Spontaneous adventures are the best. That’s not a dig against itineraries or long-awaited, dutifully planned vacations. I love having something to look forward to. Still, a spur-of-the-moment adventure can be just what you need to get you out of a routine-induced rut.
On Saturday morning, I was up and about by 7am. The forecast called for beautiful weather, and I didn’t want to waste a minute of the sunshine by sleeping in. On the contrary, Beth , my dear friend and an interior design student, is notorious for her sleeping in and afternoon napping habits. I love her dearly, but I rarely expect to hear before 10am. That said, I was pleasantly surprised when I received a text message from her around 9am inviting me to tag along with the interior design club for a trip to the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC) to take in the new Spokane Modern Architecture (SPOMa) exhibit. In the spirit of spontaneity, I happily accepted the invitation.
Shortly afterward, Beth picked me up and we enjoyed the scenic drive from the Valley to the historic Brown’s Addition in western Spokane. Pulling up to the museum, we were hit with flashbacks of high school, as we had been part of the team that set up there for the senior prom during our junior year. Oh, high school. As fond as the memories were, neither of us lamented no longer being nervous teenagers enduring the rigors of high school. Moving into the present, we parked in front of the museum and quickly met up with Beth’s interior design classmates. I was happy to see that I wasn’t the only non-student there: a couple of girls had brought along their boyfriends, who didn’t appear to be entirely certain why they were there, but, nonetheless, they dutifully remained by their ladies’ sides for the duration of the visit. After exchanging pleasantries, the group of us headed into the museum.
The MAC’s exhibits resided on the lower floors of the building, so down we went. Peaking at us over the rail of the staircase was a fantastic zebra-print chair, which we would soon discover was only one in a collection of designer chairs produced throughout the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. Turning the corner into the entrance of the exhibit, we were greeted by a large periodic table on which the atomic symbols had cleverly been substituted with the initials of the featured designers and architects. After pausing for a group photograph, we spread out to take in the exhibit.
Despite being one of the few non-design student individuals there, I found the exhibit to fascinating and greatly informative. Besides the magnificent display of modernly designed chairs, there were also a number of features highlighting the design and construction of a number of Spokane’s iconic structures. I have never utilized the Parkade parking structure in downtown Spokane, so it was enlightening to learn that it was once a centerpiece of the area. On the flip side, the Spokane International Airport is still a thriving site. The original terminal, still in use today, opened in mid-1960s, a time, as the photographs proved, when flying was still an affair worth dressing up for. Beth and I were both enthralled by the stories behind the landmarks we could easily recognize but, as it turns out, didn’t know as well as we thought.
Included with our trip to the MAC was a tour of the historic Campbell House, located adjacent to the museum. Beth had visited the historic mansion numerous times and was unable to hide her disbelief when I sheepishly admitted that, although I had lived in Spokane all of my life, had still never been. Constructed in the late nineteenth century, the 13,000 square foot mansion was occupied by the Campbell family for barely three decades before being donated and converted into a museum following Mrs. Campbell’s death in 1924. As we would learn on our tour, the house was and remains a sign of another era and the way things were.
We began in the Carriage House. This building is where the Campbell family’s horses were kept, as well as the carriage that they used to travel throughout the city. In the back of the building, where the horses’ stalls formerly stood, were a variety of artifacts from the era of the house’s prime, including bicycles, horse shoes, and a crank-start engine. It was above the carriage house where the male servants slept. The carriage house also houses an electric car, owned by one of the Campbell’s neighbors. With a maximum speed of about 20 miles per hour and a maximum traveling distance of about 30 miles on a single charge, it wasn’t exactly a high-powered machine. Nonetheless, its owner drove it until the early 1950s, after which it was donated to the museum.
Eagerly, we made our way into the house. I was immediately stunned by the grandeur of the mansion and the extraordinary attention paid to detail. After its initial donation in the mid-1920s, the house was converted into a museum for art of the day. During its conversion into a museum, much of the carpet and wallpaper was replaced. Once restored, close replications of the removed elements were brought in to make the house look as much as possible as it did during its occupation. Original or not, the interior of the house was astoundingly ornate and incredibly luxurious.
