Thursday, July 11, 2019

More Lewis and Clark Trail, or, What the Sam Hill???

11 July 2019

Maybe Days 28 to 32 or something like that...
We're currently in Bellingham, Washington, but have been busy with our usual catching up with friends, family, and medical stuff.  We had a few days in Yakima visiting my middle brother and his family, and wading our way through a year's worth of mail.  So I haven't finished blogging about our travels north from Tucson.  Here goes:

We drove north from Mount Hood, and drove along a small part of the Columbia River Gorge.  As I mentioned in the previous post about the river gorges, both canyons and gorges are created when a river carves through the rock on both sides of a river.  Canyons are much wider, and gorges tend to be narrower and closer to the actual river, not spread out far into the distance.

The Columbia River Gorge is beautiful and varied due to the climate differences east and west of the mountains.  We drove through a section east of the mountains, so the vegetation was typical of the high desert, even though it was right next to a river.  Really, with the solid rock river bed, all that water stays in the river and doesn't seep out to provide water for the vegetation on the banks of the river.  However, modern irrigation funnels some of the water to farms and vineyards, so there is plenty of green from the agriculture in the area.  But the native plants are dry grasses and wildflowers, somewhat stunted trees, and other things that grow among the rocks and arid land.

We arrived in the small town of Goldendale, population 3,407 as of 2010.  The town really is pretty small but rather cute, with some old Victorian and Craftsman homes dating back to the turn of the last century, as well as modern buildings and several hotels.  It's the county seat of Klickitat County (pronounced CLICK-it-tat for you non-Washingtonians), and dates back to 1872.

My purpose for staying in this tiny town is that it's the nearest place to stay for a visit to the Maryhill Museum.  So the following day, that was my activity.  Maryhill is an easy nine mile drive south, overlooking the Columbia River.

Maryhill is a local oddity that is best described by the "Atlas Obscura," an atlas of obscure and odd places worldwide.  Their description is "a French chateau, failed utopian community, add museum, and Stonehenge replica in rural Washington State."  And that really sums up Maryhill in one quick sentence. 

But Maryhill is so much more.

Lewis and Clark passed this area in October 1805, and likely saw how beautiful the bluffs are overlooking the Columbia River.  Nearly 100 years later, Sam Hill came through and decided to build a Beaux Arts mansion and Quaker community at this site.

Sam Hill is not the Sam Hill of the phrase "what the Sam Hill" - he wasn't born when that phrase was first used in a newspaper.  Our Sam was born in North Carolina in 1857.  His family, pacifist Quakers, relocated to Minneapolis, Minnesota, during the US Civil War.

Sam Hill graduated from Haverford College, having studied Latin, Greek, French, German, mathematics, science, political science, rhetoric, English literature, and who knows what else.  He went on to attend Harvard to receive a second Bachelor's degree, majoring in Latin and history, where he studied under Henry Cabot Lodge, US Senator who is best known for his views and legislation on foreign policy. 

Sam returned to Minneapolis to practice law, and won several lawsuits against the Great Northern Railway.  This drew the attention of railway magnate James J. Hill, no relation, who in turn hired Sam Hill to represent the railroad company.

Sam married James' daughter Mary, and they had two children.  Sam travelled extensively through Europe, including a journey across Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railroad which was not quite complete.  Sam's restless spirit brought him to the Pacific Northwest, where he began building a mansion in Seattle.  Mary, however, was not happy with the west, and returned to Minneapolis.  Sam visited, but the marriage became more and more strained.

Sam continued with his trips to Europe and his explorations around Washington and Oregon.  He also invested in a variety of fledging businesses, such as the Seattle Gas and Electric Company. 

So, Sam decided he wanted to build a mansion in the style of the French chateaus and mansions he had visited.  He envisioned a peaceful agrarian utopia built on Quaker ideals.  He bought land along the Columbia River and started building both the mansion and the farm, naming the community Maryhill for his daughter, Mary Hill.  However, the land he had chosen was too far east to receive the rains off the Pacific, so the farming community floundered.  Sam lost interest for a bit, and focused on building roads on this vast estate.

