For a pleasant side trip on the drive to the Tri-Cities area , head north from Roosevelt to the farming town of Bickleton, with a friendly café on one side of the street and a tavern on the other. Bickleton has the unique distinction of being the bluebird capital of the world; houses for the little guys are everywhere.
The bluebird housing project started in the 1960s when Jess and Elva Brinkerhoff built one, then another and another, and soon it was a community project. When the birds leave for the winter, the 700 houses are taken down, cleaned, and painted if they need it. Spring is the best time to view the bluebirds, but you’re likely to see them all summer long.
In Cleveland Pioneer Park, four miles west of town, is a delightful old carousel with 24 wooden horses and a musical calliope. Built at the turn of the 20th century, the carousel has been here since 1928 and is a rare type that moves around a track. The horses are locked away in a secret location with the exception of a two-day period each summer: during the Alder Creek Pioneer Picnic and Rodeo in mid-June. This is the oldest rodeo in the state of Washington and also a cheap thrill at only $7.
For another piece of history, visit Bluebird Inn (121 E. Market St., 509/896-2273), said to be Washington’s oldest tavern. Built in 1892, it has a classic century-old Brunswick pool table with leather pockets (still in use), along with other local artifacts.
The Whoop-N-Holler Ranch Museum (East Rd. between Bickleton and Roosevelt, 509/896-2344, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Apr.–Sept., $3) contains a lifetime of collecting by Lawrence and Ada Whitmore. Two large buildings are filled with antique cars, as well as local historical items and family heirlooms that tell the interesting story of the Whitmore family. This is one of the largest collections of antique and classic cars in the state.