Tag Archives: Spokane Washington

Sea, prairie, mountains: Whirlwind 1300 km road trip, Part III

Saturday, August 25th, was the day of my nephew’s wedding and we still had a little over two hours left of our road trip, so we couldn’t dawdle. We passed the turn off to Grand Coulee Dam, a sight worth seeing if you ever have the time. As a rule, I don’t like dams, especially on the Columbia River, where they have so tampered with salmon habitat. But, as far as spectacles and examples of civil engineering, you’d be hard put to find a more awe-inspiring hunk of concrete. Built by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from 1933-1942, it is a tourist attraction, in addition to being a producer of hydro-electricity.

American folksinger Woody Guthrie wrote this song about it in 1941:

“Grand Coulee Dam,” words and music by Woody Guthrie

Well, the world has seven wonders that the trav’lers always tell,
Some gardens and some towers, I guess you know them well,
But now the greatest wonder is in Uncle Sam’s fair lang,
It’s the big Columbia River and the big Grand Coulee Dam.

She heads up the Canadian Rockies where the rippling waters glide,
Comes a-roaring down the canyon to meet the salty tide,
Of the wide Pacific Ocean where the sun sets in the West
And the big Grand Coulee country in the land I love the best.

In the misty crystal glitter of that wild and wind ward spray,
Men have fought the pounding waters and met a watery grave,
Well, she tore their boats to splinters but she gave men dreams to dream
Of the day the Coulee Dam would cross that wild and wasted stream.

Uncle Sam took up the challenge in the year of ‘thrity-three,
For the farmer and the factory and all of you and me,
He said, “Roll along, Columbia, you can ramble to the sea,
But river, while you’re rambling, you can do some work for me.”

Now in Washington and Oregon you can hear the factories hum,
Making chrome and making manganese and light aluminum,
And there roars the flying fortress now to fight for Uncle Sam,
Spawned upon the King Columbia by the big Grand Coulee Dam.

From here, we followed Highway 2, past the turnoff to fascinating places we surely would have wanted to stop, ordinarily. We’d only been to the Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park once and, then, only right before it closed. The pictographs are amazing, but we’d yet to see ancient trees turned to stone. Maybe next time! No sooner had we passed that turnoff than we crossed the mighty Columbia River, gem of the ocean. From there, we passed  through a series of small farm towns, some with civic pride, like Davenport, others suffering neglect, like Reardan. I remember when it was a bustling little farm town, but that was in the 70s and the years since had not been kind to it. Along this route, columnar basalt is visible along the roadside. It looks like rusty iron, corrugated, and stood on end. The tall, hexagonal shapes are caused by thick, cooling lava that swells up and contracts. It’s amazing stuff! For the rest of the way, it is pretty much flat, save a hillocky area that I like because it breaks up the monotony of driving in a straight line. Spokane is the second largest city in Washington state and, just on the outskirts, the terrain becomes treed with Ponderosa pine. It towers over the landscape, yellow, with rugged bark. We take a back route to Mom’s to save time and, as we pull into her driveway, the dogs start barking. I walk to the front door, stepping on acorns under the huge oak tree which shades the whole front yard. She gave me many, which we’ll plant soon. I’m hoping one or two will survive our little black squirrels and their fall foraging.

Because we arrived at 11 a.m., we had time to settle in, visit and get ready, as the wedding wasn’t until 3 p.m. Finally, we were heading north, to the little community of Elk, Washington. A wooded rural area, it has a post office, a community hall and considerable community spirit. As we sped by its park on a back road, Mom told us the formerly state-run park was taken over by the people in the locale. She said the rural community used it for town picnics and celebrations. Very nice to hear and it was a charming park. We continued driving through land that was slightly hilly, traveling up rises, around corners, down into little valleys. It took us about 45, all told to reach Camden Ranch, the venue.

