’s waterfront amusement park. Later, Jackson spent summers working there.

When she married Duane Perron, she began urging that they do something to save the nation’s historic carousels. Starting with the restoration and operation of a 1914 carousel in Portland, Oregon in 1978, they have restored and placed into operation seven antique carousels at various locations around America, including the Playland Pier carousel, which they bought at an auction in Puyallup, Washington. For a time it resided in a shopping mall in Reading, PA. Some years later they were able to see it placed back at Coeur d’Alene.

They opened a carousel museum in Portland in 1983, but moved it to up the Columbia Gorge to Hood River in 1999. In a newspaper interview that I found on the web, Perron said “We bought a bank (building), put it there, and became almost too successful. We were part of the Gray Line tour, but we were located in the middle of downtown. If you had three or four buses trying to drop off passengers, you jammed up the whole town.” The city, he said, banned buses from parking downtown. Gray Line dropped the museum from its tour. And so, in late 2010, the International Museum of Carousel Art closed. The collection went back into storage. However, the passion for carousels lived on.

The Perrons are now in their eighties, and Carol is in ill health. But their son Brad has continued the effort, operating nine historic carousels across the country, owning the Dee building and pushing forward with plans for the Dee area. The Perron collection now has about 1,100 carved carousel horses and 21 working carousel mechanisms, seven in pristine condition, taking up two large buildings. Well, it was two, until the roof collapsed in Dee. When we visited, construction of a new roof was underway, and lots of carousel parts were covered with tarps. Other parts and been removed to be stored and dried elsewhere. John explained that the Perrons’ plan was to eventually turn the building into a new museum that would contain six operating carousels as well as a display of the collection. And if that doesn’t seem ambitious enough, the Perrons consider the museum to be a mere amenity to go along with a DeeTour hotel and concert venue to be built adjacently.

When we left the Dee building we went to the second large storage building on the elder Perrons’ farm, where we took the pictures that appear below. As we left the second building, John showed us the site of an intended additional storage building, presumably to house the surplus after the Dee building is used as a museum.

The magnitude of the collection and of the effort to save the carousel tradition left us dumbstruck.  And heartsick, because we had learned of the ill health of Carol and of the age of Duane.  It was only while doing web research about their efforts that I learned about the existence and important role son Brad now plays.  We hope to, one day not too distant in the future, be able to visit a thriving center at Dee, Oregon.

Oregon Coast — July 31-August 3, 2017

On July 31 the members of the “pod” (Shipleys, Hilbruners, Bill Bouchard and Colleen Wright) took their RVs west of Portland to the Oregon shore.  We spent time at Cannon Beach, visited the Cape Mears Lighthouse, visited the Tillamook Cheese factory, ate seafood at a number of venues, camped in the Barview Jetty County Park, and browsed in a number of art galleries.  The Oregon coast is spectacular, and our day on Cannon Beach was exceptional.  But by August 3 it was time to return back to Hood River.  The Hilbruners would soon be departing for Alaska, and the rest of us of us had to get ready for an exciting trip to Europe!

Timberline Lodge — Mt. Hood, OR; July 28, 2017

By July 28 Bill & Colleen (nee Dolce Vita) had also arrived (in their new Allegro diesel pusher) at the home of Liz Kinney.  Mike and Roberta took us all to see Timberline Lodge on the south side of Mount Hood. Constructed from 1936 to 1938 by the Works Progress Administration, it was built and furnished by local artisans during the Great Depression. Embracing and celebrating the regional themes: wildlife, Native American, and pioneer, the lodge’s original structure, architectural details, and decorations are stunning.

During the Second World War, Timberline Lodge closed as the nation faced difficult times. Quickly bouncing back at the end of the war, Timberline Lodge featured the nation’s second aerial passenger tram, the Skiway Aerial Tram. Due to financial complications and disrepair, Timberline Lodge closed for a few months in 1955. Passionate that the lodge deserved one last chance, Richard L. Kohnstamm convinced the US Forest Service to reopen the facility. Despite being an unlikely candidate, with no background in the hospitality industry, Kohnstamm became the new operator for the lodge and ski area on May, 1955, just in time to take advantage of the growing popularity of skiing.

The National Historic Landmark sits at an elevation of 5,960 feet on Mt. Hood, which has an elevation of 11,245 feet.  The Lodge is within the Mount Hood National Forest and is accessible through the Mount Hood Scenic Byway. Publicly owned and privately operated, Timberline Lodge is a popular tourist attraction that draws two million visitors annually. It is notable in film for serving as the exterior of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining.  It has the longest skiing season in the U.S., and is open for skiers and snowboarders every month of the year.

From the Lodge we took a ski lift up to a point where we could watch skiers and snowboarders arriving at the end of the snow field.  A second lift continued up the mountain and provided their access to the field.

