Category Archives: Dog-friendly

Explore More Holiday Activities

All the gifts have been unwrapped, the tree is starting to shed and too much fattening food calls to us from the kitchen. It’s time to get out and enjoy some holiday offerings in the Pacific Northwest. Here’s a list to get you started.


Stroll down Celebration Lane at The Bellevue Collection, where live toy soldiers rove streets, music fills the air and a dazzling light show illuminates the lane, until December 31.

While in Bellevue, explore Bellevue Botanical Garden’s Garden d’Lights, a nationally recognized holiday display with more than half a million lights illuminating a winter wonderland, until January 4.

For an educational experience outside the school setting, an 1860s sewing machine is featured at a new Fort Nisqually exhibit highlighting its revolutionary impact on the daily lives of women in those times.

“Turning Drudgery into a Pastime” is on display through April 5, 2014 and is included in the price of admission to the fort. For more information, call (253) 591-5339 or go online to FortNisqually.org.

Fort Nisqually Living History Museum is a restoration of the Hudson’s Bay Company outpost on Puget Sound located in Point Defiance Park, Tacoma. Visitors experience life in Washington Territory during the Fur Trade era of the 1850s. Nine buildings are open to the public, including the Granary and the Factors House, both National Historic Landmarks, and a Visitor Center with Museum Store. Fort Nisqually Living History Museum is a facility of Metro Parks Tacoma.

How About Some Snow Play?
Squeals and laughter fill the air as people of all ages have a blast on snow trails.
Join a park ranger to learn the art of snowshoeing and discover how plants, animals, and people adapt to the challenging winter conditions at Mount Rainier.
When: Update 12/20/13. First-come, first-served guided snowshoe walks will begin on December 24, 2013. Snow conditions permitting, the walks are generally offered on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, and daily during winter break from December 24 to January 1. After early January, walks are only offered on Saturdays and Sundays, and holidays. Walks start at 11:15 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. and meet inside the Jackson Visitor Center (near the information desk) in Paradise. Sign-ups begin 1 hour in advance of scheduled time.
Distance & Time: Snowshoe walks cover approximately 1.5 miles in 2 hours.
Group size: Snowshoe walks are limited to 25 people, eight years old or older, on a first-come, first-served basis. A sign-up sheet is available at the Jackson Visitor Center information desk one hour before each walk. All snowshoe walk participants must be present at sign-up.

Skiers, riders and foot passengers can all take a ride to the Crystal Mountain summit for captivating mountain views, a delectable meal at the Summit House and a great run down the slopes. Dogs allowed on the gondola, but not in the Summit House.

Don’t want to venture out just yet, then download the free interactive eCookbook from Visit Seattle, that highlights a range of talented chefs and signature Pacific Northwest cuisine. Fresh From Seattle features 26 recipes from 12 noteworthy local chefs, including acclaimed hotel chefs and award winners such as Tom Douglas, Maria Hines and Thierry Rautureau.

For more family fun check with my two favorite sites: Rubyslipperguide.com for the Eastside and SoundsFunMom.com for the South Sound.

White Pass Stages a Winter Carnival

This should fall under the heading, “Did you know?” Every year on the first weekend of March, at the summit of White Pass a Winter Carnival beckons snow lovers. I just experienced the 27th annual carnival and found the wealth of activities a delight.     

 

White Pass is located on US Highway 12 on the White Pass Scenic Byway. Many Washingtonians haven’t even visited this ski area and are surprised learn about what goes on there. It offers 1,500 acres of Alpine terrain, Nordic trails and lodging. Snow enthusiasts can downhill and cross country ski, snowboard and snowshoe. The lodge handles equipment rental, has child care, serves food and beverages and houses a well-stocked pro shop.

But back to the carnival. Several volunteers, many who work in the construction business, build a snow castle that becomes the showcase sculpture for the event. More than 15 people helped to create the castle this year. It is made with forms packed with snow. Each element of the structure contains a number of forms, so it’s a slow process, but it’s done that way to make it safe. Throngs of folks walk through the castle at the event, something the kids especially treasure.

    

A safe, snow structure is subject to a most unpredictable Mother Nature.

“It’s crucial that it stays cold for the castle. Rain and wind beat it up,” said David Ruby, a Packwood resident and lead volunteer.

The normal time frame to complete the castle is two weeks; that’s without any unexpected weather fronts.

Touring the castle and using the slide inside is free for everyone. Other activities may involve a fee.

During daylight hours on Saturday and Sunday, skiers and boarders race, take lessons or just tackle some runs for fun. On Saturday evening, a dinner of prime rib or spaghetti is available for purchase. As the night draws to a close, the entire ski patrol carries torches and crisscrosses on skis down the main hill. That signals the beginning of the fireworks show and the end of the evening. Sunday sees more of the same.

I urge you to mark your calendars for the first weekend in March, 2014, so you too can take part in the festivities at White Pass. Or visit anytime to play in the snow.

