"One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure."
Northwest Adventures | Published Restaurant Reviews in The Suburban Times
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Christmas Week in Ocean Shores
"One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure."
Northwest Adventures | Published Restaurant Reviews in The Suburban Times
For the second year in a row we spent Christmas in Ocean Shores. Last year it was like we rented the whole town and hotel for our own private usage. This year there were ten times as many people as in 2013, still not crowded by any means, but we kind of missed that isolated feeling.
We also invited my sister Marsha and her husband Keith, who had friends that had a summer home in Ocean Shores and my cousin Lindy and her husband James, whom we only see every couple of years or so. Lindy and James were in the Pacific Northwest to see Lindy's daughter, Jaime Moyer perform at the Center Stage in Portland. Eventually our total went from two of us to seven of us. We had our own little crowd, which included two professors and two actresses.
Peg and I arrived first. Peg went shopping while I checked us in and then the two of us went to Bennett's Fish Shack for fried oysters. We've eaten there before and know the quality AND we love oysters.
For $12.99 we each had the oyster dinner. Peg had a glass of wine, while I had a nice sweet raspberry lemonade that had a nice little tart back-bite. I wish I had been offered a refill. I didn't feel like paying four dollars, however.
For the second year in a row I asked if they had any razor clam strips as appetizers. The answer was the same, "No." I think it would be a natural. I would order the oyster dinner AND a clam appetizer.
The next day Peg and I picked up my cousin, Lindy (Lavinia Moyer-Hart) and then I dropped off Peg and the hotel and Lindy and I went to see The Hobbit. Lindy and I grew up together like brother and sister. Our moms were identical twins. Lindy and her family lived in Puyallup and my family lived in Lakewood. Actually, Lindy, Peggy, and I all attended the University of Puget Sound, but Lindy jumped ship and went to Central Washington. I introduced both Lindy and Peggy to The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Peg had seen the first installment of The Hobbit but opted out and parts two and three. Lindy had missed parts one and two. She enjoyed Part Three. Like the other two, I thought it was padded and should have had a good twenty minutes chopped.
After the film we returned to the hotel room, where Lindy stepped out onto the balcony to enjoy the view.
Lindy is named after my mother, Lavinia. Professionally she is Lavinia Hart. She was the Artistic Director of the Attic Theatre in Detroit for 19 years where she acted, directed and produced more than 100 plays. Currently, she is an associate professor teaching drama at Wayne State University and acting as the associate director for the Great Lakes Michael Chekhov Consortium. Her latest triumph was acting in August: Osage County.
I saw the movie twice but didn't see Lindy on stage. She played the mother, who is vile and belittling of everyone. My favorite scene in the movie has Violet (Meryl Streep) telling a story of when she was a teenager. She fell in love with a young boy who wore polished chocolate leather boots and she just knew if he saw her in a matching pair of boots he would fall in love with her, also. She begged her mom for a pair of those boots and there under the Christmas tree was a box that was just the right size and it did contain a pair of boots. A pair of old dirty boots caked in mud and dog shit. Her mother just hooted and laughed. That one scene told me how Violet became the nasty woman she was.
I asked Lindy to perform that scene for Peg and me. Sitting at the foot of our hotel bed, she did. It brought me to tears. You just felt so sorry for the character. I can see why people went crazy each night when Lindy took her standing ovation curtain calls. I would have been cheering.
For dinner we all went back to the rented home and enjoyed a family meal of tacos and refried beans. I chatted with James, Lindy's husband, while most of the cooking was being done and then I went into the kitchen and fried up the tortillas.
Although I prefer corn tortillas, several members of our group liked the flour ones. In frying the flour tortillas I can almost fry them like they should be made: reaching onto the hot grill and picking up the tortillas by the bare hand to turn them over. I say almost because I fry them two at a time, with one stacked upon another. Once the bottom tortilla is browned a bit and flipped, I reach into the frying pan and grab the one on top with my bare hand and turn it over.
