19 August 2006


little italy lamppost
Originally uploaded by Katherine H.
It wouldn't be August without the requisite visit to the Italian Cultural Fair in Salt Lake City. A tiny affair, it grows a little bit in popularity and sponsorship each year.

Why do I go? To enjoy the gelato and Italian ice, of course! For the past two years, my friends Heather and Karin have joined me as we peruse the booths and sit in the shade to happily share vibrant flavors such as black cherry, pistachio, and lemon.

As we pass the nearby bocce competition, we leave pining for another Italian adventure!

14 August 2006

Blue Herons and Bike Rides

bikes on bridge
Originally uploaded by Katherine H.
Eighteen years ago, my parents were fortunate enough to acquire a patch of land along the Buffalo River with one of my aunts and her husband. Since then, our summers have been full of blue skies alternating with thunderstorms, lazy afternoon floats down the river, and the exploration of dusty paths in this southeastern corner of Idaho.

Promoted as “the longest Main Street” in America, this 33-mile stretch along Highway 20 provides access to numerous lakes and rivers for water sports and fishing, groomed trails for snowmobiling, and access for exploring the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

As the area grew in popularity for outdoor sports, a number of lodges and inns sprung to life in response to the tourist traffic. Pond's Lodge, Phillips Lodge, Island Park Lodge, Mack’s Inn, and Big Springs Inn were just a few of the businesses established during the early 20th century. With the passage of time, those lodges that remain struggle to adapt and draw modern travelers.

Island Park holds a lot of memories for my mother, who spent her summers in the area as a young girl. In the 1940s, she began working at Pond’s Lodge, a stopping point for motorists as well as a supply point for the families who spent their summers in the area. Punctuated with hard work and good, clean fun, it was a way of life that she longed to share with her family.

And so, over the years, Island Park has come to mean those things to us as well: canoe rides, bicycle trips to the railroad bridge, feeding the fish at Big Springs, and spying blue herons and moose around the reservoir at twilight time. Though my schedule only allowed for a few short days here this August, the shared memories of summers past will continue to linger.

05 August 2006

A Painted Sense of History

on horseback
Originally uploaded by Katherine H.

In central Washington as you travel along Highway 97 you will pass the small farming community of Toppenish. You will be tempted to just keep on driving, to continue on your journey and reach your destination, but a brief stop here to stretch your legs will be worth the time.

Highlighting the historical importance of the area, buildings throughout the downtown area showcase 69 murals that are thoroughly researched and meticulously painted – with one new mural being added each year. You’ll find a depiction of an early hop harvest, a round of an Indian stick game, migratory waterfowl, and a mother hanging out the wash among other scenes that hearken back to the history of the area "where the West still lives.”

You can guide yourself on a personal walking tour of the murals by following the brass horseshoes embedded in the sidewalks, or join an official tour which will transport you by wagon while imparting local facts and stories.

Want to see the artists in action? The First Saturday of each June, mural artists gather in a race against the clock to complete the new mural in one day. Bleachers are set up for spectators, and a small food and craft fair accompanies the event.

If your travels take you through the Yakima Valley during the first weekend in August, make a stop at the Guerra farm in Sunnyside and enjoy the fabulous dinner they prepare each year as part of their Chile Pepper Festival.

*Clicking on the picture will link you to photos of additional murals