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Resident FAQ

Where is Mineral School?

Our address is 114 Mineral Rd. South, Mineral, WA 98355. We’re also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Our web site is www.mineral-school.org.

Mineral School mailing address

There is no postal mail delivery in “downtown” Mineral, so if you mail yourself supplies or expect a care package, use our PO Box address. That address is: You, c/o Mineral School, PO Box 214, Mineral, WA 98355.

Phone numbers/contact information

Mineral School’s number is 360-496-0368. Because we do not have 24/7 staff onsite (and are often in Seattle), if residency isn’t in session it’s typically better to e-mail mineralschoolarts@gmail.com with questions and we’ll write or call you back in response.

Tell me about Mineral

Mineral is located southeast of Seattle, and northeast of Portland, in east Lewis County, Washington, and near the Ashford (Nisqually) entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park. The area is dotted with lakes (some manmade from dams, some natural mountain lakes) and forests, some actively logged and others preserved as part of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Mineral once had 4,000 residents, most of whom worked in the logging industry, which is still active in the area; it was also the site of a CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) logging camp, one of the many Depression-era logging camps formed in the Northwest to create jobs for young men who logged much of the infrastructure seen at Mt. Rainier National Park and in the surrounding area. Mineral School is on former Weyerhaeuser land, and was built in 1947 (a prior school dating to the 1920s burned down). Today, the town of Mineral has fewer than 300 inhabitants, many of whom are nearing retirement or who are part-time residents with second homes here. The town is dominated by a fishing lake which is stocked with trout and fished from late April through late October, and it’s also a popular stop with motorcyclists making loops around Mt. Rainier. Perched at about 2000 feet elevation, Mineral is typically 5 degrees cooler than Seattle or Portland and experiences weather patterns linked to Mt. Rainier nearby. There are gentle foggy mornings, lots of diffuse light, and an abundance of deer, tree frogs, and wildlife. In summer, highs are in the mid-70s, with morning lows in the 50s. In July, this ramps up to about the 80s/60s.

How do I pay for my residency?

Mineral School is fiscally sponsored by Shunpike, meaning that Shunpike handles our money. If you need to pay for residency, the fastest thing to do is to call Kelly O’Brien via(206) 905-1026 with a credit card, or use our “donate” button on our web site with your credit card — but please put in the notes section of your online donation that the money you are sending is your residency fee and/or send us a note to mineralschoolarts@gmail.com. If you need to mail a check, do that to Mineral School, PO Box 214, Mineral, WA 98355.

How do I get to Mineral?

No matter what, you eventually have to get in a car to get to Mineral. And depending on your personality, it can be handy (though not necessary) to have one here.

We can provide transportation to non-fellowship residents for a small fee ($20-$30 each way depending on how many we’re fitting in a car at once) from Portland, Seattle, or any point between along the I-5 corridor. This beats the roughly $55 gypsy cab ride from Sea-Tac or Centralia/Chehalis to our area, and trying to get here on a mix of bus/train sources could be more trouble than it is worth time-wise.

Amtrak serves the Portland-Seattle region, and we can pick you up from any stop in or between those two cities. The closest stop to us is in Centralia, about an hour away.

Sea-Tac airport is about an hour and 45 minutes from Mineral School by car, as is PDX airport in Portland, OR.

Do I need a car?

You do not “need” a car in Mineral. A car is nice to have if you’re coming from within the region, as some of the more fun leisure activities and services in the area are within driving distance. The board member and chef staying at Mineral School during your residency may be able to give you occasional lifts, but staff will have other priorities (facility issues, grocery shopping and farm hopping, long schleps to Home Depot an hour away) so that’s an ad-hoc thing.

