Wild Horses Over the Mighty Columbia

Most people know it as the Wild Horses monument, however the real name is “Grandfather cuts loose the ponies” and despite being started in 1989, the sculpture still is not complete.

Wild Horses Monument

Wild Horses Monument

Designed and created by Chewelah, Washington sculptor David Govedare, the finished piece was supposed to have a tall, woven steel basket, tipped by Grandfather (symbolizing the Great Spirit), allowing the 18 horses within to run free.

Fundraising efforts were not enough to complete the sculpture perched high above the Columbia River (Wanapum Lake) near Vantage, Washington.

The 15 life-size galloping horses are best seen from a distance, however you can hike right up to the sculpture.

Overlooking Lake Wanapum

Overlooking Lake Wanapum

A Step Back In Time: Ginkgo Petrified Forest

My husband and I visited the Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park, near Vantage, Washington in June. We stayed at the nearby Cave B Inn for Kevin’s birthday (more to come on Cave B). On our way home after our wonderful stay we decided to take a little detour to see the petrified forest.

For those who are not familiar with the landscapes of Washington State, the west side has a rain forest, the middle is high desert and the east is full of towering pine forests. Vantage is part of the high desert as is the 7,470-acre Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park.

The park has 27,000 feet of freshwater shoreline along the Wanapum Reservoir on the Columbia River.

As part of President Hoover’s plan to get the country out of the Great Depression, highway construction began in the area in the 1930’s, which is how the petrified forest was found. During the construction, workers uncovered the forest which included the very rare Ginkgo tree. This led to the creation of the National Park and the preservation of the forest.

Today the petrified forest is a registered national natural landmark and is regarded as one of the most unusual fossil forests in the world.

Park sign explaining the forest

Park sign explaining the forest

On our way to the forest we crossed the Columbia River at Vantage. We stopped at the interpretive center/museum to buy a Washington State Discovery Pass. The pass ($30) allows for free entrance to all of Washington State’s parks, including the Ginkgo Petrified Forest (day passes can also be purchased). There are nice restroom facilities at the interpretive center (outhouses at the actual park).

We then headed out to a portion of the trails (there are miles and miles of trails to hike).

Trail to the logs

Trail to the logs

The park is dog friendly so long as they are on leashes and you do need to watch out for rattlesnakes. A park ranger lives on site and you pass his house on the way up to the trail. He was taking care of his yard when we were there and we were able to meet his cats.

There is a bit of a climb and it was hot while we were there. If you aren’t used to the heat and lack of shade I would recommend earlier in the spring or wait until fall. Remember this is high desert with only scrub vegetation. Bring water, sunscreen and a hat!

The first tree that we came upon was a petrified Maple. All of the trees are enclosed in cages to protect them.

Petrified Maple tree

Petrified Maple tree

All trees are clearly labeled so that you know what you are looking at. The next tree on the hike was a Douglas-Fir.

Petrified Douglas-Fir tree

Petrified Douglas-Fir tree

By now we were high above the highway that runs alongside the park.

View of the highway

View of the highway

The next tree that we saw was a petrified Walnut tree.

Petrified Walnut tree

Petrified Walnut tree

At this point on the hike we were way too hot and tired to continue so we headed back.

Kevin and Ashu near a petrified tree

Kevin and Ashu near a petrified tree

In the above picture you can see one of the fence cages that protects the trees.

Camping and water recreation is available in the park alongside the Columbia River.

The Coolest Water Sport Ever: Flyboarding

This weekend my family and I were cruising along the Spokane River, enjoying the July heat when we spotted a Flyboarder.

Flyboarder on the Spokane River

Flyboarder on the Spokane River

This is by far the coolest water sport I’ve ever seen. What is a Flyboard you ask?

A Flyboard is basically a water jet pack attached to a personal watercraft. The watercraft actually supplies the propulsion to drive the Flyboard through both air and water. The sport is known as Flyboarding. The Flyboard rider stands on a board which is connected by a long hose to the watercraft.

He's getting some height on that board

He’s getting some height on that board

The 2015 model of Flyboard is selling for $5300. Plus you must have a personal watercraft making this too expensive for most people. However, this is the closest most people will ever get to feeling like Ironman or the Silver Surfer.

He makes it look easy

He makes it look easy

Your Mountain is Waiting

Lake Chacolet, North Idaho

Lake Chacolet, North Idaho

“You’re off to great places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.

So…Get on your way.”

Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go!

What places will you discover this year?  A camping trip to the mountains full of hiking and gooey smores by the campfire? A family road trip with everyone packed into the car just waiting to ask the inevitable “are we there yet?” question? A vacation at the lake full of fishing and relaxing? Whatever it is…it’s waiting for you.

