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Maryhill, Trains, Shopping, and Ice Cream -- May 24

Walt and Cathie made breakfast burritos the next morning, and it was a wonderful breakfast for people just filtering in as they were able. Poor Jet had a really hard time getting up, as he's not at all used to going to sleep that late, and he was in the last group to get in and get fed.

But he made it! And we all piled into cars and headed out to Maryhill to see an oddity that I had glimpsed from the highway across the Columbia many a time when we were headed East on a road trip, but we'd never explored up close.



WA Stonehenge
At the end of the first World War, there was still the belief, at that time, that Stonehenge was built by druids that used the alter for human sacrifice. We know a bit more now, and this one was built so that the altar aligns with the sunrise on the Summer Solstice.

So Sam Hill, the man who had this built, decided that an ancient alter for sacrificing people was a fitting memorial for those who had died in WWI, human sacrifices to war. On each of the pillars is a name plaque for someone in the region who died in the war, there's about a dozen total, but such a remote area, that was most of the town's population of young men. Today, in Maryhill, only 98 people live there.

WA Stonehenge Memorial
The whole thing is built of concrete, and it's complete in a way that felt very odd to me, when all I've ever seen are the half fallen pictures of the real Stonehenge. It's perfectly level, still entirely joined, and the hardpack dirt at the edge of the Eastern Washington desert is nothing at all like the green of England.

Still, the people who walked through were quiet, respectful, and honored the dead the place honored. The bronze plaques with all their names were embedded in the columns.

Museum
Just a little ways down the road was the Maryhill Art Museum, which was also built by Sam Hill, when he wanted to create a Quaker community in Washington. His hopes were never really realized for the community, but the art museum is going strong. The garden was filled with outdoor sculptures, and the interior had several rooms of items for display. A few people decided to do the museum, the rest of us wandered around outside, smelling the roses, and looking at the outside garden before wandering to our cars.

We headed back, found some lunch, and one group went for a hike, another went up through Mt. Hood, we just drove along the Washington side of the Columbia and got a different view of the river and everything around it. One of the amazing things for me was seeing The Dalles, another town that I'd seen signs for in Portland, but had never visited. They have a huge power generating dam there, and I think there were at least four dams fairly near us. It supplies cheap energy for the whole region, but the original damage to the fish populations were huge. So now nearly every dam also had a fish hatchery by it.

Lunch was a Filley preparation, with Joanne bringing pulled pork and North Carolina BBQ sauce (vinegar based) to put on the David's Amazing Bread Hamburger rolls we'd gotten at Costco. The whole grain and seed bread was wonderful with the meaty texture of the pork and the tang of the sauce. I asked Joanne for the recipe for the sauce, and she said, "I get in my car and I drive down..."

Turns out that there's a corner BBQ shack she loves for the sauce, and she just bought it from there and brought it for the lunch. Leah made a potato salad that's a Christmas tradition her mother makes in Australia. It took a moment, but most of us figured out that Christmas is in mid-summer there. *laughs* And it's a lovely salad with mint as a contrast to the usual richness of the dish.

Working Railroad
After lunch, John, Jet, and I were less ambitious than the hikers, and decided to just go into Hood River and shop around. We found parking way out of town and had a little adventure trying to find our way in. There's a working dinner car railroad right there, and it turns out that the cars for that railroad were very very familiar! They used to run by the Sammamish River in Redmond, going from town to the wineries to the north. I guess that railway's been turned into a trail, now, and that region is getting so crowded, that they moved them out to Hood River, with the old Sammamish River decals still on them.

We were there with Jenifer and Joanne, who both were single moms with small boys of about the same age. Jenifer was of the Sanvig clan, Joanne was from the Filleys on the East Coast, but they had a great time talking about common trials and challenges. I've always said that I utterly admire anyone who can be a single parent, and they were both amazing.

Men at Work
The boys got along great, too. And they were pretty patient with everything, because they knew that the final destination was going to be the toy store. *laughs*

I got my toy store in early. Knot Another Hat is a lovely, lovely yarn store with knowledgeable people, and a very interesting thing called a "unicorn tail" of yarn. It's about 50 yards of some really posh, expensive yarns, that you can get for only a couple of dollars. Things like Madeline Tosh Light, a fingering weight yarn in jewel colors. I loved it. The other moms and boys went off to a coffee shop in the midst of my explorations. Jet, being Jet, bought himself a unicorn tail of colors he loved. And I found out from the proprietor that they have gone to charging NO shipping on all their online orders! Wow.

So I'm probably going to be buying most of my high end stuff from them from now on. Knitpicks is still my favorite place for yarns I just use everyday and don't think too much about, but I needed a place to get yarns I long for, and the local yarn shop isn't quite doing it and Shuttle Spindles and Skeins has never really made my color eye happy enough.

We did end up at G. Williker's the toy shop on the main street through town, and it was really fun to look through. Both boys got something they really wanted, and Jet, being Jet decided that there really wasn't anything in there he particularly needed to get. It was a good little store, and after we were done there we headed back to the house.

Ice Cream!
And the two little guys were put to work with Granny Isabel at making ice cream. It was really fun watching Isabel work with them at the cranking. John and I had brought the hand crank setup, while Walt had brought an electric one. The fun with the hand-crank freezer was that everyone got to participate in the making of their desserts. We had vanilla the first night, chocolate the second, and tonight's was coffee, flavored with 2 cups of water that had been run through enough grounds to make 12 cups of coffee, three times! *laughs* Luckily, it was decaf.

Giant Jenga
While people waited for their turn at the crank, they played with the giant Jenga set that David R. had made. The towers got impressively high, too! People were as careful with the big blocks as they would have been with the small, though there was just a bit more friction with the additional surface area.

And the noise the whole thing made when it fell was utterly spectacular. *laughs* You could hear the clatter of it like a cascade of... well... two by fours whenever it fell.

Dinner
Dinner was Paul and Jan's fajitas, both steak and chicken and just about every topping you could think of on thick, tender flour tortillas. Everyone loved the three kinds of salsa, the various veggies, cheese, and other things that went on them. And when we were done, Emmalee and Roche brought out the key lime and lemon meringue pies!! Wooot!

I have a very soft spot for key lime pie, and they did both a meringue one on a regular pie crust and a whipped cream topped one on a graham cracker crust. I also loved the coffee ice cream, it was creamy, rich, and wonderful. I always eat a little too much at these gatherings, but it's worth it, and when it's a family reunion with these people, it's always the food that we make for each other, not the normal "travel food".

The four brothers were covering all the food for all the days, each one had one breakfast and the three eldest had dinners. John and I did the very first breakfast, but only had to do the strawberry shortcakes for the birthday feast for a dinner thing, but that was really fun, too. Lots of people were leaving the next day, so everyone stayed up late talking, and it was all good.
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It really was entirely delightful and thoroughly social. Everyone was friendly and interesting to talk with and the food was amazing!! *laughs*