I’ve recently returned from a mini book tour to south eastern Washington. Along the way I gave two Music in the Westward Expansion presentations and took in some of the rich history and natural beauty of the area. The first program was an after hours program at the Fort Walla Walla Museum, located at the edge of town. The second program took place in Prosser at the Prosser Historical Museum.
Joe, my partner in life and roadie, drove (about 600 miles total) the tour vehicle (his Subaru Forester), and helped me haul my very heavy digital piano, guitar, music stand, Northern Cheyenne courtship flute, and other miscellaneous music paraphernalia in and out of the venues. Joe, who is also a master birder, managed to enjoy two exciting mornings of birding at Fort Walla Walla and at the Whitman Mission. For his eastern WA report, visit Short and Tweet Bird Reports.
In between events we enjoyed the vibrant downtown scene in Walla Walla where we strolled along picturesque sidewalks by welcoming shops and restaurants and ate some delicious meals. The Walla Walla Valley is known for its wine industry and the area around Walla Walla is surrounded by gently rolling hills lush with grape vines, and home to some 120 wineries.
At Fort Walla Walla, my presentation was in the main lobby which houses a historical covered wagon, a beautiful stage coach (pictured below), and display cases full of relics from the mid 1800s which made for a perfect setting for Music in the Westward Expansion. My program was part of a series called “After Hours” where authors and historians present programs on their field of expertise. The presentation was recorded and will eventually be added to the Fort Walla Walla website in the past programs link. Thank you to Ella Meyers and the Fort Walla Walla Museum for hosting this event.
The day after the Fort Walla Walla event, we spent anafternoon at the Whitman Mission where missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman established a mission near the Cayuse Nation at Waiilatpo on the Columbia Plateau in 1836. At the mission, we walked the grounds, marveled in the open space, and learned more about the complicated and difficult story of the Whitmans and the Cayuse people which is an important and pivotal story within the story of the American Westward Expansion.
In Prosser, the county seat of Benton County, located along the Yakima River, I played on an 1860s Chickering square grand piano. The piano was originally shipped from the East Coast around Cape Horn to Astoria where is was then shipped up the Columbia River and hauled overland to Prosser! Playing the piano in the parlor setting truly felt like stepping back in time. Thank you to Alys Means and the Prosser Historical Museum for hosting this event.