Driving directions

From the north (Seattle/Canada), take I-5 South to exit 127, which is just south of Tacoma. At exit 127, get on 512 East and drive about 2 miles, then take the WA-7 South exit. WA-7 is a two-lane suburban highway that takes you through Parkland, Spanaway, etc. Stay on this road for 20-30 minutes, passing lots of strip malls, and eventually the scenery becomes pastoral. (When in doubt, follow signs pointing you to Elbe/Mt. Rainier.) Eventually, you’ll bypass the town of Eatonville and find yourself at Alder Lake (on the right side of your car). At the south end of Alder Lake is the town of Elbe, which has a kitschy train-themed restaurant/hotel (Hobo Inn). To stay on 7 South, you need to turn right in Elbe right past the train businesses. When you turn right, you’ll cross a small bridge. Drive 5 more miles and you’ll see a sign for Mineral/fishing, indicating a left onto Mineral Road North. Turn left on Mineral Road North and continue till it ends at a T-intersection at the lake. The school is to the right.

From the south (Portland/Oregon/California), take I-5 North to exit 68, then get on Route 12 East headed toward Morton/Yakima. Drive about 31 miles on Route 12 East to the outskirts of Morton, where you’ll turn left to take WA-7 North through Morton (you’ll turn at Seasons Motel/hardware store intersection). Take WA-7 North through town and then follow signs indicating it’s 11 miles further to Mineral. Take a slight right onto Mineral Road South at a former power station building. Follow it 1-2 miles you will arrive at the school on the left. WARNING: Route 12 is a highway trooper training site, so it’s easy to get speeding tickets here.

From the east (Yakima, Spokane), take Route 12 west (White Pass Scenic Byway) to Morton, then turn right onto WA-7 North and proceed through Morton. As you leave Morton, you’ll see signs indicating that it’s 11 miles to Mineral. You’ll eventually see signs for Mineral. Take a slight right onto Mineral Road South (diagonal turnoff at an old power station), drive 1-2 miles, and you’ll see the school on the left.

Drive times to Mineral

Seattle or Portland: 2 hours

Olympia: 2 hours (you have to drive either north or south, then east)

Tacoma or Centralia/Chehalis: 1 hour

Yakima: 2-2.5 hours

Ashford/Mt. Rainier Entrance: 25 minutes

Where can I find food and lodging in the area?

Summer is high tourism season in the Pacific Northwest, so if you’re attaching leisure travel to a trip to Mineral, plan ahead. If you need to stay in Portland before or after your stay, we recommend Airbnb, The Jupiter Hotel, or McMenamin’s White Eagle hotel. If you need to stay in Seattle before or after your stay, we recommend Airbnb, Pensione Nichols (near Pike Place Market), or the Ace Hotel (Belltown). If you need to stay in Centralia, we recommend the Olympic Club (run by McMenamin’s; $65/night but be forewarned there’s train noise) and its restaurant. Mineral has historic Mineral Lake Lodge, walking distance from Mineral School ($119-$159/night) and the adults-only Headquarters Tavern or Mineral Market. You can also camp in the area. Near Mineral, we also recommend Ashford (14 miles away) options Whittaker’s Bunkhouse ($90-$120/night; with an outdoor burger/pizza place); WellSpring (which has fun yurts and a hot tub/sauna but no phone/wifi; $90-$200); or Nisqually Lodge (modern conveniences, about $159-179/night); Ashford dining is of the pub sort but vegetarians may enjoy Nepalese fare at Wild Berry and those who need a square meal can get a plate of trout or hearty breakfast at Copper Creek Inn. Eatonville (17 miles away) offers the Mill Village Motel ($119-129/night) and better services than Ashford (a Subway, a Mexican restaurant, grocer, coffee shop, an organic co-op, and 2 family-friendly pubs).

Where do I sleep at Mineral School?

You’ll sleep in a giant former classroom, with views of Mineral Lake and the town of Mineral. Your room will have a queen bed with bedside table and lamp, a desk with desk chair and desk lamp, a built-in or freestanding bookshelf, a reading chair, either a built-in or freestanding dresser, and a recycling and regular trash can. It’ll be sparse but you’ll have the basics.  One perk of the rooms is that they feature chalk boards (and chalk), which can help with outlining/doodling. There’s also plenty of cork board real estate and push pins if you need to put material up on the walls as part of your process.

Linens

Your bed will have linens and there will be a change of linens in your room; you decide when you want to change the linens. We’ll also provide towels and washcloths (and a change of towels and washcloths) for the showers.