Lindy and James were up early on Christmas Eve and drove to Portland to help Jaime move out of her apartment and then see the matinée of Twisted Dickens. Jaime is an alum of The Second City-Detroit and a member of SAG-AFTRA and AEA. She performs regularly at The Second City-Hollywood. All three would be back that evening to join us for bacon sandwiches, a Doman Family Christmas Eve tradition.
While Lindy and James were out of town Peg and I went to Galway Bay, which is both our favorite gift shop and restaurant in Ocean Shores. It's also a great place to enjoy live music on the weekends.
Peg ordered clam chowder and a salmon lunch . . . and a glass of wine, while I ordered Irish soda bread and extra butter. Peg turned down the colcannon (mashed potatoes with boiled cabbage), so I feasted on that Irish delicacy. Well, feasted until the butter ran out, anyway.
I love their soda bread. It's not quite as sweet as pound cake, but it is rich and lovey. I cut one slice for Peg, had several myself, and then buttered the remaining third of a loaf for my sister, Marsha. We took a "to go" box of salmon and soda bread back with us when we left.
Pirates Cove Pub is a great place for breakfast. Last year we stopped in and ordered bacon sandwiches to go. Originally, Ike (Peg's father) fried up the bacon while Rita (Peg's mom) and the older kids were at midnight mass. We continued. Peg used to take our kids to midnight mass. When they returned home I would have bacon sandwiches ready. The kids have long since left home, and Peg has long since given up midnight mass, but bacon sandwiches remain.
Pirates Cove has life-size statues, a ship's cannon outside the front door, a mounted cutlass on the wall and an interesting menu. We ordered five bacon sandwich baskets to go. The baskets came with BLT and homemade potato chips. Although everything was cold when we finally ate them, we enjoyed it all.
We expected Lindy, James, and Jaime around 7:30 Christmas Eve. Although they didn't run into any major traffic out of Portland, they did decide to take my advice and stop off in Chehalis at Kit Carson's. Peg and I had eaten there before and enjoyed the middle America food and prices.
We received a phone call about 7:15. The trio was just leaving Kit Carson's. Peg and I picked up Marsha at the beach home and we prepared for the Portland arrival. The threesome arrived at 9:30 after a bout of turn-around-are-we-lost-yet. Once we were all together we had a great time telling stories, laughing and eating. Pretty much the same scenario every time we gather.
Each morning at the Shilo I would buy the latest newspapers from Tacoma and Seattle and sit in the empty coffee lounge. The Shilo has multiple mirrors all etched with sea scenes. The lounge has a large flat screen TV and pump urns of decaf, hot water, and coffee. I was joined by another guest only one day of the five we were there.
In the lounge I would drink coffee, read the papers, and take notes and sketch my ideas out in my notebook. In the five days were at the Shilo I created five articles for my marketing clients and started writing a script for a training video about "Customer Service and Seniors." The relaxed atmosphere made it easy to be creative. I would also start the crossword puzzle from the Tacoma News Tribune each morning just like in Tacoma. And just like home, Peg and I would finish it sometime after breakfast.
Peg is a great brain-storming partner and editor. We preach that in brain-storming there are no wrong suggestions, but some people think my comments are just jokes. Nothing could be further from the truth. Peg realizes this.
We share ideas and flesh them out. Currently in addition to our marketing work for our online clients, she is also editing a novel by a local author.
Peg is a calming influence on me and others. She asks the right questions. Together we're always talking, thinking, writing, and enjoying ourselves. We laugh a lot.
Christmas afternoon we gathered at the rental home for a gift exchange. Oohs, ahhhs, and fall down fun. Many of the gifts were imported from Portland and Seattle Pike Place Market (no flying salmon, however).
We gave a metal wall hanging to Jaime, which featured glass art magnets - to change the composition. For Lindy we bought her a necklace with a pendant of Ellensburg Blue, an agate only found in and around Ellensburg. She graduated from college there and she boarded her horse nearby. For Marsha we gave her a amethyst pendant (her favorite stone and color).
When Peg visited Lindy and James in Detroit, James showed Peg the sights of the Motor City. Although semi-retired, James is still an adjunct faculty member of the College for Creative Studies. (Note the joke glasses with the cracked lens, which lend him an even more professorial appearance.)
The platform of James’s teaching mixes history, literature, philosophy, religion, art history, economics, music (folk, popular, jazz and experimental) and critical thinking. James enjoys playing drums in and around Detroit. For James we gave him an autographed drumstick by Manfred Mann. Manfred Mann was a British Invasion pop band of the 1960s, named after their South African keyboardist, Manfred Mann.
For Christmas dinner we booked reservations at the Porthole Pub. Here is Jaime talking to one of the local gulls. Jaime is an alum of The Second City-Detroit and a member of SAG-AFTRA and AEA. She is the creator of the viral hit "Fancy Catz" which can be seen on YouTube at the Second City Network, and has appeared in several short and feature length films. Jaime has appeared on TV shows Parks and Recreation and Jennifer Falls among others and will hopefully appear on Two Broke Girls January 5th (you're never sure until broadcast). Jaime can be seen performing frequently at The Second City-Hollywood and iO West.
Although we were told reservations were not needed for Christmas dinner at the Porthole, they took them anyway when I mentioned we had seven people coming. When we arrived we were told they had sold out their prime rib dinners, but because we had reservations they went out and bought prime rib just for us. Marsha's husband went back to Tacoma for a couple of days, but Marsha picked up a sea captain as an escort.
We enjoyed the atmosphere. The jukebox was playing. It was a little bizarre for Christmas, but we had fun. We drank a little wine and had pumpkin pie for dessert. Jaime played the pull-tabs and when a local policeman came in, I yelled, "Jaime your ride's here."
We had great plans to visit Galway Bay for some Irish music, but everyone was ready to call it a day before eight in the evening.
The next day Peg and I visited the beach. Peg saw a piece of driftwood that resembled a Viking dragon ship. It felt cold enough . . . we could have been on some fjord waiting for the next touristy trip to England to rape and pillage. We settled for pretty much staying in our car and driving on the beach, which is legal most of the year at Ocean Shores.
Walking on the beach is usually fun, but it was misting and the wind had frothed up the waves a bit, so grayish suds were blowing across the sands. Beautiful, but not too inviting.
The Domans and Whitworths (Lindy's family) used to camp out at Ocean Shores and Ocean City when Lindy and I were young. When Peg and I were dating we visited Ocean Shores, and on our first anniversary we celebrated by coming to Ocean Shores and camping out in a tent. Our anniversary is in late November, so the weather was about the same. Our tent was wind-whipped.
This time we were content to stay in our car and watch . . . other people in their cars as they enjoyed the beach and the seagulls. We never got too far afield. Our beach drive took us less than a quarter mile from the hotel. We could have walked out onto our balcony and seen ourselves if we were doppelgängers.
From the beach we drove back to Pirates Cove (about two blocks from the Shilo) for lunch. We really enjoyed our lunch. We had only eaten breakfast there before and taken home BLTs. For lunch Peg had another bacon sandwich (we know what we like) and I had clam strips. No one knew if they were razor clams or not, but they were good. Ocean Shores is well known for razor clams. I haven't dug clams in decades, however. I prefer just eating them. Their clam strips were excellent. Both Peg and I enjoyed them. I only ate a few of the homemade potato chips. They are addictive and I knew I didn't need them.
Another surprise was the clam chowder. Excellent.
Our waitress at Pirates Cove asked around for directions to the nearest thrift store for us. It was only about three blocks away and it turned out we had visited there before. At the end of our trip was a Doman-Harrington-Whitworth Family Party. There was a white elephant gift exchange planned, but Peg and I had no white elephants to bring to the party. We took care of that at the Anchor Avenue Thrift Store. Great prices. Peg and I bought a number of hardbound books for fifty cents each and I found three good white elephant prizes: a hunting knife ($5), a fantasy figure ($2), and a Swiss Army type folding knife ($4), which we kept for our Buick Century's glove compartment.
We started reading two of the books that evening . . . after we got back from dinner.
Our final night at Ocean Shores we splurged and went to the Quinault Resort. The reason I suggested Quinault was because they advertised King Crab for their buffet. However, they changed their offering the week we were there. They had endless Snow Crab and Dungeness instead, which is a fantastic offering, but still. King Crab is easier to get big chunks out of the legs. King Crab legs can easily have legs wider than one inch. The resort supplied nut crackers to make it easier to get to the meat, but if I had known what we were going to have I would have stopped by Dollar Tree and purchased half a dozen pairs of scissors for us. Then we could have really got to the meat easier. The trick is getting the meat out whole, drizzling lemon juice over it and then soaking the pieces in drawn butter. Drawn butter was available, and we used it. The buffet was excellent.
They had good looking prime rib, but we had just had that the night before. What made it worthwhile for me was the seared tuna. It looked like blackened Cajun tuna, so I was a little reluctant to try it, but for my second plate I had a few slices. When Peg went for dessert I had her get me a couple more. There was a little spicey snap to the crust, but the tuna was absolutely wonderful. It was worth the buffet charge. If there had been King Crab AND the ahi I would have been in heaven.
Jamie won a couple of hundred dollars in the casino, and James and Lindy celebrated their 30th anniversary almost a week early, but I would try the Friday night seafood buffet, again.
Even though Saturday was going to be a long, long day Peg was up early. I love this picture of Peggy. It is so her . . . a nice print on the wall . . . a ripe banana on the table along with a bottle of Refresh . . . art supplies all around . . . and a newspaper to read.
Reading is so important to our lives. We read books (Peg about ten times more than I do), magazines, newspapers . . . ketchup labels . . . and everything in-between.
My favorite present this year that I gave away was a box full of my dearest books. One was Parnassus on Wheels which Peg introduced me to while we were dating. The box of books went to a grandchild.
Each morning at the Shilo Inn we had tickets for breakfast. Instead of having a make your own waffle breakfast buffet or a continental breakfast, Shilo has three standard breakfasts to choose from at their restaurant. I tried the biscuits and gravy, but it was only so-so for my tastes. I was never in the mood for cold cereal, but the ham scramble was excellent. The first morning I didn't know that hashbrowns came with it, but once I knew that I ordered my standard, "burnt, burnt, burnt" request which resulted in very good hashbrowns to accompany the eggs.
Two of the waitresses we remembered from 2013. They are so nice. When I turned in all of my leftover tickets, I had two free glasses of wine coming, so our waitress suggested we get mimosas. Since I would be driving for the return to Tacoma, I just ordered one for Peg. She loved it. "You're so thoughtful," she said.
We arrived back home just before one in the afternoon. We unloaded our luggage, boxes, and bags and left for our oldest son's home at 1:15. Johanna, our daughter-in-law had sent out emails and Facebook postings about the party. She was worried about people not showing. The party played to a full house. The photo to the left was taken in the dining room. To walk through the living room you had to step over people.
I'm sure we missed some people, but the one gift I was happiest to give was to Johanna. She and Del along with granddaughters Bella and Sophia had stopped by our home the week before to pick up some items we donated to her Christmas basket for a friend who had nothing. While in the living room she commented about a Sally Rosenbaum print of a mother and child reading together. We had the print framed six months ago, but had just sat it on an arm chair the day before to look at. We had no place to hang it. It was destined to be a donation to a local organization. We gave it to her right then (you can see it hanging on the wall in the right hand corner of the family photograph). That we could pass along a beautiful piece of art and make her happy made our day . . . and our week. We love to share . . . and isn't that what friends, family, and Christmas are all about?
We enjoy meeting people and we expect to have a wonderful time when we travel. Our expectations are almost always met. If you have a favorite restaurant or a favorite hotel, where they offer exceptional service, please, share your favorites with us. Or if you have a B&B, hotel, or restaurant that you would like us to try and then include in our stories tell about what you have. No matter what, please share your thoughts.
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