Monthly Archives: December 2010

Top Travel Trends for 2011: The Washington State Version

Happy New Year to you all.

View of Mt. Rainier

Thomas Stanley, COO of Cox & Kings laid out his top predictions for the kinds of travel people want to take in Luxury Travel Magazine recently. Lo and behold, I discovered that every one of his trends can easily be experienced right here in Washington.

Here’s how:

  1. Travelers will be taking Multi-destination Vacations to basically get more bang for their buck or their time off. Since we have almost every kind of terrain from mountains to forests to desserts to the Pacific Ocean and you can easily drive from one to another in less than a day, this is ideal. One way to do this would be to start in Seattle ( for city activities, drive to Mt. Rainier ( and stay overnight and then go to Tri-Cities in eastern Washington ( to experience wine country.


  1. Group Tours will increase in popularity. I can easily recommend the eco-friendly Evergreen Escapes tours ( This winter you can choose from the Woodinville Wine Trail, Olympic National Park, Mt. Rainier and more. Or tour Seattle by land and water with Ride the Ducks of Seattle (, a laugh-a-minute tour.


  1. Then there’s Contemporary Cultural Travel. We’ve got this one more than covered with the Seattle Art Museum (, the free Frye Art Museum ( in Seattle, Tacoma’s Art Museum ( and Museum of Glass (; and if you’re on the far side of the mountains take a gander at the Northwest Museum of Art and Culture ( in Spokane.


  1. Resurgence of Tour Guides and Travel Agents. I don’t know any tour guides personally, but what about checking out some of the tours offering guidance via a CD at There’s Othello to Omak, Leavenworth to Maryhill, the Cascade Loop and several more.


  1. Learning Vacations rank high on the charts.  This February you can learn how to make cheese over a three-day period in Lynden ( (formerly Elderhostel) offers many learning opportunities for seniors including the study of  “Seabirds and Shorebirds of Coastal Washington in Port Townsend. We also have the Stonerose Interpretive Center ( in Republic where you can dig your own fossils.


More to come on top travel trends for 2011.

Couldn’t Find Big Foot

I’m back from the land of BigFoot sightings – Lewis County in Southwest Washington. We didn’t see any thing, but our nephew’s size 14’s. Nothing of the legendary BigFoot variety.

Yard Bird statue in Chehalis

BigFoot, also known as Sasquatch, a giant ape-like creature, has been seen, heard and smelled in places like Mossyrock and Rainbow Falls in Lewis County. The BigFoot Field Researcher’s Organization (BFRO,, a real scientific entity, has investigated many of these reports.

The sighting I find most odd was one I saw on TV. A woman who lived in a cabin in Tennessee (yes, he gets around) claimed Sasquatch knocked on her door and asked to borrow some garlic. I guess he was cooking Italian that night.

I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not Sasquatch is real or imagined. But since I didn’t find any evidence either way, I went on to take in some roadside attractions. I love the concept of people erecting things to attract travelers’ attention. Remember the old Burma Shave signs?

On this trip I was able to find the Yard Bird’s statues and the world’s largest egg.

World's largest egg in Winlock, Washington

In Chehalis two of the statues remain at the Yard Bird’s home improvement store. There used to be many more. One, a gawky cartoon bird, 30 feet tall and at least 50 feet long; faces a main road. On a dark, dreary day this one didn’t photograph well, but its smaller counterpart at the front entrance did.

Currently the “World’s Largest Egg” (I’m sure there are probably larger eggs) is painted white, but at Easter it resembles an Easter egg and on the Fourth of July, it bears the stars and stripes of the American Flag. This town used to be a major producer of eggs, hence the mascot egg that is twelve feet long and weighs 1,200 pounds.

Winlock also has an annual Egg Day celebration where egg salad sandwiches are given away.  The town is located about three miles west of Interstate 5 off Exit 63 and on State Route 505.

What is your favorite roadside attraction?

Letting Someone Else Drive: Olympia During the Holidays

View from the dining room of the Budd Bay Cafe

Yesterday I tried something new – a tour with seniors sponsored by the Federal Way Community Center. And I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I loved the luxury of having someone else drive and being able to watch the sights instead of the road and traffic signs.

As a bonus, I saw an elf running down the road and Santa in his sleigh. Might have missed both had I been driving.

We took back roads and avoided Interstate 5 as much as possible. Roy, McKenna and Yelm passed by the van window slowly – small towns you never get an opportunity to see from the freeway. The driver told us Yelm has been totally unaffected by the economic downturn. I wonder why that is. But all the businesses did appear to be thriving.

Our first scheduled stop was for lunch at the Budd Bay Café, which boasts a 180-degree view of Budd Bay. Anytime I can dine and watch the sea while doing so makes me calm and joyful. Add to that a Dungeness crab and shrimp Louie that attained perfection and I will definitely be returning to this restaurant. Others in our party savored gigantic bowls of clam chowder, French dips and salmon. Most any local seafood you can imagine graced the menu. Just the names of the desserts – mile high chocolate cake and white cake peach pudding – made me salivate, but alas the salad was all I could conquer in one sitting.

On to the Capitol Legislative Building where we gazed and commented on the Christmas tree filled with lights and ornaments obviously hung by professionals. It makes our trees at home seem like pathetic miniatures. But then we could all enjoy this tree without having to exert any effort in getting it ready. That was the good part.

The decorated tree is located in the Rotunda which features the largest chandelier ever created by the Tiffany Studios in New York. Our driver (yes, I do feel a little like I was chauffeured) told us a Volkswagen could fit inside the chandelier.

Christmas tree in the Rotunda of the Olympia Capitol Legislative Building

The marble, Tiffany chandeliers, heavy red velvet draperies and elaborate décor in the Reception Room scream opulence, is hard to swallow given all the budget cuts currently being considered by the legislature. But I have to remind myself that the building was designed long ago when that was the norm. And it really makes for an elegant and beautiful building.

Public tours of the Legislative Building are free and offered hourly from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information about sites, dining options and activity options, visit

Tramming It Through Northwest Trek

Let’s face it. Animals are fascinating to watch and even more so when they roam in their natural habitat. At Northwest Trek in Eatonville, the lakes, trails and meadows that make up the 725-acre park host bighorn sheep, deer, elk, caribou, mountain goats, bison and more.

Trams take visitors on a ride to see which animals have made themselves visible that day. It’s always different. The animals are not at all bothered by the trams and might choose to block the road. Or put on a show for you.

The seasons make the experience unique, also. During the winter, the park remains quiet and the animals frisky in the chilly temperatures. Spring marks the beginning of baby season and during the summer you’ll see all different varieties of animal babies. In the fall the cycle starts again with rutting or mating season.

Besides the above animals, you can also see grizzlies, black bears, wolves, bobcats, lynx, cougars and wetland animals in natural exhibits, which are a little more confining, but necessary for safety’s sake.

My favorite part of Northwest Trek is the wealth of activities they offer like S’mores and Snores Family Camps where you spend the night with the animals, the keeper tours, photo tours and the educational workshops and tours.

Because it’s winter now, Trek is only open Fridays through Sundays, but it’s well worth a visit.

Why not give someone in your family the experience of visiting Northwest Trek as a holiday gift?

Visit to find out more.

Festival of Trees Captures the Art of Decorating

We took a peak at the 2010 Mary Bridge Festival of Trees over the weekend at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center and it was fantabulous. Designers decorated fir trees for Christmas that were then auctioned off to raise funds for the children served by Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital & Health Center. These events raised $1.5 million last year.

Besides two days of public viewing, three other events happen during an extended weekend. Ladies Night Out, where ladies, of course, taste wine and other beverages, enjoy appetizers and shop plus also have an opportunity to marvel at the professionally decorated trees. Next comes the black-tie Gala Auction and Dinner with nearly 700 guests each year where these beautiful trees find their home for the holidays and then Jinglebell Jam gives people another chance to shop and bid on auction items. Visit to find out more, but remember this year’s event is over.


I’ve always wondered if there was a right way to decorate a Christmas tree, but never really knew so I kind of just did it like my parents did. As it turns out, it’s an art, but Tammy Hall, a veteran Festival tree designer, claims novices can create a beautiful tree by following these tips that she shared with Debby Abe of the News Tribune:

  • Pick a theme and a color scheme for your tree – this year her team’s tree focused on “Just another day in paradise” and the colors used were aqua, silver, sea green and terra cotta.
  • String lots of lights, at least 100 lights per foot of the tree’s height – LED lights are more energy efficient, but also more costly, so choose between those or mini-twinkling lights.
  • Place the lights on the tree first. Hall likes to start at the top of the tree and wrap them around most branches starting from the outer tip, going toward the trunk and then back out.
  • Hang big ornaments first, then the smaller ones around them – try to bunch items in threes.
  • Put ornaments on the inside of branches, not just the tips.
  • Include ornaments that reflect light like glass ornaments and mirrored decorations – even CDs work as reflectors.
  • Choose items that fit your theme, but aren’t necessarily ornaments – butterfly net, feathers, organza, etc.
  • Find a tree topper as elegant as your tree.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment – Hall says over time she has become braver.


Do you have other tips about tree decorating? If so, please share them.

Contests and a State Travel Guide

Fall photo by Bob DuBos - looks like a contest winner to me.

Since we’re thinking more about giving to others this time of year and our budgets are stretched in that direction, maybe it’s time to win a contest. It will be like a gift to yourself.

I’ve run into a few that look mighty interesting.

Win Snowshoes

You can enter up to five times in different ways to win a “9 Series Snowshoe Kit” from Atlas Snow-Shoe Company.

  • Ask or answer a question in the Wild Washington blog forum,, which is a really cool blog dedicated to outdoor life and recreation in Washington State.
  • Link to the Wild Washington post about this on your website or blog
  • Tweet about it with the same link in your tweet
  • Link to this post on your FaceBook account
  • Watch for Wild Washington tweets for one additional opportunity


Deadline:  December 31, 2010 at noon

Win Cultural Activities

Every week the Seattle Weekly,, offers tickets to cultural events in their “Gimme Culture” column.

If you hurry, you can win 2 tickets to the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker for 1 p.m. on December 26, 2010 or 2 tickets to Red Ranger Came Calling at the Seattle Children’s Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on December 17, 2010.

Deadline:  December 7, 2010

Follow Clues, Get Deals and Collect Evidence in Scavenger Hunt

Washington State Tourism, Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, Tacoma Regional Convention + Visitor Bureau and Snohomish County Tourism Bureau all partnered and set up a free, interactive web-based scavenger hunt that offers clues to exclusive travel deals and travel prizes to the winners.

Visit for details.

You solve cases and submit evidence which is photos of you with the objects found. Mission No. 1:  Uncloak Your Style’s deadline is January 31, 2011, 11:59 p.m. PST.

I recently received two prizes from a contest similar to this sponsored by Salty’s Restaurant – my own nutcracker ornament and a surprise gift certificate for up to $100 off for dinner at Salty’s. I won’t know what my discount is until I use the certificate because it’s sealed and if you open it prior to dining it’s no good.

Free 2011 Washington State Travel Planner Now Available

If you’d like to plan a trip to Washington or just see what we have to offer, our new travel planner is now available. Log onto and look on the left hand side for “Free Travel Planner.”

Do you know of any other contests I might have missed? Please let me know, if you do.