Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lavendar Dreams

"I consider the evening twilight on Mt. Shasta
one of the grandest sights I have ever witnessed"
Teddy Roosevelt
Mt. Shasta in the background at the farm
Visiting the Mt. Shasta Lavendar Farms was on my list to do this year. On Saturday, full of energy from kayaking, Rob and I decided to take a trip and make it happen. After calling the farm, I learned that the lavendar was in "splendid bloom" and that they were only open to the public until August 4th so Rob and I headed out.
The Mt. Shasta Lavendar Farm is 72 miles south of Klamath Falls in California. It is not well marked from Hwy 97 (the main highway) and after travelling through lots of sagebrush, juniper, and desert, I began to wonder if the farm even existed.

The farm is a working farm. They had begun harvesting already. It's also a destination with thousands visiting through their season. They grow two types of lavendar - English and French; it's used for decorative, culinary, and aromatherapy purposes.
The lavendar grows well in volcanic soil so Mt. Shasta is perfect. Mt. Shasta is the second highest peak in the Cascades and is part of the Cascade Volcanic Arc. This area is home to the Klamath Tribes who held that Mount Shasta is inhabited by the Spirit of the Above-World, Skell, who descended from heaven to the mountain's summit at the request of a Klamath chief. Skell fought with Spirit of the Below-World, Llao, who resided Mt. Mazama by throwing hot rocks and lava, representing the volcanic eruptions at both mountains. Mt. Mazama is home to Crater Lake National Park.

The first thing I noticed as I pulled up to the farm was the gorgeous blooms.
The purple nestled in this desert, surrounded by some farm land with Mt. Shasta in the background was splendid and amazing.

The second thing I noticed was the beautiful building. When you pull up, you notice a darling little "store" with patio tables and umbrellas. When you walk in, you are greeted with the smell of lavendar and a friendly greeter offering an ice cold glass of lavendar lemonade. The store offers postcards, watercolor paintings, lotions, soaps and more. You can purchase fresh cut lavendar or they provide baskets to cut your own. Taking your glass of lemonade, you can sit out at one of the tables and enjoy the view.
The farm also features a 90' labyrinth that you can walk around. After enjoying the lavendar farms, we decided to call and make reservations at the Hospitality Dinner House in Dorris, California. This little restaurant was on our way home, just 17 miles south of Klamath Falls. The family just joined the Chamber and I was anxious to see what they had to offer.

When I made our reservations, the owner suggested we make time to visit the Living Memorial Sculpture Garden on the way back. Before opening the restaurant, he worked for the Forest Service and helped work with the founders to get this memorial going.

The Why Group
We weren't sure what to expect but we watched for signs to point the direction. Located right on Hwy 97, this memorial also was not too well marked but we found it anyway. This memorial was founded in 1988 by a group of veterans. Marine Corps Veteran and artist Dennis Smith created each larger than life sculpture. The Garden honors honorably dishcarged veterans of all conflicts and peace time. Pulling in, we didn't really "see" anything until we located the markers pointing directions to the sculpture. Following the markers, we came to the most amazing memorial I've ever seen.
The first sculpture is titled The Why Group (at right) and shows one comrade rushing to save another as he falls, at the top a comrade has his arms up to the sky pleading, asking why. These sculptures are huge and moving in a way I've rarely seen.

There are ten or 11 sculptures all together. Below is the Korean War Veterans Monument. A broken sword lies at his feet, his head in his hands.

There was no one else at the memorial. Between the larger than life sculptures, the incredibly emotional artistry, and the desolate location, the place felt sacred somehow. Rob and I spoke in whispers, remaining quiet for a while after we left.

The memorial includes a Wall - called the Hot LZ - and features names that loved ones have asked to be honored. Names from the Korean War, both World Wars, and Vietnam are featured.

There were a few markers on the ground like this one that featured the names Elmer Milton Rue and Michael Raymond Rue. We can only assume this was grandfather and grandson.

I came back and was curious so I googled their names. Search results included an online obituary for Michael Rue with the same dates. It says he graduated high school in Yreka and joined the Marines. He had three daughters and a son. Sadly, Rue passed at age 32 of brain cancer. 

Google searches for Elmer Rue largely came back unsuccessful. I did come across a record indicating he was buried in the Henley Hornbrook Cemetery in Yreka. It said he was a Sgt in the US Army during World War II. He passed just shy of one month after Michael. 

After spending some time reflecting after we left the Memorial, Rob and I discussed how "neglected" the memorial felt. It should be better marked and I think more people should know about it. Here at work, I helped a group of veterans plan a reunion here in September and after sharing this with them on Monday, they've chartered a bus to go see it. 

After all the adventure, it was time for dinner. The Hospitality Dinner House is located in the tiny town of Dorris, California. Dorris is probably not on many people's list of destinations but I can say it is definitely worth the stop to eat here. The restaurant is decorated cute, very Irish. It's run by a family who seem to truly enjoy what they do. We were greeted warmly, seated promptly, and impressed from the moment we walked through the door. 

I ordered the Potato Crusted Salmon and Rob ordered the Prime Rib. We were delighted when our salads came and they had some nice "extras" like artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, and a great mix of greens. The salad was chilled perfectly and the dressings tasted homemade. Our glasses were kept full.
Our entrees were hot and plentiful. Neither of us went hungry (in fact took some home to share with the kids). The salmon was WONDERFUL and the prime rib was the best I've had in at least 15 years. The owner (and chef) walked out to our table to make sure it was to our liking. He was friendly and welcoming.
We left room to share a slice of coconut cream pie that was heavenly. It was a rough ride home with our bellies full, thinking on all the things we'd seen and done in just a few hours. Definitely worth the trip!


  1. Wow, what a wonderful post Heather! I will definitely put these places on my list of explorations. I miss Kfalls and all the places to explore down there. This just gave me 3 more reasons to get back down there and explore.

  2. You have to go here Amy. Come explore! I'll be your tour guide!