Tag Archives: Washington

Take a Jaunt to Jetty Island: Last Chance This Season

I’ve heard about Jetty Island in Everett, Washington, but never had the chance to wiggle my toes in the warm sand, relax on the beach or participate in an educational trail walk. And it blew me away.


You have to take a ferry or a private boat to get there and I love ferries so it already enticed me. This ferry is free, one of the smaller Argosy boats, and the ride takes only three minutes.

On a sunny day, which we enjoyed, the 80-passenger ferry reaches capacity on every crossing until the Ranger on Jetty Island declares too many people have landed on the island and the ferry takes a break until some people depart.

Ranger Kraig Hansen, Chief Naturalist for the City of Everett, describes the island's fauna to a group of hikers.

Who would want to leave when the kids are kept busy digging in the sand or wading in the water and parents can relax without distractions. When everyone needs a change of activities, nature trails beckon and guided walks geared towards children are offered. Ranger Kraig leads the walks and is a fountain of knowledge and quite funny. He might even ask you to taste Pickleweed.

Jetty Island measures two miles long, has one floating restroom, and no running water or electricity. So bring whatever you need because you won’t find vendors on the island selling hot dogs and soda. Unplug and unravel for as long as you like. Just don’t miss the last ferry of the day back to Everett or you might have to pay a private boater to shuttle you in.

Although there is no charge to go to Jetty Island donations are welcome and make it possible for the ferry to transport more than 40,000 visitors annually.

The season officially ends on Labor Day, September 5 this year.

View of Everett from Jetty Island

A Cowgirl Remembers…

Book Giveaway

Win a copy of "A Cowgirl Remembers When..."

The Cascade Mountain Range divides Washington almost in half north to south. In Eastern Washington, on the east side of the mountains, the temperatures traditionally run warmer than over here on the west side of the range. Many differences exist between the two sides of the state. One of the most interesting to me is the number of ranches and the cowboys and cowgirls that run those ranches.

Through social networking, I met Dawn Nelson, one of those cowgirls, who is also an award-winning author. I’m giving away one of her books, “A Cowgirl Remembers When…” tomorrow. To be eligible to win, please follow the instructions at the end of this blog post. Now let’s hear from Dawn.

Where have you lived in Washington State?

Dawn:  I grew up in the small town of Danville, Washington with a population of well under 100. Now I live in Creston with 200 other people. It’s about an hour from Spokane. I love small towns!

What was your first experience with writing?

Dawn:  I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 and started writing letters to my daughter when she was born in 2005. I was worried that she would never get to know who her mother was. So I sat down and wrote the short stories of my life, which turned out to be my first book, “A Cowgirl Remembers When.” After writing that book, I realized that writing was something I could do while I was healing from my surgeries, so I kept on writing. After several years of surgeries, I’m almost back to normal.

Not only did Dawn write this book, she's also the cover model.

How many published books do you have to your credit now?

Dawn:  Since 2009, I’ve had five books published. I have a sixth at my editor’s now and thirty-six more at home in different stages of completion.

Do you have a western theme in your books because that’s what you know the best?

Dawn:  Besides being what I know the best, it is also what I enjoy the most. I am trying to branch out into other genres, but western-themed books are my comfort zone.

What is life on your ranch like?

Dawn:  It is full of adventure and inspiration for me. As I answer these questions, a cow is giving birth about 15 feet behind me in a calving pen. This time of year is when I can get most of my writing done. Calving season gives me lots of hours sitting here in the vet room waiting on a first calf heifer to calve. The rest of the year, I have to make time to write.

To win “A Cowgirl Remembers When,” which received the Academy of Western Artists’ 2010 Buck Ramsey Book of the Year award; please make a comment on this blog post by midnight, Friday, March 11, 2011. Be sure to include your e-mail address in the comments so that I can get in touch with you.   Thank you.


New Pick-Quick Opens Soon

Have you ever eaten a Pick-Quick hamburger from the iconic drive-in in Fife? People say that should be on your bucket list. I know, firsthand, just how yummy they are. 

Rendering of the Auburn location, courtesy of Richmond Public Relations.

