A Groovy Guide To Union Gap, Washington

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A groovy guide to union gap, washington

If you drive down the main street of Union Gap, Washington, and are not careful, you may miss the hidden history and unassuming businesses scattered throughout what used to be Old Town, Yakima. Due to the size of the town, most travelers would not point their finger at a map and say, “I want to visit Union Gap, Washington.” I know before my visit, I would not have done that. But after my introduction to the small town, I want to go back.

I want to take a weekend trip for Union Gap Old Town Days or the Civil War Reenactment and Living History Camps held at the Central Washington Agricultural Museum in June. And I want to return to meet up with the friends I made while there. They are the type of people who would sit with you in front porch rockers during early afternoon hours drinking iced tea.

In an effort to capture the spirit of Union Gap, I have created a guide. I hope you find heart and passion for family-run businesses, hometown events, and the community goodness of charitable organizations throughout my blog post. But if you don’t, use the guide and travel there yourself, and discover the neighborhood of Union Gap, Washington.


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Where to Sleep

-Best Western Ahtanum Inn

(Photo Credit: Best Western Ahtanum Inn & Ingrid McQuivey)

 

Information:

Address: 2408 Rudkin Rd, Yakima, WA 98903

Phone: (509) 248-9700

Points of Excellence:

  • Excellent customer care from front desk to maid service

  • Clean and comfortable

  • A full-service breakfast

  • Welcomes traveling teams

Behind the Hotel:

When traveling to Union Gap, you may want to stay the night at the Best Western Ahtanum Inn, off I-82 in south Yakima. The hotel has a full-service breakfast: yogurt, sausages, eggs, potatoes, granola, waffles, hot and cold cereal, juice and more. Traveling can be expensive, and a complimentary breakfast benefits travelers. Upon check-out, you will not be hungry.

The Best Western Ahtanum Inn also welcomes large groups or traveling teams. During my first night, my room was in the same hall as a large group of athletes. For a short time, they disrupted fellow guests with loud laughter, talking, and the shutting of doors as they went from room to room. At first, I didn’t mind the noise, as it was early afternoon, but as the hour grew later, I needed rest for the next day, so I called the front desk and asked if someone would speak to the guests. Within fifteen minutes, our hall was quiet, and I settled into sleep. I appreciated the timely response of the Best Western Ahtanum Inn staff in handling the situation. When you pay for a room in a hotel next to other guests, sometimes things happen. For me, a hotel has excellent customer service by the timeliness of their response when handling dilemmas.

For the rest of my stay, I slept comfortably with no other disturbances.


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Where to

Eat

-Nino’s Mexican Grill

-Pepp’rmint Stick Drive In

 

Information:

Address: 1601 E Washington Ave, Union Gap, WA 98903

Hours: Mon-Sat 11AM–8PM; Sunday12–5PM

Phone: (509) 452-0318

Points of Excellence:

  • Fresh food made daily - no freezers on site

  • Family-owned, local business

  • Several recipes were tested in home kitchen before introducing them to the public

Behind the Grill:

If you want fresh, authentic Mexican food, look no further than Nino’s Mexican Grill. When I visited, twenty-three-year-old Norma Berrera talked to me about the grill - a long-time dream of her mother, Claudia Navarro - her hobby of collecting miniatures and perfecting her father’s marinade. Nino’s opened six years ago; the miniatures decorating the walls of the grill have been “part of her life” much longer.

When Norma’s family opened the doors, they did not use homemade tortillas. Now they do. The recipe, like so many others, began in their home kitchen. It was tested and improved to meet the needs of the restaurant. Norma’s father created their homemade adobo sauce marinating their chicken. Later, Norma enhanced it. It now has thirty ingredients. Customers ask Norma all the time if Nino’s food is homemade or made from scratch. She said, “Look, if I could make the cheese in the back, I would, but I can’t grow cows. I can’t grow olives and corn in the back.”

Norma and her mom work as a team in running the grill. She said, “My mom established the drive to work hard. That’s when you set certain people apart: You may not know how to do something, but when you are thrown into it, you figure it out.” When asked about the hours, she said, “I don’t like to look at each day as a routine because how can stay motivated and grow from a routine. Each morning, I have to come in and give the same love to the food as I did yesterday. Now that we have a lot of help, I come in at 7:00 or 8:00. The cool thing about the menu, is we only specialize in a few dishes. Everything is made fresh each morning. The longest we keep food is a day or maybe two.”

As for myself, I tasted the freshness in every bite.

Read more about Nino’s in the Yakima Herald.


Pepp’rmint Stick Drive In

(Photo credits: Pepp’rmint Stick Drive In)

 

Information:

Address: 4002 Main St, Union Gap, WA 98903

Hours: Mon-Thurs 10AM–8PM; Fri-Sat 10AM–9PM; Sunday10AM–8PM

Phone: (509) 457-4374

Points of Excellence:

  • Courteous and kind staff

  • Family-owned and operated since the late 1940s.

  • Supports the local community with an annual car show

  • Their peppermint milkshake

  • Voted Yakima Magazine's #1 Off-the-Radar-Burger

Behind the Drive-in:

You may be gobbling up an old-fashioned hamburger; dunking your fries in homemade fry sauce, and sucking up a peppermint milkshake, when a young couple wearing 1950s clothing walks in to order food before a school dance. That happened to me. I couldn’t have staged the scene better myself.


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Where to Drink

-Treveri Cellars

 

Information:

Address: 71 Gangl Rd, Wapato, WA 98951

Hours:  Mon-Thurs 12 to 5PM; Fri & Sat 12 to 6PM; Sunday 12–4PM

Phone: (509) 877-0925

Points of Excellence:

  • Treveri Cellars is the only winery in Washington State that specializes exclusively in sparking wine

  • Family-run and operated

  • In 2019 Treveri wines will have a tenth showing at the State Department

  • Treveri has invested approximately $50,000 or more to environmental improvements for the winery

  • Supports sustainable tourism

Behind the Winery:

The Gap near Union Gap, Washington, is the beginning of the gate to the wine industry, and the first winery you will come to on your way from Seattle is Treveri Cellars. Juergen and Julie Grieb, the owners of Treveri, opened the doors of the winery on November 23, 2010, to specialize only in sparkling wines. In 2011, Hillary Clinton’s chef visited the winery, and now, almost a decade later, Treveri wine has been served multiple times at White House State Department receptions and the James Beard Foundation in New York.

Juergen began his winemaking venture in Trier, Germany. He gained two formal winemaking degrees and became an apprentice in the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer at Karthäuserhof Winery. Recognizing his passion for sparkling wine, Juergen obtained a second apprenticeship at the Duhr Sektkellerei in downtown Trier. At the age of twenty-one, while considering his future, his mother found an ad to send a gentleman from Germany to the US to make wine in their facility. He answered the ad, was given the job, and moved to the United States in 1983, where he also met Julie. Currently, they have celebrated thirty-five years of marriage.

During the interview, I congratulated Juergen and Julie about their marriage, and we talked a bit about grandchildren. As much as they have accomplished as a couple, their faces lit up when discussing family. After, we chatted about history and family, Juergen and Julie gave me a tour of the winery. I learned the first sparkling wines were created in the 1600s, and the process they use at Treveri Cellars is the same process used centuries ago. The only exception: technology has changed things and provided the ability to mechanize. Beyond that, the primary fermentation, by adding yeast and sugar, happens within the bottle. After, the bottle is capped and placed in storage for a couple of years.

Because Treveri’s sparkling wine is so specialized, the equipment comes from France, and the champagne bottles are shipped from Germany. When possible, Juergen and Julie reach out to vendors in the greater Yakima Valley for products. Julie said, “Our commitment to the community is important to us. We know a lot of people, and our son went to school in Yakima.”  


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Where to Shop

-Somewhere in Time/That 70s Shop

-Granny’s Attic

-Gap Treasures

 

Information:

Address: 3911 1st St, Union Gap, WA 98903

Hours: Tues-Sat 11AM–6PM

Phone: (509) 248-7352

Points of Excellence:

  • Unique items not usually found in secondhand shops

  • A large collection of records and Mid-century mod decor

  • Supports sustainable tourism

Behind the Shop:

The idea behind Richard Murphy’s shop, Somewhere in Time/That 70s Shop, started with a Billy Ripken baseball card that had a dirty word on it. The naughty term on the collectible raised its value to one hundred dollars in one day. Richard found a Ripken card in a pack and realized “there is money in this stuff.” After several years of shopping at yard sales, and gathering items from here and there, Richard opened Somewhere in Time in 1995. Later, while That ‘70s show aired, he added records to his inventory and That 70s shop to the name.

Richard told me he doesn’t collect anything himself, but if he did, he would collect old photos from the turn of the century. His favorite era: “The 50s and 60s when I was a kid. Like most people, when we were kids, it was our favorite era.” Richard’s most significant find was a Seattle Slew Trophy from the Triple Crown won in 1977 in Seattle. The trophy was one of five. He found it at an estate sale in Yakima.

After twenty-eight years, new customers still come into the shop every day. He said, “Now it’s gone into the 80s and 90s. The people buying mid-century furniture is the younger generation.”

Granny’s Attic

 

Information:

Address: 4215 Main St, Union Gap, WA 98903

Hours: Mon-Fri 10AM-6PM; Sat & Sun 10AM-4PM

Phone: (509) 594-1665

Points of Excellence:

  • Clean, uncluttered space - easy to browse through items

  • Items are priced at a fair value

  • Free local delivery

  • Supports sustainable tourism

Behind the Shop:

Jerry Noblin never thought to own a secondhand shop, like Granny’s Attic. He was a car guy instead. But after running the shop for three years, he said, “The history behind furniture is a lot like the history behind cars. I like researching all the stuff: the manufacturers, the histories, and tragedies.”

If you are in the market for vintage bedroom sets made from quality wood, Jerry carries them at a fair price and offers free local delivery. In the beginning, Jerry frequented estate sales to buy stock; now he doesn’t need to search, people come to him. My final impression of Jerry after watching him interact with customers: He enjoys the process of helping people find what they need.

Read more about Granny’s Attic.


Gap Treasures

 

Information:

Address: 3711 Main St, Union Gap, WA 98903

Hours: Wed-Sat 10AM-5PM

Phone: (509) 249-8656

Points of Excellence:

  • Years of establishment - lots of inventory

  • Welcoming and friendly atmosphere

  • Supports sustainable tourism

Behind the Shop:

Tricia acquired Gap Treasures four years ago. And when you first encounter her jovial laugh, you may want to take her out to lunch and chat like friends. Tricia’s favorite thing about her shop: “connection” and “history.” Customers walk through her door, discover an item from their childhood, and share their stories behind the antique pieces. She said, “I had a gal come in last week that broke a whole vase when she was a little girl and found the same vase in my shop. She bought the vase and took it to her 85-year-old mom.”


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Where to Learn

-Central Washington Agricultural Museum

-Olde Yakima Letterpress Museum

 

Information:

Address: 4508 Main St, Union Gap, WA 98903

Phone: (509) 457-8735

Points of Excellence:

  • Supports sustainable tourism

  • Historical preservation site

  • Family-friendly

  • Community education

Behind the Museum:

Jeanene Sutton, my guide for the Central Washington Agricultural Museum - a fifteen-acre museum preserving the agricultural heritage of the Yakima Valley and Central Washington - welcomed me like we were old friends. And I imagine if I lived in Union Gap, we would be. While touring, Jeanene introduced me to several longtime volunteers working at the museum and they also became temporary chums: Bill, Bob, Jerry, and Mr. Pibb (Jerry’s dog). The small group of people have one thing in common: they want to see the non-profit, tax-exempt, agricultural museum started by Ted Falk succeed.

The open-air museum is family-friendly. One particular exhibit favorited by children is The Farmstead. It includes a kiddie train, train depot, windmill, and corn crib. At Union Gap Old Town Days in June, kids can ride the train, and families can participate in wagon tours. If you are a history buff, grab a blanket and picnic lunch and watch Civil War reenactment battles, or watch a demonstration of the 1930’s era sawmill.

When I visited, I wandered through the Keys Homestead, the Farm Equipment Yard, the Northern Pacific Railroad Boxcar, the Magness Room, and the newest exhibit that represents the farm wife. Jeanene said, “A lot of people like that the exhibit is near the front. They feel like that sometimes the farm wife was forgotten.”

