Author Archives: Heather Larson

Point Ruston Just Keeps Getting Better

What used to be home to an ugly, smelly smelter plant for Asarco has magically transformed into a lovely, walkable shopping and dining district and homes for those who prefer condominiums or apartment living with views of Commencement Bay.

Point Ruston, located on Ruston Way on the Tacoma waterfront continues to add new restaurants and stores almost monthly, it seems. It’s become one of my favorite places to walk around, eat, take the dog, see a movie or just stare at the beauty of Puget Sound.

Here are a few of my preferred haunts:

Coming soon:

  • Ice Cream Social just in time for the sunny summer days we hope are coming
  • Silver Cloud Inn so you don’t have to leave
  • Purpose Boutique where you can shop with your gal pals
  • Fish Brewing Company with seating for 360, handcrafted brews, wine and food

Just when you think a place can’t get any better, Pt. Ruston recently announced their inaugural concert series beginning Saturday, June 24, 2017. Free live music for all ages, every Saturday from 5-7 p.m. until September 2. Look for these groups:  Strangely Alright, Sweet Kiss Momma, Kim Archer Band and Ted Brown Showcase.

Courtesy Travel Tacoma

Breaking News:  A new trolley, the Downtown to Defiance Trolley, goes into service on June 2, 2017. It will take passengers from downtown to the Ruston Way waterfront, Pt. Ruston and Pt. Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Leave your car at the Tacoma Dome Station and take the Tacoma Link to downtown for no charge. Then catch the trolley and you can leave all the driving to Pierce Transit.

 

Two Ferries Sold

Last October the Hiyu and the M/V Evergreen State were put up for sale. Although it took quite a while they both now have new owners. Speaking of ferries, Anacortes is known mainly as the place to catch the ferry to the San Juan Islands, but the town has so much else to offer. Later I’ll tell you how you can win Anacortes Getaway for Two that my friend at Small Town Washington and the Experience Anacortes are giving away.

The Hiyu is destined to become a floating entertainment venue on Lake Union. Yeah, for keeping it local. The M/V Evergreen State will leave us and provide active ferry service in the protected waters of the southern Caribbean.

I would love to have a ferry, but as a freelance writer my income doesn’t jibe with the cost of these vessels. Starting bid for the Hiyu was $300,000 and it eventually sold for $150,000 while the Evergreen State price was dropped from a handsome $450,000 to $300,000 when it sold. The latter measures 296.7 feet and holds 87 cars. The former was the smallest of the fleet and carried only 34 cars.

What do you do with a ferry once you buy one?

Dyer Oxley, a writer at MyNorthwest.com, did lots of research on this and came up with some factual answers. Right here in our own neighborhood the M/V Skansonia serves as a wedding an event venue on the north shore of Lake Union in Seattle.

The M/V Rhododendron currently helps out with oyster farming in Fanny Bay, British Columbia, Oxley discovered.

Another retired vessel, the M/V Enetai is docked at Pier 3 in San Francisco and serves as a ballroom with a full bar.

Here is some ferry trivia for you:

  • 2 million commuters, tourists and travelers ride Washington State Ferries (WSF) in 2016
  • Those same ferries travelled 910,610 miles
  • The Seattle-to-Bremerton route carried 2.1 million foot passengers in 2016, the most since 2004
  • The Chimacum, a new Olympic Class ferry, will join the Seattle-to-Bremerton run in the spring of 2017
  • WSF is taking advisement on how to improve service on the busy Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route from a volunteer citizen group

 

Here’s the Anacortes giveaway contest and it is full of good stuff. Hurry, the contest ends April 15th.

Afternoon Tea

My daughter wanted to have a “girls” afternoon out and imbibe in tea and tiny finger sandwiches so I made reservations at The Secret Garden in Sumner, Washington. There, 75 different flavors of tea don the menu and the setting in a colonial style home couldn’t be more reminiscent of a slower time, less cell phone watching and excellent service.

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The “tea” meal was divided into courses. First came the pots of tea, which needed to steep a few minutes more after arriving at your table. My choice, Ambrosia, blended exotic fruits and coconut. It was as good as the menu promised.

You select from the menu a grouping of different items, much like the family meals at a Chinese restaurant. Three of us wanted the same grouping, while the 8-year-old preferred the children’s menu item with a main course of peanut butter and jam sandwiches, with the crusts removed, of course.

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Then came a sweet, flakey scone served with Devonshire cream, lemon curd and raspberry jam. After we’d finished the scones, we were given a scoop of mango sorbet to cleanse the palette. Then the showcase, the three-tiered tray of savory, sweet and sandwich treats, arrived.

Everything was presented in a beautiful and delicate way. You could tell much love and care went into the preparation. From the cucumber sandwiches to the pinwheels and quiches, nothing was left untouched by our table plus we needed a to-go box.

AfternoonTea20170325_123413copyReservations are recommended at The Secret Garden. Go early and peruse the lovely gift shop.

Other places where afternoon tea is served in this state:

Queen Mary Tea Room in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle

Cederberg Tea House in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle

The Silver Spoon Tea House in Spokane

Brambleberry Cottage & Tea Shoppe in Spokane

Even more suggestions here.

 

Sip Afternoon Tea: No Passport Required

One of my all-time favorite places in the Pacific Northwest, Salish Lodge & Spa, will be serving Holiday Tea from 2 p.m.-4 p.m. December 19 – January 2, 2017. During that time, you can enjoy the Lodge’s signature teas and savor finger sandwiches, scones and sweet treats all while gazing at the cascading Snoqualmie Falls out the window.

Credit: Salish Lodge & Spa

Credit: Salish Lodge & Spa

 

Victoria, our neighbor to the north in British Columbia, has offered afternoon tea ever since I can remember. But Salish Lodge is much closer to home, you don’t need to travel by boat and nobody will ask for your passport.

The sandwich menu includes a roast beef and Salish honey (the honey couldn’t be fresher because the lodge has their own bees) ale spread and English cucumber with watercress and cream cheese.

The pastry chef has been hard at work creating Frangipane tarts, macaroons, chocolate opera cake and more.

 

Credit: Salish Lodge & Spa

Credit: Salish Lodge & Spa

Sounds like a good way to relax and take a break during this hectic holiday season. The kids are welcome, too.

The younger set, aged 6-12, has their own menu to choose from that includes PB&J on banana bread, miniature cupcakes and hot chocolate.

Wouldn’t a visit to Snoqualmie Falls with holiday tea at Salish Lodge make a good gift to yourself this year? I’d also work in a massage at the spa and a little shopping in the gift shop.

 

 

It Happens All the Time

By Amy Hatvany

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I was privileged to receive the ebook version of “It Happens All the Time” from NetGalley. The author, Amy Hatvany, lives in Seattle and most of the book is set in Bellingham giving this novel two reasons to merit a blog post here on Discover Washington State. 

In the story Amber and Tyler have been best friends since they were teenagers, but recently started spending more time together than ever before. Amber is engaged to Daniel who is currently living in Seattle so they don’t spend much time together during the period when the novel takes place.

Amber has always considered hers and Tyler’s relationship platonic. But Tyler admits he has deeper, more romantic feelings for her. About the same time Amber begins questioning whether or not she’s ready to get married, the two of them attend a party. The alcohol flows freely and sexual tensions heat up between Amber and Tyler,

Told in alternating points of view, Amber questions whether or not she caused the terrible problem the night of the party by her actions and the way she dressed, while Tyler mostly doesn’t remember what happened. I want you to read the book, so I’m not giving anything else away.

Hatvany bravely pulled the topic highlighted in this book from an incident she experienced in her past. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to write, but it is a subject matter women wrestle with all the time so the story needs to be told.

I found the message captivating and the characters colorful. It was also fun to have actual places and street names in the Bellingham area used in the novel as I lived there for four years. It made me reminisce about my own college days.

With each new novel, Hatvany’s writing grows and flows. I look forward to her next with anticipation.

Expected publication date:  March 27, 2017

 

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Kevin O’Brien

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After you’ve devoured this tantalizing thriller and shared it with your friends, it can easily double as a doorstop. Even at 536 pages, there’s no lagging or stagnation. It’s all action. O’Brien has carefully crafted another entertaining standalone.

When 17-year-old Spencer (with two last names) is released from prison after serving his allotted time for killing his parents, he goes to live with his aunt, Andrea Boyle. The two of them move to Seattle to start anew and hopefully avoid the stigma of Spencer’s past. Andrea meets and falls in love with Luke who also has a teenager, Damon. But Damon spends most of the time with his mother. That’s the main cast of characters, a number that’s easy to follow.

Damon becomes the first to blow up the novel, literally. When the bullies at school no longer have Damon to pick on, they turn their attention to Spencer. Then the fireworks have only just begun.

One Amazon reviewer said:  As with all O’Brien books, there is never a dull moment. He is able to hook his readers from the first page and never allows the story line to drag.

One Amazon reviewer raved:  Another wild ride from Kevin O’Brien! I was fortunately under the weather when my copy arrived so I had nothing else to do but read this fast-paced thriller…don’t even remember stopping for meals…

 O’Brien himself experienced bullying in high school so he knows what he’s talking about. My only beef with this book is the high body count. I didn’t think it was necessary.

Otherwise, I highly recommend “You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone” as a great way to spend a weekend. You may have to sleep with a nightlight on though.

With this Seattle author, and a story set in the Emerald City, you can’t go wrong.

 

 

 

What’s New and Cool in September, 2016

Fall is almost upon us.

 

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September 2-25:  Washington State Fair in Puyallup, A week longer than normal, but closed every Tuesday during its run. This is the most popular fair on the west side of the mountains. To see everything, it might take you two full days. Fisher scones, Clydesdales, competitions, Super Heroes, funnel cakes, dinosaurs, and more.

Lighthouse on Rocky Shore

September 9-11:  Mukilteo Lighthouse FestivalMain food court, kids food court, battle of the bands, parade, children’s activities, fireworks and a fishing derby top this community celebration.

White-Pelican

September 9-11:  Puget Sound Bird Fest in Edmonds, Bird lovers of all ages unite to learn more about their hobby. Festival includes guided nature walks, a photography exhibition and field workshop, speakers and presentations.

September 9-18:  Bellingham Beer WeekFifth annual celebration of the craft beer scene in our city to the north. Participants include Chuckanut, Boundary Bay, Kulshan, Aslan, Wander, Structures, Menace and Stones Throw. For other beer coverage across the state, check with my friends at the Washington Beer Blog.

September 23-25:  Valleyfest in the Spokane Valley, Short and long-distance bike rides, hot air balloons, bed races, fishing at the falls, a parade, and robotics and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities.

September 23-25:  Port Townsend Film Festival, 98 films at six different theatre venues, one of which is outside.

September 23-25:  Autumn Leaf Fest in Leavenworth, Parades, music, entertainment, car show, breakfast and more.

September 23-25:  Ye Merrie Greenwood Faire in Kennewick, A period Renaissance Faire, need I say more?

September 30-October 1:  Inaugural SeaFeast in Bellingham, This new event takes place in downtown and showcases the rich maritime and thriving commercial fishing there. Local seafood, competitions, entertainment, a pub crawl and salmon barbecue.

Just Plain Cool

Wings over Washington in Seattle is a new attraction on Pier 59 at Miner’s Landing in Seattle. Purchase your tickets at the same place you buy them for the Great Wheel. This flying theatre transports you over and through some of the best scenery in the state. Once you’re strapped into your seat, the chairs drop and you become a part of the landscape and seascape. It feels so real, that I ducked and lifted my feet to avoid the obstacles.

 

Courtesy Doug Walker Photography

Courtesy Doug Walker Photography

The Thurston County Bountiful Byway, is now open so anyone can travel the 60-mile loop filled with fresh food and beverages. “This new program will further the Bountiful Byway’s mission to bring visitors hungry for local produce, craft beverages and farm fresh fare straight to the source,” says Shauna Stewart, executive director of the Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor & Convention Bureau.

 

 

 

Now That’s a Train Ride

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In the first half of the 1900s, cooking for loggers fell to a few women. Some of them also washed the lumbermen’s clothes and cleaned their cabins. Known collectively as “flunkies,” they lived in their own shack. At the Logging Museum in Mineral,

FlunkyCabinthumbnail_20160722_133306Washington, you can visit a re-creation of one of their cabins complete with a wood burning stove, iron, nylons hanging on a clothesline and even a period radio.

You’ll board the Mount Rainier Railroad in the small town of Elbe. The turn-off from Highway 7 is easy to miss. Watch for the restaurant in a train car and make the next possible right turn, then park behind the train car. Buy your tickets inside the designated building or better yet, get them online to ensure you and your party have a seat on the train.

On our ride, a lady came through the cars selling authentic train whistles, something you might want to give to a child who doesn’t live with you. When the engineer puts the train in gear, you can sit back and watch nature pass by outside your window. The steam train chugs along as you travel through forested land, over Mineral Creek and alongside the Upper Nisqually River. MountRainierRailroadDSCF1954

The first half of the two-hour experience stops at the Logging Museum in Mineral. Besides the flunky cabin, you’ll have time to tour other buildings where loggers lived and ate plus a restoration shop and engine room. The authorities give you plenty of opportunity to look around and talk to the staff. Then you hop on board for the return trip to Elbe.

If you’ve already made plans for the rest of summer, no worries. The steam train becomes the Wine Express on September 24th with tastings provided by three local wineries. Later in the fall, the Great Pumpkin Patch Express takes over with Snoopy and Charlie Brown aboard and for the holidays the train transforms into the Polar Express.

Have you ridden the Mt. Rainier Railroad? What did you think?  MountRainierRailroadDSCF1946

Disclaimer:  My granddaughter, daughter and I were generously hosted on this trip.

What’s New and Cool in August, 2016

Sorry, that I’m a little late with this. Where has the summer gone anyway?

August 3-7:  Thurston County Fair  in Lacey, a little north of Olympia, visitors will eat traditional fair food (Fisher Scones, please), watch 4H competitions, play games, watch Professor Bamboozle and participate in a craft beer, wine and hard cider tasting event, if you’re over 21.       D2H5881

August 5-7:  Seafair Weekend , a signature event in Seattle for decades. The weekend includes parades, neighborhood celebrations, hydroplane racing and a performance by the Blue Angels over Lake Washington.

August 5-7:  Stanwood-Camano Community Fair offers a parade, country fair, contests and exhibits, a carnival, Lego-building contest, make it and take it sewing demonstrations, youth mechanical science quiz bowl, animal shows, lots of live entertainment, and much more.

August 11-14:  Northwest Colonial Festival – Port Angeles invites you to watch daily reenactments of famous battles taking place at the George Washington Inn and Washington Lavender Farm.

August 11-14:  Morton Logger’s Jubilee 

August 12:  An Evening with Jackson Browne  at Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery. Reserve your place. Tickets go fast.

DSC_0018 Ste Michelle Winery

August 12-14:  If you missed the other tastes and bites experience A Taste of Edmonds makes a more-than-adequate replacement. The 33rd annual event is among the top three festivals in the state and among the top 100 North American festivals. Arts and crafts, food, a kid’s area with rides and entertainment, three stages with live music, and a beer and wine garden can all be yours a little north of Seattle.

August 15-24:  Washington State International Kite Festival on Long Beach Peninsula. The sky blazes with color this time of year. Look for a full, entertaining program of kite competitions, exhibitions and demonstrations, kite making and flying lessons, mass ascensions, indoor kite ballet, a teddy bear drop and more on the spacious, sand beach.

August 23-27:  Benton Franklin Fair and Rodeo A demolition derby, concerts, rodeo, carnival, Mutton Bustin’, BBQ Cook-off and much more in Tri-Cities.    Photo-Gallery--element67

August 25-September 5: Evergreen State Fair , one of the very biggest fairs in the state – you need two days to see it all. Pro West Rodeo contests, Speedway racing, competitive exhibits in 4-H and FFA, Evergreen Youth Livestock Show, contests, and food galore. Free gate admission on opening day until 1 p.m.

August 27-28:  Olympic Peninsula Air Affaire presents hot air balloons, skydivers, wing walkers and other aeronautical treasures at the Sequim Valley Airport.

 Just Plain Cool

Whale Watching the Best in Years:  The Strait of Juan de Fuca has had extraordinary numbers of humpback whales and sightings of a rare-to-these-waters fin whale. Orcas are very active.

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Chuckanut Drive in Bellingham turns 100 this year. Video courtesy Bellingham Herald.

Watch for news about Thurston County’s new Bountiful Byway.

What’s New and Cool in July, 2016