Posted by: sunrae138 | July 16, 2008

Yakima Wineries and Vineyards

Wine Tasting in Central Washington’s Premier Wine Region

Take a trip to Yakima Washington, a city that boasts its 300 days of warm sunshine, with a bounty of fruits. Taste a variety of red wines, made from sun-ripened grapes.


Yakima Valley Wine

Yakima, located in the south central region of Washington state, boasts its 300 days of warm sunshine, with plentiful agriculture. The region abundantly produces tree fruits, hops and wines. With over 70 wineries in the Yakima region, it has been labeled “Washington’s Premium Wine Region.” The extensive sunlight, warm days and cool nights, make the Yakima Valley an ideal location for growing wine grapes. With two more hours of summer sunlight than the top California wine grape growing regions, this region is ranked among the world’s top wine regions. Located on the same latitude as the Burgundy and Bordeaux wine regions of France, the Yakima Valley has become a top producer of French Bordeaux varieties of blended red wines. Wineries in this region focus on producing Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah wines. These wineries stretch 80 miles down the Yakima Valley from Yakima to Benton City.

Yakima Wineries

Yakima is called the “Gateway to Wine Country.” Although the majority of the wineries and vineyards lie to the east of Yakima, let’s explore several of the wineries located within the city.

Desert Hills Winery and Tasting Room

This winery, started in 2002, provides complimentary wine tasting, including its brilliant dry red wines. Enjoy tastes of Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Its 2002 Sangiovese, made from 100% Sangiovese grapes, won Bronze medal from the Washington State Wine Competition in 2005.

Kana Winery

Kana, meaning the “spirit or the fire within a mountain” describes the surrounding areas, which contain volcanic soil. This winery focuses on Rhone variety wines. Try its Rhone style red wine, Dark Star, winner of many medals. The Kana Winery is located within the Historic Larson Building. It was voted the Best Yakima Valley Winery in 2006 by Wine Spectator. This winery also has complimentary wine tasting. On Mondays through Saturdays, enjoy Happy Hour, with complimentary artisan breads and cheeses. The winery hosts a variety of music and art events throughout the year, including the Red Wine and Chocolate Tasting in February.

Yakima Cellar

The large tasting room and banquet room are made to accommodate large wine tour groups and special occasions. Make yourself comfortable in the oversized tasting room, while savoring the Downtown Red wine. Enjoy the fine arts display while tasting their award-winning wines.

Zesta Cucina

Although not a winery, this quality family Italian restaurant features over 100 Washington state wines. The restaurant features a casual environment, with family style banquet eating. Make sure to stop by for some delicious pasta dishes to accompany your glass of fine Washington wine.

Originally published by on July 11, 2007

Posted by: sunrae138 | July 9, 2008

Point Defiance Park Tacoma, Washington

Explore Tacoma Washington’s Largest Park Along Puget Sound

Discover Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park, a 702-acre park that encompasses the shores along Puget Sound, with spectacular gardens and incredible views of Tacoma Narrows.



Point Defiance Park, located just 32 miles from Seattle, in Tacoma, Washington, is a place of nature and history. Tacoma’s largest park, is enjoyed by over 2 million visitors each year. Five Mile Drive circles the park, giving way to scenic views of Puget Sound, Tacoma Narrows, the Cascade Mountains, the Olympic Mountain Range and Mount Rainer. Observe sail boats and ferry boats navigating along the South Sound. Sunbathers and beachcombers enjoy Owen Beach on warm Northwest days. Piers occupy sightseers and those who fish alike.

  • Hike through the park’s old growth forest and theme gardens. The 702-acre park, first set aside as a military reservation, was named a public park in 1888 by President Grover Cleveland. The old growth trees remain untouched, towering above providing a shaded canopy. The park envelops 8 feature gardens, including a Rose Garden, Fuchsia Garden and Dahlia Trail. The Rhododendron Garden included over 500 plants native to the Northwest. The Japanese Garden, contains a 17th century replica of the Pagoda, a Japanese lodge.
  • Visit the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. With its Pacific Rim theme, the animals at the zoo originate from countries bordering the Pacific Ocean. Watch as the beluga whales swim, the walrus bellow and the polar bears play. Sumatran tigers, reindeer and artic fox also call the zoo their habitat. The zoo contains many endangered species, including the red wolf. In 1980, only 14 pure wolves existed. There are now over 250 wolves, due to the conservation efforts of the recovery program at the zoo. Many of the wolves have been reintroduced into the wild. The zoo is open daily for visitors.
  • Learn at Fort Nisqually Living History Museum. Re-enactors demonstrate 19th century history and crafts at the fort. Fort Nisqually was the first settlement by Europeans on Puget Sound, established by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1833. A new interpretive center will be coming soon.
  • Volunteer to operate the Browns Point Lighthouse. Take on the lighthouse keeper’s duties for one week, with lodging at the Light Keeper’s Cottage. Explore the Browns Point Lighthouse Park surrounding the lighthouse, which was closed in 1964 and now on the National Historic Register.
  • Discover the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory. Tacoma’s glass-enclosed botanical garden contains exotic tropical plants, delightful azaleas and rhododendrons and over 200 orchids. The 12-sided glass dome lets sun in, warming the temperature of the garden.

