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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Travel

Outdoor excursions to educate

Christianne Sharman Correspondent

Remember when your mother told you to go outside and play? North Cascades Institute took that advice to heart.

And you won’t have to make do with stick swords and old towel capes, like you did back then.

No, sir. Have a look at a few of the institute’s summer offerings:

Over the Fourth of July weekend, you can sign up for the Family Getaway, a hiking and canoeing adventure including a nighttime excursion in search of owls and bats. The $295 tuition covers lodging and meals for two; each additional person costs $95.

Or the following week, enroll in At the Water’s Edge: Landscape Watercolor on Diablo Lake. Seattle artist Molly Hashimoto will introduce you to watercolor painting using Diablo Lake and Colonial and Pyramid peaks as your subjects. This introductory workshop runs July 8 to 10; the $295 fee (based on double occupancy) also includes lodging and meals.

That same weekend, lepidopterist Robert Michael Pyle will lead The Butterflies of Cascadia, a pursuit of the pretty creatures from the foot of Mount Adams to the Klickitat River canyon. For $395 (based on double occupancy), you get the course, evening slide shows, meals and lodging at the Flying L Ranch, a 100-acre retreat at the base of the mountain.

The North Cascades Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving and restoring Northwest environments through education, has been at it since 1986. Its latest endeavor, the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center, opens July 2, just in time for the Family Getaway.

The learning center – intended to host seminars, retreats, family outings and youth summer camps – sits on Diablo Lake in North Cascades National Park, surrounded by millions of acres of public lands. The facilities include trails, a lakeside dock, meditation shelters, multimedia classrooms, aquatic and terrestrial labs, an amphitheater, a library, overnight accommodations for 46 and a dining hall.

The campus’ 16 buildings belong to Seattle City Light, a partner in the project along with the institute and the National Park Service.

You’ll find a complete course listing – all the way to March’s Salamanders, Newts and Frogs: Amphibians of the Puget Lowlands – on the institute’s Web site ( Or call (360) 856-5700, ext. 209, to request a catalog.

Rose City sounds

Portland’s getting musical this summer.

Chamber Music Northwest is tuning up for its 35th Anniversary Summer Festival, five weeks of concerts, lectures, open rehearsals and art exhibitions from June 27 to July 31.

All told, the event comprises 28 concerts, two West Coast premieres, a dozen artist debuts and plenty more.

According to event organizers, Fred Child, host of NPR’s “Performance Today,” will be on hand at Reed College on June 29, lending a performance of works by Bach, Mozart, Schubert and Edgar Meyer “an informal, fun atmosphere with personal introductions and interviews.”

A sampling of other concerts includes: Three Centuries of Masterworks I, with works by Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Ernst von Dohnányi; Twentieth Century Journey, featuring pieces by composers Ravel, Jean Françaix, Bruce Adolphe and Ernest Bloch; and Spotlight Recital with harpist Nancy Allen, whom The New York Times says has a “virtuosity all the more impressive for being incidental to the projection of expressive values.”

The festival wraps up with Lalo Schifrin, most famous – to me at least – for writing the “Mission Impossible” theme.

But I’m sure there’s more to him than that.

Get the festival rundown at For tickets, call (503) 294-6400.

Meanwhile, just to prove you don’t need an opposable thumb to enjoy a good tune, the critters at the Oregon Zoo have rolled out their own summer concert series.

John Hiatt and the North Mississippi Allstars take the stage on July 9, followed by Chris Isaak on July 15, the Indigo Girls on July 17, Marc Cohn and Suzanne Vega on July 22, Bruce Hornsby on July 29, Gipsy Kings on Aug. 6, Los Lonely Boys on Aug. 11, Pink Martini on Aug. 14 and Susan Tedeschi and Blind Boys of Alabama on Aug. 26.

Tickets range from $17 to $35. All shows are outdoors.

For more information, visit or call (503) 226-1561.

If none of that suits your fancy, you’re awfully picky. But here’s another option: the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival, July 1 to 4.

I’ve been to Safeway. They make a good baguette. But there’s nothing bluesy about that place.

Nevertheless, they’ve lent their name – and, no doubt, their money – to this four-day event along the banks of the Willamette River. A total of 100 musicians and groups will perform on four stages. Organizers have also booked workshops, jam sessions, film screenings and six blues cruises.

Among the festival luminaries is five-time Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Buddy Guy. He straps on his guitar July 1. Chicago harmonica master Charlie Musselwhite follows on July 2.

Women in Blues, with Mavis Staples and Shemekia Copeland, and Oliver Mtukudzi & Black Spirits complete the star lineup.

Admission to the festival, a fund-raiser for the Oregon Food Bank, runs you $5 and two cans of nonperishable food.

There’s a list of the most-needed foods, along with an event schedule, at Or you can call (503) 973-FEST.

Regional events

“ Valley of the Chiefs Powwow and Rodeo, June 30-July 4, in Crow Agency, Mont. They’ve got a parade, Native American dancing, authentic costumes and teepee camping. (, 406-638-2665, ext. 136)

“ Clambake and seafood barbecue, July 2, Newport, Ore. Head to Nye Beach for steamer clams, barbecued oysters and salmon, seafood gumbo, shrimp cocktails, corn on the cob, live music, horse-drawn carriage rides, tours of historic neighborhoods and games for the kids. (, 541-574-7706)

“ Montana rodeos, July 2-4 in Livingston (406-222-3199), Red Lodge (888-261-0625), Ennis (406-682-4700), Lincoln (406-362-4313), Hinsdale (406-364-2223) and White Sulphur Springs (406-547-2209). Most throw in a parade; check for dates and times. (

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