Monthly Archives: November 2010

Tis the Season for Carousels

Morford Family Carousel in Kent delights both children and adults

Hidden in the entertainment section of the newspaper on Thanksgiving Day was a short announcement about the opening of the Morford Family Carousel in downtown Kent at Second Avenue and Harrison Street. Who doesn’t love carousels? They just make me feel happy watching them go round and round. And this one was no exception. Our granddaughter opened her eyes very wide while watching the horses go up and down and around at the same time.

Kita was hesitant at first, but grew fonder of the ride as it continued


This classic Venetian-style carousel features 19 carved and painted wooden horses and three special seats, including a sleigh. It was designed by the famous Bertazzon Carousel Company in Italy. Once owned by the Morford Family, they have since donated it to the City of Kent. Non-profits now use it as a way to raise money for their organization.

Aren't carousels grand?

Children’s Therapy Center which supports children with all disabilities will be this season’s beneficiary of the proceeds. The suggested donation is $1 per ride, plus they have a free raffle of gifts from Kent merchants. How can you go wrong with this?

Hours are:  Fridays – 4 to 8 p.m.; Saturdays – noon to 8 p.m.; Sundays – noon to 5 p.m. with bonus days when schools out – Dec. 20 – 24 from 1 to 5 p.m. and December 31 from 1 to 5 p.m.

Westlake Park also hosts a holiday carousel every year at this time, which is located at 401 Pine Street in downtown Seattle. This one is a 1906 Parker Carousel and cost $2 per ride. Ride fees benefit the Downtown Seattle Association and Treehouse, a charity for children in foster care.

Hours are:  Fridays – 10 to 10 p.m.; Saturdays – 10 to 9 p.m.; Sundays – 11 to 9 p.m. and Mondays through Thursdays – 11 to 10 p.m.

While visiting Tacoma’s Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, you can take a ride on the Paul Titus Antique Carousel. This re-created wooden carousel was first built in 1917. Its hand-carved and painted animals were created by the Washington Antique Carousel Society and Friends. To follow along with the zoo theme, endangered species and Northwest native animals line the inner ring with Washington state themed horses on the outer ring. Open during zoo hours.

For those traveling to or who already reside in the eastern side of the state, The Art of the Carousel is on display until February 28, 2011 at the Chase Gallery in Spokane’s City Hall.

Spokane also boasts a carousel built by Charles Looff in 1909 at Riverfront Park. This one has made the National Register of Historic Places. More than a quarter of a million riders experience this Spokane treasure each year.

Where is your favorite carousel?

The Other Waikiki

Last week I wrote a little about Waikiki Beach near Long Beach, Washington. Just yesterday I was on the other Waikiki Beach on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. How do they compare? Not much is the same, except they both are actually beaches paralleling the Pacific Ocean, and they both have their own charm.

According to a Moon Travel Guide of the Long Beach, Washington area, “tiny Waikiki Beach is a favorite local spot for picnics and swimming in the summer (no lifeguard is present). The beach received its name when a Hawaiian sailor’s body washed ashore here after his ship was wrecked in a failed attempt to cross the Columbia River bar in 1811. You can follow a trail uphill from Waikiki to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, and then on to Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.”


The winter temperature difference makes the Hawaiian beach much more alluring. Western Washington’s low temperature yesterday was 16 degrees, with icy road conditions. When we left Waikiki, it was a sunny 82 degrees. Pleasant white sand beaches stretched for miles, while the waters were filled with surfers, swimmers and waders. Not many brave our frigid waters to swim when the temperature falls below freezing, so our Waikiki is much less crowded.

Shopping and Restaurants

Hawaii hits the mark with a plethora of places to shop and dine. From Forever 21, Kate Spade and Coach to Macy’s, ABC stores and all kinds of island souvenir shops, Kalakua Avenue rivals Rodeo Drive and other city’s trendy shopping districts. Need a swimsuit? Just about every other store carries them. How about a necklace to remind you of your Hawaiian stay? You’ll find choices from beads to diamonds and everything in between.

Shopping in the gift shop at the Lewis and Clark Interpretative Center can also be about treasure hunting.

Señor Frogs, Cheeseburger in Paradise, Cheesecake Factory and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse offer food options for every palate and pocketbook. In between you’ll find Starbucks, frozen yogurt shops and all kinds of cookie stores.

The Washington version of Waikiki is ideal for picnics.

Take your pick or try them both and decide for yourself which you prefer.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.


Port Townsend: A Victorian Seaport Then and Now

Water Street in downtown Port Townsend

Sin flourished in the brothels along Water Street in the late 1800’s. Proper Victorian women and their children kept their distance from the bluff above. Banned from the downtown area, so they wouldn’t mix with the seamy women for hire, the wives and offspring of seafaring captains stayed in their mansions on the hill.

The division still exists today, but not for the same reasons. Geographically there’s still an uptown and downtown, but anyone is welcome to roam between the two.

Port Townsend is one of only three registered Victorian seaports in the United States, due to its preserved marine and architectural heritage. The town holds an annual Wooden Boat Festival (this year’s was the 34th) and prides itself on a number of fine dining restaurants that serve local seafood.

I just tried one of those restaurants in September – T’s Restaurant. They serve salmon, scallops, local Manila clams, prawns and more in addition to the chicken, steak, duck and pork chops. I highly recommend this family operation. Tim, the chef, wanted to be a chef since he was very young. He would serve his parents breakfast with a towel draped over his arm and then present them with the bill. I know I mentioned this restaurant before, but it bears repeating.

One of the historic buildings in downtown Port Townsend

Back to the late 1800’s and early 1900’s – People who opened businesses in downtown made a fortune from the never-ending marine traffic. With their new found wealth settlers tried to recreate the look of New York City. Using lots of brick, tall windows and doors, exposed cast iron pillars and trapdoors inside some of the buildings they created a look unlike any other town in this state. Modern renovations have preserved that look in a grand way.

If you can, take time to enjoy a movie at the Rose Theatre, one of those beautifully restored buildings. The Rose opened in 1907 and moved to its current location on Taylor Street the next year. It is one of the most treasured features of Port Townsend’s National Historic District.

Besides the best, fresh popcorn and superb sound, every show is personally introduced by the Rose’s host.  ( It’s an experience you’ll not soon forget.

Close by is the Silverwater Café, another knock-your-socks-off culinary delight. I recommend the crab shooters – crab leg meat, crab bisque and Sambuca cream – not something you can order anywhere. It’s delicious as are all the seafood offerings and the beef, poultry and pasta. And it’s just steps away from the Rose Theatre.

Lakewold Gardens: Serene and Beautiful

View of Gravelly Lake from Lakewold Gardens

Recently my daughter-in-law and I took a drive to Lakewold Gardens in Lakewood. Although it was fall and not much was in bloom, the gardens still took your breath away. The breathtaking fall colors, the peakaboo lake view and the quiet serenity all blended to make this experience one I’d like to take experience more regularly.

One of the leading landscape architects of the 20th century, Eulalie Wagner, made this garden her personal life project and left it for all of us to enjoy. In 1958 she commissioned Thomas Church, a noted landscape architect, to help. His design included a curved drive that winds guests through groves of native trees underplanted with Rhododendrons (our state flower). Church created outdoor living spaces like the elegant quatrefoil pool, the medieval knot garden and the rose-covered gazebo.

Church made sure the garden reflected Wagner’s personality. He completed the design framework and she created the gardens. Wagner’s keen interest in rare and native plants seems to blend into the garden’s natural displays effortlessly.

Note the Rock Garden which took Wagner 20 years to complete. Her eye for detail and love for all seasons make this place a unique visual display throughout the year.

My favorite table setting all done in electric blue

On our foray, we were destined to see the table setting competition. You know stemware, dishes, centerpiece – all with a theme. The settings, which were displayed in The Wagner House, gave us lots of ideas for our own tables.   

The Wagner House, built in 1914, is often a venue for weddings, meetings, retreats and other events. Once you’ve seen the spacious sunroom or sat on the Wisteria-covered verandah, you’ll know why brides choose to say their nuptials there. Inside the spiral staircase, Italian-marble floor in the grand foyer and the crystal chandeliers all beautifully accent the character of the house.

Our fall colors are nothing to sneeze at

When you visit, plan to spend some time just relishing the quiet, picnicking on the grounds, enjoying the gardens and don’t forget to visit the Garden Shop. What a wonderful gift shop. It’s filled with all things garden – many tools I doubt you’ll find anywhere else.