Columbia River Gorge — July 24, 2017

As I mentioned in our previous post, after we left the Cruisers’ Rendezvous, we took our RV to Hood River, where we parked in the driveway of Liz Kinney, a relatively new friend of ours and a long-time friend of Roberta & Michael Hilbruner, who also parked beside us.  

Atmospheric pressure differentials east and west of the Cascades create a wind tunnel effect in the deep cut of the gorge, generating 35 mph winds that make Hood River and other locations in the Gorge popular windsurfing and kitesurfing locations.

On July 24 Mike and Roberta took us on an extended road trip down along the Columbia River to show us some of the more easily-accessible waterfalls, a mere smattering of the over 90 on the Oregon side of the Gorge alone.  The gorge holds federally protected status as a National Scenic Area.  Its nearness to populations and its spectacular scenery make it a popular recreational destination.

Our trip down the Gorge terminated at Crown Point.  Looking eastward from the Point we could see a prominent ridge.  Roberta and Mike were celebrating their wedding anniversary while we were there, and they told us the story of how Mike had cajoled a very reluctant Roberta into crawling out onto the ridge, where he then surprised her by proposing marriage.  She was so nervous that she got the giggles, but when she finally composed herself she assured him that “of course” she would marry him.

Walk in the Woods — Near Mr. Hood; July 26, 2017

After we left the Cruisers’ Rendezvous, we took our RV to Hood River, where we parked in the driveway of Liz Kinney, a relatively new friend of ours and a long-time friend of Roberta & Michael Hilbruner, who also parked beside us.  Their goal, to show us some of the features of the area in which they had spent many years.  This post and more to come will cover some of our activities.

On July 26, Roberta & Michael took us up toward Mt. Hood to show us one of their favorite easy hikes along a river.  It was a beautiful day, and a beautiful hike.

At the Valley Bronze Foundry — Joseph, OR; July 17, 2017

As I mentioned in our last post, some of us visited the Valley Bronze Foundry during the Cruiser Rendezvous.  We were treated to an interesting tour that featured a description of the process of making a Bronze figure.  I found the complicated process fascinating, and decided to attempt to describe it here.  (All omission and errors will be mine.)

A rough outline of the steps is something like the following, keyed to the photos.

A. The object to be rendered in bronze is encased in a plaster-like material in order to form a “negative” cast of the object.  The object itself would have been  provided by the artist, not the foundry.  The object is removed from the cast, and the cast is put back together.

B.  The hollow cast is filled with molten wax which then hardens to form a “positive” image of the original figure.

C.  The cast is removed, and the wax figure is “touched up”, removing seam lines and imperfections.

D.  Additional wax columns are attached to the figure, as well as is a base.  (The space occupied by the columns will become passages for moving molten bronze in and air and wax out of the figure.)

E.  The resulting figure is repeatedly alternately dipped into a special liquid and a special powder.  The result is a cast that can withstand the heat of molten bronze.

F.  The cast-encased assemblage is placing in an oven in order to evacuate all of the wax.

G.  The now-hollow cast is placed “upside down” on a frame with the base up in order to receive  the bronze.  (Not pictured.)

H.  Bronze ingots are melted in an electric furnace.

I. Wearing insulating coats and helmets …

J. … using cranes, the molten bronze is put into a vessel to be used for pouring …

K. … and multiple workers use hand-held “arms” to pour the bronze into the cast.

L. The result is placed in a special enclosure to slowly cool.  (Not pictured.)

M.  The cast is removed and the material from the cast is recovered. 

N.  Imperfections in the bronze figure are repaired.  If the figure was complicated and required multiple casts, then the parts are welded together.

O.  Some figures are painted or glazed by an expert colorist.

P.  Several example of completed works.

Cruisers’ Rendezvous — Wallowa State Park, OR; July 16-21, 2017

This summer we had our second annual Caribbean Cruisers Rendezvous; this time in beautiful Wallowa State Park, near Joseph, OR, and just south of  Wallowa Lake, the largest of several glacial cirque lakes in the area. The lake was formed by repeated periods of glaciation that began some 3 million years ago and ended about 15,000 BC. The glaciers formed high in the Wallowa Mountains around Glacier Lake and moved down the East and West Fork of the Wallowa River.  The lake is 3.48 miles long and has a maximum depth of 321 feet.  The northern end of the lake is surrounded by a high and impressive moraine left by the glaciers.  

This year’s rendezvous was organized by Roberta (Celilo). Our activities during the rendezvous included hikes in the woods, a hike at the top of a nearby mountain, accessed by a spectacular lift, an afternoon spent on a Park-provided float on the Wallowa Lake (organized by Tom and accessed by Tom’s dinghy and an aluminum boat rented by Dave), many group meals, including a grill-fired pizza night, game playing (including lots of ladder ball), wine tasting hosted by Tom, and lots of relaxed lounging.  Some of us took a 12-mile ride on a pedal-powered two-seater rail car from Joseph to Enterprise and back.  And some of us joined a tour of the Valley Bronze Foundry where we were given a detailed description of the process by which bronze sculptures are created.  (See the next blog edition, to be following soon.)  We had such a good time at the Rendezvous that we vowed to gather again next year and we loved the area so much we resolved to return to the very same Park.  Stay tuned.