In USA Today, Jay Friedman, a freelance food writer and gastronaut, named the Pick-Quick burger the very best in the whole state of Washington. I would have to agree. The food sends waves of delight from my tongue to my brain. But, there’s one problem with the Fife location – I don’t really like sitting outside in the rain to enjoy my meal.

In three weeks that problem will be solved. After 49 years of having only a single location, Pick-Quick will open a restaurant in Auburn.

“The time was right and we found the right people to oversee the new facility,” said Greg Burgi, one of the owners.

Not only will the Auburn location be larger and also have a drive-through window, but it will also have both indoor seating and covered outdoor seating.

What makes Pick-Quick’s burgers better than the rest? 

Burgi says they make 2-ounce patties and you can have up to four of those on a bun.

“You get more flavor from multiple patties. Everything is fresh, from the hand-cut tomatoes to the onions and we don’t have frozen meat,” said Burgi. “Adding cheddar or American Cheese and bacon to the burgers and hot dogs is an option.” 

Fife location of Pick-Quick, courtesy Richmond Public Relations.

Hungry yet?

The menu also includes: hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, garden burgers, chili, twenty flavors of milkshakes made with fresh fruit (when in season) like blueberries and strawberries, and of course, fresh-cut fries and onion rings.

Currently the Fife location is closed through the end of January for their usual maintenance, where they refinish and paint their picnic tables. The Auburn Pick-Quick will be open year round.

Okay – I’ll tell you where the new place is:  1132 Auburn Way North.

Sign up to “like” their FaceBook page at www.Facebook.com/#1/PickQuick and check out their weekly contests.

Tis the Season for Carousels

Morford Family Carousel in Kent delights both children and adults

Hidden in the entertainment section of the newspaper on Thanksgiving Day was a short announcement about the opening of the Morford Family Carousel in downtown Kent at Second Avenue and Harrison Street. Who doesn’t love carousels? They just make me feel happy watching them go round and round. And this one was no exception. Our granddaughter opened her eyes very wide while watching the horses go up and down and around at the same time.

Kita was hesitant at first, but grew fonder of the ride as it continued


This classic Venetian-style carousel features 19 carved and painted wooden horses and three special seats, including a sleigh. It was designed by the famous Bertazzon Carousel Company in Italy. Once owned by the Morford Family, they have since donated it to the City of Kent. Non-profits now use it as a way to raise money for their organization.

Aren't carousels grand?

Children’s Therapy Center which supports children with all disabilities will be this season’s beneficiary of the proceeds. The suggested donation is $1 per ride, plus they have a free raffle of gifts from Kent merchants. How can you go wrong with this?

Hours are:  Fridays – 4 to 8 p.m.; Saturdays – noon to 8 p.m.; Sundays – noon to 5 p.m. with bonus days when schools out – Dec. 20 – 24 from 1 to 5 p.m. and December 31 from 1 to 5 p.m.

Westlake Park also hosts a holiday carousel every year at this time, which is located at 401 Pine Street in downtown Seattle. This one is a 1906 Parker Carousel and cost $2 per ride. Ride fees benefit the Downtown Seattle Association and Treehouse, a charity for children in foster care.

Hours are:  Fridays – 10 to 10 p.m.; Saturdays – 10 to 9 p.m.; Sundays – 11 to 9 p.m. and Mondays through Thursdays – 11 to 10 p.m.

While visiting Tacoma’s Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, you can take a ride on the Paul Titus Antique Carousel. This re-created wooden carousel was first built in 1917. Its hand-carved and painted animals were created by the Washington Antique Carousel Society and Friends. To follow along with the zoo theme, endangered species and Northwest native animals line the inner ring with Washington state themed horses on the outer ring. Open during zoo hours.  www.pdza.org

For those traveling to or who already reside in the eastern side of the state, The Art of the Carousel is on display until February 28, 2011 at the Chase Gallery in Spokane’s City Hall.

Spokane also boasts a carousel built by Charles Looff in 1909 at Riverfront Park. This one has made the National Register of Historic Places. More than a quarter of a million riders experience this Spokane treasure each year.

Where is your favorite carousel?