Sam saw no reason that this developing part of the United States had horrible muddy and rutted roads rather than the paved and tree-lined boulevards he saw throughout the cities of Europe.  Building roads in the Pacific Northwest became Sam's new mission.  

Once his Maryhill roads were built, he used these roads as a model to show both the Washington and Oregon legislators that it was possible to design and create paved roads along the Columbia River Gorge.  

So residents of both states really do have Sam to thank for the roads and highways we have that connect us to the rest of the continent.

Sam established friendships with people all through Europe, and it helped that he was fluent in a variety of languages.  Some of his more notable friends were Queen Marie of Romania (and granddaughter of Queen Victoria), her daughter Maria or Marija who later married King Alexander and thus became Queen of Yugoslavia, and Loie Fuller who was an innovative dancer at the Folies Bergere in Paris.  

Loie Fuller convinced Sam to finish building his mansion at Maryhill and turn it into a museum.  Loie (pronounced Low-ee) was good friends with French sculptor Auguste Rodin and, over a period of time, was able to not only obtain some of Rodin's working models for this museum effort, but also some of his writings and watercolors!  I mean, really - a not-yet-completed museum in obscure Washington state in the early 1900s, becoming the home to Rodin's actual sculptures, not copies but originals???  Unheard of, and yet it happened.

Loie Fuller used masses of diaphanous fabrics to create swirling, twirling, ever-changing dances that bewitched French theatre-goers.  Of her, Rodin wrote "Madame Loie Fuller, whom I have admired for a number of years, is, to my mind, a woman of genius, with all the resources of talent . . . I fall far below what I ought to say about this great personality; my language is inept for that, but my artistic heart is grateful to her . . ."

Loie introduced Rodin and his sculpture to US audiences in 1903, loaning works from her own collection to Rodin's exhibition in New York.  In 1914, Loie met Alma de Bretteville Spreckles, wife of an American sugar magnate and art collector, and introduced Alma to Rodin.  Mrs. Spreckels, a resident of San Francisco, introduced Loie to Sam Hill.  Ten years later, Mrs. Spreckels made a gift of 31 Rodin sculptures to the city of San Francisco.  

Alma of the unfortunate last name shows up later in the history of Maryhill - she helped finish the museum after Sam's death, and received furnishings designed and made by Queen Marie of Romania.  It seems as if everyone knew everyone in this crowd of philanthropists and art lovers!

Loie Fuller not only enchanted Auguste Rodin.  She was asked by sculptor Pierre Roche to model for two medallions for the façade of the Théâtre de Tulle in Corréze.  Roche created a model of the dancer's face in the manner of Greek theatrical masks, Comedy and Drama.  These plaster masks were exhibited at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1901.

Of the sculptures by Rodin at the Maryhill Museum, there are several that are notable (at least to me).  One is a small, reduced version of The Thinker.  This is a plaster cast made from the original clay sculpture, and is apparently the only one known to still exist.  There is a pencil inscription below the left foot: "To Loie - Rodin."

According to Rodin's words, The Thinker was originally meant to be the poet Dante, as part of the larger sculpture The Gates of Hell.  The larger project was never realized, and the sculpture became Rodin's concept of "another thinker, a naked man, seated upon a rock, his feet drawn under him, his fist against his teeth, he dreams.  The fertile thought slowly elaborates itself within his brain.  He is no longer a dreamer, he is creator."

Rodin's Caryatid Bearing Her Stone is another smaller version of a sculpture, rendered in terracotta (red earthenware clay) and plaster.  Caryatids were Greek architectural supports, young women standing upright who were used as pillars or columns.  I had seen the caryatids on a temple on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, and always wondered how anyone could possibly think it was moral, ethical, or even artistic to use young women to hold up a building.  Rodin's Caryatid has crumbled to the ground, struggling to hold up her building of stone, collapsing under this burden.  To Rodin, this symbolizes physical suffering and mental anguish, both inescapable human burdens.  Rodin initially conceived of this Caryatid as part of the Gates of Hell, and he felt that she was one of his best compositions.

