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QUIRKY PLACES: Oddities just par for the course in Yakima Valley

Most of Yakima is, well, normal Yakima — punctuated by scenic rivers, rolling hills, sunshine, blue skies, snow-capped peaks in the distance.

Then there’s the other Yakima, the quirky one.

These are the places that are unique not just to this setting but, arguably, any setting.

So, take a gander at these spots to see a side of Yakima that is certifiably funky:

• Round a bend on First Avenue in Zillah, a giant teapot looms by the side of the road. Once a working gas station, the red and white edifice now serves as a center dispensing visitors’ information. The station was constructed in 1922 in response to the scandal that plagued the presidency of Warren Harding over his order to transfer oil reserves at Teapot Dome, Wyo., and Elk Hill, Calif., from the Navy to the Department of Interior. From that unusual beginning, the teapot morphed into being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (117 First Ave., Zillah.)

• Antithetically, the Pioneer Graveyard in Union Gap is a cheerful place to visit. It’s historic, a chronicler of our time, from just post-Civil War to mid-20th century. It’s lovely, with grand locust trees standing sentinel along the perimeter. And it’s symbolic, where unusual gravestones are carved with wheat sheaves, lilies, lambs and other artistry. Born of tragedy, an early pioneer family opened it when the matriarch, Priscilla Goodwin, died in childbirth in 1865. The Goodwins had arrived earlier that year on a wagon train from Illinois. Like a fossil, the cemetery captures moments in time for the ages and tells at least part of the stories of the 134 people buried there. (One block east of Main Street on Ahtanum Road, Union Gap.)

• It’s hard to miss — the neon hunter in his winter gear taking aim with his rifle at ...  Yes, you!

Round he goes above the Yakima Sports Center restaurant’s outdoor sign, twisting in historic homage to the era when men flocked to the center to shoot dice, bet on races and tell tall tales of their hunting trophies. (214 E. Yakima Ave., Yakima.)

• It may be the closest you get to royalty in the Yakima Valley. It’s called the Congdon Castle, one of the most beautiful structures in the state, located in West Valley. But you won’t get very close because it’s closed to the public and is surrounded by the vast, and very private, Congdon orchards. You can gaze, though, at the huge (30,000 square feet) stone castle completed in 1916 for the Congdon family from Minnesota, who wanted a western locale for their fruit growing operation. (In about the 6000 block of Nob Hill Boulevard, Yakima.)

• Hopefully, by the time you read this, the Crafted Restaurant Group renovation project in downtown Yakima (on the site of what was known as the Barrel House restaurant), will be completed, so you can dine there or at least go inside to admire what is reputed to be Washington’s largest urinal (unfortunately, it may take some creative discretion for women to see it). (22 N. First. St., Yakima.)