Exploring Point Defiance Park can be exciting and educational. Most attractions at the park have free admission, except the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Contact the zoo for more information on admission fees.

Originally published by on July 6, 2007

Posted by: sunrae138 | July 9, 2008

Visit Historic Butte Montana

Explore What the Richest Hill on Earth Has to Offer Tourists

With the majestic Rocky Mountains at its doorstep, Butte Montana celebrates its history as an old mining town, with historic tours, monuments and festivals.


The Richest Hill on Earth

Take a trip to Butte, Montana, with a population just over 30,000, the city is situated near the Continental Divide, in the shadows of Big Butte. The city began as a mining center for gold, later turning to silver, copper and platinum mining. Because of its booming mining industry and rich mining reserves, the city was nicknamed “The Richest Hill on Earth.” Many of the attractions and sites in the city are related to its abundant mining past. The current city is almost one third what it was at the beginning of the 20th century.

Note: Most of the sites in Butte are open from June until September.

Visiting the World Museum of Mining and Hell Roarin’ Gulch can give you an educational perspective of life in mining towns and work underground. Hell Roarin’ Gultch is a re-creation of a 1890s mining town, with 15 intact structures from the original town. During the summer, observe theater presentations of mining life and take part in educational activities. The Mine Yard displays all assortments of mining equipment, locomotives and other railroad equipment. The Granite Mountain Mine Memorial is a monument to the tragic loss of life in 1917, when 168 miners died in the Spec Fire Disaster.

Butte’s Historic Landmark District

Butte lies in Gold West Country, less than 200 miles from Yellowstone Park. Enjoy a tour of the city onboard the Number 1 Trolley, a replica of the city’s electric trolley system. Butte contains the “Largest National Historic Landmark District in the West” including the Copper King Mansion and Arts Chateau. The Copper King Mansion, previous home to one of the three Copper Kings, is a Victorian style 34-room mansion, filled with luxurious antiques. The current owners operate a bed and breakfast at the mansion. The Arts Chateau contains exquisite art collections and exhibits within its 26 rooms.

Our Lady of the Rockies

Just outside the city, lies Our Lady of the Rockies, a 90-foot tall statue made to resemble Mary, mother of Jesus. The statue is dedicated to all women. It was begun in 1979 and completed in 1985, when the Montana National Guard was facilitated to lift it into place atop the East Ridge. The statue stands at an elevation of 8510 feet. A tram is now in the works, which would carry visitors to the statue’s base.

Summer Festivals in Butte, Montana

Other attractions and events in Butte, Montana include:

  • Evel Knievel Days in July, celebrate the daredevil’s Butte roots, with music, Freestyle Motorcycle stunts and Harley Davidson giveaways
  • The National Folk Festival will be hosted by Butte from 2008- 2010, a celebration of the heritage and traditions, and music of the American culture, incorporating all music styles from blues, to mariachi, to polka and gospel. There are culture exhibits, like poetry, quilting, beadwork and art workshops.
  • Montana Irish Festival held in August, includes performances by the Celtic Dragon Pipe Band, Tiernan Irish Dancers and other musical and dance performances.

Originally published by on July 5, 2007

Riding by train along the Amtrak Coast Starlight route from Albany, Oregon to San Francisco, California can be an adventure. View mountains, waterfalls and wildlife.


The Sights Along the Tracks

Riding by passenger train along the Amtrak Coast Starlight route from Oregon to California can be an exciting adventure, filled with wonderful views of mountain ranges, waterfalls, lakes, streams, wildlife and untouched natural areas. Daylight hours can be spent watching the scenery fly by. The view from the second floor of the double-decker Superliner train is amazing. The windows are big and tall. Watch waterfowl swim in marshes and streams along the tracks or spot a deer grazing on grass. The sights along the tracks are very different from those along the road. Enjoy the views from the Sightseer Lounge, with larger windows and skylights. Some of the chairs even face the windows. Enjoy a snack or a beverage as you watch the trees and mountains go by.