Rodin also created The Minotaur, shown here in the plaster model and then re-cast in bronze.  The Minotaur was a Greek mythological creature who was half man half bull.  According to the myth, each year seven maidens and seven youths were taken to Athens as a tribute.  The Minotaur would devour these sacrificial young people.  The sculptures represent the Minotaur with one of his unwilling victims.  (And in the myth, Theseus slays the Minotaur.)
It is believed that Sam Hill purchased all but three of the Rodin sculptures now at Maryhill from Loie Fuller. 

As if a floor full of Rodin models and statues wasn't enough, the museum continues on.  Sam's friend Queen Marie of Romania donated all kinds of personal items, from furnishings she designed to silver filigree tea sets.  Her eldest daughter, Elisabetha, former Queen Consort of Greece, donated ancient Greek terracotta figures and ceramic vessels.  The list goes on and on, unexpected treasures and priceless family heirlooms alike.

One of my favorite exhibits at Maryhill Museum was the whimsical French Théâtre de la Mode.  It is best described in the words of the informational signs:

"The year was 1945 and France celebrated the Allied victory at the end of World War II.  Yet despite liberation, the country faced an urgent economic dilemma.  After four years of German occupation, all commodities were in short supply, including food, fuel, and fabric.  The French fashion houses, eager to participate in the revitalization of the French economy, conceived an idea to both rekindle their industry and raise funds for war relief.

"Robert Ricci, son of famed fashion designer Nina Ricci, proposed that the fashion houses create their collections in miniature, to be placed on twenty-seven-inch mannequins [68.6 cm] posed with elaborate stage sets.  The Théâtre de la Mode - "Theatre of Fashion" - became a unique collaboration between leading French haute couturiers, artists, sculptors, theatre set and lighting designers, coiffeurs, jewelers, and fashion accessory artisans whose names included Balenciaga, Schiaparelli, Balmain, Cocteau, and Cartier."

Don't you love it???  Such a very French fashion response to the issue of rebuilding their industry and raise funds for war relief!

"The Théâtre de la Mode first opened in Paris in March 1945, and there attracted nearly 100,000 visitors.  The show then traveled to London, Barcelona, Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Vienna - to triumphal welcomes by reigning monarchs, royalty, and ambassadors.  Its final installations were in New York and San Francisco.

"After the Théâtre de la Mode tour ended in 1946, the jewelry that was made of precious metals and gemstones was returned to Paris but the costumed mannequins with their accessories remained in San Francisco.  Through the efforts of art patroness Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, the mannequins were acquired by Maryhill Museum in 1952.  By that time, the original sets had been lost.

"The Théâtre de la Mode today consists of more than 150 mannequins and nine stage sets.  The mannequins were sent to the Musée des Arts de la Mode in Paris in 1988, where they were extensively documented and restored.  Nine of the original twelve sets were also re-created.  Many individuals who had worked on the project in 1945-46 were still alive and much of the restoration was accomplished with the help of these original creators.

"A new exhibit of the restored Théâtre de la Mode opened to popular acclaim in the Louvre's Marsan Pavilion in 1990, the sight of its original installation.  A second world-wide tour followed."

La Grotte Enchantée, The Enchanted Grotto, was designed by André Beaurepaire, the youngest artist commissioned to create a Théâtre de la Mode set.  Beaurepaire (French, 1924-2012) was well-known as a painter, but also had a successful post-war career as a set designer.  He designed sets for French director Jean Coctaeu, a Covent Garden ballet danced by Margot Fonteyn, as well as ballets featuring dancers such as Leslie Caron and Mikhail Baryshnikov (though obviously not together).  "This Théâtre de la Mode set with its intricate imaginary black-and-white grotto has a surreal quality that enhances the luxurious fantasy of post-war evening dresses."  Beaurepaire, still living in Paris, participated in the rebuilding of his set.

Le Palais-Royal, the Royal Palace, was designed by painter and set designer André Dignimont (French, 1891-1965).  He was known for always wearing British attire, including a tweed cap and smoking a short English pipe.  Of the designers first invited to work on the 1945 Théâtre de la Mode sets, Dignimont was the most active in French literary circles.  A close friend of many writers such as Colette, he illustrated works of French authors including Honoré de Balzac, Emile Zola, and British author Oscar Wilde.  Dignimont had just finished the decor for a Paris Opera production when he began work on this Théâtre de la Mode set.  "The Palais-Royal, an ensemble of buildings and archways surrounding a garden, is a former royal palace with a long and celebrated history.  At the time of the French Revolution and the First Empire, stylish women went there to purchase new fashions which they paraded around the garden while exchanging the latest political news and gossip."

It really was an unexpected treat, how fascinating this little obscure museum turned out to be.  And what a wealth of objects housed therein!

But Sam, pacifist Quaker Sam, wasn't done with his vision.  Sam had visited England's famous Stonehenge some time between 1914 and 1918, during World War I.  He was told the legend believed at the time, that Stonehenge had been used for human sacrifice to pagan gods.  Sam has been quoted as having said, "After all our civilization, the flower of humanity still is being sacrificed to the god of war on fields of battle."  He was inspired to build a monument, a replica of Stonehenge, which became the first monument in the US to military personnel who gave their lives in World War I.

The Maryhill Stonehenge was built by Sam on a ledge overlooking the Columbia, a few miles distant from the Maryhill mansion.  The "altar stone" was dedicated on July 4, 1918, and holds a plaque that says:  

"In memory of the soldiers and sailors of Klickitat County who gave their lives in defense of their country, this monument is erected in the hope that others inspired by the example of their valor and their heroism may share in that love of liberty and burn with that fire of patriotism which death alone can quench."  

(Hardly pacifist wording, methinks.)

There are also small plaques embedded in many of the larger upright "stones" bearing the names of those Klickitat men who perished in the war.  Sam saw this re-creation of Stonehenge as a monument to these local men and their sacrifice.

Sam actually designed and engineered his Stonehenge like a modern road, using slabs of reinforced concrete.  Imagine the ancient Druids using early to mid 20th century construction technology, and you get the idea: same-sized concrete blocks given a rock-like exterior, then cemented together to form the iconic megaliths of Stonehenge.   

Sam later used a similar approach to built the Peace Arch in Peace Arch Park, just north of Bellingham.  The Peace Arch monument straddles the US-Canadian border, and is a monument to the peaceful border and friendship between the two nations.

Sam Hill passed away in 1931, and is buried some 50 yards (or meters) from his Stonehenge, on a ledge further down the bluffs.  He chose his own  grave site, often skipped by visitors, but with the view he loved.

Whew!  A long blog, but it really was an incredible museum.  A testament to the incredible life of one man, who made a huge difference in this region of the world.

Viewpoint fence by Tom Herrera, with glass panels by Linda Steider.  Original historic wrought iron once owned by Sam hill from Rosangela and David Capobianco.

"Roll & Play" by Alisa Looney, 2007; powder-coated and flame cut steel, 36" x 75" x 48".

Above:  Our route through Washington state.

Left: Our route from Tucson, AZ to Bellingham, WA.  

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Along Oregon's Lewis and Clark Trail

2 July 2019

Days 25 - 26 - Bend, Oregon
We headed north from Crater Lake to visit the High Desert Museum in Bend.  It was quite interesting, and we finally found out how and why this part of the country is considered desert.

Basically, any arid region is a desert.  Antarctica could be considered a desert because it gets so little rain.  

So, central to eastern Oregon and Washington are part of the Columbia Plateau, roughly 4,000 feet (1,200 m) above sea level.  The Cascade Mountains to the west create a barrier to that the Columbia Plateau is in a rain shadow, creating the desert conditions. 

The High Desert includes all of Idaho and the western parts of Montana and Wyoming (the Snake River Basin and the Wyoming Basin), and most of Nevada and Colorado (the Great Basin and the Colorado Plateau).  The region between the Sierra Nevada mountains in California and the Rocky Mountains in Montana and Wyoming is referred to as the Great Basin, and again, is in a rain shadow between these two mountain ranges.

The museum is divided into various topics that highlight features of the high desert.  I started with the animals and plants, because, well, animals, right?  The flora and fauna of this region adapted to the desert conditions, so there's plenty of cactus, sagebrush, and trees like Ponderosa pine.  Animals include snakes, lizards, tortoises, jack rabbits, bobcats.  The museum has a "desertarium" which houses some of these animals in glass enclosures.  (Because no one really wants a rattlesnake or tarantula escaping its enclosure.)  

The birds of prey and the mammals were outside along the walking trail, because they need more space.  And it's more difficult to replicate their natural environment indoors.

But the two areas that I found most interesting were the Hall of the Plateau Nations, and the "Spirit of the West Gallery."  

On entering the exhibit of the Native American nations of the high desert, the first object was a huge tipi (or teepee) made of pine poles and woven marsh reeds.  These tipis were easily portable, so that people could follow animals for hunting, change locations based on seasons, or travel for various celebrations.  

This traditional tipi was contrasted with a modern tipi made of canvas, still used today during family gatherings and tribal events.  Much easier than finding a hotel or campground all the time!  

There was also a fascinating sculpture of donated blankets with attached tags; different people contributed their traditional quilts and blankets for this piece of art, and wrote the history of this particular textile on the tag.  What a compilation of history in this one sculpture!!!

The exhibit focused on the history of the Native American nations within what is now the USA, as people were confined to reservations and were no longer able to live the way they traditionally had for centuries.  These various nations adapted with the changing times.  "This is the story of how the Plateau people maintained their cultural identity by blending ancient and modern ways."

The basket hat, shown in a mosaic and also in a beaded bag, is a distinctive part of the Plateau culture.  Women still wear these woven hats at ceremonial events such as the first root gathering, and traditional celebrations.  The basket hats are handed down from mother to daughter as family heirlooms, carrying on this traditional craft.

The traditional boat was made from another marsh reed, hundreds lashed together to forms something between a raft and a kayak.  These Plateau boats are similar to those used on Lake Titicaca in Peru - no idea which came first.  But interesting how various cultures come up with similar solutions to universal problems such as how to transport people and goods along rivers and lakes.

The gallery for the Spirit of the West featured gorgeous beadwork by Native American artists, as well as the ceramic pots that are so well known.  Silver and turquoise jewelry, leather goods, wool blankets - all the items made by the Plateau nations, and sold or traded with the European American settlers moving west.

As the exhibit talked about the westward ho movement, Conestoga wagons and stage coaches were featured.  Really, full size wagons/coaches in the museum!!!  This was pretty amazing!!!  (And fortunately for me, no horses were attached.)

I especially liked the inclusion of the hat on the stage coach.  Just happy to know that other people travelled with hats and included them in scenes!!!

Day 27 - Redmond, Oregon
We drove from Bend to Mitchell to see the Painted Hills, and then drove back to Redmond for the night.  Yeah, we drove about 200 miles (322 km) during this day, for a net gain of distance northward of maybe 17 or 18 miles (27 or so km).  

What can I say, the Painted Hills were pretty incredible.  We drove through lovely pastoral country side with open range grazing and the occasional cow or bull by the side of the road.  Up and down hills, through forests of stunted pines, and then the Painted Hills magically appeared.

The Painted Hills are a series of rather low and rounded hills that are striped and scalloped reds, whites, browns, yellows, beiges, purples, greens, and almost black sediments.  They look like those colored sand in bottle art scenes rather than something that formed naturally!  Really, they look like Nature's art project!

Okay, the science about these fancy hills according to the information placards:

"Clues exposed at the surface help the nearby hills tell their story.  Most were formed from abundant volcanic ash-falls and floods of lava over many millions of years.  About five million years ago the land-building slowed and erosion cut down into the previous layers, resulting in the landscape we see today.

"Now only hilly remnants to the west, the ancestral Cascade Range of volcanoes once erupted cloud after cloud of ash that landed here.  These beds of ash-fall make up the John Day formations [the name of the national monuments here] . . . each revealing ancient changes in regional geology and live forms.

"Further clues reveal that the John Day formations were later subjected to massive forces that tilted the layers downward to the east.  Then, floods of lava poured out across the surface, forming flat molten lakes.  This series of basalt floods hardened and protected much of the softer layers underneath from the forces of erosion."  

In simpler terms, the volcanoes of the Cascade mountains to the west erupted over a long period of time, sending different colors of volcanic ash as well as molten lava over this part of the plateau.  The ash and lava built up layers of rock and soil.  Later on, earthquakes caused some of the land to rise and other sections to collapse.  Rain, floods, rivers, and even glaciers carved away softer parts of the land, creating the multi-colored hills we see today.

They really were gorgeous.  There were trails, but we were pressed for time and getting hungry.  We headed in to the town of Mitchell, where we had a tasty lunch at the tiny town's former stage coach stop.  Really, the whole history was written up on the menu!  I think there are something like 125 residents in this town right to this day.  Tiny!

So we turned around and drove back to Redmond.  The hills were worth the drive - it really was an incredible site.  I think my favorite was the first hill, where the varying colors create almost a scalloped or draped effect on the hill!  It almost doesn't look real, even though I walked through the sagebrush to get close for my photos.

Days 28 - 29 - Madras, Oregon 
We then drove vaguely north from Redmond, stopping to sightsee along the way.  There are always unexpected interesting national monuments, state parks, and points of interest.  And that's the beauty of a road trip - there's time to stop and see all of these interesting little places that we never knew even existed!

So we followed signs to the Cove Palisades.  A palisade is defined as a tall wall used for defense.  However, geologists use the term "palisades" to describe tall vertical cliffs that form the sides of a river gorge.  (And a gorge is similar to a canyon, but canyons are wider than gorges.)  

Gorges and canyons can be U shaped, with sheer cliffs, or V shaped, with sloping sides.  The U shaped gorges with those very tall vertical cliffs have been dubbed palisades.

Three rivers (the Metolius River, the Deschutes River, and the Crooked River - really, that's its name!) carved a zigzagging path through the rock, forming the Cove Palisades.  Part of the river widens off to one side, forming almost a lake.  This has become a recreational area, and the whole area is now a state park.

It really is a beautiful sight, these very straight cliffs plunging down to the almost turquoise green water.  A few areas had ledges, but most of the cliffs were a sheer drop.

The rock is igneous rock, meaning it's volcanic rock.  Much of it is basalt, a rock formed of cooled lava.  Basalt tends to form in columns, which helped create the very vertical palisades of this river gorge.

Just in case the scenery wasn't gorgeous enough, Mount Hood dominated the background.  Off to the southeast of Hood were the Three Sisters, a series of several volcanic peaks in the Cascades.  All snow capped and blue in the distance, these mountains made the perfect backdrop.

We stopped at several of the scenic overlooks and wandered around, watching people boating in the lake and rivers, and just generally taking in this incredible view.

We also visited the casino in Warm Springs, run by the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs.  The nations include the Wasco, the Warm Springs bands, and the Paiute.  While these nations traditionally spoke very different languages, in more modern times they have formed a confederation to be able to form an autonomous government and to preserve their traditional cultures.  

Along the way back from the casino, we followed signs for a wildlife refuge overlook.  I didn't see any animals, but the view over the river was lovely, and very peaceful.

The following day, we once again headed north.  But we opted for a route that wound around the base of Mount Hood, so that we had some great up close views.  However, between the mountain playing hide and seek through the clouds, and the somewhat precipitous and curving mountain roads, we didn't stop for any photos until we came out the other side.  

So, these views are of the north side of Mount Hood, looking south.  Gorgeous gorgeous mountain that really dominates the landscape.  Hood is the tallest point in Oregon, rising 11,250 feet above sea level (over 2 miles, or 3.43 km!).  

Mount Hood is a stratovolcano, also known as a composite volcano.  The previous eruptions build up layers or strata of lava that hardens into igneous rock, creating a taller and taller volcanic cone.  

Mount Hood is considered potentially active, as in definitely not extinct and probably dormant.  But it is considered the most likely to erupt of all of Oregon's volcanoes.  The last time it erupted was 1907, so that isn't really all that long ago.

But it was looking quite peaceful, and almost smiling in the sunlight as we drove by.

As always, I'm including a map of the route we took.  We deliberately focused on smaller highways and the less travelled route.  It definitely made for a more interesting trip!