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Articles in category "beyond-tacoma":



Sponsor a Birder!

· Posted Thursday May 8, 2008 by jamie

The Tahoma Audubon Birdathon is going on right now, and birders are accepting pledges for their birding voyages, either on a per-species or flat-value basis. This is one of TAS’s biggest fundraisers of the year, which helps support their mission to “conserve and restore ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and earth’s biological diversity”.

A certain occupant of ThriceAllAmerican HQ will be journeying from “Purdy to Paradise” this Saturday on a trip that typically sees over 100 species of bird.

If you’re interested in sponsoring a birder, contact TAS, or, if you want to support Melissa, shoot me an email.


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Get On Your Feet

· Posted Friday March 7, 2008 by jamie

I’m really hoping Steve Ballmer succeeds in keeping the Sonics in Seattle, because they totally wouldn’t even need to get cheerleaders. No matter how long these videos have been around, I will always find them funny.


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Thanksgiving in Spokane

· Posted Tuesday November 27, 2007 by jamie

For our holiday weekend we made the trip across the mountains to Spokane. My mom grew up in Spokane, so we’ve always had many relatives to visit on that side of the mountains, but since my sister and her husband moved there a few years back, there’s been that much more reason to hit that neck of the woods every so often. And with the recent birth of our second nephew, all the more reason to plan a Thanksgiving trip, even with the associated travel headaches–heavy traffic, potential mountain weather problems, etc.

We stayed at the recently-renovated Montvale Hotel downtown in order to avoid the new baby chaos and to be able to have our “own space” to retreat to. Built as a miners hotel, and at points in its life serving as a bordello, apartments, hardware store, and dormitory for Expo 74 workers, the Montvale opened in 2005 as a boutique hotel that boasts status as “oldest hotel in Spokane”.

The hotel itself was charming, but unfortunately after our late arrival on Wednesday we discovered that our room was directly above Spokane’s newest raw food hot spot, Scratch. We were tired from work and the trip, but apparently the patrons of said establishment were not, as we had the honor of being kept awake by thumping bass until after they closed at 2am. Joy. (As an aside, when we made the reservation, we mentioned TripAdvisor reviews complaining about sound bleed-through. These must have been referring to the pool hall also in the building, because we were assured that our room in the back should only have some noise from the train tracks. We can handle some train noise.) Amidst the grogginess of Thanksgiving morning we managed to get transferred to a different room for the remainder of the stay. We’re still holding out hope that we can get them to comp the miserable first night…this might have bearing on whether we’d be willing to visit again, so fingers crossed on that…

Thursday morning we took the opportunity to sleep in a bit, given the forced lateness of the previous night. Unfortunately this caused us to miss the hotel’s Continental breakfast, and as I soon discovered on a walk around a nearly abandoned downtown Spokane, nothing is open on Thanksgiving. But I did get a good dose of Thanksgiving perspective when I realized that just about everyone who I saw while out-and-about appeared to be homeless. I may not have been able to find food just then, but I could rest assured that later that day I would be feasting like a king in a warm home, surrounded by loving relatives.

I’ve gotta say, though, that Spokane’s downtown has a lot on Tacoma. For starters, it has some geographic advantage in that the flatness of the valley has allowed for a downtown core that exists as a “clump” instead of a long narrow strip like Tacoma’s. As such, Spokane has a more impressive group of large buildings. Riverfront Park, the site of the aforementioned Expo 74, is a wonderful riverside promenade immediately adjacent to the downtown shopping area. And speaking of the shopping area, yes, Spokane has a legitimate downtown shopping area. (I don’t mean to de-legitimize Tacoma’s downtown merchants, because there are some awesome stores in Tacoma, but there isn’t a retail core, per se.) Spokane has a several block area of department stores, a multi-level mall with 20 screen theater (River Park Square), skybridges, and dedicated parking structures for shoppers. Really quite impressive. I’m not sure there is anything specifically that Tacoma can learn from this, but it is something to consider before we make fun of Spokane. (However, we can make fun of their residential recycling program. It really sucks.)


