Pilot story and photos

by Bill Lundquist

Brookings, from doll houses to dogs, sushi to Tai Chi, was experienced Wednesday by the 34 people who joined Hospitality Tours.

Tour leader Jan Norwood said business owners and citizens in the Brookings area had been asking when Hospitality Tours would visit them again.

Since the free tour is only offered once a month now, Norwood said interest in visiting Brookings attractions had been building.

As a result, those on the whirlwind tour rushed to seven stops in a bit more than four hours.

Miniature Worlds

The first stop was the home of Ben and Maxine King, where visitors saw a doll house so large it filled a bedroom, yet so detailed that the cups on the table were handmade on the end of a pencil.

Ben made the parts for the furniture on miniature machinery, just as a commercial manufacturer would on full size equipment.

Maxine assembled the furniture and made all the dishes. She hand-painted, with six coats of glaze, one set for Christmas and one for andquot;everydayandquot; use.

Ben wired the doll house for electricity, using two strips of copper on sticky tape. He also cut quarter-inch boards and assembled them into a front porch on the outside of the house.

The entire house is on casters. It can be turned, but is too large to pass through a door.

andquot;We'll have to live here until we die,andquot; said Ben, andquot;because we can't take it out.andquot;

Maxine makes all sorts of crafts, while Ben is a gourmet cook, trained by Julia Child. The doll house, however, is a special source of pride.

andquot;It's a great source of self-satisfaction to be able to do that,andquot; said Ben.

Surfing the Net with Sushi

Those on the tour sampled cheesecake and sushi while learning how to get on-line at Northwest Technical's Internet Cafe.

Internet support technician Brad Jones demonstrated the company's Mail Station, which allows customers to access e-mail only for $9.95 a month.

For those who want a lot more from the Internet than e-mail, and want it fast, Northwest Technical offers wireless high-speed Internet access.

The system receives information through an omnidirectional antenna and is as fast as a T1 line. Jones said the band length is not affected by storms or fog.

Access costs $499 for the equipment and $49.95 a month.

Oregon Products

Visitors enjoyed free samples of cranberry muffins at the Banana Belt Trading Company on Chetco Avenue.

Norwood said owners Linda and Jerry Kelley have kept their store thriving for six years, while others came and went. Their gift shop features cards, T-shirts, nautical items, and foods made in Oregon.

Norwood said the Kelleys are also instrumental in putting on the annual Beachcombers Festival for the Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce. The festival will be held March 22 and 23 this year at Azalea Middle School.

Balancing Mind and Body

The next stop on the tour was the Health Shop and Tai Chi center on the corner of Railroad and Center streets.

Owner Jon Loren gave a three-minute demonstration of tai chi exercises, which he said are designed to balance the mental and physical sides of people.

Loren said Tai Chi is the most popular type of exercise in the world. His classes for children are large, but he also teaches people of any age and has an 88-year-old in one class.

andquot;I've never had a person who couldn't learn Tai Chi,andquot; said Loren. andquot;It's not how athletic you are. It's about tenacity.andquot;

Loren teaches his students up to 500 moves. The moves are slow motion.

He said the program is inexpensive, requiring no equipment. A class that meets twice a week costs just $45 a month.

andquot;Normally,andquot; said Loren, andquot;Tai Chi masters would be herbalists,andquot; so he also runs the Health Shop with health foods and Chinese herbs.

andquot;Everything on earth is curable with Chinese medicine,andquot; he said, explaining the Chinese philosophy of health and healing.

andquot;Even cancer is considered a chronic illness, but not life-threatening.andquot;

Loren said a woman with bladder cancer was given four months to live. She traveled to China, where treatments are inexpensive, and is cancer-free today.

Loren said his Health Shop is the largest medicinal herb store on the coast, and has highly-trained employees.

Purrs and Woofs

Pets have also been shown to be beneficial to the health of their owners, so the next stop was a quick tour of the South Coast Humane Society Animal Welfare Shelter on Railroad Street.

Director Vicki Cooley took the tour first into the new cat holding facility. The shelter currently has 67 cats available for adoption, including some in foster homes.

andquot;We want to get down to 50,andquot; said Cooley.

The facility has a central hall with cages stacked nearly to the ceiling. There are also several side rooms.

Cats who want to leave their cages, and who get along well with other cats, are rotated out for exercise periods to roam the main hall.

The building also has a dog kennel with room for 20 in the regular runs and 14 in isolation. There are currently 29 dogs.

Volunteers staff the facility, as there are few funds to pay employees.

A Private Museum

After a no-host lunch at the Whaleshead Restaurant north of town, the tour stopped to inspect the many delights created and gathered over the years by Bill and Kathleen Hiltz.

Scarcely an inch of the interior and exterior of the north-Brookings home is not covered with some form of art the Hiltzes made or collected.

Among the curiosities is a carousel horse in the living room and a toy train circling the bathroom sink.

The Hiltzes also constructed a large doll house, and a castle to house figurines.

Bill is well-known in local writers' circles for his andquot;cogitations,andquot; reflections on pretty much anything.

After the death of Kathleen, he took up painting, and has also been the subject of a painting.

The Barn Sale

No, the barn isn't for sale, but everything inside it is. The Barn Sale is a hard-to-find antique store just south of McVay Lane on U.S. Highway 101, not far from the California border.

The shop is in a barn up the hill behind the Apple Hill RV Park. Owner Doni Officer said she may soon be moving her collection to another location.

For those who don't find what they are looking for at The Barn Sale, Officer has created a Web site andquot;by collectors for collectors.andquot;

For $24 a year, collectors can place up to 100 ads at http://www.collectorsbuyandsell. com.

andquot;It's like an on-line flea market,andquot; said Officer.

Next Tour

Art will be the focus of the March 19 Hospitality Tour beginning at 9:15 a.m. at the Pacific Coast Antique Mall in Harbor and making its way south to Crescent City. Call Norwood at (541) 469-4909 to sign up.