Tuesday, October 21, 2014

it was very good.

Our 18th wedding anniversary came and went! Usually I blog with in days of an event but October brought us sickness along with the rain and my energy seems to have flown out the window. It has taken me forever to put together a coherent travelogue... but finally... here it is.

destination: Vantage WA. 
We took a long weekend with the Burke Turque and escaped to the east side of the state where the sun was still shining and except for an early sunset, no hint of Autumn.

We drove over on a Friday and set up base camp in the little tiny town of Vantage, population 70. We're talking a couple gas stations, a hamburger joint and a general store with postal service and limited hours. Oh, and a campground. That's important because it's where we stayed and really it is probably the life and breath of this town. They get a lot of traffic connected to the "Gorge", a nearby amphitheater that offers concerts on a regular basis.

bridge over the Columbia River from Vantage WA.
It was great for us to be able to set up camp and then explore the neighboring areas. The campground has certainly seen better days. Run down and in desperate need of maintenance, we sensed the economic downturn has carried quite an impact on the whole area. It's a shame because Vantage is in such a great location being right next to the Columbia River,Wanapum Recreational Area and the Ginkgo Petrified National Forest and State Park.

The Burke Turque: home sweet home!
Saturday morning dawned bright and sparkly and as excited as we were to set out and visit the petrified forest, Bruce was getting over a cold and I felt like I might be coming down with one. Bummer!!
We took it easy all morning, making the most of coffee, sunshine and quiet solitude. It was so peaceful!

coffee made the old fashioned way ! tasted so good!

Eventually we felt rested enough to head out and to the Petrified Forest we went! Our first stop was the museum. They have a really great display and a lot of interesting facts. We saw plenty of petrified varieties of wood and rocks, hieroglyphics from the Wanapum Tribe and then to our surprise, a herd of wild Big Horn Sheep grazing on the grounds. What we did NOT see where any rattlesnakes, thankfully!!

a walk around the interpretive trail

the love-burkes in the petrified forest!

big horn sheep!

We did a short walk around the Trees of Stone Interpretive Trail under a brilliant blue sky with a hot breeze swirling around us, then headed back to town. We took a drive down to see the Wanapum Dam, which is under repair.  We slurped up creamy goodness in the shape of milkshakes from the funky little restaurant in town and kicked back in our camp chairs.

how beautiful are the feet... 

Sunday, our official Anniversary date, we got up early to avoid the heat while we hiked up the steep trail at the Wild Ponies Monument just east of Vantage. You cross the Columbia River, then take a turn off of I-90 to a parking lot. High above, perched on a steep bluff, are 16 amazing works of art.

we are going to hike up to see the ponies!

Made from iron and bronze, the ponies can be seen from quite a distance away. I have always wanted to get a closer look at them and this was the day. It's only about a quarter mile to the top but it is a rather steep and slippery climb owing to the loose dry gravel on the trail. Coming down was a bit more challenging than climbing up!

view from the top!

Grandfather Releases the Ponies
After our excursion up the mountain we drove on to Ellensburg and the tiny town of Thorp. Ellensburg has some beautiful historic buildings that deserve a longer look but we were really eager to see Thorp so on we went. The town of Thorp is named for Fielden Mortimor Thorp, one of the first permanent white settle in the Kittitas Valley. F.M. Thorp also just happens to be Bruce's Great, Great, Great, Grandfather!

Ellensburg WA

Thorp WA

We toured the Thorp Grist Mill and took in some of the local history there. Fascinating stuff. Our next stop was searching out a way to get to something we've seen several times from the freeway. A pioneer cemetery that has the names Thorp-Splawn on it. Owing to that family connection Bruce was understandable curious about getting a closer look. It took some sleuthing to ferret out the owner of the field the cemetery is located in.

Thorp-Splawn Pioneer Cemetery

With permission granted we came back the next day and tromped across a soggy field where Bruce was able to see the final resting place of his Great, great, great grandfather and GGG-grandmother. A truly special moment.

the headstone on the left is the Thorp's. Splawn was also a relative. 

We broke camp Monday morning and hit the road early as we had several stops to make before we headed home. After our visit to the cemetery we lunched in Cle Elum and then hooked up with a friend of Bruce's to see a house he is building. (hey, I'm married to a builder. it's what we do)

I think the builder is salivating...

Our final stop on the lane of nostalgia was to see the Masterson Ranch. Bruce's mother's maiden name is Masterson, and Bruce remembers visiting the ranch when he was just a wee little lad. What fun to find the ranch, the old homestead and then, cherry-on-top, knock on the door of the house and meet a long distance cousin!

just like Bruce remembers it.

meeting a distant cousin for the first time.

Bruce remembers posing in front of this house with his mom when he visited at around age 6.

After exchanging contact information, with the sun setting and miles to go before we slept, we pushed on to make it home late that night. Tired and sore from a long days drive, but happy and content with the weekend we experienced.
saying good night and good bye to the east side of the state.

To close I will leave with you just a few more photo highlights from our fun little weekend get away! 
God is good. 

close up of the lead pony.

panoramic view from the top of the viewpoint.

rocking this anniversary!


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