(Photo credit: Remi Olsen)

One last awesome thing to mention about Spokane: Rocket Market. I guess this place would be best described as a “gourmet mini-mart”. The Rocket Bakery chain, of which the Rocket Market is a part, includes a bakery and several coffee shops around town, but the Market location on the South Hill takes it to a whole new level. While there is a full service gas station on-site, for all intents and purposes this is a standalone gourmet market, with a huge wine and beer selection, cheeses, fancy chocolate, organic produce, delicious snack food, cooking supplies, etc.–in the end, essentially the sort of store that you could do all of your shopping at, as long as you don’t want to buy anything for cheap. All in a space about the size of your average 7-11. I would kill to have this place in my neighborhood, and I think it would be a great model for walkable grocery stores all over the city. If you’re ever in Spokane, check it out: 726 E. 43rd Ave.


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Intel Inside: Conan Visits

· Posted Tuesday May 8, 2007 by jamie

I worked for three years at Intel in Dupont. It was a good place to work, and I might still be there today had my job not been shipped off to Bangalore. Nonetheless, I loved this video of Conan O’Brien’s trip into their Santa Clara headquarters. Ever wondered what Intel Dupont looks like? Take away the clean room and the museum and this video pretty much gets it right. Everything looks very familiar: everything is gray (even the cafeteria), seas of cubicles, numbered poles. Same goes for every other Intel facility I visited during my time there. It almost hurts to watch.

(Via Engadget.)

Update: The video has been pulled from YouTube. Can’t seem to find it on the NBC site either, hopefully they’ll post it at some point. In the mean time, it looks like some other video sharing sites may still have it, give it a Google… (It appears to still be up on Clipstr.)
Another Update: NBC finally posted this to YouTube, so all is now legal and stuff. The embedded video should now work.


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Weekend Choices

· Posted Friday May 4, 2007 by jamie

Sure, you could go on the Historic Homes Tour this weekend… (It would be a good chance to flex your newfound Northwest architectural knowledge after going to last night’s installment of the Historic Tacoma lecture series did go, right?)

But then again, Mount Rainier National Park is reopening the road to Paradise this weekend for the first time since the flood damage in November. The Nisqually Entrance gates will open at 9:15 on Saturday, after remarks by a number of dignitaries including Congressman Norm Dicks, among other events, including volunteer opportunities and interpretive descriptions of the flood impacts and repairs. And the Rainier Independent Film Fest in Ashford to boot!

Both good options, and I’m sure there are others. I’m leaving this one up to you.


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Sunday Sunday Sunday!!!

· Posted Friday April 27, 2007 by jamie

...live at the Tacoma Dome!

Hugh Grant, master of the baked beans vs. Allen Yanity, wielding his brand new mug of fury! One cage, one match, no rules. Your ticket pays for the whole seat, but you ONLY NEED THE EDGE!!!!!

A related question: Why no Yanity mug shot yet? It seems so apropos…


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A Nice Sock in the Face Should Wake You Up...

· Posted Wednesday April 25, 2007 by jamie

I’m not sure I can top the “fisticuffs” quote cited by GritCity for sheer level of awesomeness in commenting on the Gig Harbor Fire Commission mug-punching incident. However, linking to this sweet Ceramics For Breakfast mug design by Cristobal Karich might come close…


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Fun Awaits, Just Short of Paradise

· Posted Thursday April 12, 2007 by jamie

As you all probably well know, Mount Rainier National Park will be closed for a while longer while flood damage repair continues. The re-opening could happen as soon as May 1st 5th (announced today), so that’s great news for all of us nature lovers and hikers. But don’t let it keep you from heading out the mountain highway to Ashford…

A bit of framework on why I’m writing about this. Melissa has been working away on her thesis, and occasional retreats from all of the distractions of home have proven very helpful in her making progress. She recently took a trip out to Grayland for a weekend of intensive work, and decided that her next destination would be Ashford. So she called up Stone Creek Lodge, where we’ve stayed many times before. According to owner Sandy, they have been virtually empty over the last several months, so I thought I’d give a quick plug for some of the places we have especially enjoyed in the area in hopes that others needing a getaway will consider heading in that direction.

