Thursday, January 21, 2010

Milton-Freewater and beyond

The weather here has taken an unusual swing to the warmer end of the thermometer lately, and I got the itch to do some more exploring. So a few days ago, I loaded up into my 2-wheel-drive sedan that has no tire studs at all, and headed up into the mountains, hoping the pavement would be bare. I had tire chains with me just in case, water, food and a cell phone and had no intention of going off the highway. I just wanted to see some trees! So I headed up Hwy 11 North out of Pendleton, then took Hwy 204 East from Weston, Oregon up into the mountains, in search of trees!

The first thing I noticed in the town of Weston was the big "Smith Frozen Foods" company building, as in (former) Senator Gordon Smith. I was wondering where this was. Now I know. As I headed up the highway, I noticed many snowplow road markers and snow drift fences that were noticeably without snow. I've heard that we're well below our normal snow pack this winter, and it certainly seems to be the case! I passed several houses and roads until I started seeing trees, and even more before I saw some snow. Near the "Tollgate area", I snapped this picture. There is some snow up there, but not much. I didn't have a lot of time, plus in shady spots the road started getting just a wee bit icy. That was enough to get me to turn around and head back down.

Descending, I got some excellent views of the surrounding area, including a view of Milton-Freewater, and a view of the "wind turbine farms" to the West. Once I got back to Hwy 11, I headed North to the small town of Milton-Freewater. I was in pursuit of a farm and ranch store, Bordertown Feed and Supply, that had been recommended to me by someone in Pendleton. It's a small store, on the North end of town on Hwy 11. I drove past it a few times before I found it, but was very pleasantly surprised when I walked in. They had the dog supplies and medication that I was looking for, plus so much more! I must admit that I know nothing about horses and ranching, but they had so many beautiful saddles and tack, shoes and supplies that I can start to understand the appeal of owning and using horses.

I headed just a bit further down the highway to investigate a place I'd seen before, "Clay in Motion". This is a huge pottery studio that makes and sells a large selection of beautiful pottery. They also have an art gallery and coffee shop on location. I really enjoyed browsing their selection, and even bought a few early birthday presents.

Milton-Freewater seems to be best known, though, for it's agriculture, including it's wine grapes. It's part of the "Walla Walla Wine Appellation", a wine region that's well known for it's outstanding wines. I'm dying to go wine tasting in this area someday soon. There are also numerous fruit orchards that I plan to come back to in the spring to see all of the beautiful blossoms...

On the way back South through town, I decided to follow a few signs that led me to the older part of town, as well as to their park and aquatic center. Of course the pool is closed, but I got a view of it through the gate. I think I'm going to have to bring the kids here this summer. All through Milton-Freewater there are statues of frogs in different attire and poses. According to the city website, there are over 40 frogs scattered throughout town. It seems as though the town has adopted the frog as it's "brand", or mascot. Very cute! My mom would love this place, as she has always loved frogs, and has quite a collection of them... I'll leave you with a few pictures I took of some of the many frog statues. Enjoy!


Beth said...

aren't small towns great. The personality is so different and so are the inhabitants- from the BIG cities.

You are making me miss pine trees!

Beth-Near Chicago

Becky said...

Yep! Big cities are fun to visit, but not sure I'd want to live in one again permanently. Are you back in Chicago?