Washington Boasts Fantastic Children’s Book Authors

Our state seems to attract artists of all kinds, but especially writers or at least that’s the art I know the most about. Last night 18 authors and illustrators gathered at Park Place Books in Kirkland to present “The Inside Story” on their newest releases. Each presenter was give 2 ½ minutes to tell the story behind the story of what they’d written and had published. This event was presented by the Western Washington chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators.

Below I’ve revealed some of their insights in case you want to buy and read these books. Some haven’t been released yet, but most have.

I overheard two members of the audience talking about how they would rather read children’s books than some of the books for adults out there because the children’s authors do a better job of engaging the reader. I heartily agree.

Picture Books

A Bedtime for Bear by Bonnie Becker continues the saga of a grumpy bear and a cheerful mouse and the series now comes with a cuddling stuffed toy.

New to Seattle, Maggie Smith has penned Christmas with the Mousekins just in time for the holidays – how does a mouse family prepare for Christmas?

Illustrator Kevan J. Atteberry said drawing monsters in Frankie Stein Starts School by Lola M. Schaefer, makes his job fun and though friends and relatives don’t find Frankie frightening enough, he is his own kind of scary.

Hope for Haiti by Jesse Joshua Watson gives some much-needed realism to the Haitian earthquake disaster so it doesn’t get relegated to a news item that’s forgotten after a couple of days.

While J. Elizabeth Mills was riding a Metro bus in Seattle, the idea for The Spooky Wheels on the Bus was conceived. It started with, “what if the bus was haunted?”

Kathryn Thurman’s sister once brought home a pig for a pet and that sparked the initial idea for A Garden for Pig, which took more than five years to become a published book.

Every time Erik Brooks saw wrapping paper or greeting cards with polar bears and penguins together, he marveled at how inaccurate that was – they didn’t live together. So this Winthrop author finally used the topic as fodder for Polar Opposites.

Early Readers & Chapter Books

When her contractor quit in the middle of building her dream home, illustrator Liz Callen took solace from and immersed herself in the pictures in Wolf Pie – a story about the three Pygg brothers.

While explaining the back story for Zelda and Ivy: The Big Picture, Laura McGee Kvasnosky strummed the ukulele and sang about her own family.

Stay tuned for Middle Grade and Young Adult Novels by local authors.

Val Mallinson, Author of Dog Lover’s Companion Books

Cooper and Isis told Val Mallinson what to put in her books

Today we welcome the premier Northwest dog writer, Val Mallinson, to the blog. If it’s in Washington, Oregon or parts of British Columbia and you can take your dog there, she knows about it. Her books are very handy guides for discovering new and different places to take your furry friends.

How many dogs do you have, what are their names and breeds?

Val:  I have two smooth coat, miniature dachshunds, Cooper and Isis. Both are rescues and collectively known as “The Wonder Wieners.” But, I like to tell people I wrote the book from the perspective of a large, sloppy chocolate Lab, which I’m convinced I was in a former life.

How many Dog Lover Companion books have you written?

Val:  There are three: The Dog Lover’s Companion to the Pacific Northwest, which covers Washington and Oregon from the mountains to the coast and a little bit of British Columbia; The Dog Lover’s Companion to Seattle, which extends from Everett to Olympia and the islands to Issaquah; and The Dog Lover’s Companion to Oregon, which covers, um, Oregon.

The books are so thorough. How long does it take you to write one?

Val:  The first book took two years, full time and then some, from contract to cover. The latest edition, updated in 2009, took about nine months, like a birth – sometimes as uncomfortable as a pregnancy, almost as rewarding.

Do you actually visit all the places you talk about in the book?

Val:  Yes, M’am. Our collective 10 legs, six eyes, and three bodies (sometimes four bodies, if the husband came) have visited every single spot we wrote about.

In Washington State, what are your favorite places to take dogs?