Many people were attending Jeremy’s and Jennifer’s wedding and it was the coming together of four families. There were guests from Texas, Colorado and New Mexico, in the United States, and we’d come from British Columbia, Canada. Others came from the coastal areas of Washington state and many more were local. Five bridesmaids, five groomsmen and three flower girls led the procession. It was a fairly big wedding. I’ve created a gallery of photos of the wedding venue for you to show how lovely it was there. My nephew and his new wife are on their honeymoon and haven’t seen their photos, so I’m holding back on photos of them until they see them first.

After the event, we trundled back to the car and headed down the road, opposite the way we’d come. Mom wanted us to see the Camden Creek Lavender Farm, so we drove on through the shadows and vales, as the sun was over the ridges. I got out to take a look. It was the first time I’d seen so much lavender in one place and the breeze carried the scent. Ecstasy! As we left, Mom commented that it always seems to take less time to return home, and the country, towns, city flashed by. Soon we were back home and resting…we had to drive all the way home the next day. (Last installment on Wednesday)





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Sea, prairie, mountains: Whirlwind 1300 km road trip, Part I

It would have to be darned important to lever me off my little patch of dirt this summer. You see, I am pouring all my energy into getting my Etsy shop up this summer. It’s a big project and is taking longer than expected because I am also creating a new logo and corporate identity package. In addition, I’m making new banners for my blog, shop and soon-to-be Facebook business page. A considerable amount of work. Earlier in the spring, I let my mom and mother-in-law know I wouldn’t be able to visit this summer because of my workload and self-imposed deadline. My husband would be going without me and I would have a working staycation. There was some gnashing of teeth but I stood firm. Soon after, my nephew rang.

Jeremy: What are you doing on August 25th?

Jan:        August 25th? (I braced myself.)

Jeremy: I know what you’re going to be doing!

Jan:        You do?

Jeremy: Yes! You’re coming here!

Jan:        I am?!

Jeremy: Yes! I’m getting married!

Aunt Jan listened. Of my mother’s and father’s five children, my brother, Steve, was the only one to have a child, so Jeremy was and is the ‘apple of our eye.’ Aunt Jan ceded some ground and, last week, I shopped and wrapped. Friday, we drove down; Sunday we drove back. A whirlwind 1300 kilometer road trip for a lovely outdoor wedding on a sunny day under a cloudless sky.

My trip officially started when I drove to downtown Vancouver to meet my husband at his workplace on the waterfront. When I pulled up, I saw a passenger ship moored alongside Canada Place. The Celebrity Millennium would have entered the city through the Burrard Inlet, a long fjord of the Pacific Ocean along which Vancouver was built. The grey sky
over North Vancouver didn’t extend far, thank goodness. In fact, it ended at about the point where I stood, under the Vancouver Sun building, above which was sun, blue sky and fluffy white clouds. Good omen! We, then, set our game plan in motion. The Plan: travel by way of the Peace Arch border crossing, head south to Everett, Washington, then turn east, toward our destination, Spokane. Reaching the border meant driving through Vancouver during Friday rush hour traffic and it took an hour and a half to drive 20 miles! Along the way, though, we saw some nice sights, one of which was Vancouver City Hall. Built during Vancouver’s Golden Jubilee, in 1936, it is a lovely example of Art Deco architecture and received heritage status in 1976. From there, we continued driving south. Very heavy traffic and I’m amazed to think that people commute like this  every day. Surrounded by single occupancy vehicles, it made me wonder if any of them ever use public transportation. Vancouver’s new Skytrain line traveled in the same direction they were going, after all. By the time we reached the border, we were happy to see that all lanes were open and traffic moved briskly. It took us all of 12 minutes to enter the U.S. of A. Soon we were zooming down the freeway to our cutoff at Everett.
We love taking US Highway 2 because of the gorgeous scenery. No hectic freeway rush or homogenous restaurants, either. The road trip route took us over Stevens Pass which is always a thrilling drive, no matter the time of year. The Cascade Loop is one of the state’s most scenic areas. Who can resist driving through towns named Sultan, Gold Bar or Skykomish? Or seeing Mt. Index? The jagged, snow-covered mountains are a dramatic backdrop for the green whitewater of the Wenatchee River. The only time I ever saw a Golden Eagle was when crossing Stevens Pass en route to Montana, years ago. They are enormous, having wing spans of up to seven and a half feet. I remember watching it through the windshield as it glided on air currents overhead. Stevens is also a mountain pass that feels like a mountain pass, with a steep ascent and descent…. We quickly left the mountains, crossed the iconic Columbia River, then drove up a steep, winding canyon with hairpin turns. Soon, we reached 

