An Adventure into the Puyallup Valley

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An Adventure into the Puyallup Valley
at the Tayberry Victorian Cottage Bed and Breakfast
by Don and Peg Doman

Pioneer Park in downtown

Our adventure in Puyallup began with Peg and I driving separate cars from home. This doesn't generally bode well for togetherness, but it worked out well for us. Peg had a newsletter to complete for a client and I wanted to meet with the local Rotary president

A Shetland and
 children statue at Pioneer Park in downtown Puyuallup.I was to meet with Scotty Getchell, Puyallup Rotary Club President, at Forza in downtown Puyallup. The coffee shop is across the street from the wonderful Pioneer Park. The beautiful park screams Puyallup Valley. It's bright, clean and full of growning things like flowers . . . and children. Within a hundred feet of the corner is a statue of a Shetland pony with two young children on its back. The artwork brought back many memories. As a child I had a Shetland. Many people assume that because the Shetland is small that it is gentle. Not necessarily so. It was bred to pull carts of coal in the mines of Scotland, Wales, and England. It was not bred to be a friend of children. I liked Cocoa, whom had been a Christmas present when I was seven. He kicked me, bit me, threw me, and tried to ride me once. Other than that, he thought he was a dog or a family member.

When our family moved from Tacoma to Lakewood, Cocoa was farmed out to my aunt and uncle who lived in Sumner, which is another community not too far from Puyallup. They hated that pony. He used to chase after their cows, jump the fence into the garden and eat their carrots. Years later their youngest son had a Shetland pony ring, which he took to the zoo and community fairs and events. My sister and my daughter worked for him picking up children and placing them in the saddles and urging the Shetlands to simply walk around the ring. Dee Dee and Andrea both hated Shetlands, which are known to be a little onery and sometimes mean.

Scotty Getchell,
 President of the Puyuallup Rotary Club.Scotty arrived, we ordered coffee and began to chat. We had a very nice time. Scotty scheduled me to speak during annoucements at his Wednesday meeting about Woodstick 2007, a community project I'm working on, which will be held in Puyallup Rotary's backyard at the Puyallup Fairgrounds. We also talked about mutual friends. His wife's sister is the wife of a friend of mine in my Rotary Club and they both traveled to South Bend with me and other friends to watch Notre Dame beat my beloved University of Washington Huskies. Scotty remembered Jeff and Susan talking about the trip some years ago. Scotty had also traveled to South Bend and then Columbus to root for the Washington State University Cougars. We laughed and talked about the enjoyment of being Rotary President. My year was 1996/97, while Scotty is still learning the ropes and feeling his way through each meeting.

The Suite
 at the Tayberry Victorian Cottage Bed and Breakfast.After our meeting I drove to the Tayberry Victorian Cottage. There was no one home, but a sign greeted me at the front door advising me of my room. I took my laptop to the room and looked around. The suite consisted of a living room with TV, sofa, and wingchair with microwave and refrigerator ready if we wanted to cook or store foods. The bedroom was very comfortable as was the bed itself. Peg especially loved the pillows. The '20s or '30s armoire held our shirts and jackets conveniently. There was a bathroom next to the bedroom and a small lavatory area with coffee maker between the bedroom and the living room. In the corner of the bedroom was the flat panel TV and DVD player along with the remote controls. Throughout the suite as well as the rest of the Tayberry there were more chairs and loveseats than we could sit in, but the ones that we did, they felt "just right."

Since I had no idea when Peg would join me I drove around the area a bit. It wasn't so much sight-seeing as it was almost old home week. As a child I picked berries in the raspberry fields to make spending money for myself and stayed quite often with my cousin's family who lived only about a mile North from the Tayberry as the crow flies. They've dispersed now to Arizona, Alaska and Michigan, but in memories they are still nearby.


