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Puyallup and Sumner Washington
by Don and Peggy Doman
Sometimes an adventures just involves the two of us. This adventure had us meeting people, bringing people, and inviting people.
We booked a room at the Holiday Inn Express on Puyallup's South Hill . . . well, actually, we booked two rooms for Saturday night . . . kinda. They couldn't guarantee that our rooms would be next to each other. They promised to try, but still . . . It's only once people check out, the hotel knows who will actually be staying. Hoping to get the jump on the problem we booked two rooms on Friday also (Peg and I always intended on staying Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights), so we could make arrangements if there was a problem. We were having three granddaughters stay with us in their own room. When we checked in on Friday afternoon, the Holiday Inn's predicament became apparent. There was a soccer tournament in town. There were people everywhere all over the hotel.
South Hill is not a resort destination. The hotel is located behind a combination Chevron station and McDonald's restaurant. You have to dodge the cars getting gas and people turning into the drive-thru in order to get to the hotel parking lot. However, the location is perfect. This was our second time at the hotel. There are always new members of the military and their families coming into JBLM (Joint Base Lewis McChord) and the freeway entrance is only a couple hundred yards away. Guests can zip off to the south for Mt. Rainier, Lakewood, Parkland, Olympia, and JBLM. Or people can zip down to downtown Puyallup in about two minutes . . . or to Sumner, Auburn, and up the eastside. Also, if you know the back roads, you get a beautiful drive from Puyallup to Tacoma.
Our grandkids we were involving in this adventure were the children of our two sons. One lives in the south end of Tacoma and the other lives in the opposite directon, Edgewood, so our hotel was in the perfect location for us. Just minutes away from either family. Besides having a really nice staff, the hotel also has a pool and a fitness center. We usually have a deluxe king suite, but this time we had a double queen, so we could get two rooms beside each other.
We didn't want our empty room to be a waste, so we invited friends Randy and Andi to join us for the dinner and stay over-night. We had originally planned on having dinner with Catherine and Rick at the Midtown Station Restaurant in Sumner.
Catherine and Rick had met our friends Randy and Andi at the Rotary Auction during the spring. Catherine is a sales rep with Saturn Barter. Midtown Station is a client of hers. She recommends their deep-fried pickles, so of course I had to order them just to try them out. When Peg and I stayed in Sumner a couple of months back, we purposefully did not dine at the Midtown, so we could savor a meal there with Catherine and Rick. I'm glad we waited. We had a great time.
Following Catherine's recommendation I ordered the meatloaf. I was surprised that Peg passed on it in favor of the Chicken Marsala. As a child Peg would always ask for meatloaf for her birthday dinner. The meatloaf was good, but of course not as good as Peg's meatloaf. I love the mustard, ketchup, and cheese she adds as a crust to the top. One of these days I'll ask for meatloaf for my birthday dinner and then just cut off the top for me.
With our dear friend Andi Melquist joining us for dinner, I knew there was no way we were going to leave the restaurant without desserts. I ordered and Elephant Ear, while Peg and Andi ordered the Lava Chocolate Cake. Andi also ordered the creme brulee, but it didn't "set-up," so she got a second piece of Lava Cake. I enjoyed my fried bread, but sent most of it home with Andi, who gave half of the second cake to Randy to finish off along with the fried pickles, and most of her Chicken Marsala.
The restaurant closes at eight, but didn't disturb our little party . . . even as eight-thirty approached. They never even looked in our direction as they cleaned up and prepared to close up. But I knew they couldn't leave until they cleaned up the two tables we moved together for our party.
We continued our talking and laughing once outside. Rick had told us a story about delivering newspapers and collecting newspaper machine coins each evening with his dad and how one evening he was being followed by a suspicious vehicle so he "floored" his pickup truck to get to an all-night diner where the police always hung out. Flooring the truck meant it only went a few miles per hour faster since it was weighted down with hundreds of pounds of newly printed newspapers.
Outside the restaurant we had to inspect the News Tribune machine to see what kind of lock it had. Rick told us all about how the new ones are harder to break into. One of his newspaper stories even involved a pipe bomb.
We had a great time hearing and telling stories. Mostly we had a great time laughing. It wasn't even nine, yet and I think we were the only people on the streets of Sumner.
Back at the hotel, Randy and Andi checked in. Randy and I made a date to see each other for early breakfast, but we both knew the wives would be sleeping in.
Breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express starts at seven. I'm an early riser, so I have to wait. I was up and working on my laptop by five-thirty. The Holiday Inn has copies of both USA Today and the Wall Street Journal available in the dining room. During the week they drop off a copy of USA Today at each occupied room. Sometimes on our trips I'll bring my laptop with me to breakfast or at least my Smartphone. This time I just had a little notepad and ballpoint pen. I use the time to think and plan. Mornings are creative for me both in my office or on the road. Although my friends complain that I never have my phone turned on, I usually have it with me. And sometimes when I take a mid-morning or afternoon nap with my Smartphone in hand, I'll check my emails and then doze off for a few more minutes.
My favorite table is right by the table with the flat screen TV and the latest papers. It's not too close to the food and it gives me a view of the lobby. Randy joined me about fifteen minutes after the hour. I had already had my breakfast and the other guests were streaming in.
There are several things I like about the Holiday Inn Express:
They have never ending fresh Otis Spunkmeyer cookies on demand.
Their juice dispensers have two of my favorite juices (orange and grapefruit).
They have hot chocolate packets with which I flavor my European Blend Coffee.
I left Randy at the hotel. He was talking about working-out. I had better plans. I told him I would meet up later with him and Andi. I woke up Peg and got her out to her community event. She was off to the Lakewood Library to help with a Tacoma Calligraphy Guild exhibit there. I wouldn't see her until mid-afternoon.
It was a little rainy, but I thought it would be a good time to attend the Puyallup Farmers Market. It was. The crowds were sparse . . . in fact, there weren't crowds. I walked by the food booths, which was easy to do with a full tummy.
I heard singing and saw someone performing at the Rotary Stage. Puyallup has several active Rotary Clubs. Under two canopies were the audio controls and seated audience of about a dozen people. The young man was singing The Way You Look Tonight. Very nice composure and a very, very nice voice. He was singing to recorded music. If I had closed my eyes I could have been told it was Michael Buble or a young Frank Sinatra vocalizing and I would have believed it.
I never saw names of performers and it was my first time at the Farmers Market, so it might have just been an "open mic" type of event. I moved around to the other side of the stage and struck up a conversation with a lady. I asked her, "Did you hear that young man who was just performing?" "Yes," she said, "he sounded just like Josh Gorbin." "Grobin," I suggested. "Yes, that's him," she said.
I looked around but he had disappeared. I listened to a young guitar player for a few minutes. No one else did . . . they just walked by. I asked if he had a business card, while he was playing. "I wish," he replied. Opportunity knocks and then tries another door. When I see people who have talent I like to know who there are, so I can refer them if possible. This doesn't mean big bucks, but sometimes just a few dollars can mean so much to an aspiring artist.
I enjoyed the quiet Puyallup Farmers Market. Usually there are so many people walking around I just opt out and go somewhere else. I moved on even without a lot of people around. The next singer wasn't working for me.
My next stop in downtown Puyallup was the Pioneer Bakery. They start everything from scratch. I wasn't really hungry, but one has to plan for the future. Pioneer has a great selection of baked goods and beyond. The next time we visit Puyallup perhaps we should look at it as a restaurant.
I bought three items: a Texas Blueberry Fritter, a cannoli, and a Raspberry Bismark. The as-big-as-my-head fritter was excellent. I pulled pieces off and ate them for the next several days and finally finished it off Tuesday morning. It was a little dry, but dunking never hurts.
For Andi Melquist, my dessert-focused friend, I bought the cannoli (a brown sugar and butter wafer rolled up and filled with nuts and whipped cream and then covered with chocolate). She loved it.
The Raspberry Bismark I bought for Peggy. Each side of the triangle pasty was over five inches long. The filling was raspberry and whipped cream. Back in my room after hours of listening to the Bismark calling my name I finally gave into temptation. Peg never saw the pastry. I loved it.
As soon as you bite into the Bismark, the filling starts to ooze out the sides, so you have to lick off the ooze and then it becomes a game of bite and lick.
I felt guilty. Andi said not to tell Peg about the pastry, but I share almost everything with Peg (except the Bismark, of course) and I would have felt even more guilty by not telling her. I reasoned that I could always stop and get her another if she truly, truly, truly wanted one.
On my way downtown as I drove past the Western Washington Fairgrounds (the Puyallup Fair to most of us locals) my eye was caught by a fenced off wetland inside the fair parking lot between the road and the westside of the fair.
I am fascinated by run-off catch basins along roads and freeways and I love how people are now preserving small wetland areas. The Puyallup Valley with its fertile grounds and streams has a number of wetland areas that are being preserved. These wetlands are great for wildlife. This one is excellent, specially for animals that drive their own cars.
I drove in an open gate and parked close by the football field sized wetland. It is enclosed by a chain link fence. The grasses and native plants are allowed to grow on their own. I saw birds perching and flying, but no ducks or geese. I willing to bet at night there is a chorus of frogs serenading anyone withing hearing distance. The little wetland is a treasure.
