Usually, when we go on one of our adventures, we have specific things we want to do: stay at a new hotel or bed & breakfast, enjoy a particular play, meet up with friends, etc. This time we just wanted to relax. I had been shooting video almost daily for several months, which means being away from home and my office more than I like. It also meant that Peg and I were not seeing much of each other . . . you know like regular people working regular jobs. We had to get away.
Both of us wanted stress-free time for reading, relaxing, and just being together. Getting out of town is always a hassle but we left home within thirty minutes of our departure goal. Driving from Tacoma to Ocean Shores is not a long trip . . . if. . . For the last three years we took a week off and spent Christmas Eve to New Year's at the Shilo Inn in Ocean Shore. People doing last minute shopping created some delays before, but we didn't run into last minute Halloween shopping. We hit our target for dinner in Lacey before the three o'clock mass exodus at JBLM . . . and weekend traffic heading south from Seattle and Tacoma.
We had never eaten at the Koibito Japanese Restaurant in Lacey, before. It's in a little strip mall just minutes from Olympia, which was to be our second stop, but it looked interesting.
There were only a few people having lunch, so we sat down and looked over the menus and the restaurant itself. I loved what they've done with simple wooden dividers. They are free standing and balanced. They are heavy enough so as not to be knocked over easily, and light enough to be easily moved for configuring small groups of diners giving them a feeling of intimacy and privacy.
We didn't bother looking at desserts, but were only interested in lunch. Dessert was to be next door. On the way in, Peg saw a cupcake store that had placed well in Cupcake Wars on Cable-TV. We love cupcakes.
Peg and I love Asian food in addition to cupcakes. Koibito has a sushi bar. Our favorite sushi rolls feature "unagi," which is cooked freshwater eel. We like sushi with raw seafood also, it's just that eel is our favorite.
Peg ordered a salmon roll, with smelt roe, tempura prawn, and California style veggies. The prawn is the backbone of the roll and the veggies and other ingredients are laid on then rolled up in rice, which is then topped with the salmon and roe.
Language was a bit of a problem, but the waitress was really nice. Peg and I often share. We only had one little plate for soy and wasabi, but then Peg doesn't like wasabi and pickled ginger (sushi condiments), so it wasn't a problem.
I ordered a bento package of various offerings. She loved my teriyaki and gyoza. We had no sushi left over, but we had a small package of goodies to take with us to the condo. They were never eaten, of course.
We had parked directly in front of Miss Moffett’s Mystical Cupcakes. Peg saw the information that they had been a hit on the Food Network's Cupcake Wars, so of course we had to stop in there after sushi for dessert. "Miss Moffett’s Mystical Cupcakes was founded in 2012 by Olympia resident Rachel Young. Rachel started baking in 2011, and soon realized she had found the passion in life that she’d always been looking for: CUPCAKES. Rachel Young is a certified baking addict — baking cupcakes at all hours of the day and night, coming up with unique flavor combinations and tweaking recipes until they are as close to perfection as possible. Rachel is also a public speaker who is passionate about inspiring female entrepreneurs, both young and old, to take action and make that dream of theirs a reality."
My cupcake was the Mexican Chocolate. It was wonderful. It was moist and had just a little bite for spice heat at the back of my mouth. I should have ordered two . . . or three.
Our next stop was Orca Books in Olympia, but the book I had ordered, so I would have something good to read on our extended weekend, only drew a blank when we asked about it. I bought instead "Alexander Hamilton," which was the basis of the Broadway blockbuster "Hamilton" in New York and now on the road across America and the world.
Our third stop was the Anchor Thrift Store in Ocean Shores. We actually visited the store three times over the Halloween weekend. We bought a number of books (hardbound .50 each and paperbacks .25 each) as well as a couple of shirts on our second trip there (perfect and only $3 each). When we unpacked I found that I had only had two shirts in the suitcase. It's hard to find shirts that fit.