Lakewold Gardens,, is located at 12317 Gravelly Lake Drive SW, in Lakewood. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, students and active Military, children under 12 are free.

Cape Disappointment: A Pleasing Experience

Description of Cape Disappointment

Contrary to the name, Cape Disappointment does not disappoint. The name came from Lieutenant John Meares of the British Royal Navy. In 1788 he was searching for the mouth of the Columbia River and when he saw it, it appeared to only be an entrance to a bay. So he named the shallow water area where he landed, Cape Disappointment.

Fast forward to 1805 when Clark’s (of Lewis and Clark fame) ship became trapped by a fierce storm in the same location for six days. Clark called this spot Dismal Nitch. These days, the nearby Nitch offers one of the best panoramic views of the Columbia River.

Outside the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, located at Cape Disappointment, the Pacific Ocean stretches out of sight. A very sensual adventure is created by the fresh smell of the sea permeating the air, cormorants gathering on a rock and a ship’s horn blasting in the distance.

Below the surface of the sea lies a graveyard of as many as 2,000 sunken ships. Before the two lighthouses were built – Cape Disappointment and North Head – more than 700 lives were claimed by these treacherous waters. Sailors often experienced trouble crossing the Columbia River bar, the area where the tumultuous flow of the river rushes into the ocean waves.

Lighthouse at Cape Disappointment

You can tour the North Head Lighthouse, take a hike guided by a park ranger or picnic and swim on Washington’s own Waikiki Beach. Exhibits in the Interpretive Center highlight Lewis and Clark’s time exploring the Lower Columbia River and their arrival at the Pacific Ocean. Cape Disappointment State Park anchors the area with miles of trails, another interpretive display and camping sites.

The largest nearby town, Long Beach, also has a bounty of activities to pursue and some of the best restaurants in the country. Long Beach is probably best known for its annual Kite Festival.

More New Books by Local Authors, Just in Time for Holiday Giving

Please excuse my absence last week and consider this a public service announcement:  Back up your computer files everyday if you want to keep them, because you never know when your computer will decide to present you with a blue screen and nothing more. If you use an online backup service, find one recommended by others who have had to deal with how that service recovers information. I did have an online service and an external hard drive, but I haven’t been able to get back any of my Word files, Excel charts or my photos.

I had promised you more books for middle grade readers and young adult novels from authors in Washington State so here they are.

Middle Grade Novels

Suzanne Williams partners with Joan Holub to write the Goddess Girls’ series. Two new releases are Aphrodite the Beauty and Artemis the Brave. Although the stories may depart from the actual myth portrayed, a kernel of the myth still remains. Artemis the Brave will be available December 7, 2010.

Royce Buckingham used the Eastern Washington town of Richland as the setting for The Dead Boys because he grew up near Hanford, which is close by. Could the giant sycamore tree in Richland, horribly mutated by nuclear waste, somehow take its nourishment from local boys? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

I just finished the delightful Case of the Terrible T.rex by Michele Torrey. In researching the book she actually spent a week in the Montana Badlands digging for fossils and found a T.rex tooth. The book, another in the Doyle and Fossey:  Science Detectives’ series, makes learning science fun and memorable.

Young Adult Books

Recently released Adios, Nirvana, by Conrad Wesselhoeft, tells the story of a teenager who survives the first anniversary of his twin brother’s death with special help from friends, a WWII veteran and a special guitar.

Janet Lee Carey’s seventh novel, The Dragons of Noor, describes what happens when a mysterious Wild Wind begins stealing young children, including lead character’s, Miles and Hannah, little brother. Will they be able to save him?

Karen Kincy used her hometown of Snohomish as a backdrop for Other, which follows a shapeshifter girl named Gwen as she uncovers a mystery.

Waiting on my bookshelf is Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala. Miranda knows her bad-girl sister took a big secret to her grave and she’s intent on finding out what it was. Cupala started writing novels as a teen and to this day writing has become hope for her in times of despair.

Caridad Ferrer retells a new version of the opera Carmen in When the Stars Go Blue.  The author calls on her own experiences in the competitive world of drum and bugle corps to get the story told.

I hope you’ve seen a book or two on this list that would make someone on your gift list smile when he or she unwraps it.