Mt. Hood Territory

Souvenir Sunday: funny soap and rescued tools

The 40th anniversary of Earth Day arrives on April 22nd so to do my part I thought I’d share a couple of smart, good-for-the-earth souvenirs I found recently on a road trip in Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory.

The first is this funny looking bar of soap -“designed to eliminate the unused center of traditional soap bars” – that I found in my room at The Resort at the Mountain in Welches, Oregon.

There are plenty of other hotels stocking this product, but it’s the first time I’d come across it.  And while it looks funny, it makes a lot of sense to me.  I mean, really – when was the last time you used an entire bar of soap on an overnight at a hotel?

(Vintage sprinklers at the Red Pig Garden Tools Museum)

The other unusual and super-earth-friendly  souvenir I encountered in my travels recently were “Old Gold” tools that Bob Denman and his wife Rita have for sale at Red Pig Garden Tools in Boring, Oregon.  (I’m not saying Oregon is boring; there’s actually a town named Boring)

Bob Denman is a blacksmith who makes much-in-demand, hand-forged tools out of recycled materials.  The “Old Gold” tools are just that: perfectly good and, in many cases, valuable old tools Bob and Rita rescue at yard and barn sales that just need a bit of cleaning and, in some cases, repair, before going back to work.

Denman explains a bit more in this video:

Interested in visiting Red Pig Garden Tools yourself? The folks at the Mt. Hood Territory are having a Sweet Spot Sweepstakes. Prizes include a free trip to the area – and a variety of weekly prizes.

Souvenir Sunday: 22-foot tall candles and tiny Lego pilots

I spent the last few days poking around Oregon’s Mt. Hood territory, stopping in small towns with ‘wonder what’s there’ names such as Boring, Rhododendron, Happy Valley, ZigZag and Damascus.

Visiting Damascus was a special treat, because out in front of the Damascus Fire Station there’s a 22-foot-tall candle.

For years, this was just an ugly concrete cylinder that only faintly honored the real 20-ton candle the town created in 1959 for the Oregon Centennial Exposition.  But in 2009 the ‘cylinder’ was painted and fixed up for Oregon’s 150th birthday, or sesquicentennial.  It’s now a lovely antique-red color with realistic candle ‘drippings.’

I’d love to tell you some of the other roadside attractions I encountered on this trip. There’s the the tiny six-car Canby Ferry that crosses the Willamette River in about four and a half-minutes. And the country’s only outdoor municipal street elevator, in Oregon City, which travels 130-feet up and down Elevator Street in 15 seconds.

But it’s Sunday. More specifically: Souvenir Sunday, the day Stuck at the Airport takes a look at some of the fun, under $10 souvenirs discovered out on the road, especially at airports.

This week’s souvenir wasn’t found at an airport. But it is is fun. And it is aviation-related.

On a tour of the candy-making supplies for sale next door to Ladybug Chocolates in Canby, Oregon, I spotted some airline-themed characters in among the hundreds of Lego mini-figures available to top cakes, candies,  and cupcakes.

Owner John Masek told me that some rare Star Wars characters they sell can top $15 or $20 dollars.  But these airline pilots (with whatever they’re holding) are a deal at well under $10.

Oregon Curiosities: The Bomber in Milwaukie, OR

I love hanging around airports, of course, but I also find bliss when let loose in small museums filled with odd and unusual artifacts or if there’s a wacky roadside distraction somewhere and I’ve got the keys to the car.

So I’m fortunate to be able to produce radio features and write books about my discoveries. More than two hundred of my favorite offbeat attractions in Oregon are in the newly updated Oregon Curiosities book you see pictured in the craftily-titled Buy My Books section here on this site. There are an equal number of unusual people, places and things in the Washington Curiosities book I’m starting to update right now.

One of the aviation-related places in the Oregon Curiosities book is The Bomber Restaurant complex in Milwaukie, about six miles south of Portland.

The Bomber Gas Station

From 1947 until 1991 this vintage World War II B-17G four-engine bomber served as shelter for a forty-pump independent gas station that was one of the top performers in the country. When the gas station closed, the bomber fell on hard times and for years the plane was just a sad-looking roadside attraction suffering from bird poop, vandalism, and Oregon’s rainy climate.

Now restoration of the bomber is under way. Her nose is all shiny and new and on display inside the on-site WWII-themed Wings of Freedom Showcase. And while the gas station is long gone, you can fill up your stomach at the memorabilia-packed Bomber Restaurant, where the menu includes Bomblettes (omelettes) and Bombarded Hash Browns for breakfast, and Tokyo Rose BLTs and Bomberburgers for lunch and dinner.

If you want to see The Bomber for yourself, be sure to enter the Oregon Mt. Hood Territory’s Secret Sweet Spots contest. Each week you’ll be asked to answer a (very easy) question about a “hidden gem” in the region. You’ll find the answers in the short videos on the Mt. Hood Territory website.

Of course, one of those Secret Sweet Spots is The Bomber.