The Route

Beginning in the Willamette Valley, depart on the southbound Amtrak train in the afternoon. The train leaves the Albany depot at 4:10 pm everyday. The Coast Starlight route is justly named, as passengers leave in the evening and arrive at destinations in the morning. The route follows the I-5 corridor to Eugene, where it turns east to begin the climb up the Cascade Mountains. The tracks meander through the fir and maple trees, along steep cliffs and tumbling waterfalls. Several tunnels cut their way through the mountainsides. The train climbs the pass making its way to Central Oregon, to the small station at Chemult. From here travelers can take bus connections to Bend or Redmond. Now, the trees have become dwarfed, changing to Ponderosa pines and manzanitas. The ground is now more like sand, with less undergrowth. From Chemult the route turns south towards Klamath Falls and the California border. When traveling south during the summer, the sun will now set and the light will grow dim. Just make sure to bring your pillow, and music and reading material to help pass the time while the sun is down. The opposite happens on the northbound train, as the sun rises just before the train reaches Mt. Shasta. The passengers wake up to this impressive mountain right outside their window.
While many passengers try to sleep, the train travels south crossing the California state border, stopping briefly at stations in Dunsmuir, Redding and Chico. Just outside of Sacramento, the faint pink of sunrise begins to glow to the east. The passengers arise to the sight of cattle, grasslands and the occasional palm tree. Sacramento is only an hour away. After stopping in Sacramento, the tracks turn west towards Davis and Martinez. The last stop for San Francisco is Emeryville, arriving at 8:30am. From there, the connector bus takes Amtrak passengers to various locations within San Francisco, like the Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39 or Union Square.
Contact Amtrak for their train schedules and for Amtrak reservations. Amtrak serves many stations along its route from Oregon to California, with bus connections to cities not directly along the route.

Originally published by on June 28, 2007

Posted by: sunrae138 | July 8, 2008

Northwest U.S. State Fairs

During the summer months, enjoy annual fairs in the NW states, celebrating agriculture and unique culture as well as amusement with carnivals, events and concerts.

List of State Fairs


  • Oregon State Fair - Salem - August 22nd through September 1st



  • Central Washington State Fair - Yakima - September 26th through October 5th



  • Western Idaho Fair - Boise - August 15th through 24th
  • Eastern Idaho State Fair - Blackfoot August 30th though September 6th



  • Wyoming State Fair & Rodeo - Douglas - August 9th through 16th



  • Montana State Fair - Great Falls - July 25th through August 3rd



  • Alaska State Fair - Palmer - August 21st through September 1st


For more information on state fairs in the Northwest, read State Fairs in Northwest & Alaska.

Posted by: sunrae138 | July 1, 2008

Best Spot to View Sea Lions on the Oregon Coast

Travel to Newport, Oregon, along the Central Oregon Coast, in order to get a great view of sea lions. The best part is that it is free. Many sea lions call Newport home, swimming and eating in Yaquina Bay. Visitors can see these large mammals basking in the sun along Newport’s Bayfront. When the sun is out or even on gray days, sea lions are sure to be resting on the docks.

To find the sea lions, head to the east end of the Bayfront. The dock is located just before the Undersea Gardens. Walk out along the pier to see the sea lions below or watch the boats come in from the ocean. This pier also has a great view of the Yaquina Bay Bridge.

Enjoy the sights and sounds of sea lions along Newport’s Bayfront. For more animal viewing and exciting exhibits, head south across the bay to the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

Make sure to read the Review of Sea Lion Caves in Florence.

Posted by: sunrae138 | June 24, 2008

Travel to Misty Fjords National Monument in SE Alaska

Discover the glaciers, fjords and wildlife of Misty Fjords National Monument, located in the Tongass National Forest of Southeastern Alaska. For exciting adventures in remote Southeastern Alaska, visitors tour Misty Fjords National Monument by boat or floatplane, viewing wildlife and geological wonders.

As it is roadless, the area is only accessible by floatplane or boat. Misty Fjords is accessible within 30-40 minutes by plane or 2-3 hours by boat from Ketchikan. Most cruises and planes tour from May until September, experiencing mild weather.

