Saturday, October 23, 2010

Little Treasures

Yakima's not the prettiest town we've visited, or the liveliest, or the richest - but it does have some treasures. One of them is its museum, which is beautifully presented and has some wonderful oddities amongst its collection: sheep-powered butter churner, anyone? There's something for everyone, but we were treated to a special view of one of the storerooms where Mike the curator happily showed us a selection of small marvels, like a hard-tack biscuit from the Civil War, a basket so finely woven that it held water, and stunningly fine bead-work items.

Then it was down to the Museum Soda Fountain, a vision in chrome and red vinyl, for a banana split and a milkshake that was headache-inducingly hard to suck through the straw. Yeah, I know: it's a hard life, eh.

Nearby Toppenish has an interesting Indian culture museum with a depressingly familiar story beneath its tepee roof and some startlingly - even creepily - lifelike mannequins dressed as notable figures in the history of the confederated tribes. In the town itself, there are 73 large-scale murals, many of them painted in a single day by a team of artists, watched by the townspeople sitting on specially-erected bleachers. In other words, it's a town where people come to watch paint dry.
And the day finished with another of Yakima's treasures, the Capitol Theatre and its improv show, which has launched the careers of Tina Fey, Steve Carrell, Mike Myers and Stephen Colbert, amongst others. It was such a funny and professional show tonight, there's little doubt that the magic is still at work there.

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