Combine the travel elements of South Tacoma and a horticulture lecture and you do not end up with what would appear to be an exciting adventure. However, as with many adventures, you don't really know what fun they will be until they are done. This Saturday morning adventure was fantastic.
Four of us headed out to breakfast before attending Wicked Plants, a presentation about potentially dangerous flowers, bushes, and trees. I had seen an ad in the "Go" section of The News Tribune promising the best sausage gravy in Tacoma at Philly Joe's. So, like a moth to a flame, a bee to nectar, a twelve year old boy to a copy of Playboy, I knew we had to go there. I was driving.
We drove up to the dark restaurant at 8:15. Donn went up to the front door and peered in. No lights, no movement, no naked bodies. We did a U-turn and drove away and then did another U-turn and came back for the photo and then did another U-turn and parked across the street.
South Tacoma Way has long been known for its new and used car lots. I've bought many an automobile up and down the street that is also known for biker bars, gay bars, and pawn shops. But, it also has a strong business and historical district. Even with plenty of empty storefronts, there is still pride. In a future adventure, Peg and I will be visiting Porter's Place, a recently moved BBQ downtown restaurant, now located on South Tacoma Way.
We parked near a hanging flower basket. In the photo you can see at least eight hanging baskets, along with dumpsters and several car lots. We walked up to Patty's Burgers. None of us had eaten their before, so we had no idea what we were in for, but . . . they were open. Philly Joe paid for an ad that drew us to South Tacoma Way for breakfast and we ate with Patty. I don't know about the food at Philly Joe's, but I do know they won't stay in business long paying for ads and not being open when customers come to their door.
The waitress was friendly and helpful. Nothing's quite what you expect at Patty's. The coffee is brewed with a drop of vanilla, giving off a nice, comforting aroma.
My biscuit and gravy was excellent with a touch of sweetness to the gravy. Normally, I order sourdough toast once I've tasted a restaurant's biscuits, but at Patty's I would order biscuits, again. My sausage links with nicely browned, and not over-cooked.
Debbie had a huge breakfast burrito, while Peg had poached eggs and bacon. Donn had a Denver omelet, nicely browned hashbrowns with onions, and perfect pancakes. He enjoyed every bite.
Everywhere you look there is something interesting to see.
The decor is fifties diner . . . plus. Golden oldies play in the background. Your eyes are drawn from quirky items like an Elvis clock (legs swinging back and forth with a tick-tock tempo to hundreds of photographs of happy customers eating humongous burgers and driving custom classic cars. Icons of the era James Dean and Marilyn Monroe can be found on most walls.
"Studying cows, pigs and chickens can help an actor develop his character. There are a lot of things I learned from animals. One was that they couldn't hiss or boo me."
-- James Dean
"Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world."
-- Marilyn Monroe
All four of us decided that Patty's Burgers would be worth a second try . . . or more.
Peg was a committee member working with Christine Anderson on the Pt. Defiance Flower & Garden Show several years ago. And so, like Christine's husband Karl, I too volunteered to helped out. I had a marvelous time assisting the speakers and sometimes introducing them.
When I read the postcard that came in the mail for Wicked Plants, I thought it sounded like fun. Actually, I thought it said, "wicked pants," but never mind that. The postcard was sent by Debbie and Donn's direct mail company, Immedia.
We partially got the word out among our friends and so Donn and Debbie, Peg and I were also joined by Rob and Vickie for a morning lecture on the campus of Tacoma Community College by author Amy Stewart as she talked about strange and dangerous plants, that show up in most unusual places.
Amy Stewart is the author of Wicked Bugs, Wicked Plants, Flower Confidential, The Earth Moved, and From the Ground Up, all from Algonquin Books.
I didn't know what to expect, but one thing that really surprised me was watching a PowerPoint slide show that was effective. My viewpoint of PowerPoint presentations is this, "There's only one thing worse than a bad PowerPoint presentation . . . and that's a good PowerPoint presentation." I have heard many circuit speakers proudly announced, "I have a good PowerPoint presentation." It's the kiss of death . . . and nodding heads . . . and snores galore. Not so with Amy Stewart, she had images of the plants she talked about, along with minimal information (bullets) on nearly every slide.
The auditorium was not quite filled, but for a Saturday morning it was several times more than I thought would be there. Our little group had many friends throughout the lecture hall.
I enjoyed her description of the Stinging Tree or Australia, a member of the nettle family. The little filaments of poison that the tree produces can provide pain that lasts for up to a year. People have committed suicide rather than suffer the pain.
I also like her comments about an African plant that looks innocuous.
"I really love rosary pea, Abrus precatorius. It’s a tropical vine that produces these incredibly bright little red and black seeds that look kind of like ladybugs. Or candy. They contain the poison abrin, one of the most deadly poisons in the world. In some Latin American countries you can buy necklaces made of rosary pea - a very dangerous practice because the hard protective seed coating has to be pierced to string them on a necklace, making it even more likely that swallowing a few of them could kill you. I once had dinner with a woman who was wearing three strands of rosary pea around her neck. I said: ‘Wow, that's enough abrin to kill everybody at this table. Can I have that?’ Oddly, she wouldn't give it to me."
Amy's book Wicked Plants was written in 2009. Her latest book, Wicked Bugs is very similar. I think I will recommend it to my book club. I will also recommend future lectures to several of my clients to sponsor.
What a great morning adventure. We tried out a new restaurant for breakfast and took part in a very entertaining and interesting lecture and was still able to get back home before the Huskies played their game with California at 12:30.