Monthly Archives: August 2011

Crystal Mountain Gondola Ride: A Slice of Paradise

Our friends, Dan and Cheryl with Mount Rainier in the background

This past Saturday evening I experienced the true meaning of breathtaking. After riding up 2,500 vertical feet in the brand new gondola at Crystal Mountain, you’re as up close and personal with Mount Rainier as you’ll ever get without climbing her. It’s only 12 miles away here, but looks much closer. Since you’ve already climbed some while driving up to the resort, now you’re at 6,872 feet. You can feel the crisp chill she sheds off her slopes even on an 80 degree day.

At the top you can hike, sit in the chairs provided and just marvel at Mother Nature’s creations, picnic or dine at the Summit House. Since it only seats 65, and word has gotten out about this must-do activity, the dinners, which are served on Fridays and Saturdays, have been sold out through the end of the season. Sunday brunch and lunches should still be an option, though.

Scrumptious lemon cake

The food served is world class and dinner at the highest restaurant in Washington State should definitely be on your bucket list. Try the lemon cake dessert and the halibut – I recommend both.

Guess what? Dogs are welcome on the gondola and love to hike and chase squirrels at the top. For more ideas on what to do on Crystal, log onto Visit Rainier or Crystal Mountain Resort.

The gondola will run daily through Sept. 11 and then switch to Saturday-Sunday only through Oct. 2. Then it closes until ski season begins.

Unwind at the Tulalip

This past week I had the pleasure of spending a night at the Tulalip Resort near Marysville. When you walk through the door, you’re greeted by three 24-foot totem poles, but the accurate name for them is house posts. One welcomes guests, one tells the story of gambling in the Tulalip people’s culture and one pole tells all kinds of stories. They all look beautiful and introduce you to the art you’ll find throughout the resort.

Even the designs on the carpet tell a story and also help you navigate your way through the casino portion of the resort to the fabulous restaurants.

I did not have a lot of time to explore the entire resort, so I’d like to tell you about my guest room. Besides being spotless, the room was stylishly furnished in red and black, the colors of the Tulalip people. The smallest guest room measures 500 square feet.

 

With floor to ceiling windows, free WiFi, a 47” flat screen TV and a sleep-inducing mattress, the rooms offer an elegant respite from the rigors of daily life. To take relaxation one step further, I can’t sing the praises of the three-headed shower enough. I hope whoever invented that has made millions because he deserves the riches.

Guest amenities include the oasis pool, which seems like it’s outside, but is actually located inside, a fitness center, a business center and a luxurious gift shop like you might find in a Caribbean resort. Room rates start at $225.

 

While on site, you can attend concerts, gamble in the casino, dine in your choice of gourmet restaurants and shop at the Seattle Premium Outlets (my absolute favorite outlet mall).

Las Vegas – eat your heart out. We have the best casino resort right here in Washington State.

San Juan Island Museum of Art and Sculpture Park: A Must-See

I visited the Sculpture Park for a close-up look for the first time this past weekend and found I was intrigued. My grandson also enjoyed this adventure. Sculptures created in various media by a number of artists are artfully placed throughout the landscape giving off splashes of color, reflections and hints of pieces that make you want to come closer and study them.

The Sculpture Park was first created in 2001. Each year the installations are added. To fully enjoy all the Sculpture Park has to offer, you can go to their next event on Saturday and Sunday, September 3 and 4, 2011, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. where performance artists interpret their sculptures and the theme of the day is art, food and music.

 

To find the Sculpture Park, head to the west side of San Juan Island from Friday Harbor. It overlooks Westcott Bay and is a stone’s throw from Roche Harbor.

The mission of both the Museum of Art and the Sculpture Park is to connect people with art that inspires, challenges, enlightens and educates. The Museum is located in the town of Friday Harbor at 285 Spring Street.

 

Eccentric Inventor First Lived at Arbor Crest Wine Cellars

Arbor Crest Wines not only taste good and satisfy the connoisseur, but their place of origin is stunning. The grounds have a panoramic view of the Spokane River, Liberty Lake, downtown Spokane and the Spokane Valley.

The Cliff House, rebuilt after a fire in 2009

The Cliff House Estate, a three-story Florentine mansion located on the property, was built in 1924 by Royal Newton Riblet, an inventor and mechanical genius. His patents included a pattern sprinkler system, a mechanical parking garage and the square wheel tractor.

Riblet and his seventh wife entertained many guests while they lived here. Their beautiful home plus the lush grounds made entertaining ideal with over four acres of terraced gardens, a life-sized checkerboard and a 6,000 gallon swimming pool.

In 1984 Arbor Crest purchased the estate which had been designated as a National Historic Landmark.

In 2009 the historic mansion was heavily damaged by fire and had to be rebuilt from the ground up. Many antiques were destroyed.

But now the renovation has been completed and Arbor Crest is back in business in a big way. One of this summer’s concerts boasted the largest attendance ever.

Life-sized checkerboard, you can actually play with

 

Close to 35,000 people visit Arbor Crest each year either for an event or for wine tasting. With its manicured gardens, the enchanted forest, the gorgeous three-story Cliff House and a separate wine tasting building, it makes an ideal venue for any event or just as a place to come and relax an sip some tasty wine.

Carr’s One-of-a-Kind Museum: What a Gem

This past weekend we had the pleasure of visiting a museum like no other in the Hillyard district of Spokane. That’s why it’s called the “One-of-a-Kind Museum.” Marvin Carr is the owner.

A life-size Jackie Gleason

A little background about how Carr’s collection got started:  He worked for the railroad, but was forced to retire due to an injury. That’s when he decided to put his energy into building a museum. He collects what he likes and has many “firsts” and several that are the “only one in the world.”

What I found amazing is he doesn’t have a computer or a cell phone, yet he still buys one piece a month to add to his collection. People call and ask if he wants what they have to offer. When he does buy a piece, he researches it extensively at the library so he knows the history behind it.

That’s why when he gives museum visitors a personalized tour, which he does for everyone; you come away with a wealth of knowledge. At 84 years of age, Carr is very sharp and tells some fascinating stories.

When you enter the museum, you’re greeted with life-size lady mannequins that seem so real you want to introduce yourself to them. Then there’s a powder blue limo owned by Jackie Gleason, an 1800 carousel horse, and life/death masks of several movie stars on the wall. Carr showcases the ship, Royal Louis, built out of matchsticks, the oldest typewriter in the world and German nutcrackers that go through 130 different processes before they are declared, “finished.”

One of the many squirrels exhibited throughout the museum

Carr has even made some of the exhibits. I suspect some of those might be the many different character squirrels spread throughout the museum.

What really impressed me about the museum was how clean and organized it is. All the exhibits and the floor are spotless. Although there’s no common theme for what’s there, other than they are items Carr likes, it’s not cluttered or in chaos.

I’d tell you more, but I really want you to visit the museum and see for yourself this hidden treasure in Spokane.

Carr’s One-of-a-Kind Museum is located at 5225 N. Freya, Spokane, WA  99217. Phone:  800-350-6469.

Tarry at Cherry Wood Bed Breakfast and Barn

In Zillah we found a most unique place to stay – Cherry Wood Bed Breakfast and Barn.

Teepee interior at Cherry Wood

You sleep in tall teepees that are completely furnished with real beds, a refrigerator and mirrors. The floors are either stone or brick depending on the teepee. You do have to venture outside to use the porta potties or the showers, but it’s worth it for the view of the Yakima Valley and experiencing the sites, sounds and smells of nature.

Try the “Twilight Tubs” for romance or bonding with your BFFs. Bath salts are supplied, and you can enjoy candles and drink wine while relaxing in the soaking tubs. Pepper Fewel, the owner, drew a vivid picture of what it’s like to recline in the tubs under the stars and it was a mighty appealing picture.

After breakfast in the morning, you’ll want to get dressed for a winery tour on horseback. For four hours, you’ll ride a horse, fit to your riding level, to three different wineries, which might include Cultura, Agate, Silver Lake or Two Mountains, and have lunch. If you choose to buy wine at any of the wineries, it is picked up for you and brought back to Cherry Wood so it’s there to enjoy when you return.

Getting the horses ready for a winery tour

Fewel says most of her horses were rescued and then trained for trail rides. Horses that run up to the gate in the morning are the first ones chosen for the winery tour that day. The ones that hang back don’t have to go.

This is a tour I’d love to try. What better way to enjoy the countryside, experience the lushness of the wineries and get a little exercise to boot.

Dining in Yakima

Last weekend we had the opportunity to visit Yakima, on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountain Range. Besides a ton of wineries that produce award-winning wines, some of the best dining experiences can also be found there.

Lunchtime at Gasperetti's

For lunch we tried Gasperetti’s. The restaurant’s history dates back to 1943 when John Gasperetti opened a dining establishment of the same name in Union Gap (close to Yakima). Menus now reflect that first restaurant and the Italian recipes have been passed down. The current chef, Brad Patterson, relishes in using the bounty of fruits and vegetables available in the Yakima Valley.

I had the Fresh Dungeness Crabmeat Salad, which makes my mouth water just typing the words. Besides the Northwest’s signature crab, the salad combines romaine, pecans, and julienned Yakima apples. I also heard from one Yakima resident that it was her favorite entrée at Gasperetti’s also.

Dining with a white tablecloth and cloth napkins at lunchtime made me feel pampered and rich. I highly recommend it. We ate in the Bistro and the Bar was also open, but the restaurant must only be open for dinner.

A new restaurant, 5 North Metropolitan Kitchen & Lounge, beckoned us for dinner. It was difficult to find because the sign was small, but the hostess promised they were getting a large banner soon so everyone could find them.

I’d read a review in the local newspaper so I ventured out on a limb and tried the Root Vegetable Chips the reviewer raved about. Great way to down vegetables, if you’re not a big fan. I loved the sweet and saltiness of the potatoes, turnips and rutabagas.

Root Vegetable Chip appetizer at 5 North

This would be a great place for a romantic dinner – it’s small and intimate, but the food was over-the-top delicious.

Best of Discover Washington State in the Past Year

I was tagged by my friend, Kerri, at Living Large in Our Little House for The Seven Links circle bloggers have been participating in. It seems like a good time to review what I’ve done, so here are my answers.

Here are my choices for the best posts during the past year, my first year blogging:

Most popular post:  Wine and Dog Lovers Unite

Even I was surprised at the number of views this post drew. I kept trying to figure out if it was the dogs or the wineries that people were interested in and finally decided that it was the combination.

Most controversial post:  Cranberries:  Treasured Berries

Although my blog talks more about what to do in the Evergreen State and I don’t deem it controversial, this one caused a stir. Readers demanded to know if the cranberries were grown organically.

Most helpful post:  Top Travel Trends

One of my most comprehensive posts, this suggests places in Washington that match up with the national travel trends predicted by Thomas Stanley in Luxury Travel Magazine.

Surprising success:  Val Mallinson, Author of Dog Lover Books

I love that so many people want to travel with their dogs and Val makes it so easy to do with her books on where our canine friends are welcome.

Not enough attention: Washington State Tourism Shutting Down

Everyone in the state you talk to has an opinion on this, yet I received no comments.

Post I’m most proud of: Port Townsend:  A Victorian Seaport Now and Then

This was a tough one because I’m usually proud of one that has been written recently, but looking back this one has lots of good information for a visitor wanting to explore Port Townsend.

If you have any comments on the posts mentioned, pro or con, I would love to hear them.

Five Blogs I’ve Chosen to Tag:

 NW Dog BlogYou can get frequent, updated advice about traveling with your dog here from Val Mallinson.

Girl About the WorldHaley travels both inside and outside Washington and is based in Seattle. She’s got fantastic tips to offer travelers.

Stuck at the AirportAnyone who can post a blog everyday has my vote for most knowledge on the topic chosen. Harriet knows airports inside out.

Lighthearted TravelAlthough Marilyn lives in Oregon, she often writes about Washington and lots of other really cool destinations.

Going on AdventuresBeverly has lots to talk about in the way of traveling adventures and it’s all good sound advice.

A Ride-Along We’ll Not Soon Forget

About two weeks ago, my husband, grandson and I had the opportunity to take a ride with the Seattle Police Harbor Patrol Unit. This came about through a purchase I made at a fundraising auction. I’ve always loved seeing how the police work and have ridden along before, but always in patrol cars. This was a first and now my favorite ride along of all.

The sun gods offered us one of the most beautiful days so far this summer, so being on a boat on Lake Union made the time even more perfect.

The two officers who took us out shared all kinds of information about the Harbor Unit and it boggles the mind all the different events they have to be prepared for. Almost every officer in the unit dives, their boats have firefighting capabilities so the officers are also trained in firefighting and of course, they have to be skilled in boating. This is all in addition to their regular police training.

Lake Union houseboat owners should feel secure knowing this kind of firefighting power is so close to them.

The Harbor Unit patrols both Lake Union and Lake Washington with a fleet of seven boats. Our Seafair celebration on Lake Washington this coming weekend is their busiest time of year.

During our tour, we responded to a call of a small oil spill from a docked boat. Nothing too dangerous, but a frequent occurrence for the Unit.

If you get a chance to ride with a police officer, in any jurisdiction, I highly recommend doing so. It truly is eye-opening.

The houseboat from the movie "Sleepless in Seattle."