Learn more about Misty Fjords by reading the article: Misty Fjords National Monument

Posted by: sunrae138 | June 19, 2008

Places to Stay & Eat: Hotel Oregon in McMinnville, Oregon

Visit McMinnville’s Historic District for Art, History & Great Food

Travel to McMinnville’s Historic District to find McMenamins Hotel Oregon, where guests discover art and history, while enjoying delicious food and fresh beer and wine.

Found in the heart of Oregon’s Willamette Valley wine country, McMenamins Hotel Oregon in McMinnville offers guests comfortable rooms, a relaxing dining atmosphere and numerous opportunities to appreciate artwork and historic photographs. Located at the corner of 3rd and Evans off Highway 99W, Hotel Oregon is situated in McMinnville’s Historic District

Read the full review of Hotel Oregon: McMenamins Hotel Oregon

Posted by: sunrae138 | June 11, 2008

Western Oregon Hiking Trails

Explore Bald Hill Near Corvallis, Hike Opal Creek in the Cascades

From the coast to the Cascades, Oregon’s beautiful venues intrigue hikers and walkers with spectacular views of towering trees, dense forests, and snow-capped mountains.

Finding hiking trails in Oregon is easier than you think, if you know where to look. The areas surrounding Oregon’s cities, are teeming with parks, waysides and paved walking paths. Visit your local visitors center for maps and information on parks and recreation sites. These place can have valuable information on hiking in Oregon.

Yet, perhaps you are looking for a more challenging hike or something more rural. Here are a few suggested hikes to consider. These are dog-friendly hikes.

Bald Hill – Corvallis, Oregon

The Bald Hill hiking and walking area is on the west side of Corvallis, off 53rd street. It has several entrances, either from the Benton County Fairgrounds, off Oak Creek Drive or off Reservoir Ave. Each entrance has ample parking. The Oak Creek Drive and Benton County Fairgrounds entrances have nicely paved walking paths directed to Bald Hill and circling around the hill. However, if a climb to the summit of Bald Hill is desired, take one of the paths from the Reservoir Ave. entrance that includes a swayback hiking trail circling the hill, climbing to its summit. In spring and summer months, make sure to examine the wild roses and other wildflowers along your climb. Enjoy the birds and other wildlife during your hike. From the summit, view the Coast Range mountains and on a clear day, the Cascade Mountains. This trail loops back down to the base of the hill. It is approximately 2.5 miles roundtrip. The trail is well maintained but can be muddy during the early spring months. This hiking area is open to bikes, horses and dogs.

 Bald Hill is Dog-Friendly

Opal Creek – 45 miles east of Salem

The Opal Creek hike requires a short drive to the trailhead. From Salem, take Hwy 22 east to Lyons, take North Fork road 20 miles until the road turns to gravel. Keep going on the gravel road, taking the left fork for about 4 miles. When you reach the parking lot, make sure to have your Trail Park permit visible when parking, or pay for one here. From here start your trek to Jawbone Flats. This trail follows a dirt road, winding along the Little North Fork of the Santiam River. Quick flowing streams flow under the road, cascading to the river below. Several short paths allow hikers to view several 30 foot waterfalls. Make sure to pay attention to the signs. The road meanders through old growth forests, some of which are 700 years old. You will notice the abandoned mines and sawmill along your hike. Several cabins are available for rentals at Jawbone Flats. From here, either continue on to Opal Pool or return to the parking area. The Friends Of Opal Creek help keep the Opal Creek ecosystem protected. The hike to Jawbone Flats is about 7 miles roundtrip, moderately challenging and well maintained dirt road. Make sure to bring your camera. Dogs and bikes allowed. There are also two outhouses along the way for your convenience.

Opal Creek

First published at June 11, 2007.

Posted by: sunrae138 | June 6, 2008

Alaskan Summer Adventure

Discover the Beautiful Scenery, Wildlife and Culture of Anchorage

Visit Alaska during the summer, viewing Mt. McKinley, glaciers and wildlife, by air, while hiking, or riding by train, enjoying the extended daylight.

Alaska’s summer attractions include:

  • Denali National Park
  • Kenai Fjords National Park
  • Cook Inlet
  • Prince William Sound
  • Spencer Glacier
  • Alaskan Railroad or Glacier Discovery Train
  • jet boat adventure on the Talkeetna River
  • City of Anchorage
  • Alaska Wildberry Park
  • Iditarod Experience Sled Dog Show
  • Alaska Native Heritage Center
  • Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
  • Anchorage’s trail system
  • Wildlife viewing


Read the full article: Alaskan Summer Travel

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »