Charlie Adams shares this Journal to help you see if you want to go on this trip when Edgerton's offers it again!

By Charlie | July, 28, 2011
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Travels with Charlie Adams
Edgerton's Group Travel
From the Author, former WSBT TV Anchor Charlie Adams
photo of Charlie Adams on Pacific NWest Trip


In a tradition started by former WSBT Radio Host Bob Lux, I have hosted Edgerton's Group Travel Experiences since 2006. Being a former Journalist, I produce a DVD for the travelers of each trip and a Trip Journal.


It means a lot to share this 'behind the scenes' Journal of what it is like to really see Oregon, Washington and British Columbia with you. While hosting this recent Group Travel Experience, I took extensive notes of what the Guides had to say about that gorgeous part of the world, and share them with you here. I hope this inspires you to visit that very special part of the U.S. and Canada as Edgerton's will ofter this trip again. Tom Edgerton set up a wonderful, wonderful trip, and I do my best to capture the experience for you here.



Charlie Adams


Edgerton's Travel



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The Pacific NorthWest! A Behind the Scenes Look!
Edgerton's will Offer this Group Travel Experience in the Future: Learn Inside Information on Oregon, Washington and British Columbia from Group Tour DVD Producer and Host Charlie Adams
Edgerton Travelers near Vancouver!

I start this Journal with the picture to the left that I took of Marge and Rudy of Niles, Michigan, two of our travelers, squatting down in a tree in British Columbia. Unfortunately, they were unable to get up, so if anyone is up near Vancouver, please swing by and get them out!.Their knees "just ain't what they used to be" (!). 


Hey, in this Journal you will learn about what it is like to see the beauty of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. You will learn all kinds of things about that gorgeous part of the U.S. and Canada, including why Eleanor Roosevelt reversed her opinions on a Portland rose named after her, and what Hollywood superstar filmed a movie in a tiny Oregon coast village that was visited. This was a tremendous trip that Edgerton's will offer again in two years. A wonderful lady named Norma Trader, who has gone on Edgerton's Group Travel trips for years, said the Pacific Northwest trip was one of, if not THE best that she has been on!  


This special journey began on the morning of July 5th. It was a gorgeous day as Trip Manager Trisha O'Hanlon and her husband Bob boarded a motor coach to pick up travelers in Fort Wayne, Elkhart and Mishawaka. My two oldest children, Jack (18) and Abby (15) joined me on this trip, so I was extra excited. A History buff, Jack delivered presentations on Michener's Alaska during a 2009 Edgerton's Group Travel trip to Alaska. For this trip, Jack spoke on the history of the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. Jack, a 2011 Penn High graduate, will major in History at Benedictine University near Chicago. He will also run for the Cross Country and Track teams. The NCSA Athletic Recruiting Network connected him with scholarships there. Abby will be a sophomore at John Adams High in South Bend where she is an avid swimmer, reader and very nice young lady (biased opinion alert!).


Okay, going back to the start of this trip. After the motorcoach ride to O'Hare, Edgerton's arranged for everyone to board a direct flight from Chicago to Portland. You gain 3 hours going west, so we got in around 2. The first afternoon included a Tour of Portland, which was very interesting. Most of the group had never been to Oregon and were very curious to learn about that beautiful state, and its biggest city. David, the Tour Guide, told us that, yes, it does rain a lot out in Portland, especially in the winter, but it is more of a drizzle. Miami actually gets more rain, but here it is more spread out and more of a mist in Portlant. Liz was the driver of the City Tour motorcoach. She is a native of Portland, which means she is a "webfoot." 


David took the group to the International Rose Testing Garden at Washington Park on what was a gorgeous sun splashed day. The roses were everywhere! David said they have 3 "D's" here in this Park/Garden: No Drinking. No Dogs. No Dumping. By the last one they mean no dumping of the ashes of dead people. That had been a problem. Loved ones would spread the remains of their deceased there in the Garden.

One of the funniest things he said was a true story about First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. She said once that she had heard they had named a rose after her, and that she was flattered. However, she said she looked it up and the description read "Not good in bed but great up against the wall."

David asked us the one color you won't find on a rose. Some guessed black, but the answer was blue. Sometimes you might find a painted blue rose, which guys buy because they don't know any better, but the genetics don't exist for real blue roses. The Japanese, he told us, are trying to come up with them in their labs.

As we drove around, David pointed out Voodoo Donuts. He said when Krispy Kreme got going, they came up with Voodoo Donuts to be the opposite. Some of their donuts have bacon on them. They used to have some with Pepto Bismal and Nyquil in them until the Food and Drug Administration said you can't do that!!


Here are some of their donuts:


The Loop
Raised yeast doughnut with vanilla frosting and Fruit Loops!   


Dubble Bubble
Raised yeast doughnut with vanilla frosting, bubble gum dust and a piece of bubble gum!  

As we drove along, David pointed out all the cyclists. He said Portland leads the nation in those that bike into work.

One of the hilarious parts was a very brief drive-by of "The Worlds Smallest Park! (photo below)" No kidding. It was right in the middle of a busy road in Portland and was a whopping 513 square inches. Tourists were gathered around it taking pictures.  


photo of world's smallest park, in Portland!  


Guinness has declared that since 1969 it is the world's smallest park. The park has a parade there once a year which consists of a woman with a penny whistle walking around and around the clump. Weddings have been there, right in the middle of the Highway. The joke is that only one member of the couple can be there at a time. The bride does her vows, then the husband.  


After the City Tour of Portland, travelers were whisked to the stunning Benson Hotel in the heart of downtown. Edgerton's has a reputation for finding unique places to stay and eat on Group Travel trips, and the Benson is truly unique. Built in 1912, it is an icon of the Timber Baron era. Travelers were greeted by Italian marble floors, Austrian crystal chandeliers and now extinct, Circassian walnut walls imported from the forest of Imperial Russia. Mr. Benson, though very wealthy at the time, was said to have just about fainted when he saw the price for those walnut walls! The priceless walnut is a focal point of the Grand Lobby. President John F Kennedy once wrote speeches while staying here. Every U.S. President since William H. Taft has stayed at The Benson. Celebs such as Madonna, Elvis and Bruce Willis as well. A shiny black 1965 Cobra was parked right inside the front entrance. You don't see that at the Econo Lodge.


Edgerton's had a salivating Welcome Dinner at The Benson that night. Travelers had Sweet Onion Soup and then the option of Scallop and Crab Crusted Halibut, Roasted Organic Chicken on a bed of sautéed fingerling, or Petite Beef Fillet wrapped in Apple Wood Smoked Bacon, served with a jumbo prawn skewer and Yukon Gold mash potatoes. The dessert was Chocolate Mousse Crème Brulee.


Wednesday July 6th had everyone up and refreshed and excited about a trip to the spectacular Columbia River Gorge. Once again Edgerton's had David on the motorcoach as the Guide and he was filled with information. We were taken about 30 minutes outside Portland to the River Gorge, which has over 90 waterfalls along the historic Columbia River Highway.


One of the highlights was visiting the Vista House at Crown Point (photo below), once called Thor's Heights. The Vista House was built as a rest stop observatory for travelers on the old Columbia River Gorge Highway. David challenged everyone to find the elevator inside. Our folks wandered all over looking for it. Finally, it was discovered by the Guest Services desk. It is under the floor, and pops up when people need it to go down a floor.


photo Vista House in Oregon
The Vista House at Crown Point.

The Columbia River was so beautiful. It is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest, stretching 1243 miles. It starts in the Rocky Mountains in British Columbia and goes down into Washington and Oregon and then into the Pacific Ocean. By volume, it is the fourth largest river in the U.S.


A major highlight was Multnomah Falls, a waterfall as impressive as any I have seen on Edgerton's Group Travel trips. At 611 feet tall, it drops in two major steps. Multnomah Falls is the 2nd tallest year-round waterfall in the U.S., behind only Yosemite (Niagra Falls is in Canada). Travelers jaws' dropped as they approached it, and everyone scampered to the Benson Bridge to get a closer look. I took the photo below (be sure to open this newsletter where you can view photos) 


photo by Charlie Adams of Multnomah Falls in Oregon  

Eating at unique places is a tradition, so we were taken to the Char Burger for lunch. That sounds like a typical burger place, but it was anything but...! The Salmon Sandwich was out of this world. Outside in the parking lot, Natives were selling Salmon they had just caught in one area while farmers were selling fresh cherries in another area. I took the photo below of a young man showing Edgerton's travelers a Salmon they caught very recently.  


photo of Salmon being sold to Edgertons travelers


Everyone was then taken over to the historic Bonneville Lock and Dam, and National Historic Landmark. Construction began in 1933 and provided about 3000 jobs during the Depression. FDR dedicated it in 1937. Just the dam itself generates enough power for 500,000 people. With 583,000 in nearby Portland, that is pretty good! This was a very interesting visit. The Spillway was opened as we approached, and the power of the water surging from it was a sight to see. We were then given a behind the scenes tour of the Bonneville Dam Fish Ladder where we were guided down several flights to the offices where they watch and count the fish coming through. Through glass monitors, an employee charts every fish that comes through. We went into the office and looked out at these salmon, lamprey eel, steelhead and more come through. I took the picture below in the room where we were allowed to stand behind the "official fish counter." 


photo of salmon swimming by Edgertons travelers  


The eels were eerie, sucking at the glass. This whole experience was so unique, and one of the reasons Group Travel is so special. The trips are filled with one interesting event after another!


We returned around 2:30 and travelers had the afternoon and evening free. My son Jack and daughter Abby and I roamed Portland. We went to Ira Keller Park where people wade in barefoot. We went down by the riverfront, and then over to Powell's Bookstore. It is the the largest used and new bookstore in the world. Located in downtown Portland, Oregon, and occupying an entire city block, the City stocks more than a million new and used books. There was room after room! Jack got a Powell's Books shirt there while Abby, the avid swimmer, got a Oregon State University Swimming shirt at a downtown Portland store that specialized in Oregon State attire.  


photo of Jack and Abby with their Oregon tshirts  


Whale Watching is one of the most exciting things a traveler can do, and there was great anticipation on July 7th as Edgerton's had arranged to see Gray Whales off the Oregon Coast. A lot of people don't realize it, but Edgerton's owner Tom Edgerton is a certified Dr. Doolittle. He is trained in the ability to speak to wildlife of all kinds. From the Edgerton's home office on Edison Road in Mishawaka, IN, Tom retreats to a special dark room, focuses deeply, chants a couple of times, hops on one foot, and instantly connects with wildlife.. On this day, he was up early communicating with the Gray Whales and asking them to be visible near us. When Edgerton's talks about providing "extra" for travelers, this is a prime example. If you want to see a specific animal, let Tom know. However, Unicorns and Dragons require extra advance notice. 


Edgerton's had arranged for a walk-on Guide named Peter to ride with us to share information on the drive to the Oregon coast. Upon leaving The Benson Hotel, he talked about how Portland has less cars downtown today than in the 70's. This city is a great example of being committed to progress as far as less cars all over the place. Peter said Portland is the only city in America with better air quality today than 5 years ago, and that it is the best biking and walking city in the country. Portland appears headed towards being a carless city.


On the drive out, Peter joked that Group Travel trips that have a lot of Seniors like our trip have 3 questions that they ask him. 1) How much farther? 2) When is lunch? 3) Where is the rest room? He talked about how you have to go through the coast range to get from Portland to the coast, which is what we did.


Peter said the University of Oregon and Oregon State University are the big rivals out here, like IU and Purdue and Michigan and Michigan State. Both Oregon and Oregon State are good in football now, but years ago they were both dreadful. One year they both went 0-10 going into the final game of the season, where they met as rivals. Surely, one would win! However, it ended in a tie! Their rivalry is called "The Civil War" and if you ask some people in Oregon about the Civil War, they seriously think you are talking about Oregon vs Oregon State and not 1861 to 1865.


Our drive to the coast took us to Lincoln City, the Kite Flying Capital of the World. Peter said the wind here at this part of the Pacific Ocean is gentle enough for great kite flying, but not so much that sand flies up in your face. From there we were driven down to Depoe Bay, a charming Oceanside town. Part of the movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" was filmed in Depoe Bay. There is a scene in the movie where Jack Nicholson's character steals a school bus and takes some of his mental patients to Depoe Bay to go on a charter fishing trip. They spent about 6 days filming there.


Edgerton's arranged for us to eat at, as usual, a very unique place - The Spouting Horn. My son Jack had an oyster sandwich. My daughter Abby came all the way to the Northwest to try their unique cuisine: cheeseburger. The Spouting Horn is known for the legendary Betty Taunton (photo below) and her delicious pies.  


photo of Betty the great pie maker  


She had heard Edgerton's was coming so she had gone out into the farm land to buy fresh berries. Betty brought them back and made pie bowls that were out of this world! She came out from the kitchen and mingled with Edgerton's customers and was a big hit! What's the secret to a great pie? Betty told Oregon Coast Today:


· There's no substitute for lard. This rendered, clarified pork fat has a bad reputation but yields an excellent crust.

· Don't overwork the dough. Mix it together and roll it out quickly. Most people try too hard to make it perfect, and ruin it instead, she said.

· Make your pie to be eaten within 24 hours. At the Spouting Horn, Betty makes the staff throw pies away at the end of the day - much to Phil's chagrin. Betty's motto: "No pie improves over time."  


After lunch we went outside the restaurant and looked down towards the water where four men were cleaning the fish that had just come in off fishing charters. Nearby was a lady sorting crabs. A sign read that you could come off a charter and have your fish cleaned and filleted for prices such as $2 for salmon fillet or $1 for rockfish.


After walking around this charming town, with the ocean waves crashing nearby on another beautiful day, the group was guided to the docks to board a waiting boat to go whale watching for Gray's. Gray Whales are baleen whales. They suck mud in places where they can sift out small crustaceans called amphipods. As big as they are, they have to gobble up a bazillion of them. The summers provide more daylight which means more phytoplankton, which is why a lot of them hang out off the Oregon coast. Others do their thing in the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia. One thing that can be thrown into the mix is that Orca's often also cruise around here looking for newborn Gray Whale calves, and have been known to check out Whale Watching boats. I took the photo below that shows Tour Manager Trisha with husband Bob nearby. Bob is deep in thought about his beloved Notre Dame Football team.... 


photo of Edgerton's travelers going Whale Watching  


We boarded and were soon heading out into the Pacific. The waves were strong and the boat rocked, making it very exciting. The Captain heard there were Whales along the shoreline so he quickly headed that way. It wasn't long before we saw one spouting! Then, another one came up, showed its back, and went back down. These Grays were in water about 40 feet deep not far from the shore. For an hour we darted around following the whales. The views were never great, but you could see them. Tom Edgerton's ability to communicate with them all the way from the main office in Mishawaka is a true gift and one that Tom does not take lightly.


After the Whale Watching, the motorcoach was waiting to take us back a different way to Portland through the lush green countryside of Oregon. We entered the Tillamook State Forest and drove country roads that revealed the beauty of coastal Oregon. To the travelers delight, a special stop was made at the Tillamook Cheese Factory! Inside, everyone was able to watch their workers prepare the cheese on an assembly line. Free cheese samples were made available, and then just about everyone went to buy their famous ice cream! Some travelers bought their cheese and crackers to take back to enjoy with wine at The Benson in Portland.


Many of us remember what happened at Mt. St. Helens on May 18, 1980. The deadliest and most economically damaging volcanic eruption EVER in the U.S. happened that day. 57 people were killed, 250 homes destroyed, 47 bridges and 15 miles of railways. On Friday July 8th Edgerton's arranged for our motorcoach to take us from Portland up to Mt. St. Helens. As we went along the road to the site, you could see where trees had been replanted. One sign read that trees at that area had been replanted in 1983 and would be harvested in 2020. At about the 3000 foot point we stopped at an observation point. The air quality there was so refreshing. It was invigorating. A tad bit chilly, but the kind of weather that makes you feel alive!


Upon arrival at the Visitors Center, which overlooks St. Helens, we were whisked in to a Theater for a remarkable 16 minute movie on the history of St. Helens. It was a tremendous production and when it ended, the curtains rose up to provide a breathtaking view of St. Helens! Travelers then went outside to stand in awe at the sight of it. I took the photo below of a Ranger talking to us about the history of the Mountain.  


photo Edgertons at Mt St. Helens  


The magnitude of St. Helens is sobering. 230 square miles were leveled in moments, creating 540 million tons of ash with volcanic rock explosions 12 miles high. The ash cloud circled the earth within 2 weeks. Liz, our driver, told us that she was living in Portland and would never forget it. She was a High School recent graduate at the time. She remembers people wearing masks around town afterwards, and putting cardboard on the front of their cars to keep the ash from getting in.


One of the saddest stories was the story of a crusty, lively old fellow named Harry Truman (not the President). He had lived near Mt. St. Helens for 50 years and told the local media that he was not leaving, even though there were strong signs it was going to get bad! Local school children wrote him letters urging him to leave. He did visit their Schools to speak to them, but never left. After the eruption, the only thing left of his place was a crater....


President Carter toured the devastation and said that the Moon looked like a golf course compared to what was there.  


After Mt. St. Helens, there was a lunch stop on the way into Seattle. Many travelers went into "Country Cousins." Carol and Peggy tried the Yak Burger there! Carol and Peggy are sister-in-laws. You will see their picture down below on top of the Space Needle in Seattle. All kinds of folks go on Group Travel. In their case, they had lost their husbands. As life moved on, they both wanted to travel and eventually realized they would like to do so together. They have had a wonderful time, and this is an example of the kind of folks that make Group Travel so special. You have a lot of married couples, but also sisters going with sisters, friends with friends, mothers with daughters, and single folks. Norma was one of the single people on our trip. She has been doing Group Travel with Edgerton's for decades and has seen the world.


As we made our way to Seattle we went by Mt. Rainier, the most prominent mountain in the contiguous U.S. It is 14,411 feet. Of course, Mt. McKinley in Alaska is the tallest mountain in North America, but Rainier holds its own. Rainier is one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world and could erupt again. As Host, I informed our travelers that if it did, protocol would be to the the Group Tour Host to safety first, and then everyone else. Also, always the opportunist, I told them Rainier is considered a Decade Volcano, which means it is 1 of 16 with the greatest chance of causing major damage if it acts up. With that in mind, I told our group that Edgerton's provides Volcano Eruption Insurance and that they should purchase it through me, the Host, at $99.95 per day. With that comes a certified Volcano Protection Suit, as well as track shoes to help them run fast from the lava. I had no takers, only raised eyebrows...


Seriously, Jack Adams lectured each day to the travelers about the history of the Pacific Northwest. As we drove to Seattle I took the picture below as he gave an account on the history of the city.  


photo Jack Adams lectures to Edgertons travelers  


Edgerton's trips are one special treat after another. Upon arrival in Seattle, the group was taken to the stunning Fairmont Olympic Hotel, the highest rated Hotel in all of Washington. Built in 1924, the Italian Renaissance architecture makes it a sight to behold! Every U.S. President from the early 1920's to 1989 has stayed here, as well as Charles Lindbergh after a Ticker Tape Parade in Seattle to honor him. The original campus of the University of Washington was here. The location is very nice, within close distance to the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and the Seattle Art Museum.


Edgerton's had it set where everyone was taken to Benihana Seattle for a memorable dinner. The chefs fixed up a scrumptious meal right there at our tables. Their motto is: "We treat everyone like family. We let you eat in the kitchen." Laughter and good food were at an abundance as everyone had a great time. Celebrities that have eaten there include Dustin Hoffman, Will Smith, Charlie "Tiger Blood" Sheen, Tiger Woods, Bob Newhart and former Granger resident Jamie Moyer, a longtime Major League Baseball pitcher. Everyone had a great time and retired back to the luxurious Hotel for a night of rest.


Saturday July 9th meant that I could add another year to the tally. This was my birthday. While I would rather make a big "to do" over the travelers having birthdays, I have had mine happen on two Edgerton's trips over the years. Have you ever looked up the famous people who have the same birthday as you? For me, Tom Hanks and O.J. Simpson were born on July 9. There's a combination! This was birthday 49, so one year until the big 50! One of my goals is to be in the best physical shape of my life at 50, so I have really stepped up the workouts. I always encourage folks to set new goals and to challenge themselves. Just because you are getting older means you have to slow down! While on this trip I picked up USA Today and read of a 100 year old Jazz musician in New Orleans who is still playing in front of audiences. He told the newspaper that he would play as long as he had teeth. You have to have teeth to play, he said.


This day began with one of the best breakfast's ever served, the buffet at the Fairmont Olympic. The Georgian Restaurant opened its doors to Edgerton's travelers, who marveled at the fresh fruit. Have you ever stood and watched a group of people marveling over fruit? It's pretty neat. The raspberries and blueberries were scrumptious. There were these bowls of granola with a yogurt layer topped with fresh strawberries and nuts that were a hit. The Eggs Benedict were wonderful. What a way to start the day!


Edgerton's set up a City Tour of Seattle. Theresa was our Guide, and she was terrific! She joked that one time she told a group that she was a native of Seattle. One of the travelers in that group asked, "What tribe?" Seriously. Teresa kept a straight face and answered that hopefully it was one with a good Casino!


She opened up by saying she was an Irish Catholic who was one of 7 children, 6 of them boys. "My mother spent all her time crying in her bedroom," she joked. She said at that time in Seattle they sat down for dinner every night. There were no soccer practices to interfere or Ipods. Roast Beef was a tradition on Sundays. She had a point to this story continued by saying there were about 600,000 people in Seattle today. She said only 45,000 were in the schools. She said only 20% of households in Seattle have children and only 13% are married couples.



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