Where are restrooms and showers at Mineral School?

Mineral School has two buildings–the main school building where you’ll live, work, and dine, and the gym building. During 2015, residents showered in the gym’s locker rooms which have partitioned/curtained showers. In 2016, we added showers to restrooms in the main school building; there is one shower stall in the women’s restroom and another in the men’s. We’re not super-gendered about bathrooms, although the men’s room is the one with urinals. For an all-female resident mix, it’s fine to choose the men’s bathroom shower as “yours.” 

Laundry

You’ll find two laundry baskets in your room’s closets. We have a washer-dryer, eco-detergent, and dryer sheets. You’re free to do your own load of clothes whenever you like, with laundry use by donation ($1-2 per load, to help us keep you in good detergent). We have a few drying racks you can borrow if your clothes don’t go in the dryer. You’re not expected to wash bed linens or towels (that’s our job, and your room will have a change of sheets for you to swap out at your leisure), but we won’t complain if you bring your dirty bed/bath stuff to the laundry room if/when you head to the laundry room with your clothes.

What about meals?

We’ll provide all meals, and we’ll provide a stocked snack table (fruit, nuts, pretzels etc.) and a mini-fridge for between-meal needs or in case you need to refrigerate meds/your own stuff etc. We make breakfast available 7:30-9, lunch from 12:30-1:30, and dinner from 6:30-7:30 or so. We have set meal times so that chefs can have a schedule and so the fresh food we serve stays fresh; we will have “food out” during these times but you need not linger or feel forced to schmooze with comrades if you want to dine and run at the top or bottom of the hour. If you plan a trip off-site and want a sack lunch, give us a head’s-up the day before (if you can) or that morning and we’ll make one for you. Cooks this summer are volunteers (be gentle!), and we will be preparing meals in accordance with the preferences and food issues you share with us in your food survey and using as much local produce and protein as we can afford; indeed, culinary residents will be touring some of our farm/sources. We’ll trend on the healthy side, though you’ll get desserts… (Mineral Market has candy, chips, sodas, microwave food etc.)

A word about beer, wine, and smoking

It is fine to buy and drink and share alcoholic beverages during meals and free time at Mineral School, though we want to respect the comfort of those who abstain. Because of our insurance policy’s peculiarities about serving alcohol, the only time we’ll probably serve it will be launch night and maybe during a guest reading. However, you’re free to buy and share beverages as you wish. (Our insurer isn’t that concerned about what you do in this regard!) We ask that if you smoke you restrict that to the outdoors and also be very mindful that the area is fire-sensitive (if we decide to build a bonfire during your residency, we typically have to call the fire department first) so please extinguish your smokes thoroughly or dash them in water. We have a back deck as well as front steps that are nice places for a contemplative puff.

Phone/wifi at Mineral School

Wifi: Yes, we have wifi. It works best in the rooms near the school’s front entry (where the router is) or in the common room/library attached to the dining room. If you want to go off-site and access wifi, the Headquarters Tavern in town (open 11-9 most days) has wifi. In Morton, the Rivers Bistro & Coffee (open 8am-5pm, and to 9pm some nights) is an option, and in Ashford you can access wi-fi in the coffee shop at Whittaker’s Bunkhouse (open 7am-6pm) or in the Highlander Tavern (open 7am-till).

Mobile service: Mobile is very spotty in Mineral. Some locals have success on Verizon. We have a micro-cell (mini cell tower) that enables AT&T mobile phones to work around the building. If you have AT&T mobile service, e-mail or text our IT brain Dave Brewer (davebrewerx@hotmail.com, 206-409-5615) and he will add your number to the service list. Then, when you get to Mineral turn your AT&T phone off and back on again and it should work in the building. Mobile service works in nearby Morton.

Land line: We have a landline (cordless phone) which we need available for work calls during the day but it’s fine to make some quick calls if necessary. For folks whose mobile doesn’t work, we will put the landline cordless phone out on the front hall ledge for (US) personal calls at night (say, 5-10pm). You can use Skype/Facetime over wifi, too, in the library area or office.