The museum has had its share of fame, too. A truck found on site was featured in a John Steinbeck movie, In Dubious Battle, three years ago. The director and producer of the film, James Franco, filmed in a Yakima Valley orchard - owned by Apple King, which has a warehouse in Union Gap - and used equipment from the museum. Jeanene said, “Of course, everyone had to watch the movie. There are a lot of Union Gap people mentioned in the credits of the movie.”

Another old piece of equipment recognized in several magazines is the 1910 Belly Dump Wagon. The museum treasurer, Drew, worked on it for over five years. Belly Dump wagons were used to haul gravel, so they usually got beat up in the process. Few exist in restored condition. Jeanene related a funny story about the wagon:

“From the day I worked at the Agricultural Museum, the volunteers referenced the Belly Dump Wagon. I thought they had given up on restoring it, because I had never seen it. Everyone kept  making jokes and referenced the wagon anytime a long-term project came up. Then one Sunday I got a call about the Belly Dump Wagon being done. I was like, ‘You mean the wagon is real?’ I had no idea.”

Olde Yakima Letterpress Museum

(Photo credits: Eric Patrick)

 

Information:

Address: 2002 Landon Ave, Yakima, WA 98903

Phone: (509) 248-7636

Behind the Museum:

Unfortunately, I was not able to visit the letterpress museum because they were in the process of setting up a new building at the Central Washington Agricultural Museum. However, I did attend the Letterpress Essay contest held each year by the museum and was highly impressed by the quality of program.

Here is information I gleaned from the museum’s website:

“Our founders are Rev. Fred Hutchinson and Dr. Ruth Bishop, a husband and wife team. Fred grew up in a family letterpress business in Fall River, Massachusetts and began setting hand type as a six year old in 1953. Ruth, a letterpress enthusiast, manages the education program.

As a 501 (c) (3) not for profit organization, we encourage financial gifts, believing that people who find value in the work we do will sustain the enterprise, allowing us to pass our creative expression to the next generation.”


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Where to Play

-Ahtanum Ridge

 

Information:

  • There are two trails - one trailhead is located at Fullbright Park; the other at the Central Washington Agricultural Museum

  • Bring plenty of water - the area is dry compared to Western Washington

  • Check the trail before hiking to make sure it is not too wet. During early spring, the trails may be muddy

  • Make sure to bring your camera, and hike during the early morning and late afternoon hours for the best light

Behind the hike:

When Eric Patrick and I tackled the hike to Ahtanum Ridge from the trailhead located at the Central Washington Agricultural Museum, it was only the second time I’d hiked since the beginning of spring, and my body struggled with the switchback path leading uphill. However, I completed it - even with being out of hiking shape. I’m happy I did, as the continuous view of the Union Gap valley was worth the hike. And at the end of the hike, you will see “The Gap” - the inspiration behind Union Gap’s name - between the Upper and Lower Valley. As a photographer, I would suggest hiking the trail during the early morning or late afternoon hours. Union Gap has open skies and lots of light perfect for photography.

A second trailhead starts at Fullbright Park and is the harder of the two. More experienced hikers in good condition might want the challenge of this hike. Depending on the time of year, another option would be to run the trails. You want to be careful, during the spring, the fine dirt used on the trail becomes wet and muddy.


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Mark Your Calendar

-Skateland: Food Truck Wars

-Letterpress Essay Contest

 

What to Expect in 2020:

  • Food trucks provide mini samples to ticket holders

  • You can purchase lunch from any of the trucks

  • Live music

  • A magician interacts with the people

  • Crowds: In 2019, over 700 people voted for the people’s choice award

  • The Union Gap Tourism Board is teaming up with Skateland in 2020 to streamline the event (2019 was the inaugural year)

Letterpress Essay Contest

 

What to Expect in 2020:

  • Scholarship essay contest for Yakima Valley middle school aged children presented by The Olde Yakima Letterpress Museum.

  • The Letterpress Essay Contest provides students a glimpse into historical characters who made the printed word come alive

  • The contest is free for students to enter

  • The event supports sustainable tourism

  • A handful of students read their winning essays - their words moved me


Thank you for stopping by and please share this guide! Also, you may want to listen to my interview with longtime Union Gap resident, 87-year-old Bob and why he stopped breaking horses recently.

-Ingrid

Note: All photography is mine unless noted.

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