Taking it
 easy at DeCoursey Park in Puyallup.The Tayberry is less than half a mile from DeCoursey Park whose duck pond is fed by Clark's Creek. The creek is a protected salmon habitat. Backyards slope down to meet the meandering knee-deep stream in picturesque bends. The park is ideal for picnics and ball games, or just sitting. The shady grounds as well as the parking lot give city workers a wonderful break or lunch time eye-of-the-business-hurricane spot to relax and enjoy life in the Pacific Northwest.

One time during a Jaycee baseball tournament our kids went wading in Clark's Creek. They came back to our camper with their arms full of treasure. Someone upstream had floated huge submarines of zucchini down the creek. It was too tough to slice and eat so it had to be grated to make zucchini bread. Even then lots was thrown out. The valley is so fertile that even the smallest patch of squash results in more zucchini than you can saute, boil, grill, or make into bread by yourself. You have to share or launch it downstream.

Cattails and
 wetlands in the Puyallup Valley.Today there are fewer creeks and streams feeding ponds and lakes and working their way to Puget Sound, but there are still wetlands both protected and not. I like seas of grass bowing down to the cattails of wetlands; it gives us dynamic landscapes and vistas even if we can't go walking in them. Tall grasses and cattails provide suitable habitats for birds and insects. Besides looking nice you just know that nature is working together as it should.

Cute little tunnel
 near the Tayberry.While I was driving and looking around I was stopped at a "no trespassing" sign and as I backed up I saw a one lane road that went into a cute little tunnel. Of course I had to try it. I squeezed my little Reatta through and wound up on the other side of the road where a similar one lane road lead to the tunnel on that side. This tunnel must be used by tractors that need to cross the busy road several times a day. I raced around the tunnel and the short one lane roads for about half an hour and then returned to the Tayberry. Peg was still not there so I chose a of couple videos from the cottage library and watched "16 Blocks" starring Bruce Willis. Then I took a nap . . . and then Peg finally arrived.

 Powerhouse Restaurant and Brewery in downtown Puyallup.The Powerhouse in
 downtown Puyallup.We decided to see the feature film Becoming Jane and then go to dinner afterwards. I hadn't eaten all day and was overjoyed to see two hotdogs on the grill at the movie theater. I hate to pay $4 for a microwaved hotdog, but don't mind paying that much if they are grilled. I ordered my two dogs and the counterperson dropped one. I explained that I didn't want a microwaved hotdog, which she understood, but then she just looked at me and bid me leave. I then had to explain that she owed me for the dropped dog, which meant that she had to get her supervisor to refund the $4. The supervisor came out and offered me a microwaved hotdog one more time before I received my money. Luckily, fuming about this chain of events kept me awake during most of the film. It seemed a little long. Afterwards Peg and I went to the Powerhouse on the recommendation of bed and breakfast owner Terry Chissus. The food was good, but we missed the entertainment. When a train goes by, the transformers inside perform Tesla coil antics with electric arcs climbing towards the ceiling. After our beer sampler we probably would have really enjoyed that. Unfortunately, no trains went by while we were dining.

The old Puyallup Substation was constructed for the Puget Sound Electric Railway in 1907, supplying the current for the southern leg of the Interurban Electric Trolley that ran from Seattle to Olympia. After many years of misuse it was purchased in 1994 by Tacoma architect Dusty Trail. The elegant brick building has undergone extensive renovation to become an asset to the community as the Powerhouse Restaurant and Brewery.

The view from the

Fields of
 geese.The next morning I was up early and walking around the neighborhood. The view from the Tayberry is of the Washington State University Extension Campus, which is directly across the street. A light fog covered the surrounding trees and buildings, but had already lifted from the large cropped field. To the left was a crop of orderly Christmas trees standing about two feet tall (a Pacific Northwest version of Chinese terra cotta warriors standing guard) and each slightly different. There is a wide open field to the right where herds of geese graze in the early morning and the late afternoon. The woods and the hills come down to within a few feet of the Tannenbaums and I was surprized I saw no deer. I asked owner Terry Chissus if he often saw them. He said, "No, but I saw a coyote this morning standing by your car." That might explain their absence. And actually the geese might explain the absence of circling hawks. Perhaps the hawks aren't large enough to take on docile looking but the generally fierce Canada Goose, which never seem to leave.