 For other winter activities available now, look at Visit Rainier.

Get Into Soap Lake

As you might imagine, Soap Lake is a body of water, but it is also a town of 1,500 in Eastern Washington. I’m pretty sure they all know each other, because while we enjoyed a tasty restaurant dinner there at Don’s everybody else in the eatery recognized each other and chatted with them.

Soap Lake and the newly installed sun dial sculpture.

 

Soap Lake was formed by a mammoth waterfall that eroded basalt rock into what is now Dry Falls. When the waters of the last big flood receded, it left the mineral-rich lake. More than 15 minerals fill the lake, some say giving it extraordinary healing powers. Soaking in the lake water and spreading the lake mud over hands, arms and faces to facilitate healing was done by indigenous people, settlers and is still done today.

A list of all the mineral Soap Lake contains.

The name, Soap Lake, seemed appropriate because of the foamy ridges that formed on the beach on windy days. Besides the lake itself, local spas offer a Soap Lake experience where you can soak in lake-filled tubs. (Although a broken pipe has stopped that temporarily, it will soon be fixed.)

From www.soaplakewa.com:  Some day, Soap Lake will be discovered by the rich and famous. They’ll build a fabulous resort and take advantage of this absolutely one-of-a-kind mineral lake. They’ll hear about Soap Lake and its remarkable history. They’ll swim in the water and lie in the sun and know they have found a place that nourishes their soul as well as their bodies. They’ll be drawn back year-after-year until they decide to stay for the rest of their lives.

If you aren’t rich or famous, visit soon, before the price goes up. If you are rich and famous, we’ve been waiting for you.

Besides relaxing in the sun, Soap Lake has lots of activities throughout the year like Winterfest, the second weekend of December, with a juried art show, art sale, crafts and music. Lava Run to the Sun is a motorcycle rally in late July and the Soap Lake Box Derby takes place over Memorial Day Weekend.

Bellevue Hilton Highly Recommended

Little things mean a lot — like when the hotel staff remembers your name and uses it or offers you a bottle of water while you’re waiting for someone. Excellent customer service will keep me coming back to any business.

That’s what I got at the Bellevue Hilton last week. A newspaper was at my door each morning, I was offered turn down service and everyday when I got back to my room it was clean and tidy.

This hotel offers the largest guest rooms in Bellevue and my suite was surely an example of that. The living room contained a sofa, chair, desk and widescreen TV and another TV was in the bedroom which was more than ample. A huge tub dominated the dressing room and the smaller bath revealed a shower and toilet.

 

Amenities included a fitness center with chilled towels and fresh fruit, an outdoor swimming pool and a complimentary shuttle that drove you anywhere within a mile of the hotel. A beauty salon, coin laundry for guests and 700 parking spaces also graced the property.

Tully’s Coffee Shop was located in the lobby as was a bar and Basil’s Restaurant, which serves a yummy breakfast buffet.

Although, I didn’t get to see him, I was told an otter lived in the pond outside. I’ll have to go back in warmer weather and see if he’s sunning himself.

To top it all off, the Bellevue Hilton is pet-friendly. What more could you ask for?

A Peak at Pacific City, Oregon

Every so often I stray from my home state. Most recently, I visited the Oregon Coast, which I must admit has some appealing qualities that our coast does not, including more accessible beaches and gigantic rock formations in the water (you’ve probably heard of Haystack Rock). This time I stayed overnight in Pacific City, a tiny coastal town, so I’d like to share the possibilities it offers with you.

Beach at Pacific City, Oregon.

 

I stayed at the Inn at Cape Kiwanda, which is directly across from the beach and a few steps from a very good eatery, the  award-winning Pelican Pub & Brewery. My husband and I had been to Pacific City before, but never stayed overnight because the accommodations looked expensive from the exterior. As it turns out, they are not. Rooms at the Inn start at $139. All of the guest rooms have ocean views from a private, covered balcony, gas fireplaces, microwaves, small refrigerators and high speed wireless Internet. Really, what else do you need? If you want to bring your “best friend,” dogs love the beaches on the Coast and the Inn is pet-friendly.

What to do

As the iconic single’s ad says, “you can take a long walk on the beach,” watch sunrises and sunsets, look for glass balls and watch the waves crash.

Pelican Pub & Brewery and another Haystack Rock.

 

If you’ve come to storm watch, you might also want to read a good book and create a scrapbook of memories.

Kids can search for agates in the sand, feed bread to the seagulls, go horseback riding and eat s’mores on the beach.

And then you can get a good night’s sleep, slumbering with ocean noises in the background and find even more activities for the next day.

A good breakfast spot is The Grateful Bread, which is a full-service restaurant and a bakery.

Cinnamon roll french toast at The Grateful Bread.

Tip:  In Oregon, an employee always pumps your gas for you. There are no self-serve gas stations.