Big Bend Plateau, named for a bend in the the Columbia near Wenatchee, which we’d just passed through. It was the end of the first leg of our whirlwind trip and we were heading for one of our all-time favorite towns. Happily beetling the short distance to Waterville, we passed an old barn with advertising along way. Then, after nosing our car into the parking lot of the Waterville Hotel, we got out and stretched. Having driven through this tiny town for over 20 years, it was the first time we’ve stayed longer than the time it took to picnic at Pioneer Park or walk our dog, Shiva. It was high time. The old hotel, built of local brick in 1903, has been on the National Register since 1984. It has a deep porch with Adirondack chairs and is the perfect place to slow down… It was nice sitting in the library and just being around the original furniture. In the morning, we breakfasted on orange juice, coffee and raisin scones from the Blue Rooster Bakery in town. The proprietors are lovely people who have owned the hotel since 1996. They have renovated it room by room. According to the website, “the Waterville Hotel received the Washington State Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation Officers Award for Outstanding Achievement in 1999.” I want to return for a one-week stay, at some point. (Wednesday: “Sea, prairie, mountains: Whirlwind 1300 km road trip, Part II”)

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The Arts and Crafts style: Mary Philpott and Spokane, Washington

Close to Cannon Hill Park, this early example of a classic craftsman bungalow was built in 1911. It is located at 721 W 22nd Ave.

This craftsman bungalow was built in 1910. Located at 712 E 19th Ave., Spokane Washington. Once a less desirable area, the eastern side is being gentrified.

William Morris age 53

Portrait of William Morris, aged 53. J. W. Mackail, Author, “The Life of William Morris” in two volumes, London, New York and Bombay: Longmans, Green and Co., 1899. Frederick Hollyer via Wikimedia Commons

William Morris 001

William Morris (1834-1896), “Guinevere,” oil on canvas, 1857. Tate Gallery, London. William Morris via Wikimedia Commons

Morris Woodpecker tapestry detail

Detail of “Woodpecker” tapestry designed by William Morris. (The complete tapestry has a border and inscription. William Morris via Wikimedia Commons