Office room and printer

We have an office which you’re free to use in addition to your room. You’re welcome to use the wireless printer in the office, but we ask that you please be considerate about printing volumes. (Aka, we get it if you need to print the same 20 page story or poem cycle a few times as you massage it, but please don’t print your book-length manuscript unless you bring a bit of your own paper to share.)

Reading materials/library/watching movies

Each room has a dictionary and thesaurus. We have a small reading library and sitting area connected to the dining room, with an assortment of fiction, memoir, poetry, essay, and nonfiction books on writing craft, writers’ lives, and aesthetic concerns. You should feel free to grab books that appeal to you. The chest in the library is filled with games and puzzles. If you’ve published a book and want to donate a signed copy to the library, we’d love that. Help the library grow! We have a portable projector that can be used to magnify any movies/streaming TV you want to watch with fellow residents. We can hook that up in the library area if you and others care to share downtime.

Resident readings

Not mandatory, but certainly fun, we’ll ask upon acceptance if you might like to share from your work (past, in progress, etc.) with an audience. We ask you to decide in advance so we can get the word out to the community and they can come listen and support you. Some people find sharing their work with a new audience to be helpful to their process or a way to set a writing goal, while others may find it a distraction. It’s up to you. During 2015 and 2016, all residents read and found it to be a bonding experience and that they were greeted with a friendly and curious audience.

Banking

There’s an ATM at Mineral Market, and you’ll find Key Bank or Umpqua Bank in nearby Morton (11 miles away, both closed on Saturday); or Key Bank in Eatonville (17 miles away). You can get cash with purchase at the Morton market.

Pharmacy

Morton has Colton Pharmacy and Eatonville also has a pharmacy; there is no pharmacy in Ashford or Mineral.

Hospital

The nearest hospital is Morton General Hospital, 11 miles away.

Grocery stores

We’ll provide your meals, but if your writing depends on your gum or Twizzler or Rainier beer habit, Mineral Market is here within walking distance. If you need niche health food (chia seeds or wheat germ), the Morton Country Market (11 miles away) may carry what you need or you can try  the Mountain Co-Op in Eatonville. The newer Elbe Junction (5 miles away) has a coffee bar and sells gourmet picnic snacks, kombucha, and craft beer; it is closed on Monday and Tuesday and open 9-5pm Wednesday through Sunday.

Post office

Mineral has a post office one block from the school (open 12:30-4:30 pm weekdays, 10am-1pm Saturdays) if you need to mail anything. You can receive mail during your residency sent to your attention and care of Mineral School, PO Box 214, Mineral, WA 98355. There are also post offices in Morton (closed 12-1 for lunch, fyi), Elbe, and Ashford.

Anything I should bring?

Residents are expected to bring their own toiletries (other than body soap provided for showers). We also recommend flip-flops or Croc-type shoes for trips to shower — mainly because the bathroom floors are cold. Bedroom slippers or wool socks are also suggested — we have very hard hardwood floors, and these are cozy. If you have noise-cancelling headphones, they may be handy as well — the school is quiet but full of hard surfaces and tall ceilings, so occasionally creaking doors and such startle. If you want to watch video or hear music via your computer or device of choice, bring headphones/ear buds. If you’re not from the Pacific Northwest, here we can tell you that evenings cool down and so sweatshirts and fleece and jackets are nice to have. You will likely want to bring some hiking/walking shoes, and maybe a swimsuit should you decide to go hit a swimming hole or the lake. Dress for comfort; Mineral, like the Northwest, is a casual place. You may want to pack a camera or dial up the one on your phone; it’s nice to take a walk and some snaps.

Can I have guests?

We have limited ability to permit overnight guests at Mineral School during residency, as we feel it is disruptive to residents’ creative process and other residents’ processes. Staff (chef and board member) may have guests on spot occasion, with the expectations that their guests are volunteering to help with your residency. It is fine to have a guest for one night and a few meals, with some notice; please just discuss this with us. However, if you and your guest want more time in the area we can refer you to interesting and inexpensive lodging options. The point we’re making is that the interior of the school is primarily a “resident zone” in residency — we don’t want to keep you from loved ones or make travel pick-up/drop-off tricky, but we need to reinforce that this time and space away to create is for you, specifically. 