After taking in the family’s side of the house, which included the library, front parlor, and Mr. Campbell’s “man cave”, we moved on to the working side of the house. This was where the servants performed all of the duties that allowed the house to continue to function and impress. The lower level included the furnace, a cold storage unit, and a laundry room. Moving back up to the main level, we saw the kitchen. The oven was impressive, even by today’s standards. With one side running on gas, it was at the cutting edge of the day’s technology. Our tour guide informed us that every Christmas season, one of the house’s former servants, now an elderly woman, comes back and partakes in a living history event in which she makes sugar cookies with guests and bakes them in the house’s original oven. As fascinating as this was, we were told that because the oven lacks a thermometer or any means of controlling the heat, how the cookies turn out is always somewhat unpredictable. Still, who wouldn’t want to be able to say that she has baked cookies in an antique oven?
Our tour concluded upstairs with the family’s bedrooms. The master bedroom included a sleeping porch: the house would (and still does) get extraordinarily warm in the summers, so, to allow for more comfortable slumber, Mrs. Campbell would transplant the bed outside. The Campbells’ daughter, Helen, also slept upstairs. The Campbells were constantly hosting guests from out of town, so two guest rooms were also included and frequently occupied.
Concluding our most engaging history lesson and eye-opening foray into the world of modern architecture, we bid farewell to the interior design club and went on our merry way. Both Beth and I had a ball taking in all that the MAC had to offer that day, but after touring a museum for two hours, we were famished. With all due haste, we made our way north to The Flying Goat to indulge in an out-of-this-world pizza. Well, I knew it would be out-of-this-world. Beth had never been. Since she had been kind enough to share a fun and fulfilling experience with me that day, it was only polite that I reciprocate by introducing her to a destination.
The Flying Goat is famous in Spokane for two things: pizza and beer. This isn’t your dad’s old pizza parlor. Nothing that comes out of Flying Goats blazing pizza ovens is typical. With pizzas like the Fairview (“cream, cheese blend, house smoked back bacon ham, pears, blue cheese crumbles and balsamic reduction”), the D Street (“Yellow Coconut Curry, chicken, potato, jalapeno, carrot, house cheese blend, cilantro, Sriracha, and lime juice”), and the Kiernan (“Italian sausage, arugula, house cheese blend, heavy cream and an over medium egg”), the offerings are anything but boring. The spectacular tap line-up is nearly as impressive: fourteen taps showcase a vast array of beers from both the Inland Northwest and the West Coast. On permanent tap is the house beer, Horned Aviator, produced by Spokane’s own No-Li Brewhouse. On this particular Saturday, the options included beers from the likes of Laughing Dog, Hale’s Ales, Alameda, and 21st Amendment, just to name a few. Not wanting to miss out on an opportunity to enjoy an outstanding brew from a far-away land, I ordered a pint of The Bruery’s Rugbrod Rye Ale. Rugbrod turned out to be one of the best rye beers I had ever had, as well as an excellent accompaniment to Beth and my conversation whilst awaiting our pizza.
It had been an adventurous day this far, and we were eager to keep it that way. The pizza we ordered certainly qualified as adventurous. After I assured her that the two of us would definitely be able to finish a whole pizza, Beth and I endeavored to try the Courtland, which consisted of “smoked jerk chicken with Jamaican pepper sauce, green onions, mango, cheese blend and spicy Sriracha sauce”. Tres adventurous, non?
We took a moment to take in the savory tropical masterpiece before us. Mangoes? On a pizza? We could dig it. Without hesitating, we dug in. The first bit unleashed all of the caramelized sweetness that the mango chunks were hiding, while the crisp dough provided a sturdy stage on which the other flavors were about to perform. Once the sugary introduction subsided a bit, the spices began to make their boastful appearances. The Jamaican pepper was what hit me first, but it didn’t have much time on center stage before the spices in the Sriracha came stomping on. It left a lasting impression that nearly had me reaching for my glass of water. I took a second bite, and this time, I was greeted by the smoky flavor of the chicken. The combination of smooth smoke from the chicken and immaculate sweetness from the mango left me longing to find myself carefree on a Caribbean beach. The flavors on this pizza were both relaxing and exhilarating, and I couldn’t get enough of it.
I wasn’t least bit surprised, but actually quite proud, when my prediction that Beth and I could finish this pizza proved correct. Following hours of history and education, we were in dire need of not only some sustenance, but also something that would bring us back to the here and now. We both adored our time at the Flying Goat and left feeling refreshed and re-energized, ready to tackle the remainder of our afternoons. At the conclusion of the weekend, we would both go our separate ways, Beth back to school, and I back to work. Regardless of what the coming workweek held in store, I was glad that I was able to make the most of the free time that I had during the weekend, and with one of my favorite friends, to boot! With that in mind, I can only imagine where our next day trip will take us. Somewhere memorable, I suspect.