Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway Day 2, Part 1: Albany

Delicious cheesy quiche

The best part about staying at a bed and breakfast, especially when on a biking trip, is most definitely the breakfast and at Pfeiffer Cottage our growling morning stomachs were tastily answered.

The second day of our Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway trip started out leisurely as we prepared our gear, gathered our belongings and made our way downstairs. As soon as I reached the last step, the scent of warm breakfast on the stove instantly awakened my taste buds.

The meal began with a glass cup of cantaloupe topped with a small dollop of yogurt along with a steaming mug of coffee and fresh orange juice. Next, the B&B owner and cook brought out a personal pan quiche with bright, spicy peppers and a side of tortilla chips and turkey, apple sausage. Paired with chunky salsa, the food was hardy yet light and fresh – just what we needed before the start of the second day of biking.

After breakfast with stomachs full and my head a buzz with the much needed caffeine, we walked to downtown Albany to visit The Albany Brass Ring, Historical Carousel and Museum.

An all volunteer based project, the Carousel in Albany is a unique community centerpiece in the works. Designed to be a family-friendly attraction in the heart of Albany, the carousel is being carved piece by piece with a projected completion in four to five more years.

“It’s a labor of love that is creating a sense of community,” said Gary Roberts, one of the many devoted and enthusiastic volunteers. “The city is really standing behind this project.”

From the outside the museum doesn’t look like much – just another worn down old building on the corner, yet as soon as you walk inside the colors and shining paint of the completed carousel animals overcomes the senses is such a moving way that it is hard to describe.

Hand carved with diligent detail, time, and love, each animal is a museum quality piece with a story. Funded through animal sponsorships, each carousel piece is designed by its sponsor and carved to their exact specifications. Themed with traditional, Victorian style animals from horses to salmon and dragons to roosters, the carousel will be one-of-a-kind when completed.

Roberts telling us the story behind "Harriett the frog"

Additionally, many of the animals carved are also one-of-a-kind, like Harriet the frog. Purchased by a family as a memorial for their mother, the frog is decorated with details and memories of her life. The frog wears a tan, straw gardening hat because their mother loved to garden and would always wear a similar hat. Tucked in the bill of the hat, a yellow rose, her favorite flower. A purple sash, her favorite color. A jar held tightly to her chest because she would always pick extras from her garden to give away. Each detail made as a silent, visual reminder of her life all the way down to a small carved, safety pin on the back, inside pocket of the frogs outfit – one son remembers his mom by the spare safety-pin always attached to her clothing.

Walking through the museum, Roberts shared just a few of these many special memories that will forever be engraved in this community art piece.

Each volunteer also continues to add more memories and history to the carousel with every wood shaving. In the eighth year of the project, the carousel has over 300 active volunteers and 118,000 recorded hours and growing. The carousel encourages anyone who wants to help to come lend a hand. Trained volunteers and carvers give basic instructions so visitors can practice on small rosettes and wood chucks.

Two volunteers from the McKenzie River area working on animal carvings.

Once all the animals and decorative pieces are completed (1 animal can take as long as 14 months to 4 years to carve, plus 10-15 layers of paint), the carousel will be erected in the museum’s current location on a 1909 donated Dentzel mechanism.

No detail is overlooked on this carousel project either, which also includes decorative wall panels and overhangs, jesters, small stationary animals for toddlers, and of course the brass ring.

Open Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Wednesday from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., the Carousel Museum and Studio invites visitors to stroll through the building, watch the carvers at work, try their hand at carving, and become part of the project.

To find out more about the Albany Carousel, see photos of all the animals, and meet the volunteers check out it online at: www.albanybrassring.com.

Here are more photos from my visitor to Albany:

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For more things to do, see & eat around Albany, visit the Albany Visitor Center:

250 Broadalbin St. SW, Suite 100 – Albany, OR 97321 - 541-928-0911

Day two bike ride story to come in Part 2.