On July 1st and 4th Ruth and I were restless. We decided to visit some local places we had not been to for years. This included The Maryhill Museum, Cascade Locks, peaches, and a Columbia River Cruise.
We had expected a visit from family that did not happen because we got COVID and they cancelled. We had not been up the Columbia River as tourists for several years. It was time.
The Maryhill Museum is totally unique. It sits high over the Columbia River about 100 miles from our home. It is the unlikliest place for an art museum you could ever imagine. It is closer to Goldendale, WA than it is to Portland because of a man named Sam Hill. Sam dabbled in road construction, utilities, and tourism long before anyone else. He was a railroad executive when trains were just beginning to get built. He had an idea to develop roads in Oregon and Washington in the early part of the 20th century to encourage travelers who were just beginning to hit the road to see the country but not to resettle.
He built his museum way up the Columbia River on a high bluff with an idea to live there and develop farming in the area to attract settlers. He befriended European royalty and modern dancers like Loie Fuller and began building. One of his bright ideas was to re-create Stonehenge near his property. It’s still there and a genuine curiosity. He must have somewhat recognized his folly and decided that a memorial to World War I fighters was needed. He completed Stonehenge in 1929 and invited the Queen of Romania and Queen Victoria of England’s granddaughter to come to Washington to dedicate it. She accepted. His wife had visited Maryhill but refused to live there. Loie Fuller convinced him to turn Maryhill into a museum after construction stopped in 1917. “What the Sam Hill?” you might exclaim.
Maryhill was completed and eventually became a museum. The Queen did show up to dedicate it. Now it is only opened from March 15 until November 15 and has some unusual collections. Loie influenced Sam to collect Rodin sculptures and they are part of what makes this weird museum great. It is also the repository of some unusual European and American paintings by still unknown artists, objects from the Queen of Romania, some unique international chess sets, and mostly local Native American artifacts. It is certainly eclectic.
We stopped in Cascade Locks for soft-serv ice cream at a place called Eastwind that is both very old and highly popular. It is one of the few places where people still stand in line to get ice cream. Then we decided to take the river cruise that we had planned to use for visiting grandchildren. This was a mistake. We didn’t complete the cruise that began in Cascade Locks and went up the Columbia River passing the town of Stevenson before returning to the dock. For tourists a longer cruise is possible. It goes down the river to Portland and under some downtown bridges of note. This takes up to 7 hours, may be worth doing if you are unfamiliar with the area, and is accomplished by Bigfoot jet-boats.
We were too early to buy local peaches.