Friday, August 15, 2008

Local Attractions

This week I've taken a few days' vacation time to enjoy some hot summer sun with my hubby, whose work has slowed due to the extreme heat and fire danger. (Plus, he whined so much his boss actually encouraged him to take a few days off to go fishing, lest he self destruct or something. This behavior shouldn't be encouraged...the boy could fish full time and be one happy camper...although filling the freezer with fish for the year doesn't really help pay the bills.)

It's been H-O-T in these parts so far this month, and this week there is a heat wave to the extent that the computerized voice on weather radio warns about excessive heat danger and to drink lots of fluids. Today our local news program (out of Seattle, so local is relative, given Seattle's about 100 miles away) showed Chehalis, which IS local (about 30 minutes away) topping out around 97 degrees. Kill me now. This Western-Washingtonian whines above 73 degrees and withers above 78. Hoo boy, this won't be pretty.

Because it's vacation time, and because it's summer, we thought we'd kick off my days off by attending the Southwest Washington Fair in Chehalis on Wednesday. It had all the good fair stuff: some rides for the kiddos, sequestered in the back corner so as not to annoy the rest of the fair-goers; lots of food vendors selling the ever-present elephant ears, scones (yay!) and roasted corn, along with two espresso booths, God-bless-em'; flowers, photography, crafts and other fantastic creations submitted by Lewis County residents; and, the best part...lots of animals! We walked up and down all the rows of chickens, dairy and beef cows, goats and horses, and saw part of the pigs. It was horribly hot, especially by mid-afternoon, but the crowds were minor (it was Senior Citizen Day). The highlight: we got to watch one of my girlfriend's sons show his FFA pig! Kids who show pigs are a strong lot. I had no idea how difficult that could be, and sincerely felt for some whose pigs would not behave, follow direction, or heck, even be slightly managable! I'm pretty sure one poor girl had a meltdown after her category was overwith, as she had to chase her darned pig all over the ring. There's a hand-painted sign on the wall above the show ring that says, "Tap, Don't Whap," referring to how these kids should handle their canes. There was some pretty furious "tapping" going on! Not only that, but a couple of the pigs got scrappy...that's where the more experienced pig showers (Paul's parent's neighbor girl, included - she is Miss Jubilie this year and was showing pigs and cows at the fair) step in with their plywood pig-separator-board-thingies. One board was cleverly painted with "The Official Pig Anti-Harrassment Board." Wowsa. Unfortunately the friend's son didn't do too well...his pig lacked the characteristics the judge was looking for. Hopefully he had fun, though...he certainly handled himself well in the ring.

The other highlight of the week so far was Paul's and my first dip in Tenino's Quarry Pool. The town got its start as a sandstone quarry, with stone shipped locally and nationally to help construct some of America's loveliest historic buildings, including our Washington State Capitol Building. The quarrying left behind these oddly cut, stair-step looking areas. One is barely visible on the hill near the high school, but the most famous is the local swimming hole. Local legend has it the pool is over 100 feet deep and contains the old quarry equipment at the bottom, and it's certainly possible (although very creepy to consider). The Quarry Pool is located in our city park, which is lovely by itself, but the pool, tucked against the hillside and shaded by overhead trees, is a sight to behold. Part of the quarry wall has been fashioned into a lovely waterfall, which seems to only be turned on during the summer months. There's a shallow kids' part of the pool that's separated from the actual quarry pool by concrete; the water there is about thigh-deep at the deepest. In the quarry portion, there's a section roped off for the two diving boards, and a separate larger section roped off for general swimming. The pool itself extends quite a bit further down the park, but swimming is prohibited there. The water is sort of green from algae, and the steps formed by the quarry cuts are a tad slimy, but still feel nice underfoot. That's good, because the water is cold enough to take your breath away! It's not as cold as a mountain creek, but after swimming across the pool to the falls and back again, Paul and I had both had enough for the day! (To give you an idea, I think my body was chilled to a depth of at least a couple inches...and that feeling stuck with me until I got home into a hot shower! Brrr!) We enjoyed the kiddie pool section, though, which was still cool, but not cold, and where folks are allowed to bring in their floaty devices (air mattresses, giant lobster seats, etc.). There's plenty of room on that side for everyone. Of the perhaps 30 people at the pool yesterday afternoon, only five of us swam in the big portion, save for one young girl with her eye goggles who just couldn't get enough. Everyone else - aged baby to senior citizen, was in the kiddie pool.

The pool is open daily during the summer, starting around July 4th, and is cheap entertainment...$0.50 for residents of the Tenino School District, and $2.00 for non-residents. Lifeguards are on duty (thankfully...I wonder how many breathless deep-section swimmers they have to rescue every year?), but I'd recommend sunscreen, as there isn't much shade within the pool surround area, unless you happen to score a spot in the wooden pavilion adjacent to the kiddie pool.

Follow a link to see a nice photo of the Quarry Pool waterfall:


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