It feels a little strange. I will be dropping down into the United States from Canada for a family celebration and, while there, I  will make a special trip downtown to look at some exquisite ceramic tiles that are made in Canada. My purpose is clear; I aim to have a second look at work by ceramist Mary Philpott, whose work I very much admire. She hand-carves porcelain then applies layer after layer of translucent porcelain with multiple firings. The effect is jewel-like. The tiles have heft, with medium to deep relief. Last year, I was delighted to find her tiles  in downtown Spokane at Artisans’ Wares in Riverpark Square. I had seen her website on the Internet before but had no idea I would be able to see her work when I went home to see my family. Philpott states that her studio, Verdant Tile Co., is located in the “historic Grand Trunk Railway Station” in Stratford, Ontario. The brick and antiquity would set accent her work well. This talented woman has the type of curriculum vitae that makes me want to weep with joy. Her work and interests represent much of what I love in terms of style and approach, right down to her membership in the William Morris Society.  I think her work is achingly beautiful. Photos of her work can be found on her site and I hope you can take the time to have a peek, as I cannot post them here. No worries; it’s just a click away…. She also has a blog called The Running Hare and if you peruse it, you’ll have a chance to see works in progress.   Much of her work is in the classic Arts and Crafts style and Spokane, Washington is one of those little niches in the U.S. of  A. that is bungalow heaven. Philpott either did her art market ‘homework’ well, or was approached by Spokanites who wanted to sell her work there. Mary Philpott has the distinction of holding RoycroftMaster Artisan status, well-earned, no doubt, and she is a tile designer and full-time studio potter. It might sound like I’m going about seeing her work in a roundabout manner, since she lives in the same country I do, but it is the only way I can see her work in person. She sells her art work in Canada, the United States, England, and France, but nothing can be had in the Metro Vancouver area. It makes sense; only a few original bungalows grace the Vancouver area, most having been replaced by later architecture and, to my mind, wretched architecture. (Michael Klucknerhas written extensively about it.) But, refreshingly, a trip to Spokane means a trip to all things bungalow and I am sure Canadian Mary Philpott does a good trade there. Spokane’s bungalows are peppered throughout the city, but they are  mainly on the South Hill, the area to the south of the Spokane River. For a kick, I recently researched Spokane real estate and found many classic bungalows on the market there. While the rest of the city’s real estate is experiencing the same lows as throughout much of the U.S., the bungalows seem to be holding their own. While what you would pay for a bungalow there equals the amount one would spent for a mere lot here in Metro Vancouver, it’s known that the market here doesn’t reflect the actual value of homes for sale. Real estate is very inflated here, the most expensive in Canada. So, seeing these bungalows at such reasonable prices is eye candy for me. Mary Philpott’s artwork would fit in very well in any of these homes. I look forward to having the chance to see it again and now I have to start thinking about which of her pieces I’d like to add to my collection.

“A belief in working with the head, hand and heart and mixing enough play with the work so that every task is pleasurable and makes for health and happiness.”

— John Ruskin; the Roycroft “creed”



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Pottery Travelogue: Eastern Washington

Eastern Washington

Chief Joseph lantern slide. Source: Wikimedia Commons

When we drop down into the United States, the change is marked. Not the landscape. The locale we just left has the warmest weather in Canada and the population has exploded, as Baby Boomers retire to more temperate climes. But once we enter Washington state, we enter an area that is dry, remote, underpopulated. We left the main highway at Omak and drove through the Colville Nation. We passed through some of the most beautiful land I’ve ever seen. The Colville Indian Reservation is one of the largest reservations in the U.S., almost as big as a small state or province. Chief Joseph is buried there and it was on this reservation that he spent his last days, broken-hearted. The U.S. Army had chased him and his peoples from their native Nez Perce lands in Idaho, through Montana, up to the Canadian border. He almost made it to safety, but not quite. At one point, we found ourselves driving along the Columbia River, with the walls of Grand Coulee looming up on either side. We stopped at a turnout and took photos at dusk. Ancient stop outcrops, and coulees that looked like wrinkled elephant feet. In the distance, to the south, the broad framework of the Grand Coulee Dam was visible. It is one of the biggest concrete structures in the world and a dam of gargantuan proportions.

We spent the first night of our trip in Spokane, Washington, where my family lives. The next morning, my Mom and sister took me downtown to Artisans’ Wares. Spokane is bungalow heaven and the north side of the city is peppered with classic, well-cared for examples. Many retail stores cater to residents who want to decorate their homes in the classic Arts & Crafts style. I was finally able to see some of the tiles I’d only been able to see images of in American Bungalow magazine and online.

Motawi Tileworks: I studied these tiles quite closely. The designs are so beautiful…the glazes look much brighter than they appear in print or online. The relief is much lower than I imagined, with glazes separated by discreet ridges, an example of the cuenca technique. The tiles are quite thin, but are heavy because of the size and weight from clay and glazes.

Verdant Tile Co.: Mary Philpott is a Roycroft Master Artisan and this designation carries weight. Her work is exquisite…hand-carved porcelain…layer after layer of translucent porcelain with multiple firings. The effect is jewel-like. The tiles have heft, medium to deep relief.

We arrived in Bigfork yesterday and are now at Flathead lake at the summer residence of my in-laws. Next, we will look at the Montana scene…

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