By the time Peg came back to the hotel, I had already said goodbye to Randy and Andi. I was glad that Andi, like Peg mostly does on our adventures, was able to sleep in and rest with the stay at the Holiday Inn Express. I think Andi was really surprised at how relaxing a one-day-get-a-way can be. They didn't get home in North Tacoma until after six that evening. They drove around the valley enjoying the scenery. The Melquists left the hotel less than a half hour before Peg arrived at ten after three. She was able to relax for a few minutes before picking up our next load of guests.
Peg had arrived at the Lakewood Library and began making calligraphic bookmarks with the person's name. She was able to enjoy the calligraphy exhibit, which featured several of her own creations, and welcome guests as well. She worked until one-thirty before heading back to the hotel and a quick rest.
While Peg drove south to pick up four grandchildren, I drove north to pick up three more. (Three of those seven would join us in our extra hotel room). We met up with perfect timing at Mama Stortini's for dinner. Within minutes we were joined by my youngest sister and her grandson, Jake. A total of eight children and three adults were welcomed by the staff at Mama Stortini's.
Mama Stortini's has children's menus, which contain games and puzzles. AND they provide "real" Crayola crayons to play and draw with. The smaller children ordered off the children's menu, while the older ones talked amongst themselves and ordered off the adult menu. After dinner they was a juggling frenzy of take-home containers. I think mostly the left-overs were consumed by fathers (our sons).
I ordered appetizers, but in reality we could have probably done without them. Mama Stortini's provides a wonderful Italian bread to snack on. In addition to the bread I ordered a crab and artichoke dip (which I mostly ate), onion rings (which mostly grandson Riley ate), and Parmesan Zucchini Strips (which mostly son Patrick ate . . . and enjoyed). I passed on the Zucchini, but had two onion rings, which were absolutely wonderful. They were served with a dipping sauce that had a nice spicy bite to it. I could have eaten several more of the giant rings, but then I would have run out of steam with the main course.
I think the happiest of the grandchildren were Riley and Jake. Riley had a vanilla Italian soda, which he played with by adding a cherry from my Shirley Temple and then added some of the syrupy dregs from the bottom of my glass as well to give him a pinkish drink to accompany his bowl of spaghetti. Jake ordered a pepperoni pizza. Half of it went home with him.
My fillet mignon was served rare . . . and perfect. Of the three older granddaughters, Daron and Bailee both ordered the Garlic Prawns. Daron ate all of her prawns as well as her entire pile of garlic mashed potatoes. Bailee doesn't like lemon juice and so missed out on some excellent sautéed prawns. Just a few drops of lemon juice can transform a mundane seafood offering into a culinary triumph.
Peg and I snagged the cast aside prawns and ate them with relish . . . oops, I mean with lemon juice.
After dinner we loaded up the kids and drove to the Sumner Performing Arts Center, which is located on campus at Sumner High School. We arrived with plenty of time for the kids to run off some excess energy. Sophia complained that she was hungry and my mind jumped back to her take-home box of a completely uneaten hamburger. I promised her something during intermission.
Once we were seated in the large theatre the migratory grandchildren began defacing their programs with doodles. Seats are not assigned and so it is first come/first served. I'm not sure how many times the kids moved. I lost track. Eventually, all of the little children showed up in the front row prepared to enjoy the ManeStage Theatre Company's production of Peter Pan.
I sat on the aisle of the third row behind two of the older granddaughters, while the oldest granddaughter sat by strangers. Oh, well.
The production was captivating. The audience loved it and, even more importantly, the grandchildren enjoyed it. My only problem was with the exposition device used during scene changes. A voice told us pieces of information as we sat in the dark. I think that perhaps a tiny spot in the shape of a fairy flitting about the darkened room might have kept the children . . . and the adults . . . entertained and interested a bit more.
The cast was a mixture of children and adults, some of whom we had seen in our first production at ManeStage. The pirates were mostly adults . . . and funny. One of the pirates caught my eye and the eye of the rest of our group. The pirate is Cherilyn Williams. Diminutive is Cherilyn in a nutshell. I can't even guess at her height, nor her age. She moved well and obviously has acrobatic training. She has appeared in fourteen other ManeStage productions as well as a credit with the Seattle Children's Theatre (a favorite theatre of ours). I think she is older than she looks and is probably a college student.
We had Kayli Christine (Tinker Bell) in The Importance of Being Earnest as well as Jay Hanson (Captain Hook). I like seeing a community of actors continuing to perform with each other.
Tinker Bell and Peter Pan both flew with a special harness, while the Barrie children used swings to represent flying. All worked well together.
After the final curtain call the theatre announced that children could have their photograph taken with their favorite character: Tiger Lilly, Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, or Wendy Barrie. The pirate Smee gathered parents and children and ushered them on-stage.
Peter Pan was played by Eddie Carroll, who is completing his BFA in acting at Montclair State University in New Jersey. He is originally from Olympia, so I am guessing that he has retained contacts with the Pacific Northwest. Also, from the look of his feet, I would surmise that Eddie has had ballet training as well as acting. He did an excellent job and our entire group enjoyed the production.
After the play Peg took the older girls back to the hotel, while my sister and I delivered a group to Edgewood. I drove down into the Valley to show sister Dee Dee the way to I-5. Within minutes Izzy and Sophia passed out in the backseat . . . and a half hour later I pulled into the Holiday Inn Express parking lot and dragged myself to the lobby and found Peg sitting and reading. We walked over the elevator and were greeted by our three granddaughters leaving the elevator for the front desk to look over their DVD selections.
Even though Peg and I were tired, when I crawled into bed and Peg crawled into the easy chair with the reading lamp we thought we would watch Secretariat. What a great movie. Sleep didn't come until after two in the morning. I figured the same thing was going on in our room next door.
Sunday morning I was up working at my computer and long after breakfast I knocked on the granddaughters' room. After a couple of minutes a sleepy-eyed Daron Ann answered the door. The other two were still asleep. "Well, good morning, sunshine," I thought. The girls moved their suitcases into our room and then the three of them along with Peg joined me downstairs in the dining room for breakfast. Before, during, and after breakfast we discussed events for the day. Only Bailee wanted to go swimming. We could reach no consensus on a movie and lunch afterwards was meeting with negative appraisals of genre and venues.
Peg was decisive. She wanted to drive to Auburn and pick up a live plant for the funeral of her sister Kate's best friend's father. We drove through downtown Puyallup on the way to Auburn and stopped to look at the flowers at the Puyallup Farmers Market. We ended up saving a trip to Auburn. We found a beautiful white hydrangea for Caroline. We also picked up a gift for another friend and a bag of Rainier Cherries. Yum!
We left the market and circled the block and stopped on Meridian when we saw an open used book store. Peg along with Bailee and Daron hit the bookstore, while Caitlin went to the Victoria Sells, an antique and collectible shop where eventually the other three finally joined her. Since we couldn't reach a decision on a movie, Peg and I had chose Zookeeper with Kevin James, however as I looked around the storefronts of Puyallup I found a poster for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat to be performed that very afternoon. Actually, the clerk at the used book store looked it up on her computer for us. Very nice customer service. I offered the musical as an alternative. Suddenly everyone had an interest in seeing Zookeeper.
Zookeeper is what I call a "moron movie." It was funny, outrageous, and had characters you could care about. I will watch it again when it goes to cable.
As we had driven through town earlier we had been assailed as we drove by Sparks Deli by young people with signs. I assumed there was a fundraising carwash nearby. After the movie Peg and I decided that Sparks might be a good place for us all to have a late lunch before delivering the kids home. We drove from South Hill down into the valley once more. Young girls with signs were still on the corner and still waving to passersby.
We had happened onto a local YMCA Youth Center take-over. I love restaurants that do this. For a take-over a non-profit group will help with orders, serving and bussing tables in exchange for a percentage of the food bill during their take-over. The street corner signs help bring in more customers to the restaurant, which means more money for the non-profit organization.
We ordered a variety of foods and then Bailee and Daron read books while we waited.
Delivery took a little longer than normal, but part of our money was going to help the Puyallup YMCA Empowering Troubled Youth Project in Pierce and Kitsap Counties.
My Reuben was very good, but I really enjoyed the baked potato salad. Peg's French Dip was excellent. Both Bailee and Daron ordered two slices of Pepperoni Pizza, while Caitlin simply ordered a vanilla raspberry cake. Daron was full after her first slice of pizza, so Caitlin volunteered to eat the second piece. Eventually, I was offered half of a slice of pizza. I picked off the pepperoni pieces and then noticed that there were several other pepperoni pieces that had been picked off and discarded on the bottom of the basket. I shared with Peg.
After finishing off the food, we took three tired young women home . . . followed by two older people delivered to the Holiday Inn Express. We didn't need any dinner, but we did need naps and then a DVD followed by Zen on Masterpiece Mystery. It was a little difficult understanding all that was going on in the mystery program where all the actors where from the U.K and the story was about an Italian police detective in Rome, but we really enjoyed it. Plus, we knew that our DVR was recording it at home. Monday night we watched it from the comfort of our own bed with closed captioning. I fell asleep fifteen minutes into it. Peg drifted off twice before giving up and turning the TV off. We had a very tiring three days of rest and adventure.