Is the building handicap accessible?

Yes, but… The main school building is single story and has a ramp entry. The wide halls and smooth floors are fine for those with walkers and wheelchairs. Doors into the bathrooms are not accessible-width for wheelchairs (should be fine for a walker) and to shower you will need to be able to step over the shower stall’s raised rim. Depending on your mobility challenges, we are not 100% slam-dunk handicap accessible. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have concerns about accessibility.

Safety and security

We’ll leave building doors open during the day, from breakfast through dusk, and your rooms are lockable. However, as the building was an event center and school in the past, many locals still “pop in” to see what’s going on. This is why staff rooms are near the building entry. There will be two occasions during each residency when the public is invited in for readings (resident readings and visiting author readings), and you’ll have a head’s-up beforehand should you wish to lock your room.  If you go outside from dark onward or at dawn, please bring your key. The building is fire alarmed, there are exit doors at the end of each hall, and your room’s ground floor windows are operable. In the event you get locked out, we have a key box outside the building, and the code to it is 8 2 0 1 3 — the way to remember that is that the building became ours in August (8) 2013.

Who’s on staff?

Mineral School is an all-volunteer organization with a small and hard-working board. During each residency, aside from writing residents there will be an onsite culinary volunteer and for the bulk of the time a board member or alumni volunteer to aid in any “dorm mother” needs and make sure you’re comfortable. Some of our board live in Mineral so won’t sleep at the school, while those from Seattle will be staying alongside you. You may see locals Andy Hayden cutting grass, and our local housekeeper Kalynn Stieg will be onsite a few times per week. Gary Johnson, the building’s former owner who is our facility guru, may come around if we have any repair issues.

I need to get away from my desk. What can I do beyond Mineral School?

Culture: Roxy Theater in Morton shows first-run movies, roots-y music, and live theater most nights. The Mt. Rainier Railroad departs from Elbe and wends its way to a steam train museum in Mineral down the street from Mineral School. Mossyrock, outside  Morton, is a berry-growing community (especially in July/August). On weekends, Cowlitz Falls Lavender in Packwood is open for U-pick lavender and gifts.

Exercise: In walking distance, you can take a long walk (bring your camera), rent a boat at Mineral Lake Resort, or go for a jog. You can also shoot hoops in our gym. Our next-door neighbors the DeWitts or board member Jess Martin will loan you a kayak for the lake. If you need to lift weights etc. drive over to Eatonville to work out at Mountain Fitness Center or the Crossfit, which both allow workouts for a day fee. 

Nature trails: Drive to Eatonville and hike in University of Washington’s Pack Forest or park in Eatonville and take a ramble on the Bud Blancher Trail, a 10-foot wide gravel/paved non-motorized trail that winds over a few creeks and through some pastures for 2.3 miles (each way) and connects to Pack Forest. We have books and maps in the library with other suggestions, and there are many logging roads in Mineral which are fine for pedestrian use.

National parks: Mt. Rainier National Park is about 20 minutes away ($25 gets you a pass good for a week, $40 gets you one good for a year), although getting to trailheads and parking areas beyond the entrance can take some time. The northern entrance to Mt. Saint Helens (from Randle) is about an hour and 20 minutes away (nearby in these parts) and there is a new visitor’s/interpretive center on this end of the mountain opening this summer.

Mineral Lake: If you feel like fishing for trout, you can get a fishing license at the Mineral Market and rent boats at Mineral Lake Resort (“resort” is a loose term), in walking distance to the school. Or you can skip the fishing and just go out on the lake.

Regional parks: Riffe Lake is a nice place to picnic, swim, or just poke around and take in the view. Morton’s Boistfort Park is also fun on a hot day, with a bustling creek to splash around in and some picnic tables. There are several parks around Alder Lake with boat launches as well as swimming/wading beaches.

