Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Traveling Ol' 99

For this vacation, my wife Eddi and I debated where to go, France, Portugal, Scotland, perhaps back to Italy or Spain.
How about Highway 99?
Ok, Ok, it doesn't have the romantic ring of Route 66. But we felt sorry for Ol' 99. It
was at one time the main North/South route between Canada and Mexico. Now a relic in the dust bin of travel, usurped by the sleek concrete of Interstate 5. In many places Ol' 99 is only an off ramp to the business district of places like Creswell, Saginaw and Walker.

So we rented a car, and at the crack of 10:15 dawn, drove
down the hill from our house to begin our Oregon 99 adventure. The next few blogs will show what we found.

The new Evergreen Aviation Museum building just out of McMinnville. For you wine lovers, please note the Spruce Goose vineyard in the foreground. How did they land that thing?

Further south, we wandered off of 99 into Albany and accidentally found these retired volunteers carving detailed carousel animals. The goal–sometime in the undefined future–is to have a carousel museum combination community/convention center.

All of the work is volunteer, about 89,000 hours to this point. Besides the local greater Albany area guys (and gals), one volunteer told of carvers coming from southern California and Montana to work for a month or two.

No public money involved. "You know what happens when the government gets involved," explains a volunteer.

Check out the detail.

As I left, I tried to imagine what America could be like if somehow we could inspire citizens, especially retired ones.

Each of the 90 animals has a sponsor, who puts up $10,000. This gentleman has been carving on this griffin, sponsored by his son and daughter, for a couple of years. How long before he will finish? With a big grin, he replies, "oh, a couple of years." He carves three days a week.

Check out the detail and color on this hippocamppas, mythological sea-horse.

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