Reviews & Photos
February 18 2015
3 families found this helpful
Black Chasm Cavern
1501 Pioneer Volcano Road,
"A smallish cave and guides with big personality!"
While we were in Gold Rush country visiting friends, we made a point to get out to the Black Chasm National Natural Landmark. We love a cave, and while this is one of the smaller ones we have been in, it was quite impressive! Some of the formations were much different than we have ever seen before as they have some very rare helictite crystals.
The tour starts off by descending some steep stairs, you get to the first landing for the first talk filled with lots of “punny” jokes and stories, but plenty to learn as well. The kids all had a good laugh, and so did the adults (through a couple of groans). The whole tour was very entertaining.
Like all caves, this one is constantly changing due to moisture and you can see where some have come crashing to the floor due to their size. To contradict the large formations there are the very delicate tiny formations called helictites, which almost look like little white worms working their way out of the rock. We thought it was very sci-fy looking!
The tours last just short of an hour, and are $14.95/adult and $7.95/child (ages 3-12). The walk is not very strenuous, but there are several sets of stairs you will have to go up and down.
After our tour, we decided to buy a bag of sand and try out gem stone mining in the sluice boxes. There are 2 sizes of sand to purchase. We got the big bag and it cost us about $10. We enjoyed finding the gem stones and identifying what they were.The Lad felt as though he had struck it rich that day. And he had! We had a rich day of entertainment, and we later filled our bellies with some delicious food at the Kneading Dough Bakery in Volcano (we also highly recommend eating there too!). We indulged in lovely sandwiches, quiches, cookies, amazing lemon bars, and bread to take with us. I can’t wait to get back (and may be asking my friend to pack along a few of those lemon bars for her next visit up north!).
February 18 2015
1 family found this helpful
California State Railroad Museum
111 I Street,
"A great experience for kids of all ages!"
After spending a few days in Amador County, we headed for one of the “Cities by the Bay”. We wanted to make a stop for some fun along the drive and our friends suggested we check out the California State Railroad Museum. This was right up our alley!
Tickets into the Museum were quite reasonable at $10/adult and $5/child. We only had 2 hours to spend there, but could have stayed much longer. There was a lot to see and to play with!
On the main floor are all of the big engines, history about railway life, the building of the railroad that went coast to coast, and “Turntable”. One great thing for the Lad was walking along a replica historic platform and train station and to see what it was like.
They gave you a chance to look inside some very fancy passenger cars from the golden age of train travel to see what it would gave been like.
Upstairs was especially impressive with the history they told, but also in the collection they had of railway toys. This was definitely a favorite of ours. One display kept the lad busy for close to an hour. He wanted to keep the 4 lines represented in the scene moving as much as it would let him. It was fantastic how it would change from day to night, the air balloon would go up and down, and one train had a camera mounted on it so you could see on a tv screen what the train saw, especially as it traveled through tunnels.
For even younger kids (younger than 6), there was a great play area with Thomas the Tank Engine and Brio train sets. My guy was way more into the electric sets he was playing with before. I realized my dad has some of the same cars as the ones on display, so we are going to have to dig those out!
I wish we had more time to explore not only the Railroad Museum, but also the historic area that surrounds it. There is so much to see and do, so we will head back on future visits for sure! You should check it out!
May 18 2014
Sherman County Historical Society and Museum
1 family found this helpful
200 Dewey Street,
We made a quick stop into the museum on our way to Fossil, Or and the Wilson Ranches Retreat. The museum was a wonderful experience stepping us through time and showing us how the community was formed and has thrived from the time the pioneers settled it. There is a small tribute to the native peoples of the area as well.
The collections include all sorts of antiques that have been collected from members of the community and have been very nicely displayed in the 3 rooms of the museum.
Entrance fees were $11 for the two of us adults and 1 child.
The walk through takes about 45 minutes or so. Kids will especially enjoy playing with the drum, doing hopscotch and grinding wheat between two heavy stones. Our 6-year-old didn't run through it as fast as he has other museums. If kids get bored, there is a wonderful little city park just outside to burn off some energy. The museum also houses a Visitor's Center, and the ladies there were very helpful with giving us information and tips. Such as heading up to the Moro Bakery and Cafe for lunch (and to make sure and have one of their cinnamon rolls...they are delicious!).
Small kids will not find this as interesting, but kids 6 and older should get some pleasure from it. We enjoyed it!
May 12 2014
2 families found this helpful
Wilson Ranches Retreat Bed and Breakfast
16555 Butte Creek Road,
"Amazing Mother's Day on the Ranch!"
The Wilson Ranches Retreat B&B is a really special place. It is an authentic, family owned, working ranch just outside of the small town of Fossil in Eastern Oregon. The ranch lies within the beautiful Butte Creek Canyon and on your drive in you not only see the cattle grazing lazily in the fields, but song birds flying above, and quail scurrying across the road. You will feel your heart and breathing slow down to keep time with the pace of the area. We made our way 3-hours east of Portland for Mother’s Day weekend, which I have told anyone who has been within ear-shot, was the best Mother’s Day I have ever had. That is in large part to the Wilson Ranches Retreat and the family!
After you turn off Highway 206, drive for 2 miles down Butte Creek Road where you will come upon a brown building surrounded by fruit trees. Park along the side fence, step inside and you are home!
We signed in at the registration desk and made our way to our lovely room. If you don’t have a reservation when you arrive, pick an available room in the book and make yourself comfortable. Weekends get very busy, so reservations are recommended.
There is a phone on the registration table so you are able to call down to Nancy at the family’s home if you have questions or need anything and also to let her know you have arrived. We were looking for directions, so she came down to give us a map and more suggestions, including places for dinner and other “not to miss” sights. The Wilson Family takes “Pioneer Hospitality” very seriously, your kids will be hugged and they love to tell funny stories that bring about big belly laughs. The family has an incredible sense of humor that we all enjoyed. They are available to the guests at all times and do their very best to help in every way possible.
This B&B house is not your standard B&B. We have never really considered staying in one as a family since most are usually set up for couples. This B&B is very different than that. They have 6 rooms that can accommodate anywhere from 1-6 people. Room prices start at $105/night for the cozy Wrangler Room (sleeps 1-2 people) and go up to $185/night for the massive Homestead Room (sleeps 1-6 people). The prices are based on a double occupancy and include breakfast. Each additional person (including kids) is $10 which includes their breakfast.
Rooms are tidy and sweet and each offers a little something different than all of the rest. Each room had lovely, soft robes for guests to use and extra blankets for chillier nights. Rooms on the main and second levels have air conditioning for warm summer nights. Some rooms have TVs, but the main TV and VCR are in the living room and there is a large library of videos for people of all ages. Board games can be found in the day light basement for more entertainment and there is a lawn where we enjoyed throwing the Frisbee and football. There are 3 bathrooms in the house which are shared by everyone. BBQs, microwave, guest fridge, coffee makers and tea pot are always available.
Breakfast in the morning is served at 8:00am. You will wake up to the sweet smell of fresh coffee and bacon being fried up. Nancy and Phil cook for all of the guests and everyone sits down family style to share the meal and lots of stories. Prepare to laugh! Farm fresh eggs, bacon, oatmeal, peaches, biscuits, gravy, juice and all of the toppings make for full, happy bellies which will sustain you throughout your ride and much of your day.
Wilson Ranches Retreat offers horseback riding for adults and kids 4 and older, which we were quick to take advantage of as we have a little city slicker with a big cowboy heart. We did an hour and a half ride, but ride times can vary. Just talk to your wonderful hosts and they will help you organize everything. The horses are calm and gentle and I had no worries about my 6 year old riding on his own. The horses are matched up to you based on your size and experience. If you do not have boots or hats, they have them for you to borrow for your ride. Rides for younger kids are scenic, although you might get a chance to ride among some of the cows. Families with older kids can enjoy cattle drives, checking fence lines or for strays, and taking part in pasture moves. Riders in groups of 1-3 are $45/hour each, riders in groups of 4 or more are $40/hour each.
There are so many other things to do off the ranch as well. You can dig for fossils of ancient flora on the hill behind the high school. Cost is $5/person, or $15/family of 4. They have tools there for you to use and as you can dig as long as you like. This is like searching for treasure, but you always come away with something amazing! We also had a look at the Painted Hills, which is one part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The hour drive each way is worth it for an incredible sight everyone should see. The intense colors and textures had our heads spinning. There is also rafting, fishing, hiking, biking, museums, fairs, rodeos, and more. Wilson Ranches Retreat is a great home base for all of it.
I have already started recommending the Wilson Ranches Retreat to friends and family and we plan to go back out there. You might arrive a stranger, but you leave feeling like one of the family.
We want to thank Wilson Ranches Retreat for hosting our stay. As always, the opinions expressed here are our own and we were under no obligation to leave a positive review. They earned it, big time!
August 14 2013
2 families found this helpful
Philip Foster Farm National Historic Site
29912 SE Hwy 211,
"Reliving the Pioneering days!"
Philip Foster and his wife were early settlers in Oregon, having taken a ship here in 1843. He was an entrepreneur and the first treasurer of the Provisional Government of Oregon (1844-1845). When folks started coming west on the Oregon Trail, he and Sam Barlow established the Barlow Trail portion of the Oregon Trail in 1845, which traveled along the south side of Mount Hood and brought the pioneers into the Willamette Valley. He continued to maintain it there after and his store and farm where the first bit of civilization folks would see as they came over the pass. Being close to Oregon City, it wasn’t far for folks to travel to file land claims, and the General Store he ran gave them access to things they had run out of on the trip. There was also a camp for folks who needed a place to stay until they had settled their own land. It was an important place for many of the early settlers.
Today it is a beautiful historic site that allows you to relive a little bit of the pioneer experience. The tour guides dress in period clothing and take you through the 3rd house that was built on the property (the first house flooded the first year, so they built the second house which his wife died in and it was burned to the ground afterward), the barn, the blacksmith shop, and introduce you to several activities. The General Store, where you check in, is open for you to explore on your own. The house and the barn are original buildings. The blacksmith shop, the general store, and all of the other buildings were reconstructed before opening to the public in 1993. They have also installed an outbuilding with modern restrooms.
A few of the activities we really enjoyed were using the cross-cut saw to cut wood, packing a wagon so we could set off on the Oregon Trail (and learning our fate based on our packing choices - we did pretty well , my ancestors would be proud!), building with giant Lincoln Logs, doing the laundry, grinding corn, and using a manual drill and other tools they would have had. My son also enjoyed writing with feathers and ink in the General Store which also sells different toys, books, and maps about the Oregon Trail.
The Farm hosts many special activities throughout the year. It starts with a Dutch-oven Cook-off on Father’s Day, various camps through the summer, Garden Parties, a Cider Squeeze and Haunted Farm in the Fall, and “Christmas in the Country” come December.
It was a great day out and would be best for kids 5 and up. The littlest guys might struggle with many of the activities, but will enjoy running in the pioneer orchard and around the gardens. The Farm is about a 45 minute drive from Portland, and can be tied in with many other activities in the area to make it is really fun day!
We want to thank Philip Foster Farm for hosting our afternoon. As always, the opinions expressed here are our own and we were under no obligation to leave a positive review. They earned it!