Massage/spa services: Jillene Lund offers massage both in Ashford and will make house calls to Mineral School at no extra charge to her normal rates. Her practice is Mountain Time Wellness, 360-402-6184 or www.mountaintimewellness.com. Alexander’s Country Inn in Ashford can arrange a variety of massage types at their onsite spa, and Wellspring Spa can arrange both massage and for a small up-charge use of a private hot tub or sauna. Book with as much notice as possible. In Morton, Veronicutz does nails and hair. Bobbie Johnson is a hair stylist and has a home hair studio; 360-492-5001.

Taverns/karaoke: Headquarters Tavern in Mineral hosts karaoke each Saturday night starting at dark or 8 p.m. It’s crass and goofy and can be a good time. The Bucksnort in Morton is also a fun dive pub, as is The Highlander over in Ashland.

Gifts and momentos: The BCJ Gallery in Morton, Elbe Junction in Elbe, and Ashford Creek Pottery in Ashford are all good places to find locally made crafts, post cards, and so forth.

Tarot cards: Perplexed? Curious? Downright paranormal? When Jane is in Mineral, she will give any resident (or one of their characters) one reading.

 

SUMMER 2017 CALENDAR

JUNE

Sunday, June 11

     Arrive between 1pm-3pm

     Resident orientation 3:30-4:00 pm

     Welcome reception and dinner: 5:30 pm

Thursday, June 15

     Resident reading: If you’re game, we are. We’ll ask you to commit in advance so we can notify audience! Reading will take place after dinner, at 7:30pm.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

     Visiting authors: Visiting authors will present at 7:30, after dinner. 

Sunday, June 25

     Last meal: Brunch

     Departure: by 1pm

 

JULY

Sunday, July 16

     Arrive between 1pm-3pm

     Resident orientation 3:30-4 pm 

     Welcome reception and dinner: 5:30 pm

Thursday July 20, 2016: Summer Visiting Authors – Connie Eggers (’16) and a guest. Mineral School multipurpose room (7:30pm)

Thursday, July 27, 2016

Resident reading: If you’re game, we are. We’ll ask you to commit early on so we can drum up an audience!

Sunday, July 30

     Last meal: Brunch

     Departure: by 1pm

 

AUGUST

Sunday, August 13

     Arrive between 1pm-3pm 

     Resident orientation 3:30-4:00 pm

     Welcome reception and dinner: 5:30 pm

Thursday, August 17: Summer Visiting Authors – Mineral School multipurpose room (7:30pm)                           

Join us for a wonderful evening of young adult fiction by past resident Leanne Dunic (’16) and poet Kathleen Flenniken.

Thursday, August 24: Residents reading (7:30pm)

Resident reading: If you’re game, we are. We’ll ask you all to commit about a week in advance so we can drum up an audience!

Sunday, August 27

     Last meal: Brunch

     Departure: by 1pm

 

SEPTEMBER — SAF Parent Residencies

Saturday, September 16

 Arrive any time after 10 a.m.

     Lunch: 12:30pm

     Resident orientation 3:30-4:00 pm 

     Welcome reception and dinner: 5:30 pm

Wednesday, September 20 — Visiting Author Claire Dederer – Mineral School multipurpose room (7:30pm)    

Friday, September 22: Residents reading (7:30pm)

Resident reading: If you’re game, we are. We’ll ask you all to commit in advance so we can drum up an audience!

Sunday, September 24

     Last meal: Brunch 

     Departure: by 1pm

 

OCTOBER — SAF Parent Residencies

Saturday, September 30

 Arrive any time after 10 a.m.

     Lunch: 12:30pm

     Resident orientation 3:30-4:00 pm 

     Welcome reception and dinner: 5:30 pm

Thursday, October 5 — Visiting Author Neal Thompson – Mineral School multipurpose room (7:30pm)    

Saturday, October 7: Residents reading (7:30pm)

Resident reading: If you’re game, we are. We’ll ask you all to commit in advance so we can drum up an audience!

Sunday, October 8

     Last meal: Brunch 

     Departure: by 1pm