Exploring Spokane’s Historic Spots, Part II – 3 Memorable Neighborhoods

Manito Park Bridge Credit Roy A Barnes

In Part I of this series, I discussed the city’s historical downtown must-sees.  But there’s more to a city than its centrally-located tourist attractions.   To really get intimate with a city means exploring some of the neighborhoods that have helped shaped its history.  I can picture the late Fred Rogers (“Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”) educating the kids in any one of these locales.

South Hill — Spokane’s haven of tranquility

Just south of downtown, a cluster of neighborhoods known as South Hill beckons.  It’s like going into another world from hustle and bustle of the city, where tall evergreens dominate the skyline rather than brick and mortar edifices.  Our drive offered me a view of the stately-looking homes, including Craftsman-style bungalows and beautifully-put-together brick domiciles.   This was especially evident as we got closer to South Hill’s “jewel in the crown,” in the Manito neighborhood, for it contains a 90-acre green space called Manito Park.

The park, designed by the famous Olmstead brothers of Central Park fame, combines both the best of man’s landscaping ideas with Mother Nature’s unspoiled beauty.  The area is prefaced by basalt rock formations jutting out everywhere.   In the midst of the unspoiled habitat, my eyes were captivated by a stone bridge built in the 1930s.   Even on a warm, sunny afternoon with the public out hiking, biking, or admiring one of the six gardens (including for lilacs and roses), I felt a real sense of calmness and peace in a place that once was a zoo, until the hard times of the Great Depression caused its closure.   At the north central end of the park, one can still see remnants of the bear’s habitat, as just behind the Park Bench Café resides a basalt rock formation that has iron bars sticking out of it.

Of the six gardens, a must-see is the Duncan Garden, which was created in the spirit of European formal gardens in France and Italy centuries ago for royalty.   Each year, some 70,000 annuals are planted there to make for a colorful scene of begonias, geraniums, marigolds, etc., that serve up those special backdrops for senior pictures and weddings.

Read More→

Exploring the Geyser Fields of Chile’s Atacama Desert: The Night the Gods Were Against Us

Guest Post by Vickie Lillo

Burbling geyser pool at El Tatio

It seemed as if the gods were against us that night, in the stark desert town of San Pedro, in Chile’s desolate Atacama.  We were on a three-day round-trip junket from Calama, and tomorrow was the final day of our journey.  We had been told–by everyone–that the best view of the El Tatio geysers was at daybreak, in the cold chill of the South American winter.  Our best-laid plans meant we had already set the alarm clock for 4:00 in the morning.

The bad luck had begun earlier in the evening, when we were trying to grab a quick bite to eat for dinner, so that we could get to the bed early.  The lights had unexpectedly gone out in the town.  Total darkness – the blackout was so intense that you could barely see your hand in front of you.  People were stumbling about, running into things, tripping over the cobblestones on the street.  My husband took it in stride.  Inside, I was screaming from sheer terror.  I felt as if the oppressiveness of night was closing in on me–maybe it was a claustrophobic response, I don’t know.  By the beam of flashlights, we found our way back to our rental just about the time the lights came back on.  So, we went to dinner.  Afterwards, as I was pulling the sheets back in the room of our hostel, my husband walked in with the bad news.

Read More→

Exploring Spokane’s Historic Spots, Part I – Downtown Heritage

Spokane Clock Tower and River

As a mining, agriculture, and forestry hub, beginning in the late 19th century, Spokane has played an important role in shaping the Pacific Northwest, despite being overshadowed by other cities in the region like Seattle and Portland.   But I found that the city offers so much colorful history and character via its downtown and three of its residential neighborhoods.  In this first part, I’ll share with you what I found exploring the vibrant downtown, where history comes alive at the turn of many corners.

Read More→

Now is the Time for Late Summer and Fall Fun at Whistler, Canada

Wild flowers in bloom

Whistler, British Columbia, has always been famous with skiers for its fresh powder and dynamic winter sports fun, both on and off the slopes.  After the 2010 Winter Olympics showcased Whistler’s clear skies, towering peaks, sparkling lakes and vibrant village, the world-renowned ski area became even more renowned.

But many people may not know that the resort offers year round outdoor adventures.  And not only that, the end of summer and beginning of fall are the perfect time to not only enjoy the area but to snag some bargains too.

It’s called the ‘shoulder season’ and the crowds are gone, the weather is still warm, and right after Labor Day, the prices go down—the best time to travel, if you can arrange it.

Here is just a sampling of the adventures Whistler has to offer now, as summer turns into fall.

Read More→

Vancouver, Summer in the City – On a Bicycle

Exploring the city of Vancouver on two wheels…

Vancouver Skyline

I’d always heard rave reviews about the city of Vancouver— named both the “Most livable City” in the world, and “Best City in the Americas” to visit, so my husband and I, on our recent honeymoon, headed up north to check it out for ourselves.  We discovered that the raves were all true!  In our three-day visit, we got a taste of what the vibrant city has to offer, and that is plenty, in all the categories of fun—outdoor activities, great restaurants, natural beauty, cultural diversity and art, theater and safe biking!  And don’t forget breathtaking views of mountains and ocean–what doesn’t this city have?

Read More→