My Local’s Picks – 2015 Travel Oregon Visitor’s Guide

The 2015-2016 Travel Oregon Visitor’s Guide is out. It includes my picks for my favorite spots on Mount Hood and the Columbia Gorge, such as Apple Valley BBQ, Mt. Hood Roasters, Hood River Lavender, Glacier Haus Bistro and more!

TO Visitor Guide

It was very hard to narrow it down to such a short list, as there are so many places I love on Mount Hood and the Columbia Gorge. Some of my other favorite places that didn’t make the list are:

  • El Burro Loco in Welches
  • The Gorge White House in Hood River
  • Huckleberry Inn’s milkshakes in Government Camp; and
  • Wahkeena Falls, of course!

You can click here to view the digital edition where you can see my picks, those of other locals for places like Portland, the Oregon Coast, and Eastern Oregon, along with some great tips on planning an Oregon adventure!

Categories: "7 Wonders of Oregon", Ask Oregon, Columbia River Gorge, Hood River, Mount Hood, Oregon, Oregon's Mount Hood Territory | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Then and Now: Cloud Cap Inn

The History:

The Cloud Cap Inn, standing on the flanks of Mount Hood at 6000 feet in elevation, was built in 1889. While it no longer operates as an inn, the Crag Rats, a mountain search and rescue team based in Hood River, continue to use and preserve the building as their base of operations for snow surveys, training, rescue missions as well as meetings and outings.


From the collection of Gary Randall.

From the collection of Gary Randall.

In this undated photo, Mount Hood can be seen looming behind the Cloud Cap Inn.


Cloud Cap

In this photo taken by our Director of Photography, Cari, in September 2014, the view of both the mountain and the inn is strikingly similar. Although the trees look like they have grown some.

Expect to hear more about this historic site from future Cast Iron Women adventures!

Wanna know more:

Visit the Crag Rats here to learn more about the history of the Cloud Cap Inn and and the oldest mountain search and rescue organization in North America.

Note: Like the Cast Iron Women on their Facebook page and follow their hashtag #CIWAdventures on Twitter and Instagram to see all their adventures as they connect the past to the present on the path to the future.

Use  the #CIWAdventure hashtag and share your own “Cast Iron Women Adventures” with us. We would love to see them!

Categories: Cast Iron Women, Mount Hood, Mountains, Oregon, Then and Now | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mitchell, Oregon – The Town That Time Forgot

Mitchell, Oregon isn’t a destination in and of itself. It’s nestled quietly in the middle of nowhere — the town that bills itself as the “Gateway to the Painted Hills” is usually someplace people find by accident. Time seems to have bypassed Mitchell long ago, much like the new stretch of Highway 26 built years ago. One walk down Main Street, and you will feel like you have transported straight into the past.


Main Street Mitchell

Mitchell is officially classified as a “ghost town,” though the 130 souls that call it home might disagree with you. Well, except the resident ghost Patty, a young girl, who locals say roams the streets at night.

Speaking of locals, I would like to introduce you to Judy. She runs what she calls the town’s “everything store,” aptly named Judy’s Place, and sells everything from antiques to her mother-in-law’s hand-beaded jewelry.


Judy standing next to her cast iron stove.

Turns out Judy is a real Cast Iron Woman. As I was taking photographs on Main Street, she came over, introduced herself, and starting telling me a little history of the town.

“That’s the Sally Winebarger House. Sally lived there until she passed away in 1974. It’s been empty ever since. Started as a hotel, owned by the Boardmans (that the city of Boardman, Oregon is named for), but she ran it as a boarding house until she died. Boy, did she have some stories to tell.”


The Sally Winebarger House

Judy proceeded to tell the story of a young girl, about 15, who, in an attempt to escape her abusive father, had moved into the boarding house and was doing odd jobs to earn her keep. The girl fell in love with a fellow boarder, a young man much older than her. Well, her father showed up and didn’t like this “boy” sniffing around his daughter, and he proceeded to beat the young man senseless. The sheriff showed up and hauled the father away for the violent attack. No one ever saw the father again.

The Winebarger house has sat empty since Sally died. Someone bought it and started converting it to duplexes, but the work stopped and no one has yet called it home. It’s on the market now, so if you are interested in owning a little piece of history, make an offer.

Can you see the "For Sale" sign?

