Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Staying Awhile in Washington-a Chehalis Christmas?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Staying Awhile in Washington-a Chehalis Christmas?

flocked Christmas trees at Carpinitos
Nativity in downtown Chehalis

On with our southward trek, the next campground we chose is where the Thousand Trails System started, the Chehalis RV Resort.  It is close enough to Seattle (2 hour drive) to see family and friends this Christmas and south enough to be a little warmer.  We put up our fancy little tree, wreath, garland, stockings and lights.  We even found a wonderful life-size Nativity Scene that really represented the meaning of Christmas in downtown Chehalis.   Homes there also featured awesome festive lights!

A Christmas Home in downtown Chehalis
Kenji in Christmas Toyland
Simbang Gabi reception
There were lots of festivities in Seattle for the Season. There was my grandson Kenji’s fourth birthday party. We also had dinner reunions with Sheila and Bill, former book club co-members, and Don and Susie, old friends of Bill who now manage our properties. We also joined Tita and Irene at annual Simbang Gabi of the Filipino-American Association of St. John the Baptist Church in Covington, our former parish. This is a  a Filipino tradition of early mass, with Filipino treats to eat right after.

poinsettias galore!
a different reindeer!
And as we drove around town we saw lines of flocked Christmas trees, a myriad of red poinsettias, and even little green mistletoes for sale at the famous Carpinito Brothers specialty store in downtown Kent.  We even saw a parked car that wore antlers and a red flower ball at Trader Joe’s, another specialty store in Federal Way, for its reindeer nose! The commercial side of Christmas was definitely all over the cities! And the Season’s activities quickly frittered away our four days of vacation from the country.

Yard Birds!
But we still stumbled upon other interesting sights around our campground.  Yard Birds, originally a surplus store started in 1947, has become more of a large complex with many shops including a full-service grocery.  In the middle was a featured Christmas crafts fair where we found great collectors’ ornaments to add to our tree.  A large black bird with a yellow beak (a la Heckle and Jeckle) sits on the spacious yard.  Still operating today, Yard Birds is probably where supermalls began!

Mima Mounds
Next is an intriguing nature preserve called Mima Mounds, which has low, flattened, circular to oval, domelike, natural mounds. Found in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, they range in diameter from 3 to 50 m; in height, 30 cm to 2 m; and in density from several to 50 per hectare.  They also occur outside the Northwest in three other regions:  in California, in the Great Plains and in an area around Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Missouri where they are commonly known as "pimple mounds".

Fort Borst Blockhouse
the library in downtown Chehalis
Then at Fort Borst Park in nearby Centralia I saw my first blockhouse. This one was erected by Oregon volunteers in 1856 for storing supplies Chehalis River for troops engaged in the Washington Indian Wars. You can see the small openings where the guns were installed for protection of the blockhouse.  I would also like to mention the library in Chehalis, a member of the Timberland Region, which stands as the most beautiful building at the center of downtown and is staffed by paragons of customer service.

all alone for Christmas
But we were actually disappointed with the campground because much of the area is actually closed for the season.   It is a wonderful woodsy setting with lots of roaming deer and winding trails, but those are best in the spring, summer and fall.   There must have been just ten of us in the small area that was left open. And even if there are many amenities, we could actually only use the spa and sauna. During our stay there, there were also several nights of flood scare from the overflow of Chehalis River.  

So we decided to spend Christmas and New Year at another campground in nearby Elma, even if we had to take down our Christmas d├ęcor so soon! That will be the subject of our next post. See you again then!