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Friday, November 21, 2014

The Grotto, Portland, Oregon

We finally made it to Portland on October 23rd, the fifth day after we left home. We encountered the first rains as we drove across the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. It rained almost every day that we were in Portland but it usually cleared up and some days were even sunny. One of the wettest days was the day we visited The Grotto, The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother.

I read about The Grotto on a traveler's website and thought it would be an interesting place to visit. Some of our friends from Alabama had arrived by then and they being Catholic, I thought they might enjoy it too. I am probably the LEAST religious person on earth but I thoroughly enjoyed this place and Michael says that he would list it as one of his favorite places in Portland. It was incredibly beautiful and peaceful. Of course, the entire time I was there I was thinking of Jennifer Jones in "The Song of Bernadette"!

Giant fir trees line a pathway that lead to the shrine at the grotto. The grotto itself is nestled into the base of a 110-ft. tall cliff. A chapel is located near the grotto. Services are held here and sometimes, on good weather days, they are held directly in front of the grotto. 

An elevator takes you to the top of the cliff where a meditation chapel, a monastery, religious artwork, shrines and an incredible 62-acre botanical garden awaits.  

I did not hear of The Grotto on my first visit to Portland last year and just stumbled upon it this time. If you visit Portland, be sure to visit this incredible place. I would place it right up there on the list with the Japanese Garden. 





The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
The paths leading up to the grotto were lined with massive fir trees.


The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
The grotto is carved into the base of a 110 ft. tall cliff.


The Grotto, Portland, Oregon





For a fee, you can take the elevator to the top of the cliff to see the beautiful gardens and religious artwork.


The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
It is a long way up to the top!



The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
The Meditation Chapel at the top of the cliff has a panoramic view of the Columbia River and Mt. St. Helens


The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
The view from the meditation room.


The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
Looking down from the top. The grotto is located underneath this cliff.


The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
This is the statue at the top of the cliff. You can see the top of it in the previous photograph taken from below.
The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
Another view from the top.


The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
Winding pathways weave through fir trees, mature shrubs (including many large rhododendrons) and water features.



The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
This area is called "The Peace Garden".

The Grotto, Portland, Oregon  


The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
The Monastery was built in 1936 and is home to the Servite Friars. The Monastery can accommodate up to twelve priests and brothers. The rock exterior is sandstone from Washington State.  The Monastery was condemned in 1985 and the interior structure was gutted and renovated.


The Grotto, Portland, Oregon  


The Grotto, Portland, Oregon

The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
The little red chapel honors St. Anne, the mother of Mary.  Built in 1934 to house the Blessed Sacrament during the first United States Marian Congress, it continued to serve as a chapel before the Chapel of Mary was built.  It now houses numerous Madonna paintings from many countries.

The Grotto, Portland, Oregon

The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
Along the pathway are little display buildings that house wood carvings depicting events in the life of Jesus, Joseph and Mary. The states are carved out of white pine and are the work of Professor Heider of Pietralba, Italy. The statues were recently restored.

The Grotto, Portland, Oregon

The Grotto, Portland, Oregon

The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
A bronze state of St. Francis of Assisi.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho

The Idaho Botanical Garden is right next door to the Old Idaho State Penitentiary. It was once the farm and nursery for the penitentiary. When the prison closed in 1973, the grounds were unused until the botanical garden was established.

The garden comprises 50 acres (15 of which are in cultivation) in the Boise foothills and is divided into garden rooms and individual areas. There is an English Garden, xeric demonstration garden, alpine garden, children's garden, rose garden, meditation area, water garden, etc. Most of the plants in the garden are donated by industry and corporate partners  throughout Oregon and Idaho.

Parts of the garden run along the stone walls of the prison, giving a castle-like background to the plantings. 

The outer-lying areas of the garden are dedicated to native plants and wilderness trails. The Lewis & Clark Plant Native Plant Garden, opened in 2006,  commemorates the bicentennial of the Lewis & Clark Expedition (1804-1806). This garden’s goal is to display 145 plant species collected during the expedition between Great Falls, Montana and The Dalles, Oregon. 

The fall color was astounding, especially with the vivid yellows and oranges of witch hazels, ornamental grasses and trees and bright red berries on pyracantha and hollies. 

The gardens also feature garden art by local artists.





Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho
The Rose Garden with the prison tower and walls as background.


Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho

Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho  


Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho

Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho

Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho

Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho

Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho

Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho

Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho

Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho

Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho

Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho

Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho


Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Old Idaho State Penitentiary, Boise, Idaho




I don't know why but I have always had a fascination with prisons and prison-life. I have never visited one and most of my familiarity with them comes from movies and television. Oz, Cool Hand Luke and I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang are just a few of my favorites. Women's prison films? Count me in on those as well! Orange Is The New Black was a recent discovery and the 1950 camp classic Caged is probably my favorite of all.

Michael found a brochure in the hotel lobby for the Old Idaho State Penitentiary and suggested that we stop by. He was probably tired of visiting gardens! It turns out that the prison is right next door to the Idaho Botanical Gardens! So we ended up visiting both. 

The prison operated from 1872 to 1973. It consists of seven or eight buildings that served different purposes (in addition to the buildings that housed the cells, there is a laundry, library, etc.) The entire complex is surrounded by high sandstone walls. The prison was opened to tourists in the early 1990s and is overseen by the Idaho State Historical Society.

The grounds were landscaped with roses, shrubs and flowers. I thought this was strictly for enhancement but believe it or not, there was a Jackson and Perkins test rose garden in the section seen below and for several years!

The prison was fascinating but ultimately depressing and disturbing. The cells were small and cramped and I cannot imagine how someone endured being there for long. There were signs with biographies of some of the most well-known prisoners and a few of them spent their entire lives here. Not a happy though. Also disturbing was Death Row, where a few prisoners met their untimely end.

Needless to say, I was relieved to walk next door and visit the Botanical Garden. Photos of it in my next post! 

Old Idaho State Penitentiary, Boise, Idaho
The Jackson and Perkins Test Rose Garden was here.

Old Idaho State Penitentiary, Boise, Idaho



Old Idaho State Penitentiary, Boise, Idaho

Old Idaho State Penitentiary, Boise, Idaho



The Laundry Room where some of the prisoners worked




Old Idaho State Penitentiary, Boise, Idaho
Outside the main prison walls and over to the side was the Women's Ward. The maximum prison population was 600 and roughly 200 of these were women. One of the most famous inmates was Lyda Southard, who was convicted of killing her fourth husband but suspected of killing four other husbands, a brother-in-law and a daughter.


Old Idaho State Penitentiary, Boise, Idaho
A small graveyard next door, outside the borders of the Botanical Garden, was where prisoners without family were buried. If the prison was not sad enough, this little graveyard was indeed depressing.

Old Idaho State Penitentiary, Boise, Idaho



Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

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