A Taste of Texas in the Northwest

My husband and I have recently discovered Dickey’s Barbecue Pit which offers up a taste of Texas style pit BBQ. Dickey’s smokes all of their meats on-site which includes beef brisket, pulled pork, polish sausage, ham, turkey, and chicken. Along with the smoked meats, Dickey’s offers up a long list of homestyle sides and rolls.

Sauces are available on the side which is fantastic for someone like me who does not enjoy BBQ sauce. So far all I have had is the Smokehouse Salad featuring beef brisket, romaine lettuce, cheddar cheese, fried onion tanglers (think small onion rings) and ranch dressing with a roll on the side. I love this salad so much I cannot order anything else. Yes, it’s that good!

Dickey's Smokehouse Salad

Dickey’s Smokehouse Salad

My husband has tried their pulled pork sandwich as well as the beef brisket, both of which he enjoyed with a selection of self-serve sauces. He also tried the homestyle mac & cheese which didn’t impress him, the baked beans which he enjoyed and the potato casserole which was covered in cheese and chives.

For iced tea fans, there is a choice of unsweetened or southern style sweet tea and all drinks are refillable.

If you are still hungry after your meal you can help yourself to a complimentary ice cream cone station. The vanilla soft-serve is ice cold and refreshing. My husband ended his meal by adding some soft-serve to his cup and adding root beer for the perfect treat.

If you are in the Spokane area, Dickey’s is located near the Wandermere movie theater (12628 N. Division).

A Bit of France in Spokane

With several writing assignments due, I decided that I needed a change of scenery to get my creative juices flowing, so I chose to go to Petit Chat this morning. Petit Chat means kitten in French and you can tell that the owners of the Petit Chat Village Bakery love animals from the cat statue decor to the homemade dog treats for sale.

Located behind a gas station on the North Side of Spokane, close to the beautiful Holmberg Park, Petit Chat takes up an entire strip mall.

Pulling up to Petit Chat

Pulling up to Petit Chat

It isn’t until you step through the doors that you are transported to a French Patisserie. The bakery is filled with patrons anxious for a fresh pastry the size of a child’s head.

Patrons waiting in line for a fresh pastry

Patrons waiting in line for a fresh pastry

The line begins alongside the pastry display where I had to decide between croissants drizzled with chocolate, piles of fluffy cinnamon buns and fresh bagels topped with melted cheese. When it was my turn to order, I chose a cheese danish along with a hot tea. The perfect snack to rev up my creativity. Also when I am out with my husband I never get anything with a cream cheese filling because we usually share and he hates cream cheese. So this was my chance to choose something just for me.

My cheese danish and hot earl grey tea

My cheese danish and hot earl grey tea

I chose a seat at a sturdy wooden table from among the many available tables (the dining area is quite large).

Window seating at Petit Chat

Window seating at Petit Chat

While munching on my moist, flaky pastry and sipping my creamy earl grey I knocked out three assignments in a single hour. I have never been so productive, so it must have been that heavenly danish along with the soothing tones of the bakery.

After I finished my work, I sat back with my tea and people watched (one of my favorite hobbies). Across from me was a group of older men drinking coffee and enjoying their morning get together. Beside me sat three women eating quiche quietly. Behind me was a young man talking about time that he spent in Nicaragua. Moms with strollers, young college students and retirees came and went, lending a neighborhood feeling to this place.

Now back to the bakery itself. Often times when pastries sit out they also dry out, but not the pastries here. Somehow they manage to make extra large, very moist, fresh pastries. My guess is they don’t last long enough to dry out (judging by the never-ending lines).

Pastries and buns

Pastries and buns

Another aspect I find heavenly is the coffee/tea bar. I like to make my own tea just the way I like it (1 sweetener and lots of half and half). Petit Chat has a collection of mugs and a help yourself hot beverage bar where you can make your coffee or tea just to your liking.

Coffee and tea bar

Coffee and tea bar

Along with pastries, Petit Chat also makes artisan breads such as Rosemary Cranberry, Cinnamon Chip Swirl, Sourdough three-cheese, Hearty Whole Wheat and Rosemary Ciabatta. Roasted garlic rosemary butter can be found in the cooler along with loaves of Banana bread and gluten free Chocolate Raspberry bread. Last week my husband and I picked up a loaf of Rosemary bread from the day old rack which we used for roast beef sandwiches.

Artisanal breads on display

Artisan breads on display

Bread menu

Bread menu

For those who love homemade granola, you can buy it here along with homemade bread crumbs and lavash crackers.

Homemade granola

Homemade granola

Homemade cookies and pies in several varieties are also for sale. Fire roasted apple and cherry pie were both on sale while I was there, in both full and single serving sizes. I think single serving pies are genius. There are a lot of people out there who want some portion control. Not everyone wants to find themselves up at midnight with a fork and an empty pie tin if you know what I mean.