What is your favorite coast and why?

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.

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.

Partner Up for a Street Dance

Something is always happening on Whidbey Island, a great place for a day or even a weekend trip. On July 20 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m, the Community Street Dance at the Bayview Cash Store features local band, Ruzivo and Mbira dzeMuninga from Zimbabwe.

Groups will perform a mixture of original compositions and arrangements of both traditional and contemporary music reminiscent of Southern Africa.

Ruzivo, led by Seattle-based Zimbabwean musician Paul Mataruse, plays high-energy Afropop music inspired by Zimbabwean and South African traditional and contemporary tunes. The group combines four handcrafted marimbas with bass guitar, trap set and mbira, the traditional instrument from Mataruse’s native Zimbabwe.
 
Joining Ruzivo onstage will be the visiting group Mbira dzeMuninga sharing their deep and vibrant understanding of Zimbabwean rhythms through mbira, dance, drumming and singing.
 
The Basil Café will feature a selection of a la carte sushi that night, in addition to other Asian influenced dining options. Award-winning wines from Blooms Winery and Spoiled Dog Winery will be available by the taste, glass, or bottle. (Please note that children and dogs are welcome in the tasting room!).
 
The street dance is presented by Goosefoot, a non-profit organization whose mission is to help build a thriving South Whidbey through projects that support the local economy and promote learning and community.

Bayview Corner’s community street dances are sponsored by Puget Sound Energy and Whidbey Island Bank. It is because of their generous support that admission to the street dances remain free!
  
Please call (360) 321-4145 for further information.  The Bayview Cash Store is located at 5603 Bayview Road, just 7 miles from the Clinton Ferry dock on Whidbey Island.  Take Highway 525 to Bayview Road.  Make a right onto Bayview Road and the Cash Store is located at the next intersection of Marshview Avenue and Bayview Road.

Camano Island Coffee Roasters Just Keeps On Giving

In the year 2000 Jeff Ericson created Camano Island Coffee Roasters so he could combine his passion with sustainable practices and responsible purchasing.

In simple terms, that means the company makes darn good coffee and also gives back to the growers. Because Ericson wanted to create change in the world he partnered with Agros International. For every 3-lb. bag of coffee a consumer buys, $1 of that goes to Agros International. Agros, was founded in Seattle in 1982, so that rural Central American and Mexican families could leave poverty behind by purchasing and working their own land.

Agros trains people in their country and when that training is completed lends them money to buy land and then teaches them how to work the land so they can pay back the loan. Many of these people grow coffee, which Camano Island Coffee Roasters buys – but only if their beans meet Ericson’s standards. Otherwise the company helps them sell their coffee elsewhere.

Camano Island Coffee Roasters offers not only a delicious cup, but numerous shopping opportunities and even more shopping during the November-December holidays. Leashed dogs are welcome on the premises. This business is located at:  848 N. Sunrise Blvd. on Camano Island.

You Don’t Have to Leave the FireSky Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona

So far this year the velvety gray draping over us has overstayed its welcome.

The approach to the Kimpton Firesky Resort

Without a single day with 70-degree temperatures in almost 200 days, I jetted out of here to my favorite land of sun, Scottsdale. It had been awhile so I wasn’t sure what that huge orange ball in the sky was, but it sure looked beautiful and radiated some much-needed heat.

When I reserved a room at the Kimpton FireSky before I even left, I knew I would be in for a treat. I was asked to register for the In Touch guest loyalty program. Ho-hum, I thought – more forms to fill out and did anyone really care or use them anyway? Well, Kimpton surely does. The questionnaire asked what type of pillow I liked – firm, soft, feather, foam; where I’d like my room – upper floor, lower floor, near the elevator, corner; and which newspaper I’d like delivered to my door each morning – Wall Street Journal, USA Today or the local paper. Such an easy way to make sure guests were taken care of, yet this had never happened to me or to anyone I know before. Rest assured, all my choices appeared when I arrived, so the form was not filled out in vain.

My Kimpton FireSky experience just kept getting better and better. When I stepped inside the entrance, I found myself in their lobby/living room. Designed as a warm welcoming place to gather with comfy couches and chairs, the lobby resembles a gigantic living room. With the bar at one end, you can pick up a drink or appetizer and take it to a cushy chair to enjoy.

At the front desk, you might be greeted with the resident Cocker Spaniel, if he’s not hunting down treats. He oversees the welcoming of canine guests, which receive just as royal a treatment as human guests.

Taggia, the onside restaurant, offers both indoor and outdoor seating. I enjoyed my first meal in Scottsdale on their patio, which was so relaxing and warm, that I wanted to linger.

Anyone could easily stay at FireSky and never want to leave. With a lagoon, two pools (one with a sandy beach), the Jurlique Spa and well appointed guest rooms, why go anywhere else? It’s secluded yet you’re in the center of town, you can make s’mores in the fire pits and I really want to go back.