Val:  Our favorite place is always the most recent one we’ve visited! One thing I like about the books is that there’s a “Pick of the Litter” at the beginning of each chapter, giving you the highlights of each region. If forced to choose, I’d have to start with water: Whidbey Island. The dog parks and beaches are great (Double Bluff Beach!!!), the people are so friendly, the picnic food is superb, and it’s so close to Seattle, yet seems a world apart. Second on the list would be mountains: Bellingham/Mt. Baker. Cooper loves a good hike in the woods or around Lake Whatcom on the Hertz Trail. Old Fairhaven has charm, delicious food and great shops and you can take well-behaved pets into most of the boutiques along the four blocks. Finally, Lake Chelan has really captured our interest lately, for the water, mountains, sunny blue skies and (slurp) up-and-coming wine scene. Page 357 of The Dog Lover’s Companion to the Pacific Northwest (TDLCPN) lists seven fabulous wineries where pets are welcome to hang out with you on patios while you wine and dine.

Which lodging facilities in Washington are the most accommodating to dogs?

Val:  Some wonderful spots go out of their way to be as friendly as a Golden Retriever. To name a few, Willows Lodge in Woodinville is the tops; they even have a dog greeter in the lobby. In Seattle, the W Hotel puts the “W” in tail-wagging; they often host Mutt Mixer parties along with CityDog Magazine, and they have a pet package at check-in.

For upscale hotels, try Starwood Hotels . I tell you what, on the cheap, you can’t beat Motel 6—they are reliably dog-friendly, conveniently located, and their website lists all the locations that have recently been updated and overhauled to look quite nice.

What is Washington’s best-kept dog-secret?

Val:  If I told you, I’d have to ki—no wait, different job. Okay, if I’m a dog, I’m going to recommend the ends of the earth at Cape Disappointment State Park on Long Beach Peninsula. The beaches are endless, the hikes are wooded, you often have the place to yourself, and the food and lodging are constantly improving. Hint: Try the Inn at Discovery Coast. Or Guemes Island, page 48 in TDLCPN, but you really have to want to get away from it all.

An Entertainment Farm in Buckley

You never know what you'll see at a Renaissance Faire

Maris Farms, on their website, describes itself as an entertainment farm, a term I don’t believe I’ve heard before. But that’s a perfect description.

We just experienced their Medieval Renaissance Faire, which was delightful. The costumes worn by the entertainers, merchants, and even the visitors made the trip to Buckley, Washington all worthwhile. Colorful, detailed and outlandish don’t even begin to tell the tale of some of the outfits. If you liked what you saw, you could even buy or rent your own medieval wear.

Magicians, singers and Celtic music players entertained the crowds on for three separate weekends in August of 2010. You could have your cards or your aura read, eat turkey legs, relax in the pub garden or practice archery. Brenda the Braider braided hair while Granny Green painted faces and bodies.

For the youngsters, catapulting three-week old rolls, dried in the sun, into baskets was a hoot. Our two-year-old granddaughter didn’t want to stop. There’s always something cool and family-oriented going on at Maris Farms.

During October 2010, Maris Farms holds a Wonder-Fall Experience that includes a corn maze (I highly recommend taking a child who can get you out of the maze), pumpkin patch, haunted woods, jumping pillow, tube slides and weekend hayrides. Not to be outdone by other local farms with pumpkin patches, Maris Farms also offers monster truck rides, pony rides, cow tipping, corn cannons and pig races.

The Maris Farm staff hopes you’ll take your time when you visit – enjoy the animals in the barn, slide the tube slide, make some memories and take photos. That’s why they are always adding new features to their Fall events. This year that’s pedal carts.

Teens and adults who enjoy really being scared can opt for the Night Corn Maze experience.

Whatever your favorite fall experience, you’re likely to find it at Maris Farms.

Visit www.marisfarms.com for specials offered throughout the season.

Taking an archery lesson at the Maris Farm Medieval Faire

Meet David Williams: He Has Visited Every City in Washington

David had his photo taken in front of the post office at every city in Washington he visited.

Although Washington’s scenery is splendid and our attractions can be awe-inspiring, when you get right down to what makes our state special, it’s the people who make our region spectacular. I recently heard about a gentleman who realized his goal of visiting every city in Washington State in a little over four years and wanted to hear more about how he accomplished this. David Williams, marketing analyst by day and Washington State explorer by night and on week-ends, was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.

 How did you strategize your travels in order to achieve your goal of visiting all 493 cities in four years?

David:  In order not to miss any cities, I spent several weeks studying road maps, zip code boundaries and Washington State’s incorporated cities table. In the end I decided that the best method would be to visit the cities county by county. I would pick a county, invite my friends or family members who were interested in going with me, make sure we had a place to spend the night, and then hit the road.

 What knowledge did you gain about Washington by visiting every city?

David:  Being a Washington State history buff, I have read many books on the subject and figured nothing would surprise me. Driving the highways and byways of Washington State gave me first-hand experience into the state’s natural regions. Understanding that Washington State is broken into five natural regions, it wasn’t until I physically immersed myself in them that I truly appreciated the beauty of Washington State.

 I also met people I wouldn’t have otherwise. In the small town of Starbuck (nothing to do with the coffee), in Columbia County, I met the Mayor. When I purchased some snacks from her at the general store, and asked a few questions she told me she was the Mayor. She also pointed out the highlights of the 143-resident town. You never know who you are going to meet when you take the time to talk to people.

 What city or town surprised you the most?

David:  Roche Harbor on San Juan Island. Before I started this project I’d never set foot on San Juan Island. Because Roche Harbor has a post office, I knew I had to visit that town. Roche Harbor is unlike any other place in Washington. Once a company town for the Tacoma and Roche Harbor Lime Company, which was run by John McMillin, Roche Harbor now has a mausoleum where the entire McMillin family is buried. After asking a few questions about the community, I decided I should spend the night and check things out. With a nineteen-acre art walk park, marina, general store, the Hotel de Haro, and a great seafood restaurant, I was quite surprised by how much I fell in love with Roche Harbor. I know it sounds like it, but I do not work for the Roche Harbor Tourism office.

 What town has the strangest name?

David:  Humptulips in Grays Harbor County. Even though it is a Native-American term meaning “chilly region,” it sounds strange when you say it.

How much time did you devote to this goal of visiting every city?

I gave myself five years (January 2001 to December 2005) to visit all of the cities on my list, but managed to complete the project in four years, eight months. At the end of the project, to say thank you to everyone that traveled with me, I had a lunch party and awards ceremony at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. Along with a video presentation, I gave personalized awards to all of my friends and family members who supported me on the project. At the lunch party I announced my decision to continue my project by creating a Phase Two (completed in June 2008) and a Phase Three; which I am currently involved with now. I have already decided to add a Phase Four which will start sometime in 2015.

To read more about David’s other projects, visit www.visiteverycityinwashingtonstate.com


Hello Fellow Travelers!

Olympia Farmers Market offers the best produce, flowers and crafts in Thurston County.

I’m a native of Washington and still enjoy playing tourist in our beautiful state. Having lived for one very unpleasant year in a military town in Georgia, that shall remain nameless, I think we often take for granted our state’s wide variety of terrains and climates, attractions and activities, lush green backdrops and wide open wheat fields.

As a travel writer who has contributed to numerous publications, I am often asked to cover stories here in my own backyard. Washington’s miles of ocean beaches, numerous lakes, raging rivers and calm creeks make the state both a favorite destination for tourists and one of the many reasons most of us can’t imagine living anywhere else. We have snow-covered mountains, an active volcano (Mt. St. Helens), and rugged hills, yet we’re also dazzled by rain forests, parched by deserts and lured by wineries and breweries.

You don’t have to drive far to find your next cup of coffee in Washington or to discover a farmer’s market selling lush local produce. For those seeking a “staycation,” our state offers a variety of farms, dude ranches, spas, and fine dining. Pop culture fans will enjoy visiting Forks – home to the vampires who live in the “Twilight” books. We pretty much have it all.

Relying on past experiences and future explorations, I’d like to share the wonders and treasures of my home state with you. Maybe you’ll be persuaded to visit and share our majestic bounty. Maybe you’ll have memories of your own to contribute.

Whether you travel with spouses, children, grandchildren, friends or even Fido, there are destinations in Washington guaranteed to take your breath away.

Shall we get started?

Heather Larson