Three Brothers — Wenatchee & Leavenworth, WA; June 30 – July 9, 2017

Of the five surviving brothers of Barb, three now live in Washington State: Dan, George, and Hugh.  We spent an enjoyable time visiting them and seeing some of the beautiful area.  Knowing that we intended to be in the area for some time, we had, three weeks earlier, arranged for the cracked left pane of the RV’s windshield to be replaced in Wenatchee.  Alas, the replacement windshield was delayed and had not yet arrived when we did.  No matter, the brothers and their families were attentive hosts, and that part of the world is gorgeous.  Early in our visit we took a side trip northward along the Columbia River to Chelan, where we visited the  Fielding Hills Winery before continuing on to Manson for lunch.  When we returned to Wenatchee, we joined the pool party/cook out in progress at the home of Dan and Candy (they also own a home in Leavenworth), already attended by the extended families of all three brothers.  George and Hugh have separate businesses in construction; Dan & Candy together own an Italian restaurant in Wenatchee and another in Leavenworth perhaps more well know:  Visconti’s.  I say only half jokingly that Dan must have some kind of hormone problem:  in addition to the two aforementioned restaurants Dan and Candy also have two additional eateries in Wenatchee in the Pybus Public Market — a Gelato and Crepe shop called ICE, and a Pizzeria called FIRE.  They also have several additional businesses in Leavenworth: a cheese and sausage shop, an open-air sausage “garten” a gelato shop, and, believe it or not, down in the basement of Visconti’s, a facility for making their own sausages, called CURED.  See what I mean about hormones?

George and Hugh seem similarly afflicted:  among other things they have each been buying homes and then renovating them for resale.  When we arrived in Wenatchee, George was just in the process of moving into his impressive new home which he almost entirely built by himself.

George’s new home, by the way, is on property adjacent to the beautiful Ohme Gardens.  From the Garden’s page on the internet: 

In 1929 Herman Ohme purchased 40 acres of land for an orchard. Included was a craggy, dry, desolate, rock-strewn bluff with a breathtaking view of the Cascade Mountains and the Columbia River valley. Herman and his new bride, Ruth, began dressing up the bluff for the their own enjoyment.

Small evergreens were transplanted from the nearby Cascade Mountains, native stone was hauled to form paths and borders, desert sage gave way to low-growing ground cover, and pools took shape adjacent to massive natural rock formations. It was hard work, done mostly by hand, and truly a labor of love. In the beginning, sustaining the Gardens meant hauling water in five gallon buckets from the river valley below, but eventually the Ohmes constructed an elaborate irrigation system that pumped water to the site.

Initially intended as a private family retreat, the interest of friends and community members prompted the Ohmes to open the Gardens to the public. The Ohmes continued to perfect the Gardens for 42 years, until 1971 when Herman died at the age of 80. The couple’s son Gordon and his family then assumed responsibility for the Gardens, and in 1991 Washington State Parks and Recreation purchased the Gardens and surrounding property. The Gardens are currently owned and managed by Chelan County.

We had an enjoyable time in Wenatchee.  Dinner several times at the Wenatchee restaurant, visits to George and his wife Anne and their daughters at their new home, and visits to Hugh and his S.O. Patty at their isolated home on the edge of town up high enough to give a commanding view of the orchards below.  We also visited Hugh’s most recent renovation, located just two doors down from Dan and Candy’s home.  And the extended families all attended the July Fourth fireworks display on the waterfront in the Walla Walla Point Park, which we accessed by parking at the restaurant and then walking to the venue.

The uncertainty concerning delivery of the RV window pane restricted our ability to commit to extended time in either of the two near-by RV parks, consequently we were forced to make last-minute reservations that were hindered by unavailability.  So we found ourselves bouncing back and forth between the Wenatchee Confluence RV park and the Wenatchee County Park.   But both had their charms; Barb was happy to get some fit-bit steps while I focused on bird photography.

We took the RV up the scenic highway to Leavenworth, where we parked in Dan’s yard.  The town was packed with visitors there to enjoy the Bavarian theme that permeates the entire village.  Dan’s Sausage Garten was packed; understandably so:  the various x-wurst sandwiches, potentially garnished with any of approximately one thousand different mustards, and accompanied by German-style potato salad and locally-brewed cold beer, were delicious.

The Wenatchee River borders Leavenworth to the east; about half of that boundary is given over to a lovely park offering shaded walks along the river, which, on the day of our traversal, was filled with inner-tube floaters (featherless bipods) and ducks (feathered bipods.)

All told, we had a great time visiting warm and friendly people in some lovely parts of Washington.  We’ll be back.


Here are some of the birds seen during this time frame.