It was a glorious summer day in Tacoma. We had two nice pieces of news earlier in the day: we sold our first copy of a new "Consensus Decision Making and Team Building Game & Simulation" we had created, Relentless: Zombie Attack, and we had confirmation that we would be writing a weekly blog on healthy aging. We decided to celebrate and what better place to go to celebrate than one of the restaurants along the Tacoma shoreline? We chose Anthony's At Point Defiance. With the beautiful weather we knew that we couldn't dawdle. Everyone would have the same idea. If we had waited until rush hour there was a good chance the restaurant would fill up quickly. Luckily we only live a few minutes away.
We parked our car in the restaurant/Vashon ferry parking lot and watched a couple feeding bread to the seagulls. Peg remarked (to me) that it was against the law to feed wild animals within Pt. Defiance Park. The guy looked bigger than me, so I didn't rush up and tell him the bad news. We just enjoyed the view and the couple having a nice time together.
Between the restaurant and ferry landing there are two observation platforms built out and over the shoreline rocks and over the water at high tide. On the platforms you can watch the ferries landing and departing to and from Vashon Island. For views you can see the island, Northeast Tacoma, Mt. Rainier and the Olympia mountains.
East of the ferry landing are boat ramps, a marina, and the Tacoma Yacht Club. Eventually this area will be connected to Ruston Way making a very nice shoreline drive all the way from downtown Tacoma. To the west of the parking lot is a road that leads into Pt. Defiance, and a very nice walkway along a seawall that runs from Anthony's to Owen Beach.
Anthony's is located where the old Boat House Grill used to stand. As a youngster the grill was next to the old Pt. Defiance Aquarium, which was home to Dub Dub the harbor seal. Each trip to Pt. Defiance Park usually meant a trip to see Dub Dub. I don't ever recall eating at the Boat House Grill, but that's not remarkable, since the old restaurant was nothing fancy. I remember my uncle renting a rowboat at the boathouse and we rowed down to Owen Beach and back and may have had a sandwich at the grill. The grill eventually burned down.
The new restaurant is part of the Anthony's chain and serves good food. But of course the location is what makes the restaurant a great place to visit. No matter what time of year, the view is outstanding. Since the restaurant is built out over the water further than the observation platforms you can enjoy even more scenic pleasures.
We arrived in time for the twilight dinners. For less than twenty dollars you can have shrimp cocktail, chowder or salad, an entrée, and dessert. You could have dinner for two including tax and tip for around fifty dollars. You could, but we can't. Peg had a glass of ale, and I had a "Disaronno Sour" in addition to a "starter" of quick fried Alaskan razor clams and our oyster dinner selection.
My drink was more sweet than sour, but our excellent server, Cameron brought me some lime wedges, which sparked it up considerably. Peg's ale (Odin's Gift Ruby Ale) was excellent. Cameron brought her a sample to try and then we ordered the 16 oz. version. If we had ordered the 23 oz. version, I would have helped her drink it.
The best part of the meal was the order of razor clams. These wouldn't have been enjoyable for everyone, but if you like clams, these were excellent . . . crispy and just chewy enough. Perfect.
As we sipped our drinks, we talked and laughed. I recounted my lunch with my buddies at Tacoma Rotary. I rushed off to an appointment before the meeting started, but had a chance to chuckle with a table full of friends before I left.
Since the day was so nice, we had chosen a table on the deck. It's was fun watching the waterfront traffic. With boats size matters . . . Peg likes to put them into context. She'll ask, "Is that boat about the size of JR's?" Or "Would that be about the size of Brandy's boat?" The size of the ferry we don't worry about so much. However, the ferry the Tahlequah Ferry now takes a more circular. Making the run was the "Chetzemoka." The name honors a friendly Native American Chief of the Klallam Tribe near the Port Townsend area who died in 1888.
Just a week before this adventure we had enjoyed a wonderful oyster dinner in Olympia, so the comparison was an easy one to draw. The chowder at the Budd Bay Café was creamier, but the Anthony's chowder had more of a clam taste. Peg liked the Anthony's version, while I preferred the Olympia version. Although, the oysters were very, very good at Anthony's Peg and I both preferred the larger, crisp golden-brown oysters at Budd Bay. I've had the Anthony's oysters before and will have them, again. (The green beans were absolutely perfect!!!)
In telling our youngest son about the oysters he remarked that he didn't really like oysters. I asked, "How could you grow up in our household and not like oysters?" He couldn't really recall ever having them served, "Maybe, a jar of them once?" Maybe we couldn't afford oysters when all the kids were home. Oh, well . . . they're on their own, now.
As we sat on the deck eating and talking, I glanced at a man wearing sunglasses, a straw hat, shorts, and sandals. I thought, "That kinda looks like Terry Arca." I mentally shrugged it off because I had just seen Terry at lunch and he was dressed in a shirt, vest, and trousers. A few moments later Peg asked, "Isn't that your friend Amelia?" The woman she was asking about had her back to me, so I couldn't see her face, I physically shrugged.
In a minute or two Peg remarked, "Oh, there's Cindy!" Three women walked up to our table. Lori Duester, Cindy Niemi, and Cindy Darland all had broad smiles on the faces and unusual hairdos. Jean Juarez they semi-explained. The three were all Rotarians from my club.
Soon the place was swarming with more and more crazy looking Rotarians.
I never had a full explanation, but I'm guessing that the returning ferry from Vashon delivered the Rotarians who had visited and volunteered at Camp Goodtimes, a yearly event for our club,
"The first Camp Goodtimes was held on the shores of Vashon Island at Camp Sealth in August 1984. Ninety-three children, cancer patients and siblings attended and twenty-five American Cancer Society volunteers staffed the camp along with the summer staff at Camp Sealth. In 1989, the camp moved to Camp Burton on the south end of Vashon Island. Betsy Nowlis, RN, PhD, recruited an all volunteer staff. Each year the committee came up with new themes and ideas. The large outdoor amphitheater was perfect for the lip sync program and the parents program on the last day. Each year new and returning volunteers come together for that one special week in the summer ... Camp Goodtimes."
Our Rotary Club has been sponsoring the event and sending volunteers to the camp for the last few years. I think our members who take part have as much fun as the children.
Each Thursday there is a Rotary Social after work, and the return from Vashon coincided with the Thursday social, so the volunteers were joined by more and more Rotarians. This gave the gathering on the deck a strange look of people with weird hair and very informal attire combined with people dropping in after work. Everyone was prepared to enjoy themselves, however. It was a great celebration of the Rotary motto "Service Above Self."
Peg and I were at Anthony's serendipitously as was my friend Terry Arca, who was dining on the deck with another Rotarian, Ruthmarie Zimmerman and her husband Warren. I stopped by their table to chat, while Peg paid the bill and then Ruthmarie and Terry came over to say hello and hug Peg before venturing over to the Rotary group.
As we left the restaurant deck we ran into Julie Anderson, another Rotarian coming to join the throng. It was a great day to be a Rotarian and a citizen of the Pacific Northwest.