Friday, March 23, 2012

Oregon's Best for Last - Mt. Hood, Pendleton and its' Woolen Mills

Mt. Hood from back of Timberline Lodge - still has snow in August.

Our last day in Portland, we took a day trip to Mount Hood, our destination, the Historic Timberline Lodge.  Constructed by the Works Progress Administration, during the years 1936-37, the lodge is a masterpiece of old-time craftsmanship.  I highly recommend the free tour of the lodge.  Our Forest Service volunteer guide cheerfully imparted volumes of historical information about the building, as well as pointing out many unique features.  All the rocks and lumber used in the building were procured locally and hand cut and milled on site.  That's not where it ends.  While the men were laboring to build the gargantuan structure at Timberline, the women were ensconced in barracks a few miles away, spinning, weaving and sewing all the textiles to be used in the lodge's rugs, draperies and upholstery.  Men were also handcrafting furniture, light fixtures and other decor for the lodge.  Textiles were made from locally produced flax and wool; rugs hooked from used cotton fabrics; iron railings and lamp fixtures were made from scrap iron.  Mosaics were fashioned from scrap glass and tile.  The creative talents and pride in workmanship of the builders and crafters are still in evidence.

Wall Mosaic in lobby of Timberline Lodge
On our way out of Oregon, we spent the night in Pendleton. The following morning was Sunday, and we attended Mass at St. Mary's Catholic Church.  The service was memorable, in that it was one of the few I have ever attended outside of a Tridentine church, where the women nearly all wore chapel veils and modest dresses, the men mostly wore suits or trousers and button-down shirts, rather than sportswear.  There was liberal use of inscense, and all the music was chanted, as opposed to folksy performance.  The most touching part of the Mass came, appropriately, at communion time.  The Holy Eucharist was distributed, without exception, to those who came up and knelt at the communion rail, with the altar boy holding the paten under the Eucharist, as it was placed on the tongue.  My 8 year old son, having just received his First Holy Communion a few months before, was visibly taken aback, having never experienced this before.  The priest looked at me and I had to nod that yes, he can receive.  It was such a beautiful and sacred experience, that I wondered why it was ever necessary to change the way we receive Holy Communion.

After Mass, though I don't like to encourage businesses that stay open on Sundays, we went to the Pendleton Woolen Mills.  As we would not be back this way for who knows how long, it was now or never.  I got my first Pendleton from my mom when I was in high school.  The quality of workmanship is so fine that they last forever, so I could not pass up this opportunity to visit the factory in person.  We entered the gift shop, and though we could not take an actual tour of the mills, we were able to watch a video about the production of Pendleton's legendary woolen fabrics, and to browse their selection of fine clothing, accessories and yardage.   As much as I would have liked to have brought home a couple of bolts of fabric, the $40-$80 per yard price made me a happy window shopper instead.  From Pendleton it is just a few miles to Washington, but those adventures will take up an entire post of their own.

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