Homemade pies

Homemade pies

For those looking for a meal, Petit Chat offers a variety of quiche, hot croissant sandwiches, signature sandwiches and salads. Bottles of beer, Italian sodas and iced tea are also available.

Menu board

Menu board

Spending the morning at Petit Chat transported me to a small french village bakery through their artisan products, superb service and warm decor. I now have a favorite place to write.

Spokane’s Food Truck Scene

On May 17, 2015 my husband and I attended the 1st Annual Greater Spokane Food Truck Association’s Maytoberfest. This collection of 11 food trucks and carts gathered in the Lilac Lanes parking lot offering a flavor of Spokane’s up and coming food truck scene.

Advance tickets sold for $15, day of purchase was $20 which included a sample from every truck. We started with street tacos covered in a habanero salsa from King of Tacos.

King of Tacos

King of Tacos

Having eaten at King of Tacos before I expected a lot of flavor and was a little disappointed at the blandness of their sample. Of course that is just my opinion and we did overhear others saying it was their favorite offering of the day which just goes to show how awesome this event is, allowing people to try so many different types of foods.

Taco Sample

Taco Sample

A Couple of Chefs was our next stop where we sampled a Cuban crostini which was a smaller version of their brick pressed Cuban with River City root beer braised pulled pork. This was one of my favorite samples of the day.

Couple of Chefs

Couple of Chefs

Hawaiian dogs were next at Nick’s Shameless Sausages. The combination of the sweet pineapple with the sausage spices was fantastic. I can only imagine how much better it would be with a bun soaking up the wonderful sauce.

Hawaiian Dog

Hawaiian Dog

The Bistro Box offered an OMG Kobe Beef Slider with peanut butter and homemade pepper jelly. What a combo! The sweetness of the peanut butter mixing with the spicy sweetness of the pepper jelly was one of the best combos that I’ve ever had. If only the kobe was a little less well done it would have been the #1 winner of the night.

The Bistro Box

The Bistro Box

OMG Slider

OMG Slider

The smell of wood smoke drew us to Toby’s BBQ next. There is nothing better on a warm spring day than the smell of BBQ.

Toby's BBQ

Toby’s BBQ

Toby offered up a sample of tender smoked pork with your choice of bbq sauce.

Smoked Pork

Smoked Pork

The Jamaican Jerk Pan, much loved food truck located in Browne’s Addition, called to us next. We have shared a few meals from this food truck in the past and have never been disappointed. The food is always flavorful, fresh and well seasoned. Today was no different. The Jamaican Jerk Pan’s jerk chicken is my husband’s favorite while I am crazy about his curry. Today we were able to sample Jamaican style pork over black beans and coconut rice. The pork was tender and the beans and rice creamy and delicious.

The Jamaican Jerk Pan

The Jamaican Jerk Pan

We will be spending many a date night this summer at this food truck.

Peanut noodles with fresh veggies was served up at 3 Ninjas. This sample was big compared to some of the others and contained soba noodles, homemade peanut dressing and julienned fresh veggies. I felt that it could have used a little something else, maybe cilantro, soy sauce or red pepper flakes? It was a refreshing dish but when we have places like Rock City serving up an amazing peanut sauce, 3 Ninjas needed just a little something more out of the sauce.

Peanut Noodle Bowl

Peanut Noodle Bowl

I cannot say how good the next food truck, Shameless Sausages.com, was since they served a hot dog and that is a food I just cannot stand. My husband was more than happy to eat both samples which consisted of a hot dog and bun smothered in a cheese sauce and topped with thick slabs of pepper bacon.

Kevin Enjoying the Bacon Cheese Dog

Kevin Enjoying the Bacon Cheese Dog

I can say that both containers were completely empty and he had a smile on his face.

The Pizza Truck served a bacon alfredo pizza which tasted great. It was more of a cheese bread than a pizza but it was delicious nonetheless.

The last two trucks were dedicated to dessert. We started with Kona Ice, which had the longest line all evening.

Kona Ice

Kona Ice

Kona Ice served up refreshing, decadent adult style snow cone concoctions made with shaved ice and sweet cream and then smothered in a flavor.

Ordering

Ordering

I chose Tiger’s Blood (cherry, raspberry and coconut), while Kevin decided on creamsicle.

Shaved Ice

Shaved Ice

I could eat this all day long.

The Scoop was the final food truck of our day.

The Scoop

The Scoop

We each enjoyed a 4 oz scoop of Banoffee Pie with cookie butter ice cream. What a way to end the 1st Annual Maytoberfest.