Anchor Thrift is located on Anchor Avenue, which is less than a mile away from the condo we rented and only a quarter mile from three of our favorite restaurants. Location, location, location! Their parking lot is almost always full and the staff is always friendly and helpful. This place is always worth a stop . . . or two!
We checked into The Grey Gull and unpacked. As soon as we stepped out onto the balcony, it became clear that the local deer (and there are a lot of them) know when new guests arrive. It's like someone rings the deer dinner bell. I thought they were coming to greet us, but when I looked down from our third floor condo, I noticed the someone was throwing them pieces of bread. There are signs asking people not to feet the gulls and the deer, but people think they are doing the animals a favor. A few days a later I was pleased to see the neighbor below us switch to pieces of apple rather than bread. I was worried that the deer might be gluten intolerant.
We have a herd of deer at home in Tacoma. They wander through our yard and often camp out at our place, but we never feed them . . . well, that's not true. The deer seem to like several of Peg's flowers by our front door. We do enjoy watching them watching us. A few weeks ago I was working in my office and looked out the window to see a doe looking in at me from less than five feet away.
In Ocean Shores we have several restaurants that we usually frequent, but this trip we tried two new places. One is actually called "Our Place." It was on the main road about a hundred yards from the parking lot of The Grey Gull. We could have walked there, but the two times we went, it was a little cool, wet and breezy.
As soon as we walked into the café, I saw the case filled with biscuits and bread. The biscuits were large and beautiful. I probably would have ordered a biscuit anyway, but to have them on display at the order counter was a streak of genius. On the second trip I came by myself for breakfast, but ordered a biscuit to go ($1.95). Peg enjoyed it for her breakfast.
When "Our Place" is open there were always cars parked outside. It was never filled inside with diners, but there was a constant traffic.
You order at the counter and then you're advised to step to your right for flatware, napkins, coffee, and tea. They have what I usually see as a salad station, but here it is the ingredients for omelette's and burgers. They are very efficient and orders are delivered in minutes. The only thing I don't like about ordering at the counter is that if you are paying by credit card, you need to factor in the tip before you received the service. Service was good, however.
Peg ordered a prime rib dip, while I asked for a half-order of biscuits and gravy. Normally, at a restaurant that serves breakfast with biscuits, I'll order biscuits the first time I'm there and then the next time order toast. Most places serve packaged or frozen biscuits, but not so "Our Place." Although pricey, I was happy with my biscuit as was Peg a few days later. She had her's with butter and jam.
My one suggestion for the restaurant is better sausage. Although the patty was tasty, it was small and thin. Next time, I'll try bacon.
The Grey Gull has been at Ocean Shores for decades. We stayed there when the kids were small. Last year, we checked out of the Shilo and stayed two more days at The Grey Gull.
The condo we rented was on the third floor (top floor) and was as close to the ocean as you can get on Ocean Shores. The living room had picture windows and sliding glass doors for a great view no matter the weather. Our bedroom also had sliding glass doors and a view.
The kitchen had a dishwasher, a microwave, a fridge, a toaster, and dishes. The living room was comfortable and had high ceilings with rafters. There were books on the shelves. We ended up reading one, which we took home with us. We left a half-dozen or more behind mixed in with the ones we found for trade.
My only complaint is that the TVs should be larger. Normally, we don't watch TV that much when we're traveling, but this trip was to relax, which we did by reading and napping. TVs have been known to lull me to sleep. Each morning started by picking up the latest Seattle P-I at the counter and then taking a coffee and three packs of spiced apple cider mix back to the room. I pour the three packages together in a cup and add hot water. Tangy!!!!
Any trip to Ocean Shores requires a stop at the Galway Bay. In local restaurant reviews, the Galway Bay is number one in both numbers of reviews as well as quality.
As always I ordered too much food. We started off with fried oysters. They were cooked perfectly. I shake my head in disbelief when we order fish of any kind and it's delivered without a lemon wedge. That's never a problem at Galway Bay.
The Irish soda bread is a special feature. I thought they had changed the recipe and it was less sweet than it has been in the past, which disappointed me and made Peg's day.
However, Peg was disappointed in her "coddle," which contained colcannon (mashed potatoes and cabbage). It was a little too dark for menu reading for some reason that night.
We hadn't made reservations for dinner. Who thought we would need them on Halloween weekend? When we checked in and asked for a table, we had no problem as we were led past a room full of people. We ended at a table just six feet away from the stage. We were thrilled. The band Bellow Bridge was supposed to play at eight. We were in perfect position to enjoy the entire evening.
Bellow Bridge is a four piece acoustic folk band, based in Portland Oregon, playing traditional Celtic songs & ballads, and a melodious mix of fiddle tunes from all four corners of the British Isles. The band name is derived from the instruments they play. The bellows of the accordion and Uilleann Pipes, and the bridge of the guitar and bouzouki. Those are the four instruments that make up the core sound of the group.
We loved the musicians, but not the vocalist, Sarah. As a former lead rock vocalist with Portland's Jetpack Missing, one would have expected volume. I know they were having problems with her mic, but her intro couldn't even undercut the general table talk of those that lingered after dinner (there is a cover-charge). Even after the sound board boosted her mic, I couldn't tell if she was singing in English or Gaelic. Whatever it was, however was sharp. We left after two or three more songs. A shame.
While Peg had a glass of white wine, I chose my favorite drink, a Shirley Temple. A Shirley Temple is Sprite or 7-Up with maraschino cherries and their syrup. The Shirley Temple is named after the moppet from the 30's films. A maraschino cherry is a preserved, sweetened cherry, typically made from light-colored sweet cherries such as the Royal Ann, Rainier, or Gold varieties and died bright red.
I usually order the drink by adding, "Your tip depends upon the number of cherries." Restaurants that serve me only one or two cherries on the first round and none with round two, don't see me a second time. If they skimp on the initial number of cherries after I've placed my order I question the service.
I've never had a problem at the Galway Bay. Generally maraschino cherries are little round cherries, but those at Galway, were obviously Rainier . . . and the largest I've seen maraschinoed. I usually quit after two rounds. I have my limits, after all.
Our waitress was Amber Rose, who was friendly and informative. She answered questions and made suggestions. One of her suggestions was the Bailey's Irish Cream Cheesecake. That one paid off big. Peg loved it.
Peg asked about Jerry Waylen, a regular, whom we had met several years ago at Galway Bay. Peg and I were enjoying a meal at the Galway Bay when Jerry walked in, sat down at the piano, and began playing. We had several requests. I think there were only one or two other people in the bar. Jerry only played when Jerry wanted to play. We placed money in the tip jar and Jerry joined us at our table when he took a break. He sat down and said, "No one here ever tips ten dollars." We talked and laughed, and listened to his life story. Sweet.
Amber Rose brought over another waitress and introduced her to us. She had bad news for us. Jerry passed on last year. We were heart-broken. What a nice guy.
Aside from reading and resting, we also drove around the area, We drove south to the jetty and north to Copalis. The jetty only showed us mist and fog, but two days later we had a beautiful drive that stopped just over the Cedar River Bridge near the state park by Copalis.
The road north (Rte. 109) curves at Copalis at the Green Lantern Tavern. We stopped across the street and walked about before driving towards the ocean on Benner Road. Later looking at a map we saw that a small road, which we took for a driveway led into Griffiths-Priday Ocean State Park. I've been accused of four-wheeling in my Buick before, so perhaps next time we'll take the dirt road less traveled and see where it takes us.
Rte 109 isn't just journey, but sometimes a destination. The Cedar Creek Bridge carries a memorial.
Back from our afternoon drive, we went to Viet Hoa, a restaurant featuring Chinese and Vietnamese food. We had to search for this restaurant. It had reviews and an image of the building. We just couldn't picture where it was. We couldn't think of any restaurants where it was supposed to be. They only have a painted sign, which doesn't stand out during the day. We found it after a quick stop at another thrift store.
Viet Hoa is between Anchor Avenue and Pirates Cove (where we always get our Midnight Mass bacon sandwiches). The tradition of bacon sandwiches began with Peg's family. Her father, Ike Harrington would fry up bacon for sandwiches, while the family was at Midnight Mass. I continued the tradition while Peg and the kids went to mass. Mass is no longer involved, but we continue our belief in bacon. When we celebrate Christmas in Ocean Shores,the Pirate's Cove which doesn't have bacon sandwiches on their menu, but will make them on request. Thanks great customer service.
While we waited for our order, Peg shared her five new hankies she had just bought, They are so her . . . beautiful and practical.
While Peg order a King salmon dinner, I ordered a selection of soup and appetizers. Some scored, some did not. The little egg rolls were too skinny and easily over cooked.
Later when we drove home to Tacoma, I asked Peg what her favorite food selection was on this trip. She replied, "The won ton soup." I agreed. For seven dollars it was the star of the show. The broth was fantastic and the won tons themselves were silky and filled with chicken. We shared. We took home (The Grey Gull) leftovers, of course. The BBQ pork scored at dinner and breakfast. I dipped the sliced pork into a small jar of sweet-hot mustard. Each bite brought a smile to my lips and the memory of the soup as well.
The owners/servers were kind. Like the sushi restaurant, language was a minor problem, but did not stop us from getting great food and excellent service.
Our last evening was at Pirate's Cove, on Halloween evening. The day before they had sponsored a Halloween Party. I saw the information on local cable news.
Like we've done many times before, we look at every thing on the menu and then order: Bacon Sandwiches. If it were the weekend, when they have breakfast, our choices would have been different. In addition to good bacon, they also have exceptional sausage links and hashbrowns just like I order them, extra crispy with an onion cut up in them.
In my haste to have a bacon sandwich I forgot to order the bread un-toasted. Oh, well. I still enjoyed it. The crispy potato chips were just right, except the sour cream was only a pale comparison to the Spar Chips & Sour Cream served at the Spar Tavern in Old Town Tacoma. We all have our preferences!
In the falling rain and autumn leaves of our return trip we stopped in Olympia. We have a collection of favorite book stores and Orca Books is our favorite in Olympia. We visit there when we stay overnight in Olympia or DuPont. The book store is just a few blocks away from the Farmer's Market as well as Harlequin Production, and the Phoenix Inn . . . more favorites.
On our way to Ocean Shores, although they hadn't received the one I needed, both Peg and I bought a book. Everything depends on timing. On the return trip the heavy rain stopped as I parked my car directly by the front door of Orca.
"We are the largest independent bookstore in Olympia, Washington, located in the heart of downtown's vibrant shopping district. We stock new and used books, cards, and journals, and are proud to carry many locally-produced items by Olympia artists and craftspeople. We also
offer coffee and tea from Olympia Roasting Company."
Peg bought another book, but I was just happy with the one she ordered for me.
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly is the book I chose for discussion when my book group gathers at our home in mid-November. As we head north Peg read the introduction, just as she had done with Alexander Hamilton on the way south to Ocean Shores.
"Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-black “West Computing” group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and complete domination of the heavens. Starting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement and the Space Race, Hidden Figures follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden, four African American women who participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes. It chronicles their careers over nearly three decades they faced challenges, forged alliances and used their intellect to change their own lives, and their country’s future."
The book tells a great inspirational and little known story.
Of course we had to make several stops on the way home. We visited the Koibito Japanese Restaurant, again. This time I ordered the unagi, while Peg ordered the gyoza. After lunch we again stopped next door at Miss Moffett’s Mystical Cupcakes. They didn't have the same cupcakes we had ordered before, but this time we bought four. We stopped in at our daughter's home in University Place and talked with her and one of our grandtwins, Dakota. We each had a cupcake. Dakota now works for Amazon, another book connection.
Refreshed we finished our trip home and then took a nap before emptying our suitcases and grocery & book bags.