Thursday, August 5, 2010

Maryhill ’09 Postscript (Con’t)

So after a leisurely morning at our secluded campsite, we decided to finally get the show on the road and make the hour drive to Maryhill in order to partake in the Day’s Hill Climb event… After all that was the reason we’d traveled across the state, right?

HillClimbArriving just before noon, we sauntered over to the starting line, where we were able to catch about the last 5-6 participants of the morning’s run, where manning the start line was a “Funnyman” (Male) Official who would yell over the roar of the waiting contestant’s race vehicle busily idling away… 5, 4, 3, 2,1! (GO!) As it was entertaining to hear some of the drivers briefly stall their “Lumps” on the uphill incline, before wrapping the throttle and taking off in pursuit of tripping the clock at the finish line…

I say Funnyman ‘cause during a brief lull in the action, when the track had gone silent, he said very loudly to the few of us gathered; think I’m hard of hearing which he YELLED in the din of the silence which got great laughter from everyone around him.

The racing entrants still awaiting their chance to run up the hill were being waived off in one minute intervals, with the track having gone Full course “Yellow” (no Red Flags apparently) due to one of the two vintage Sunbeam “Tigger’s” (Tiger) who’d wrecked while going off course just prior to the end of the morning session, (either the No. 67 or No. 69? As the damaged racecar forlornly made its way back down track followed by a Flatbed “Wrecker...” (Tow truck)

Having watched the final three contestants blast off of the starting line, we watched the smallish armada of racecar’s come back down the hill single file led by a Pace Car before it was lunchtime, to which we returned to our trusty ‘Ol Pick-em Up Truck for; as our overzealous “Attack Dawgs” began barking at one of the drivers whose Firesuit happened to be the same champagne colour of the ‘Hoonds… (Jealous Mollie, perhaps?)

After lunch we gathered everything but the kitchen sink in preparations for watching the afternoon festivities… As unbeknownst to Mwah, I’d find myself pulling a ‘lil red wagon with an Old Doggie named Sarah in it, who wasn’t to keen on staying in the wagon, while carrying two folding chairs as we set off up the lumpy, spiky, prickly thorn infested hillside in search of some shaded vantage point to watch the racecar’s howl uphill. As we passed a few spectators, with Mary Ellen in the lead with her two FUR-Rocious Bitches Mollie ‘N Pixie, me pulling the wagon and Alex holding said ‘Ol Yeller (Sarah) from hightailing it outta her transport, a man said that the Oregon Trail was just over the hillside; Hya! As great guffawing occurred – with several wisecracks being made about our Homesteading appearance of three Hoonds, wagon, chairs, etc. (All in good fun.)

Thus we finally finished our pilgrimage to a small portion of wispy Oak trees, settling at what appeared to be the course’s very first turn, as the vehicles would hurtle towards us, before lifting while downshifting for what appeared to be a ninety degree left turn… As this action would occur every 60 seconds…
Although SOVREN’s website claims 40 vintage vehicles typically compete in this yearly event, Alex counted only 18, as I’ll hopefully be able to post the video one day that No Fenders “Cub Photographer” Alex took, (But do NOT hold your breath, Eh!) which is great as he yelled out the numbers one thru eighteen for my benefit as the competitors returned downhill after their first afternoon pass.

Returning to the Hot Pits/Paddock area, the racers turned their vehicles around and lined-up for another blast up the Maryhill Loops Road; reportedly the very first ever paved road in the State of Washington, which Samuel Hill invested $100,000 of his own money to construct nearly a century ago...

As the variety of Open Wheel Racing Cars and “Tin Tops” proceeded by, Mary Ellen told Alex & me to get a move-on; don’t you wanna at least see the course, she inquired? As there’s a small flotilla of Yellow School Busses to take spectators up the windy race course to a few vantage points… Thus Alex & I set off downhill, arriving “Just-in-Time” as the bus driver cranked the starter, while we thought we’d simply ride uphill and then back down again… Surprise!

And the well maintained continuously winding shiny black “Ash-fault” road is quite a bit longer then expected, working its way well uphill from the nearby Columbia River, as we simply kept ‘N kept driving, before the bus suddenly pulled over to the side of the road.

This was perfect, since we were situated on the left side of the bus and thus got to view all of the racing cars coming back down the hill in preparations for their third and final run of the afternoon, while we’d learn at the top of the mountain, that we had to wait for all of the racecar’s to race uphill, before we could follow them back down…

DRAT! You mean we’ve gotta stay here and watch racing cars scream uphill before we can leave? As I hate it when that happens… (NOT!)
Thus it was really fun to listen to the tiny little bright specs screaming their way thru the multitude of turns before appearing at the finish line and then saunter their way into a staging area one by one, (where Alex counted a total of 13 racecar’s) as it appeared that the fastest Hill Climb participant was car No. 67? Which was one of the Open Wheel variants.

Although I particularly enjoyed the efforts of another extremely fast racecar squealing its tyres in protest as it made its way up the course, being another Open Wheel vehicle, No. 92 I believe, while Alex’s favourite was the shiny silver/gold? No. 31; as then it was time to hop back in the bus and ride downhill, before walking back up to our vantage point, so I could pull Alex ‘N ‘Ol Yeller back down in the wagon, which was a pretty entertaining affair since I naturally tried walking thru all of the thorn bushes…

As we made our way back to the truck Mary Ellen estimated that there’d been about 50 vehicles in the field’s parking area, mostly friends ‘N family members of the contestant’s, as we’d actually met one of the drivers who had come all the way from Tacoma, WA; Bob Bush in his lone ’61 Corvette... Which for some strange reason I seem to recall looking like a Mid-1960’s Big Block Sting Ray variant... Oh Whale, whatever...

2009 Maryhill SOVERN HillClimb Participants
Open wheel Racing variants (7)

No. Class Chassis Type
20 FV 1969 RCA
43 FF 1969 Lola T200
67 FB 1967 Brabham BT21
72 FF 1970 Titan Mark 6
80 FV 1964 Autodynamics
92 FF 1969 Titan Mark IV
00 FV 1968 Zink

‘TinTop variants (15)
No. Class Chassis Type
11 AS 1964 Studebaker Daytona
14 E 1967 Triumph TR3
18 CM 1949 Allard J2
23 D 1957 Alfa Romeo
27 BS 1965 Alfa Romeo
31 EX 1978 Mini Clubman
44 CP 1969 Triumph TR6
51 DP 1967 Triumph TR4-A
56 CM 1956 Jaguar XK140
57 FIA G4 1964 Ginetta G4
61 B 1961 Corvette
67 BP 1965 Sunbeam Tiger
69 BP 1967 Sunbeam Tiger
188 FP 1967 Austin Healey Sprite
304 BS 1968 BMW 2002

Maryhill Chateau

StonehengeAfterwards, we made the brief drive to the replica Stonehenge monument, which is made out of concrete and was created as a War memorial for the fallen soldiers of Klickitat County who lost their life’s in World War One.

The memorial was completed in 1930 on the site of a former Hotel, which I believe Mary Ellen read to me had burned down… As the Hotel was part of Samuel Hill’s vision of his Quaker community named Maryhill in deference to his estranged wife and daughter.

Interestingly the memorial was completed just one year prior to Samuel Hill’s death (1857-1931) and his ashes were entombed nearby the monument, which also overlooks the Columbia River.

Meanwhile his Chateau, originally intended to have eight suites and seating for 250 dinner guests, in the mammoth 60 X 93 foot structure, would ultimately be completed as an Art Museum, which (his friend) Queen Marie of Romania convinced him to do so, as she also presided over the dedication ceremonies of Stonehenge and the Peace Arch in Blaine, WA, with the Museum finally opening to the public on May 13, 1940; Samuel’s Birthday, nine years after his passing. (With 10,000 visitors per month recorded in 2002.)

Then it was back to our most peacefully secluded campsite nearby the Klickitat River for another night before trekking to Zillah, WA where we spent our final evening before finally having to head back across the pass and return to the bright lights of civilization, as we encountered the first snowfall of the season whilst crossing Chinook Pass, although it wasn’t cold enough to stick, nevertheless the landscape was covered by a light dusting of white stuff…

And thus, having never heard of Samuel Hill prior to reading Neil Peart’s Ghost Rider book, I was now ensconced in finding out a little bit more background detail on the man responsible for Maryhill, so I found it interesting to learn that he’d also built another concrete mansion in Seattle, where he apparently spent three decades of his latter life, along with having partaken residence at the Rainier Club, (a very swank Gentlemen’s Club) when Mary had left to return to Minnesota with their two children, while Samuel would go onto sire three further children before his ultimate demise…

Samuel Hill; 1857-1931