Bear with me…this is a long one, but i think you’ll find it interesting.
570 Miles~~~Coyotes~~~Western Murals~~~Windmills~~~Long Boards~~~Stonehenge~~~Trains~~~A Truck Stop~~~Roumania (not spelled incorrectly) Royalty~~~Cabelas
ROAD TRIP BABY!!!
A couple of months ago my friend Shelly mentioned seeing a Discovery special on Stonehenge and in that special they went to Mary Hill, WA to see a life size replica of what Stonehenge would have looked like before it fell. That got us thinking…we should make a list of ‘100 Things Shelly Should See Before Leaving Washington’ (more on the list in a future blog post). So, we added Mary Hill, WA to the list and that’s where we headed a couple of weeks ago. Much to our surprise it ended up being a lot more fun than we expected.
I left Monroe Saturday morning to pick up Shelly and her nephew, Jake, in North Kirkland. We started our road trip like true Washingtonians with a stop at Starbucks. Our first big sighting was a coyote who thought it might be a good idea to cross I90 around North Bend. He was beautiful, but a bit scared. He finally decided that wasn’t a good idea and disappeared back into the woods.
Our first ‘big adventure’ of the day was a stop in Toppenish for lunch and to see the murals. We were not sure what to expect in regards to the murals but I read about there being some there and since we needed to stop for lunch anyway it seemed like a good plan. We found a small park to eat lunch but even more importantly we got to play on the merry-go-round and swing on the swings. It was so fun. We felt like little kids. Our next stop in Toppenish was Dairy Queen to see if they had cherry dipped ice cream. Much to my disappointment they didn’t, but a plain vanilla ice cream hit the spot. While there we decided to ask if the random murals we saw around town were it or if there was a park someplace with a bunch of murals. Guess what…just random buildings…it doesn’t take much for a small town to get mentioned online or in a travel book these days.
We were back on the road headed for our next destination, Goldendale. I had read they had petroglyphs in or near town. This time we stopped at the visitor center and I’m not sure if the gal was anxious to close or just confused, but when I asked about petroglyphs she was baffled. Turns out Shelly found a brochure about them, but I guess they were not in Goldendale. However the visitor center had a great collection of pink flamingos so the stop wasn’t a total bust.
Finally, we were on our way to Mary Hill but of course I got distracted by the windmills because they are huge and look sci-fi to me. We pulled over so we could take a few pictures and then we were off again. But then Shelly noticed a better vantage point for windmill pictures so we pulled off the road again. While there I decided to walk Kinley a bit and down the hill I noticed a perfectly asphalted road. It seemed so out of place that I told Shelly it might make an interesting picture. She took a look and then we started to head out but a random older gentleman heard Jake and I discussing the hay bails along the strangely new looking road and said they were there because of the corners and that yesterday someone dislocated their shoulder and someone else broke some ribs. We thought that was a strange comment, but previously Jake wondered if the road was some kind of track. Turns out it was. It was a long board track. The older gentleman continued telling us that some of them can get up to 60 mph going down the hill. He was well informed because he had just spoken to the parents of one of the long boarders. As we were talking to this gentleman, two Uhauls started up the hill so full of long boarders that some of them were riding their boards and letting the trucks pull them up. This was a practice day, but it sounds like they have races there sometimes too. What a happy coincidence.
Now we really were on our way to Mary Hill. It was only a few more miles down the hill which sits on the banks of the Columbia River. We easily found Mary Hill State Park. We proceeded to setup camp and get our bearings before tracking down Stonehenge. We headed out of the park and realized we were on the road we came in on so we pulled over to see if we could spot Stonehenge from our vantage point. We thought ‘how hard can it be…it’s huge’. Well it took us longer than expected. The color of the stones blended in well with the landscape, but once we found it, it was easy to spot the road from our campground to Stonehenge.
Our visit to Stonehenge was magical. The monument itself was truly amazing especially considering how long ago the original one was built. This replica was started in 1918 but didn’t get completed until 1929. There is too much history to write about here, but take a look at these links about the builder and the monument, which is a World War I Memorial.
After visiting Stonehenge we decided to get dinner. We had envisioned finding a decent Mexican restaurant in town, but come to find out there isn’t much of a town at Mary Hill. We went across the Columbia River bridge to Biggs, OR. Guess what…nothing much there either. We settled on Lindas (a truck stop). My feeling is you really can’t go wrong with a burger at a truck stop. While there we tried to find out if there was a burn ban and the gal thought there was. So we passed on buying ingredients for Smores.
After dinner we dashed up to Stonehenge again to see if we could get sunset pictures, but we missed it by just a few minutes.
Back to camp we went and discovered lots of campfires so Smores were back on the menu…over the bridge to Oregon we went. After some games on the iPad, a comfy fire, and Smores we were tent bound. We played a game of Phase 10 and then off to sleepy town…so I thought. Thanks to the people next us slamming car doors, the drone of semis, the constant trains, and my lovely little Kinley who couldn’t get comfortable I had a horrible nights sleep. Fortunately I woke up fairly alive the next morning at 630am.
The early wake up made Shelly and I think we should run up to Stonehenge one last time to see what the sunrise looked like. It was a bit of a dud, but there happened to be an amazing rainbow. What a great surprise.
Back to camp to gather Jake, clean ourselves up, and pack. The previous evening I had discovered a postcard of the Mary Hill Art Museum. Before finding the postcard we thought it was likely a typical small town museum. After the postcard (and looking it up online) we were more than intrigued.
The May Hill Museum opened up at 9am and we got there shortly after it open. All I can say is…WOW!!! Lots of stuff about Sam Hill and his family, Queen Marie of Roumania, Rodin, and lots of other amazing collections. Even more surprising…these are permanent collections…they aren’t just on loan. It would take too long to elaborate on everything we saw…instead just GO! I do want to mention Queen Marie. Sam Hill and two other gentleman bailed Roumania out after World War I. Hence, all of the royal family artifacts. Really…you must go. You’ll be surprised at the displays for a museum in the middle of nowhere.
After the museum we were headed home, but not before being entertained by beautiful vistas the whole way. We even found a great pull off to have lunch. But those that know me well know that the perfect road trip couldn’t be capped off with a better ending than a stop at Cabelas. I love that place and was happy to introduce it to Shelly and Jake. I’ll have to admit we were all pretty tired by that time, but still fun.
So, if you ever have a spare weekend and want a road trip worth 570 miles let me know…it’s well worth it.