Vines and
 grasses.The Puyallup Valley, a true river valley, was carved out of the countryside by the glacier fed Puyallup River. Eons of flooding have left rich, growing, nutrient filled soil, which of course is in constant danger of disappearing under new shopping malls, condos, warehouses and parking lots. The urban spread of Tacoma has met the urban spread of Puyallup in many places. Puyallup is a growing city with its own outlying communities now.

Vegetables and fruit stands used to dot the summer landscape from both large and small family farms. Over the years their numbers have diminished. Today, wild black berries battle wild grasses and trees for their portion of the ever wild kingdom. Vacant lots usually surrender in defeat to vines of offending berries which, however, give us tart cobblers and jams. It does bring joy to watch children picking blackberries, a late August and early September ritual, and my mouth waters just imagining every other berry going into my mouth . . . just like when I was a kid.

Terry Chissus of
 the Tayberry Victorian Cottage.The breakfast
 table setting at the  Tayberry Victorian Cottage.Thinking of food brought me back to the Tayberry. Terry had two place settings ready for breakfast although that was still well over an hour away. Peg and I had requested breakfast at nine. I'm a early riser, but Peg is not. I sat down at the dining table and helped myself to the coffee, cream, and orange juice. I read the "Seattle Post-Intelligencer" and made notes to myself and began a "to do" list. The coffee was excellent. What I thought was cream turned out to be a creamer with a little vanilla and sweetener. I pretty much emptied the coffee pot. I enjoyed the time to myself as I looked on the fields across the street, watched the horses next door and considered our options for the day.

There is a fish hatchery about a mile away from the Tayberry. I've drivin by the building for years, but never gone inside for a tour. Staying minutes away would make a visit possible. Also, a short distance away was the Watson nursery that Peg had shopped at before. They have expanded the grounds and now even offer a coffee shop there (sigh, progress). Driving through town on my first day, I had also seen a bead shop that I thought Peg would enjoy.

Peg came down almost on the stroke of nine, which was just in time for baked grapefruit. A grapefruit had been cut in half and then the sections were split with a sharp knife for easy eating. Brown sugar had been sprinkled on top and then they were baked for 45 minutes. They were delicious. Every drop of grapefruit juice was spooned to our waiting mouths.

 grapefruit breakfast appetizer at the Tayberry Victorian Cottage.After we finished off the grapefruit, we were served Dutch Babies. These are a kind of floppy crepe or collapsing souffle poured into a hot greasy pan and baked. They are then piled with strawberries and whipped cream with maple syrup standing by, just in case of need.

Joining the Dutch Baby on each plate was an orange section (tasting as fresh as the orange juice) and a large sausage. This was a great taste combination. I poured Peg a cup of coffee and Terry brought out another pot.

Dutch baby breakfast at
 the Tayberry Victorian Cottage.Dutch Babies are one of those breakfast items that catch the eye not only because they are just different enough from what individuals make every day, but they provide a canvas for colors and textures. You can eat Dutch Babies plain, or with just a pat of butter, or butter and maple syrup, or as Terry fixed them with all the trimmings. You don't need a special pan to make them, but a cast iron skillet is probably the easiest to find and use.

I asked about the sausage. "Is it local?" "No," Terry said, "it's Johnsonville. Mild Italian." I was surprised. It tasted like breakfast sausage. On my "to do" list I added "buy some Italian sausages by Johnsonville." If you ever want to get on my good side all you have to do is feed me pork and sausage and bacon lead the list of pork favorites.

I like to find local butcher shops, but will settle for good tasting meat from anywhere. My favorite sausage is made by hand with a mixture of pork sausage and applesauce. That butcher shop is about an hour South of Tacoma in Centralia. I don't get there very often, but when I do I buy extra sausage for some good friends and bacon for my oldest sister.

Old man with birds in his

 necklace at the Premier Consignment Store.In downtown Puyallup there are pieces of sculpture on almost every street corner. Art plus hanging flower baskets and extremely clean streets and sidewalks make it a pleasure to both windowshop and buy.

While I met and talked with friends Peg made a worthwhile day for herself. She went shopping.

Amtrak has long ceased stopping in Puyallup to pick up and drop off passengers, however Sounder, the communter rail, which began service only a few years ago between Tacoma and Seattle does stop. Residents are easily able to take the train to Seattle either to work or to shop. The rail system also provides stops in nearby communities of Sumner, Auburn, Kent, and Renton. Of course, the rail system not only allows residents of Puyallup to extend their shopping and travel area, but the opposite is true, also.

Hummingbird metal
 artwork in downtown Puyallup.Locating the Jewell consignment store on Meridian (the main street through Puyuallup leading to both Edgewood to the North and South Hill) Peg found a trove of amber earrings and a necklace. They were all designed and crafted by a local artist and available at unbelievable prices. She even made two trips there. After the first one she showed off her earrings to me, but bemoaned the fact that she hadn't purchased the matching necklace. I asked, "Why not?"

On her second trip she bought the necklace and then we were forced inside a Pioneer bakery a few doors down from the consignment store and coerced into buying raspberry bars. They were goood.

Bead buying in
 downtown Puyallup.Peg already knew about Bead Boppers, the bead store I had originally sighted in downtown Puyallup. Peg loves jewelry and loves to make her own bracelets and earrings, especially if she can rope one or more granddaughters into the craft project. A bead store is always a great place for her to think and create. I think the colors and shapes stir her ever working imagination.

Our oldest son also enjoys working with beads. He makes all kinds of bracelets and necklaces. Unfortunately, they almost always involve skulls. When the bead convention comes to town he and Peg attend together and look for new beading products to work with.

Don's homemade soup and pies near the fairgrounds in Puyallup.For lunch she found Don's Drive-In, which features homemade soup and pies. You won't find it listed in the Northwest's Best Places to Eat, but it's not bad. She had a cup of the daily soup, split pea with ham, and a slice of apple cobbler. Yum. The drive-in is directly across the street from the Puyallup Fairgrounds and is a very popular place.

We stopped in the next day fifteen minutes before they opened and we ended up about twelth in line. The soup is good, the pies are good, it's just a great place to for a great little meal at reasonable prices. We sat in the shade sipping Diet Cokes as we watched families troop back and forth into the drive-in. During the Western Washington Fair, Don's is closed. They make their money from parking during the two and a half week fair held annually in mid-September. During the fair even homes within a mile of the fairgrounds convert their lawns to parking lots. A good sized yard can make a homeowner hundreds of dollars a day.

The Hungry Goose or HG
 Bistro.Our server
 Sami at the HG Bistro.Once Peg and I returned to the Tayberry we decided that naps were in order. Well, actually I took a nap while Peg read a book. In the early evening we left for dinner reservations at HG Bistro. One of the new trends in restaurants is to go Bistro. A bistro is a small restaurant that offers excellent cuisine, which is sometimes centered around a particular style of cooking . . . and sometimes not. The HG is a perfect example, although it offers more food and services than many. There is even live entertainment on the weekends and specials during the week as well as great coffee, espresso, and fruit smoothies.

We were greeted by an attractive young lady, who misunderstood my name, which I repeated. Then I saw that she wore a hearing aid. At that time the HG moved up several notches on my approval scale. I am a board member and president-in-waiting for TACID (Tacoma Area Coalition of Individuals with Disabilities) and a member of Rotarians for Hearing Regeneration.

Our server was Sami, who was brand new. It was his first night at the HG. It was quite evident that this was not Sami's first time serving, however. He was helpful and attentive, but did not make a nuisance of himself. The HG continued to climb in approval. Peg and I drank a little water and waited for owner Tim Hall to join us. We let him decide on our dinner choices.

The prawn appetizer at the
 HG Bistro in Puyallup.

Tim Hall owner
 and manager of the former Hungry Goose and now HG Bistro.Tim joined us and we talked about the restaurant, his career as an entrepreneur, and his involvement in a family business (3rd generation). The restaurant was originally known as The Hungry Goose. Tim worked around the restaurant as it was run by his mother. It was a gift shop with basic mid-America food. Tim has changed the feel, the menu, and the demographics of this Puyallup mainstay, but he has kept the initials of HG from Hungry Goose.

The first part of the puzzle was a large painting with beautiful Tuscan colors and an image of a robust, Reubenesqe nude standing next to a lion. The color tones of the painting are reflected through out the restaurant. The menu is not Italian, however. Tim lived for awhile in Southern California and loved the fusion of cultures and foods. It's that fusion, along with Tim's sense of style and touch, that not only give the restaurant charm, but leave customers coming back for their favorite menu items. Tim has also introduced beer and wine, which is a must in today's world of haute cuisine.

Tim first chose calimari as an appetizer to go along with our bread, olive oil, herbs, and roasted and mashed garlic, but upon hearing of Peg's aversion to really HOT spicy foods, he changed the order to the Dark Chili Prawns. He also ordered Prosecco, sparkling white wine, which went well with the appetizer and each entre. The prawns were excellent. They were cooked perfectly, offering just the right resistence to the bite. The sauce was spicy, but not spicy-hot. The shallots, garlic and slivered, roasted almonds added just the right texture. I restrained myself and did not sop up the sauce with the crusty, grilled bread. In private I would have. I think when returning to HG I might order a salad, a side of basmati rice, and the Dark Chili Prawns . . . and a bottle of Prosecco, of course.

Seafood Linguini served at
 the HG Bistro in Puyallup.

Chef James Carlton
 at the HG Bistro in Puyallup.We had three dishes to try. The sirloin steak was cooked rare, just as I asked. The flavor was great. It was served over garlic mashed potatoes. It was better than the offerings from many steak houses, but it came in third behind the Seafood Linguini and the Chicken of India.

Choosing the best was difficult. I was surprised. Depending upon the last mouthful sampled either the linguini or the chicken was the best. I could not decide, nor could Peg. Of course we had to keep tasting . . . just one more bite. All we really knew is that we loved both selections.

The Chicken of India at
 the HG Bistro.The Seafood Linguini featured scallops, butter clams and a King Crab leg. The scallops, like the prawns earlier, hit just the right level of doneness. Over-cooked scallops can get rubbery, but not so at the HG. The Chicken of India gave us lentils, basmati rice, cucumbers, flat bread, chicken, and red bell peppers. A light cream sauce was used on both the linguini and the chicken, but there were slight differences in flavor. The Seafood Linguini features lemon tarragon sauce, while Chicken of India is made with a coconut curry sauce. Each forkfull was a delight to the mouth. Sami confided that he loved the Chicken of India, but that was his only meal so far at the HG. It was a great meal, so he was right. I don't recall asking for extra pepper or Parmesan on anything, which is a great recommendation.

The Executive Chef at the HG is James Carlton, a nineteen year old who started out as a dishwasher there. He's currently studying the Art Institute of Seattle's culinary course. Tim is proud of James as well he should be. Quality food is always good to find and those that can delivery it should be treasured. In addition to a full menu, James also prepares the special Tuesday night take-away dinners. Many people in the Puyallup area work outside the city. Returning to Puyallup some pass by the HG Bistro by train and some come close by car and bus. Tim has come up with something to help the commuters and that is Take Out Tuesday - dinner for two for $20.00.

Ed Taylor and
 his Gibson Guitar.Peg and I need to return to the HG Bistro for their live entertainment. They often feature our good friend Ed Taylor. Ed is sponsored by Gibson Guitars and his group plays an awesome set of smooth jazz. Ed prefers playing with his collection of professionals, but his live solo version of "Till There Was You" with minimal guitar is something to yearn for.

Ed has been a professional muscian since he was a young teenager in California. He says, I played at a lot of fun little clubs in Arizona and Los Angeles, the chitlin circuit that was in the Southwest. It was exciting and we mostly performed fun funk and rock. As he has grown older his tastes have matured. Although he can still play impressive rock and funk licks, when Ed picks up his Gibson, you may as well sit back and relax. You are going to have a good time. Your ears will get the treat of their life.

Last summer Ed and his group played for our anniversary party along with four other acts. Everyone voted Ed as the best entertainment. Ed performs all over the Pacific Northwest and is a welcome guest at the HG Bistro. I think a perfect weekend would be to stay at the Tayberry Victorian Cottage, have dinner at HG Bistro, listen to Ed Taylor perform, and then come back Sunday morning for brunch. Wouldn't that be lovely?

If the HG Bistro were in downtown Seattle, not only would the prices be much higher, but the place would be absolutely packed. Let's keep HG a secret for the rest of us in the South Puget Sound Region.

Back home at the Tayberry, Peg sat reading a book in a wingchair throne, while I watched an inspirational football movie. In the morning I was up early again reading the newspaper and drinking coffee. When Peg came down for breakfast Terry served us yogurt and blueberries as an appetizer and then presented corn waffles with bacon. Wonderful, again. We talked a bit about the Tayberry. The Tayberry isn't completely dependent on events at the fairgrounds, but those events seem to help send visitors to Terry. Events run anywhere from a day or two to the two and a half weeks of the Western Washington Fair. Only during Victorian Christmas, which has a killer schedule for participants, does he not get business. The Tayberry is open virtually 364 days a year and has bunches of returning clients. And why not? Many of the people I talked to while I was in Puyallup had either had friends stay there, or knew exactly where it was. Peg and I thanked Terry for being our host. We had a wonderfully relaxing stay at the Tayberry Victorian Cottage.

 trout at the Puyallup Hatchery.After breakfast Peg and I visited the Puyallup Hatchery of the Washington Department of Game. Although the welcome sign said they were open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm the front doors were locked. Of course this never stopped us before. We wandered the grounds behind the building. We walked around and looked into the holding tanks. There must have been about twenty of the round ones with a radius of about twelve feet and four rectangular ones about forty feet in length. Near the back of the property there were controls/locks to send the fish out to Clark's Creek. I resisted the urge to open the gates.

I don't know much about fish, but I do know what I like. The hatchery raises rainbow trout, cutthroat and steelhead. Steelhead is a prized game fish. Some people consider it a salmon, but really it's a sea-going trout . . . but then trout and salmon are closely related. A family favorite is pan-fried trout . . . or grilled trout. The fishery stocks local lakes and streams. We saw everything from fingerlings to mature fish that must have run about 14-16 inches . . . of course, you have to wonder what I know about maturity.

The children's book
 Click, Clack, Moo.Peg and I went our separate ways. I attended the Puyallup Rotary Club meeting at the Puyallup Elks. There were about 35 members there. My new friend Scotty did an excellent job as president. He's always smiling and enjoying himself. He should do well for the rest of the year. I ran into a friend at the meeting who used to be a member of my Tacoma Rotary Club. John Long left my club when he was named president of Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup. He then joined Puyallup Rotary, which was started by Tacoma Rotary in 1948. I enjoyed the meeting. The program concerned books for young children. Reading is what brought Peg and me together as students at the University of Puget Sound and as our family grew, one of the rights of passage for our children was a library card as soon as each could write their name. The speaker finished her presentation by reading the book, Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type . . . a personal favorite of mine. The story is about Farmer Brown's cows who begin typing demands on an old typewriter that was left in the barn. It's a funny book and a wonderful read for grandchildren. Puyallup Rotary President Scott Getchell announced that he thought that Click, Clack, Moo might have been one of his text books at Washington State University. The fun Rotary meeting was a very nice way to end my trip.

What a wonderful three days and two nights in the lush Puyallup Valley.

A flower basket on the
 streets of Puyallup.

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