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.
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 www.visitolympia.com.