Sunday, October 30, 2011

Why I like autumn

Juice doesn't get much fresher than this!
In autumn, the days start getting cooler, green leaves change to brilliant oranges, reds and yellows, and apples are harvested in the Yakima Valley.

Ah, yes, the apple harvest. What I like best about this is apple juice, fresh right out of the press. Wow! It doesn't get much better than this!

Washington apples are the best and are sold the world over. I've seen Washington apples from the Okanogan Valley sold in London, and red delicious from Wenatchee sold in Beijing, even though apples are grown extensively in China. But you can buy Chinese apples any place; finding Washington apples is a bit harder, not to mention more expensive. I found them at a fruit stand outside a major hospital where imported fruits, loose and in gift baskets, were sold.

Yesterday, we made our annual trip up to Tieton where we spent the day making apple juice. My husband's cousin has a couple of dozen apple trees -- Fujis, red and golden delicious, Granny Smith and so on, all of which go into the juice we make.

Yesterday about 30 people, ranging from toddlers to octogenarians, turned out to make juice, starting with picking the apples and ending with washing off the filled jugs. Everyone shows up with their jugs to hold the gallons of juice we make with the cousin's apple press. We made almost 200 gallons of juice in just a few hours. Each bottle tastes differently, depending on which type of apple dominated in that pressing. But it's all delicious. In return for helping the cousins make apple juice for their freezer, we get to have all the juice we want. Today our freezer is crammed with juice. Altogether, we made almost 200 gallons of juice yesterday, and also brought home a bushel box of Fuji apples.

With the days getting chillier, a cup of hot spiced cider will certainly come in handy.

What's your favorite thing about fall?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Historic Yellowstone

Hauling freight to Yellowstone in the early days.

The Yellowstone Historic Center museum was one of our stops on our recent trip to Yellowstone. I'd visited it on earlier trips to West Yellowstone, and was eager to do so again. The museum is housed in the old Union Pacific railroad depot, so many of its exhibits relate to that era. It also has a couple of old vehicles that were used to transport early visitors through the park. If you like to ride snowmobiles, you'll enjoy looking at early snowmobiles on the museum's front porch.

I took in a couple of the movies the museum shows regularly throughout the day. One was the one about the 1959 Hebgen earthquake which created a lake when a mountain came tumbling down. I remember driving by the site a year or two after the earthquake happened, when the devastation was still new. There's a visitor center there now, but it was closed for the season when we stopped there on this trip.

This movie talks about the volcanic and seismic activity taking place at Yellowstone today. Scientists said hundreds of earthquakes happen there every day, and that another one of the magnitude of Hebgen is going to happen, but nobody knows when. I never felt any earthquakes during the week we were in Yellowstone, but I know from my days in Alaska, where earthquakes are a common occurrence, a person two feet away from you will feel the earth shake while you may not feel anything.

We also enjoyed the movie on the train Montanans put together for the state's 1964 centennial celebration. It was a pretty cool event, with more than two dozen train cars crossing the country to the New York World's Fair. The movie also included interviews with many of the people involved in the project.

You can read more about the museum here.

The fine print
The Federal Trade Commission requires me to tell you that I received a complimentary ticket to the museum, in case the $4 (senior rate) ticket would influence what I wrote about it. It didn't. I've been to the museum before and I'll go again.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Where the buffalo roam

We saw lots of buffalo on our recent trip to Yellowstone National Park. We saw them all, from herds roaming the meadows to the huge hairy beasts walking on the roads. But my favorite buffalo were those roaming the streets of West Yellowstone, Montana.

These were colorful animals, ones you could walk right up to and touch, and they wouldn't charge you. Of course, they weren't real, but rather made from fiberglass which had been painted with scenes depicting Yellowstone (park and city) and Native Americans.

Once there were 37 painted buffalo on the streets, but they were auctioned off to raise money for community and economic development in West Yellowstone. Today, only 11 painted buffalo remain. They can be found mostly on Yellowstone Avenue, the street that ends at the entrance to the park.

I was really quite intrigued with the uniqueness of this project. I wish more towns like West Yellowstone, Joseph in northeastern Oregon with its magnificent bronze statues  and Toppenish in central Washington with its Old West murals, would do outdoor art displays like this. Or maybe they have, and I just don't know about them.

What's your favorite city outdoor art project?