Saturday, June 05, 2021

Yakima, We Came We Saw

We woke up in the Yakima Valley and it was time to do some adventuring.

Yakima is known as an agricultural region. I believe the way the weather in Washington works is all of the clouds and rain that Seattle is famous for can't get past the Cascade mountain range. So the land east of that is nice and sunny and a great place to grow crops like apples, wine grapes, and about 75% of the nation's hop crop. I first heard about Yakima while working at Anheuser-Busch and it's been on my wish list for a few years now.

The Stop-N-Go Drive In took care of lunch nicely. I think it's fun that some burger joints seem to be immune to the passage of time. That and ice cream places both seem to somehow be immortal.

Bale Breaker was one of the top spots that I wanted to see. I've always thought it was a shame that wineries get to be these romantic scenic places where you can sip a wine while watching the grapes grow over rolling hills, while breweries are just a place where hop pellets from who knows where are thrown into a vat.

It turns out hop plants are pretty weird. They're vines suspended from long wires reminiscent of power lines, which then product magical weird little pine cones that someone somehow figured out make beer taste awesome. Very strange.

The Teapot Dome Service Station is a fun little gas station in Zillah, Washington that is shaped like a giant teapot. It was built in 1922 and I guess was some sort of political statement about the Teapot Dome Scandal that rocked the presidency of Warren G. Harding.

There are wineries for days out here.

These looked like cherry trees. Is there anything that they can't grow out here?

Toppentish had a ton of cool murals on the buildings in its little downtown. A guy waiting at a bus stop informed us that he had helped paint one of them. Good work, dude.

"Indian Stick Game

Indians have been playing the 'stick game' as far back as history can be traced. Too complicated to be explained in such a small space, let us say that much money and many possessions changed hands when the game was over."

This one was by far my favorite.

"Irish Dick

About 1910, a strapping, hard drinking sheepherder called Irish Dick traded a pet bear cub to a Toppenish saloon-keeper for whiskey. Some months later the rowdy sheepherder was in town when his grown-up pet escaped, panicking townsfolk. He offered to return the bear to its tether. A terrible fight on main street ended when an unharmed bear was returned to saloon servitude and a brave and bloodied Irishman was taken to the hospital."

I believe the American Hop Museum wasn't even supposed to be open by the time we arrived but we got the courage to knock on the door and sure enough a friendly museum employee allowed us in.

There was a dated but still super informative welcome video. I learned a lot about hops.

There are a ton of Mexican immigrants settled in the area, drawn by all of the agriculture jobs.

I was amused that one of the exhibits was sponsored by Anheuser-Busch. I wonder if this was like a hand me down from a brewery tour or what the deal was.

Hops make even better wigs than beer flavoring.

Wheel Line Cider was just a really idyllic experience. I'd like to return but everything went so perfectly that I doubt we'll ever match the time we had. For one thing there was a band playing despite the fact there were like 10 people here tops.

The only place cider was being dispensed was out of this Airstream-esque trailer. The owner lady explained that while we could drink the cider in the nearby barn, she couldn't sell it there due to some building code issues... I think for one thing it didn't have a sprinkler system. She was embarrassingly nice and invited us to check out the interior of the fun trailer. She then proceeded to give us a personal tour of the property including pointing out the apple orchard and showing us the equipment she uses to make the cider. I believe she brought in a cider expert from the UK, so the whole thing was interesting because it felt like a small business but one started by a fancy person. I believe she said she was a retired teacher.

Wheel Line Cider is a reference to this wheeled irrigation system that she said her dad invented.

The big sculpture tree things had hops planted in the center and were meant to serve as natural umbrellas once the vines got big enough. I thought that was a fun idea.

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