Can you see the “For Sale” sign?

What makes Judy a Cast Iron Woman? Well, her little store doesn’t just sell a little bit of everything, it also doubles as a museum about Mitchell. She has historic pictures of the town, checks from the now defunct bank, and a story about every building on Main Street.

I asked Judy “Are you the official town historian?” she just looked at me and smiled.

“Well, I suppose. When I moved here, I spent a lot of time listening to the old timers tell stories. So I am doing what I can to preserve some of it.”

I don’t think Judy knows how extraordinary what she is doing really is.


So, if you are visiting the Painted Hills, or passing by on Highway 26 to another point  further east, stop by Judy’s Place in Mitchell. She’ll invite you in, tell you a story or two, and show you the little piece of history she is working to save.

Note: Like the Cast Iron Women on their Facebook page and follow their hashtag #CIWAdventure on Twitter and Instagram to see all their adventures as they connect the past to the present on the path to the future.

Categories: Cast Iron Women, Eastern Oregon, Oregon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

First Trillium of Spring – 2015 Edition

“Despite the forecast, live like it’s Spring.” – Lily Pulitzer

I have a tradition here at Wahkeena Exposures of posting the first trillium I see each spring. Well, I have a confession to make – this isn’t the first one I have seen this year. As many of you know, these wildflowers have been blooming for several weeks now, especially at the lower elevations. Between a recent trip to Eastern Oregon, and some other projects I am working on, I haven’t had time to go out and hunt them with my camera. I have seen them blooming in my neighbor’s yard.


Trillium to me are a sign that Spring has finally arrived, and they are the first flowers of this photographer’s much anticipated “wildflower season”. Yesterday afternoon, I finally got a chance to go trillium hunting with my camera, along the banks of the Salmon River. Along with the trillium, the salmonberry bushes are starting to bloom (a sign that my second favorite season, berry, will be here soon), sorrel, phlox and even a few other lillies.


So stay tuned! There will be a lot more wildflower pictures to come as Spring progresses.


Categories: Flowers, Hiking, Oregon, Oregon's Mount Hood Territory, Random Photos, Spring | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Twisted Trees

Twisted Trees at Fort Fisher BW

One of the things that makes a cast iron woman into a cast iron woman is the often harsh and abrasive circumstances she goes through to become a cast iron woman. For the women of pioneer trails, those circumstances may have been the difficulties of the trail — sickness and death and poverty and exhaustion and broken-down wagons. But for other women of other places and times, we each have our own harsh and abrasive circumstances that make us into a different variety of Cast Iron Woman.

My Aunt Ina was a Cast Iron Woman. Aunt Ina was born in 1905 on the coast of North Carolina. Aunt Ina’s Daddy, Harry, was the mailboat captain. Now, on the mainland, mail may have been delivered on foot or on horseback or eventually by motor vehicle. But when my Aunt Ina was a girl on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, mail was delivered by boat. There weren’t bridges then, or ferries. And so Uncle Harry loaded his boat with mail each morning — and sometimes, Little Ina — and headed out among the islands to deliver the mail — and sometimes medicines or supplies that were needed by the isolated islanders.

On those days that Little Ina (who really was LITTLE Ina — she never even reached five feet tall) accompanied her Daddy on his rounds, he would tell her stories about the islands. And he would also answer her questions about the world around her. Why is the water blue? Why does it rain? Where do the hermit crabs go when they disappear into the sand? And Daddy, why are the trees so twisted and bent over? That day, Little Ina learned an important lesson — inland, oak trees grow tall and straight, with limbs reaching up towards the sky. But out on the islands, where salty sea winds and storms and hurricanes dominate, oak trees have to fight for their survival. They bend with the wind. They twist and they turn. And so while they will never be straight or tall as the oaks inland, they are strong. They are statues which stand as living testimonies of how very strong and beautiful one becomes when they face harsh, abrasive circumstances — and storms — and survive.

The particular oaks trees in the picture above were photographed by me (Chief Storyteller, Sassy) at Fort Fisher, near Wilmington, NC. Aunt Ina never saw these trees — she was further north and east on the Outer Banks. But I am certain she would agree with me that these strong, but twisted trees, are mighty beautiful.

Categories: Beyond the Northwest, Cast Iron Women, Stories from History | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment