A Whisper of Royalty: Hawaii’s History Crowned by Past Glory

by on Mar 7, 2014

A statue of King Kamehameha I stands watch near the Iolani Palace in Honolulu. STOCK PHOTO

The dramatic exterior of Iolani Palace in Honolulu. STOCK PHOTO

In the gentle tradewinds that sweep across the Hawaiian Islands, there’s still a whisper of royalty, of a history of kings and palaces that holds a place in the hearts of the Hawaiian people. Visitors who look carefully among the modern resort complexes and shopping centers will see reminders of this royal era.

Hawaii is the only state in the union with royal palaces. Tucked amid graceful palm trees, in the shadow of downtown office buildings, is the imposing Iolani Palace in Honolulu, on the island of Oahu. The Hulihe`e and Queen Emma summer palaces are along the coast of Kailua-Kona on the island of Hawaii and in the central part of Oahu, respectively. There are also statues of proud royal figures and a host of other carefully preserved treasures — from crowns and spears to stately thrones — for visitors to see.

The throne room at Iolani Palace. COURTESY OF THE FRIENDS OF IOLANI PALACE

The throne room at Iolani Palace. COURTESY OF THE FRIENDS OF IOLANI PALACE

Today, there are only about a dozen descendants of Hawaiian royal dynasties who are recognized by the Hawaiian people. These descendents trace their lineage to a royal mother and father, explained Casey Ballao, cultural specialist for Hulihe`e Palace. The grand dame of this group is Abigail Kekaulike Kawananakoa, the 87-year-old great-granddaughter of Prince David Kawananakoa. She still makes appearances at island events. Countless other individuals have some royal blood in their veins but are not considered official royalty, Ballao said.

Ballao comes from a family dedicated to preserving the rich heritage of the Hawaiian people. His aunt and great-aunt, in particular, have been instrumental in teaching the hula, an art form that passes along the language, stories and oral history of the islands.

Docents fold shoe covers for visitors while sitting on the lanai of Iolani Palace. COURTESY OF FRIENDS OF THE IOLANI PALACE

Docents fold shoe covers for visitors while sitting on the lanai of Iolani Palace. COURTESY OF FRIENDS OF THE IOLANI PALACE

According to Ballao, Hawaiian oral history goes back to about 250 A.D., when Polynesians arrived by boat from the Marquesas Islands. The true beginning of the Hawaiian culture, however, dates from about 1000 to 1200 A.D., with the arrival of the Tahitian people. Through the years, the islands were first called “Hawaii,” then “Sandwich Islands,” “Hawaiki” and once again “Hawaii.” The name “Hawaii” means “God who provided breath through the life-giving waters,” Ballao said.

“The first arrivals of the Tahitians would have been high chiefs,” he noted. “They and their descendants were considered royalty.” As the various chiefs came to the islands, they staked out districts of influence, often a pie-shaped piece of land with its point at the top of a mountain.

The first great Hawaiian ruler, King Kamehameha I, conquered all of the Hawaiian islands in 1810. He is credited with establishing the Kingdom of Hawaii and forming alliances with other Pacific colonial powers. The most impressive of four statues honoring Kamehameha I is an 18-foot-tall bronze rendition near Iolani Palace.

The statue of King Kamehameha I. STOCK PHOTO

The statue of King Kamehameha I. STOCK PHOTO

Iolani Palace itself, billed as the “official residence of Hawaii’s monarchy,” is a statuesque, two-story American Florentine structure with open lanais. The name “Iolani,” in the Hawaiian language, means “royal hawk” — taken from one of the given names of King Kamehameha IV, explained Zita Cup Choy, docent educator at the palace.
“The palace was completed in 1882,” she said. “From 1883 until 1893, it was the official residence of King Kalakaua, his wife, Queen Kapiolani, his sister and successor, Queen Liliuokalani, as well as three nephews.” Inside, the palace boasts a throne room with two original, red-upholstered gold thrones, crowns, sword and scepter of Kalakaua and electric lights, installed in 1887 — four years before the White House added this luxury.

Just down the street from the palace, a statue of Queen Liliuokalani, the last Hawaiian ruler before the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893, makes a poignant picture, regally holding her ground against a backdrop of modern office buildings.

The mood is more relaxed on the island of Hawaii where the Hulihe`e Palace sits, basking in the breeze from the Pacific Ocean. This summer palace was a retreat where some 10 royals, including King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani, lived between 1838 and about 1890. After sitting vacant for years, then being privately owned, the palace now is operated by the Daughters of Hawaii, a cultural preservation group founded in 1903.

Hulihe'e Palace on the island of Hawaii. STOCK PHOTO

Hulihe’e Palace on the island of Hawaii. STOCK PHOTO

This two-story, New England-style structure holds a collection of royal scepters, Kamehameha I’s battle spears, ornate furniture made of native koa wood and even a royal baby cradle, among other artifacts.

The name “Hulihe`e” has a colorful origin. It means “turning octopus” — a reference to an early battle in which a Hawaiian chieftain saw his enemy advancing over the hillside, spread out over many trails, recounted Ballao.
“When the enemy saw the chief’s army waiting for them at the shoreline, they rushed back up the hill. It looked like octopus legs retreating,” he said.

Today, the setting for Hulihe`e is much more peaceful, although the number of tourists descending upon hotels, restaurants and the many shops of the village of Kailua-Kona must, at times, feel somewhat like an invasion.

The third royal palace of the Hawaiian islands is the Queen Emma Summer Palace. It’s known in the Hawaiian language as “Hanaiakamalama,” which means “foster child of the moon,” a reference to an ancestral home on the island of Hawaii. This white, one-story Greek Revival structure was actually built in Boston, taken apart and shipped here to be reassembled. It is set off the Pali Highway, in the lush Nu`uanu Valley, about two miles from downtown Honolulu.

The Queen Emma Summer Palace in Honolulu. STOCK PHOTO

The Queen Emma Summer Palace in Honolulu. STOCK PHOTO

The Queen Emma Summer Palace served as a retreat for its namesake, her husband, King Kamehameha IV, and their son, Prince Albert Edward, from 1857 to 1885, according to the Daughters of Hawaii, who also operate this facility.

Mahealani Bernal, docent coordinator for the palace, talked about some of the most interesting items inside: a “stereopticon” slide viewer presented by Napoleon III of France, a royal cape woven of red and yellow feathers and a tiger-claw necklace given to Queen Emma by an Indian prince.

Visitors sense a pride and joy on the part of those who lovingly tend and teach about all three Hawaiian palaces. There is also a “sense of gratitude to Hawaiian royalty for the legacy they left to future generations,” said Bernal.
“About 50 years ago, you might have believed that our culture was dying,” Ballao observed. With the mushrooming tourist industry, which really took off in the mid-1930s with the arrival of Pan American airlines, the focus shifted away from the old ways. Hawaii became a state in 1959.

“When the Westerners started to come, the Hawaiians became more introverted,” he said. In recent years, however, pride in the Hawaiian heritage has been rekindled, largely due to the role of cultural teachers, including hula scholars, he believes. “Without the hula, our culture would have died.”

Today, although tourist resorts continue to multiply, the traditional culture of Hawaii is generating increased interest, it seems. Visitors flock to the Bishop Museum in Honolulu (named after Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, who wished to preserve the royal treasures of Hawaii). The palaces also schedule teas and other fundraisers that entertain and teach at the same time.

“The gratifying part … is to make sure that when visitors leave they are touched by what they have experienced, to strike an interest to learn more about our culture,” Ballao said.

“It’s part of a unique spirit: the Aloha Spirit. Everyone has it. You don’t need to be Hawaiian,” he said. “It’s a love and appreciation for everyone.”

And there’s nothing like sun-kissed islands, sandy beaches — and a whisper of royalty — to bring that spirit to life.

The Iolani Palace illuminated at night. COURTESY OF FRIENDS OF IOLANI PALACE

The Iolani Palace illuminated at night. COURTESY OF FRIENDS OF IOLANI PALACE

Enter the World of Hawaiian Royalty

All three of Hawaii’s palaces welcome visitors. If you would like to visit these royal homes and see the cultural treasures they contain, here is more information:

Iolani Palace
364 S. King St.
Honolulu, HI
Hours: Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Adult guided tour: $21.75
Adult audio tour: $14.75
Child age 5-12: $6
(Children 4 and younger are not permitted)

Hulihe`e Palace
75-5718 Ali‘i Drive
Kailua-Kona, HI
Palace: 808-329-1877
Office: 808-329-9555
Hours: Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
Adult guided tour: $10
Adult non-guided: $8
Seniors (62+) guided tour: $8
Seniors (62+) nonguided: $6
Student (18 and younger): $1

The Queen Emma Summer Palace
2913 Pali Highway
Honolulu, HI
Hours: Mon.-Sun., 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Adult guided tour: $10
Adult non- guided: $8
Seniors (62+) guided tour: $8
Seniors (62+) nonguided: $6
Student (18 and younger): $1

(Note: Before visiting, be sure to check for possible holiday closures.)

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A Brighter Day Dawns at Suncadia Resort

by on Nov 29, 2013

Suncadia at dusk in the winter. Photos courtesy of Suncadia Resort.

Suncadia at dusk in the winter. Photos courtesy of Suncadia Resort.

A brighter day is dawning at the Suncadia resort complex near Roslyn. This 6,400-acre development, with its sweeping views of the Cascade Mountains, is enjoying an upturn in its number of vacation guests and construction of new homes.

Plans for this year-round resort community in the peaceful Teanaway region — which, for many years, was private timberland — began to take shape in 2000 when a development plan was approved. Originally, the community was to be called Mountainstar. In 2003, Lowe Enterprises, a national real estate services company, came on the scene and the development was rechristened Suncadia.

Over the next two years, with great optimism, an 18-room inn and the 18-hole Prospector’s Golf Course opened to the public, followed by the 254-room lodge in 2008. Then, from 2009 to 2011, Suncadia had to weather “three pretty tough years” during the storm of recession, says Roger Beck, managing director for the resort.

Now, however, following recapitalization in 2012, this resort community is “on pace to have a record year,” he said. The Lodge at Suncadia, which has earned a Four Diamond rating from AAA, is running at “better than 50 percent occupancy,” compared with occupancy rates that ran in the “high 30s to mid-40s” from 2009 to 2011.

“We’ve only been in business basically five years,” Beck observes. “Ultimately, we hope to be in the mid-60 (percent occupancy) range. That’s what we’d like to grow to.”

About half of Suncadia’s visitors come for leisure time, the other half come for business conferences. Between 40 and 50 new homes are under construction, with 400 private homes — typically used as vacation homes — already completed. Approximately 30 of the completed homes are for sale, Beck says.

Suncadia bills itself as being on “the sunny side” of the Cascades, which, as anyone in Eastern Washington already knows, is a strong draw for rain-soaked westsiders. It is located about 85 miles east of Seattle — and 65 miles northwest of Yakima — off Interstate 90. As the resort works to draw in visitors for every season of the year, it features a swimming and fitness center (with two indoor water slides), a summer events pavilion that turns into a winter skating rink, and a large spa, among other offerings.

On a recent visit to Suncadia, it was a drive of about a mile from the “greeter’s gate” through forestland to the lodge. In this expansive, “wild” area, some 16 miles of paved bicycle paths, eight miles of unpaved hiking trails and two more 18-hole golf courses (one of which is open to the general public) have been added — with a tubing hill and snowshoe/cross-country trails awaiting snowfall.

The facility is reminiscent of an upscale national park lodge, featuring wood floors, exposed wood beam ceilings and a large stone fireplace in its “great room.” The nearly-floor-to-ceiling windows and covered walkway outside the lodge offer a panoramic view of the Cascades, and from just the right angle, you can look down the hillside to see the Cle Elum River.

Soon, the “1000 Steps” project will be completed. This “lodge to river staircase” (which includes just 379 steps) will allow visitors to comfortably descend to the riverside. About every 50 steps, there will be a landing on which walkers can pause, take a break and enjoy the scenery. At night, low-voltage lights lining the staircase will guide the way.

The Suncadia Lodge is made up entirely of “condo-hotel units” that are available for rent to the general public. A guest room costs anywhere from $109 to $259 per night, depending upon season and day of the week, with a one-bedroom suite running about $50 to $75 more per night, Beck says.

The nearby Suncadia Inn, which is designed to have a more rustic look, was initially planned to accommodate potential home buyers coming to look at the community as well as tourists. Its 18 rooms cost about $10 to $20 more per night than the lodge. Although the inn has usually been open just for the summer, reservations are now being accepted for nearly every week of the year.

Other lodging choices in the resort include more than 30 furnished rental homes (from $400 to $1,200 per night) and 20 to 30 “trailhead” condominiums (at anywhere from $159 to $459 per night). Again, prices vary depending upon season and night of the week.

As Suncadia comes into its stride, new innovations are always on the drawing board. A glossy event guide offered in the great room touts everything from beverage specials to swimming schedules, spa day passes, sports equipment rentals, music, movies and craft programs for kids. Seasonal sports range from horseback riding to fishing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

A personable new executive chef, Casey McManus, was hired earlier in the year to revitalize the cuisine in Suncadia dining facilities. Among other changes, he’s been working to gear the menus to include choices for families who visit with children and want a more casual menu. There are a total of five dining facilities at Suncadia, two of which are open only in the summer.

“In Portals (the lodge dining room), the most popular thing on our menu is probably the lobster mac and cheese,” McManus says. Featuring Maine lobster, cheese sauce, bread crumbs and truffle oil, this delicacy costs $33 for dinner or $26 for a lunch-sized portion. The dinner menu includes other entrées ranging from Ruby Red Trout to a smoked pork chop and beef filet, in the $28 to $38 range.

However, you could also choose a white cheddar burger for dinner ($16) or a variety of luncheon soups, salads and sandwiches in the $5 to $17 range. Kids have their own menu, including flatbread pizza for $6, veggie mac and cheese for $5 and mini sliders for $5. There’s a small breakfast buffet offered on weekends, and a regular breakfast menu every day of the week. And desserts? How about homemade cheesecake, crème brulee or mud pie?

The creative McManus is also interested in the potential of having bees for honey and an herb garden on premises, for additional fresh menu elements.
And future developments may go far beyond that, Beck suggests.

“We also are planning to build a retail village near the lodge within the next several years,” he explains. Such a site might include a general store, freestanding restaurant and bar, clothing shops and an ice cream parlor, he predicts.

As Suncadia moves forward, it calls to mind a popular song from a few decades ago, called “Seattle.” As this newer development matures and expands, it’s a lot like “a beautiful child growing up … full of hopes … full of dreams to last the years.” It will be interesting to watch the next chapter unfold.

For more information on Suncadia, visit suncadiaresort.com or call 866-904-6300.

A fireplace warms Portals at Suncadia.

A fireplace warms Portals at Suncadia.

Casey McManus, Suncadia's Executive Chef. Photo by Christine Conklin.

Casey McManus, Suncadia’s Executive Chef. Photo by Christine Conklin.

Fifty6, the lounge at Suncadia.

Fifty6, the lounge at Suncadia.

A Lodge studio suite.

A Lodge studio suite.

The Lodge's greatroom affords spectacular views.

The Lodge’s greatroom affords spectacular views.

An exterior view of Suncadia.

An exterior view of Suncadia.








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Norman Brown Carves a New Life for Himself in Rurual Tieton

by on Aug 30, 2013

Woodcarver Norman Brown drills hole in a chair he is building at his Cowiche studio. Photos by Andy Sawyer.

In the skillful hands of Tieton woodcarver Norman Brown, a simple block of wood is transformed into a thing of beauty.

In his workshop on the banks of Cowiche Creek, set in the midst of a flourishing fruit and vegetable garden, Brown, 55, creates wondrous things. A chunk of sycamore comes to life as two jumping trout are suspended in mid-flight above a wood base. A large piece of elm becomes a 24-inch bowl in the shape of a scallop shell, its varnished ridges shimmering in the light. A rough block of apple wood morphs into a silky smooth, long-handled spoon, fit for a gourmet kitchen.

After some 27 years in the woodcarving business, Brown really knows wood — its strengths and weaknesses, its grain and its ultimate potential. Perhaps his remarkable eye for detail was honed in his previous career as a laboratory scientist in cities including Silverton, Ore., and Yakima. As a medical scientist he spent countless hours peering through a microscope lens, studying the colors and intricate patterns of samples, in order to identify disease processes. In 2006 he took up woodworking on a full-time basis.

When working with wood, the detail is still important, but the process is much more fun.

Brown’s interest in wood began when he was a child, growing up in Yakima. He helped his dad build everything from horse corrals to nest boxes for the pigeons they raised. As a teenager, he assisted his grandfather with home construction projects. While pursuing his B.S. in biology and B.A. in allied health sciences at Central Washington University, he began working on scale-model buildings, primarily half-timber designs with a French or German flair. He even taught woodworking for a time in Silverton and Salem, Ore.

But his joy of creating with wood really began as a child, when he made toy boats for his two younger brothers to sail in nearby irrigation ditches.

“Some of the boats actually floated,” he recalled with a smile.

Through the years, Brown kept his hand in woodworking, crafting a yard swing or an Adirondack chair here, a table or desk there. Now, he can happily immerse himself in wood shavings from morning till night — and often does. He even mentors a couple of students each year who are interested in everything from decorative wood carving to more general skills.

He teaches them that the art of woodworking begins long before a piece of wood actually lands on a sawhorse or table in his shop. First, he must find the wood.

“Sometimes, I race bulldozers as they pull down pear and apple trees in the fall,” he said. “Or, a tree service may call me. One time, a friend called and said, ‘Get this stuff (wood) out of our garage, so my wife can park her car.’” A single log can weigh thousands of pounds, so “I try to keep it under a ton,” he commented. Elm, walnut, ash, sycamore, fruit wood — it all has potential for a beautiful new life in Brown’s hands.

His analytical eye goes to work when he first spots his raw material.

“You start by ‘reading the bark of a tree,’ the pattern and detail, to determine whether the tree might contain straight pieces that could be made into spoons or lumber for furniture,” he explained. “You’re also looking for the potential of decorative pieces, using the crotch of a tree (with a fan-like pattern) or a burl. When I look at a piece of wood, I see the grain, possible shapes. You have to think, ‘What is the end product?’”

One of his favorite creations is a “fish bowl,” a 29-inch-long piece of English walnut with a shallow indentation in the shape of a fish. The moment he saw the grain of the wood, he knew that this piece was destined to be a fish, he said.

Once the wood is carted back to his shop, there is the aging process to consider. If wood dries too quickly, it may crack. Depending upon the final product he has in mind, and the type of wood, he may need to age the wood as long as one year for every inch of thickness. Black plastic covers and periodic misting with water help keep the wood in optimum condition.

Occasionally, Brown uses a power tool, such as a chain saw. However, the bulk of his work is done with myriad hand tools such as chisels, gouges and hand planes. His shop is a veritable tool store, with meticulously arranged drawers and walls of implements. For example, he has some 75 hand saws.

Creation with wood tends to have a seasonal flow, Brown observed. In the fall, he gathers wood. During the winter, he carves bowls (including apple-shaped bowls made of apple wood), spoons and other items. In spring, he often receives furniture commissions for pieces such as Mission-style chairs and tables. And, both in summer and at Christmas time, Brown and Janet, his wife of 35 years, make the rounds to about 60 craft shows, festivals and fairs to sell his creations and also exhibit the antique tools he collects.

The long-handled spoons, which can be made in a couple of hours each, tend to be the biggest seller, going for about $18 to $20. Some of the more intricate, larger pieces such as shell-shaped bowls (which may be sold on the Internet or in person) take years of ongoing work and sell for as much as several thousand dollars.

It’s fun to watch potential customers at a craft show or fair pick up one of his spoons, Brown said.

“You can tell if someone is a really good cook, because they will close their eyes, hold the spoon and make stirring motions in the air, kind of like air guitar,” he said.

Ken Tolonen, a customer and former coworker, says Norm’s woodwork resonates with the same skill and precision he showed as a scientist. “They’re unique and they’re beautiful,” said Tolonen of Brown’s pieces. “… the grain of the wood, the color of the wood, the workmanship.”

Working with wood does have some minor liabilities: a heavy log injuring a finger, or spending hours on a particular piece only to find that there is a flaw deep inside the wood and the entire project must be scrapped.

However, the joy of creation and other benefits far outweigh the risks, Brown contends.

“This is a stress-reducer and good physical exercise,” he said.  “There’s nothing like working with a chunk of wood and an ax to make you feel better. You put in 12-hour days and work until you can’t lift your arms in the air anymore. You almost feel guilty because it feels so good.”

Brown’s creations can be found at

An array of chisels in Brown's collection.

Some pieces created by Brown.

A work in progress at Brown's Cowiche studio.

Two fish show Brown's attention to detail.

Brown shapes a spoon while working in his studio this summer.

A few pieces of Brown's wood - as a blank canvas.

Scalloped edges on a bown created by Brown.

The inside of a doll house scale structure, created by Brown.Woodcarver, Norman Brown, walks through some of his property near Cowiche.



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A Mountain of Memories

by on Jul 5, 2013

Edith Creek at Mount Rainier National Park. Photos courtesy of Visit Rainier.

Who in Central Washington doesn’t have a special memory of Mount Rainier? A family trip, hiking up a trail, playing in the snow. The visitor center, wildflowers and dining in Paradise Lodge … the view of the majestic, 14,410-foot-high mountain on a sunny day.

It seems that no matter where we call home, Mount Rainier has a way of drawing us in. Each year, between 1.5 and 2 million visitors travel here, according to the National Park Service. On a recent visit, there was a wide variety of cultures, languages and dress, as people from throughout the world wandered about, experiencing this natural wonder.

The Henry M. Jackson Memorial visitors center.

Camping near Longmire, circa 1915.

The highest mountain in the Cascade Range, it is estimated that Mount Rainier was formed some 500,000 years ago. It was first known by Native Americans as “Talol,” or “Mother of Waters.” An active volcano, still classified as “dangerous,” the mountain has not erupted since the 1800s. It drew attention in 2009 and 2011 with “seismic swarms” — or surges of earthquakes.
Mount Rainier has 25 glaciers, and on an especially clear day, can be seen from “about half the state,” say park officials.
For many years, Rainier was a hub for logging and railroad business. Mount Rainier National Park was established in 1889, and has continued to draw mountaineers, skiers and other visitors in record numbers.

The dining room at Paradise Inn.


The Grande Dame of Mount Rainier accommodations is Paradise Inn. Opened in 1917, its name came from a comment by a member of the pioneering Longmire family, who saw the surrounding meadows and remarked, “Oh, what a paradise!” The inn is a popular part of this national park, which was named a historic landmark in 1997.

When a $22 million renovation was in progress at Paradise Inn from 2006-07, longtime visitors were a little nervous, recalled Jim Hinote, an interpretative ranger at the park for 15 years.

“Many people were concerned about what they were going to do to their building,” he said. As the doors reopened for business in 2008, however, numerous visitors commented that they didn’t really see a difference.

“We passed the test,” Hinote says with a chuckle.

And indeed, the trademark cedar lodge with its huge stone fireplaces and groupings of comfortable furniture, still holds its original charm. The recent renovation focused primarily on seismic precautions that are not visible: a new foundation and new firewalls behind the fireplaces, for example. In addition, handicap-access rooms were added.

Open from late May through early October, Paradise Inn has 121 guest rooms in its main building and annex, which run from $114 (for a single room without bath) to $284 (for the best suite with sitting room and bath). And remember the board games and tables on the main floor and mezzanine? They’re still there and just as popular, it seems. There’s also a gift shop.

The National Park Inn in Longmire is open year-round and offers a rustic lounge with large stone fireplace, general store and 25 guest rooms. Prices range from $116 for a room without bath to $244 for a two-room unit with bath.

Paradise Inn
National Park Inn

Nearby communities also offer motels. Drive-in campgrounds are located at Cougar Rock, Ohanapecosh and White River, opening each year between late May and late June and remaining open until late September. Fees range from $12-15 on up to $40-64 for groups.


There are several choices for meals in Mount Rainier National Park — whether you’d like fine dining with white tablecloths, or a “grab and go” sandwich or snack.

The dining room of Paradise Inn offers the most upscale fare available in the park. Luncheon choices, for example, start at about $11 and range from a Yakima Spinach Salad to Alaskan Halibut & Chips. Dinner choices include Bourbon Buffalo Meatloaf ($21) and Pacific Salmon ($27). Desserts include flourless chocolate torte and blackberry pie. They also offer a Sunday brunch. The wait staff provides excellent service, although the food itself, during a recent lunch, seemed plain. The inn also has the more informal Tatoosh Café, selling sandwiches and salads.

In the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center, you’ll find a simple restaurant with less expensive fare such as pizza, sandwiches and hot dogs.

The National Park Inn at Longmire has a restaurant offering everything from a Buffalo Quesadilla to Sauteed Brook Trout, and they offer a child’s menu.

There’s also a snack bar at the Sunrise Day Lodge, located at the highest point in the park accessible by car, that sells hamburgers, deli sandwiches and soup.

The Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center, a short walking distance from Paradise Inn, was completely rebuilt and opened in 2008. In place of the previous “flying saucer” design is a facility with two floors of offerings, including an information desk staffed by park rangers, a small theater for viewing a movie about the park and a variety of nature-oriented exhibits including interactive displays.

The Sunrise Day Visitor Center also has rangers available to answer questions and lead short hikes, plus displays on everything from glaciers to lava and wildflowers.

Then there’s the Longmire Museum, near to the National Inn, which is a local history museum offering programs by park rangers and information on hiking trails. But you’ll need to wait a while before visiting the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center; it’s closed for the year due to the federal sequestration budget cuts that went into effect in March of this year.

Wildflowers and hiking are two of the biggest draws for tourists coming to Rainier, says Melinda Simpson, operations manager for guest services.

“People will book a year in advance to come when the wildflowers bloom,” she noted. This popular time to visit usually begins in August. “Sub-alpine” varieties such as avalanche lilies, lupine and Indian paintbrush put on quite a show.

Visitors of all ages can enjoy a variety of trails in Mount Rainier National Park. Choices range from the popular ¼-mile Glacier Vista trail overlooking the Nisqually glacier and a sedate, one-mile trail that is accessible to handicapped individuals and even strollers. Also available is an ambitious, 93-mile Wonderland trail, which takes at least a couple of days.

In addition, some 9,000 to 12,000 climbing permits are issued each year for those who want to climb to the summit.

Some equipment such as cross-country skis and snowshoes is available for rent at sites in the park.

Mount Rainier is an easy day trip from Yakima. A park-issued mileage guide lists Paradise Inn as 87 miles from Yakima, while Longmire is 94 miles and Sunrise 105 miles. Take Highway 12 west to SR 123. Follow SR 123 north to the Stevens Canyon entrance of the park.

For further details on directions and other park services, call 360-569-2211 or visit mtrainierguestservices.com or nps.gov/mora.

Paradise Lodge at Mount Rainier.

Myrtle Falls at Mount Rainier National Park.

Backpackers enjoy a trek at Mount Rainier National Park.

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Dick Boushey Cultivates the Good Life

by on Apr 5, 2013

Boushey walks behind a tractor chugging up a vineyard row. Photos by Chad Bremerman.

On the southern slope of the Rattlesnake Hills, where nature provides an ideal blend of warm days slowly fading into cool nights, Dick Boushey produces what are recognized as some of the finest wine grapes in the country.

“I feel lucky to be able to do this,” the 61-year-old grower humbly observes, referring to some 300 acres planted in wine grapes, juice grapes, apples and cherries in four different sites around Grandview. “I like what I’m doing.”

Boushey shares his home, settled in the midst of his vineyards, with wife of 34 years, Luanne. From there, he “can sit and look out at Mount Rainier, Mount Adams and all the Horse Heaven Hills. Behind me is the stark beauty of sagebrush. In ‘the world according to Dick,’ I have the perfect setting,” he says. It’s these same vineyards where his two daughers grew up. “On the farm,” he says.

Boushey specializes in Syrah grapes — a dark-skinned fruit that has become popular for its full-bodied, intense red wines — as well as Merlot and Cabernet grapes. He also raises other Bordeaux grapes, with a few Italian and Spanish grape varieties thrown in for good measure. Although he does not make wine commercially, he sells to 35 wineries in Washington and Oregon. His name appears on bottles for about 10 varieties of wine made by 15 wineries, ranging from Maison Bleue in Walla Walla to Fidelitas Winery in Benton City. Boushey also manages local vineyards for Efeste Winery and the Upchurch Vineyard.

Among his honors, he’s received the 2002 Erick Hanson Wine Grape Grower of the Year award from the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers, the 2007 Walter Clore Award from the Washington State Grape Society and the 2008 Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers’ Industry Service Award. In addition, he sits on numerous boards, including Welch’s National Grape Cooperative, the Washington State Wine Commission and the Auction of Washington Wines (which raises money for Children’s Hospital in Seattle).

Boushey’s outgoing manner and wide range of experience draw enthusiastic reviews from his peers and acquaintances alike.

“He’s a very affable, friendly guy, a lot of fun to be around,” observed Wade Wolfe, co-owner and winemaker for Thurston Wolfe Winery in Prosser. “I’ve known Dick for at least 30 years. He is among the most active members of the wine industry — not just as a grower, but as an advocate and representative.”

And noted wine columnist Paul Gregutt thinks Boushey is quite a character. “Before turning to wine writing, I worked in radio and television and interviewed hundreds of artists, musicians, actors and media personalities. Dick Boushey is right out of central casting, and I mean that in the best possible way,” Gregutt said. “When you look up Yakima grape grower in the dictionary, you get a picture of Dick Boushey. He is humble, dedicated, innovative, canny, self-effacing, witty, immensely talented and relentlessly hard-working. I have often written, and believe in my heart, that his vineyard produces, among many other successes, the best Syrah grapes in the country.”

The rave reviews are all the more remarkable for a man who didn’t want to go into agriculture. In fact, Boushey started out in finance. In the 1970s, Boushey studied banking at the University of Puget Sound, after years of helping out on farms in the Sumner area. He was fed up with summers spent picking everything from blueberries to rhubarb, strawberries, daffodils and tulips.

“I went to school to become a banker, but I found I didn’t enjoy it,” he explained. “In 1975, my dad bought an apple orchard in Grandview and asked me to run it. It was supposed to be for only one year.”

But one thing led to another, and Boushey discovered that farming might not be so bad after all.

“The challenge of making a living off a farm is you have to be very creative, work very hard, outthink Mother Nature, outthink the market,” he said. He began planting wine grapes in 1980 when the industry was just beginning in Central Washington.

“I’ve had to learn over the years how these things grow,” he observed. “At first, it was just intuitive. Everyone was learning together. The wine industry here wasn’t taken very seriously then, but I was fascinated by it.”

Nowadays, though, he knows what’s going on in the plants. “I have really good people working for me … I read a lot. I hang out at the WSU Prosser research center (where wine grape research is done).”

Boushey routinely walks through every block of grapes he’s planted. He still has to laugh as he passes through his first plot of Cabernet grapes.

“I had no clue what I was doing,” he recalls. “In the middle, several rows curve and are uneven. But now I know where the rocky areas are, where the good soil is.”

His renowned Syrah grapes, now his biggest seller, came along in 1993.

“I was one of the earlier growers of Syrah,” Boushey explained. “The conditions here — higher elevation, cooler so that the grapes ripen later but don’t get high alcohol content or over-ripen, shallow, rockier soil that allows us to keep the canes shorter and pick smaller grapes with good color — are the closest thing to the Old World origins of this grape of anything in the New World, even California.”

And he says he never has enough Syrah. “It’s different from other reds. It has a big, bold taste. It’s lush. It doesn’t have harshness. You don’t need to age the grapes as long. They reflect where they’re grown, and can taste dramatically different.”

Jon Meuret, owner and winemaker for Maison Bleue in Walla Walla, has purchased grapes from Boushey since 2008.

“He’s great to work with,” Meuret says. “He’s got a keen sense of how to struggle the vine (a technique of making the vine work harder) to make great fruit and he’s also got a great palate … All of the top wineries want to be in his vineyard(s).”

In Boushey’s words, there’s “a lot of hype in the wine business,” and he admits there’s a certain romance to the idea of growing exceptional grapes. But, he says, “What’s important is doing things right year after year and making a good product.”

Boushey says that he has never had his own winery “because I’ve never had the time or the money. I also kept thinking, ‘I would have to compete with my customers.’” However, he and his father-in-law, Glen Holden, have dabbled in making a small amount of wine over the past 30 years.

“We probably make about 55 gallons a year,” Boushey said. “I love wine. I’m a wine nut. I drink all kinds of wine.”

And he has no intention of ever leaving the industry he loves.

“I’m probably going to do this ’til I fall off the truck one day,” he says with a laugh.

Dick Boushey in his Grandview vineyard.

The autumn sun shines on vineyards in harvest.

The view from Boushey's vineyards is expansive.

Grapes are collected and ready for the next step in the process.

Grapes glow in the sunlight.

A field worker harvests Boushey vineyard grapes last fall.

A field worker picks grapes.

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