Stone Creek Lodge, where Melissa will be heading this weekend, has neither a lodge nor a creek, but it does have some lovely cabins just outside the park entrance. Sandy, the owner, is very charming and helpful in making you feel at home and suggesting nearby activities and restaurants. The small cabins, perfect for two, have private hot tubs (shared with the next door cabin on an alternating-hour schedule), so that’s a nice bonus. No television, cell phone signal, etc., makes for a nice “away from it all” experience. Highly recommended.

The other lodging that I can highly suggest in the area is Wellspring Spa (360.569.2514). This place is absolutely amazing. A whole variety of lodging choices including awesome log cabins, larger lodge-like accommodations, a tree house, and themed “tent cabins” are all nestled into a peaceful hillside, where you can also experience spa services such as massage and hot tub sits. This is one of our favorite romantic getaways in the area, something of an attraction by itself independent of the mountain, so you can visit and not even be bothered by the fact the park is closed.

Also have to give a shout-out to one of our favorite places to eat in Ashford, the Copper Creek Inn, a fun historic roadside inn with good food and great atmosphere. Tasty breakfasts and awesome milkshakes. Not necessarily best eaten together, but that’s up to you…

As far as things to do, there are still hikes nearby despite the park being closed, so that would be my first recommendation. On your way up, you will pass EZ Times Outfitters in Elbe (360.569.2449), a horseback tours company. I’m a big fan of relaxing and reading, especially if you have a hot tub at your avail. The best part is, you just might have the whole place to yourself.


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Condoms, Al Gore, and Enchanted Village

· Posted Friday January 12, 2007 by jamie

So the fine folks on the schoolboard of Enchanted Village have decided to ban the showing of “An Inconvenient Truth” in the classroom due to some nutjob parents who haven’t even watched the movie. This is just wacky. I personally am a big fan of the quote that Grist pulled from a Seattle P-I article from concerned parent Frosty Hardison:

“Condoms don’t belong in school, and neither does Al Gore. He’s not a schoolteacher,” said Frosty Hardison, a parent of seven who also said that he believes the Earth is 14,000 years old. “The information that’s being presented is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is. ... The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn’t in the DVD.”

Much like Grist columnist David Roberts, I want the t-shirt with that condom quote. Classic.

So I guess I didn’t realize that Enchanted Village was such a backwoods place. I mean, sure, it’s the suburbs, and that comes with a whole different attitude than the city, but I grew up in Kent/Renton so I think I at least sorta grasp the overall ethos of South King suburban attitutes. But actually removing the scientifically accurate work of a former Senator and Vice President (not to mention purported inventor of this series of tubes we are using right now) from the classroom of a whole school district is just out of a whole different dimension.

Hopefully the new government of Enchanted Village can fix this right up. The fact that they’re from Florida doesn’t bode well for the former Presidential candidate, though…

(See also at ErikEmery.com.)


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It's Spawning Time

· Posted Saturday November 4, 2006 by jamie

Kim Drew - Autumn Ritual

It’s fall, and that means time for the salmon to spawn. After dropping Melissa off for class at Evergreen this morning, I took a quick trip out to a great little nature trail at Kennedy Creek to see some Coho Chum (oops) spawning, and let me tell you, it was frickin’ awesome.

Kennedy Creek, in Mason County, flows into Totten Inlet just east of Olympia. The South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group has put together an interpretive trail near the mouth of the creek so that the public can view the fish spawning during the month of November. Large portions of the trail, including some excellent viewpoints for seeing the fish, are even ADA accessible.

This morning, the Coho Chum were literally wall to wall in the river: fighting the current, performing courting rituals, and showing various forms of mating aggresssion. Even in the rain, without polarized sunglasses (which are nice for reducing glare), there was a lot to see. It really is a neat part of nature, and I highly recommend getting out to see it.

To get to Kennedy Creek, travel south on I-5. In Olympia, take Highway 101 west towards Shelton. Turn left on Old Olympic Highway between milepost 358 and 357. Travel approximately 3/4 of a mile, and turn left on a gravel road with signs for wildlife viewing and “Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail”. The trail is approximately 1/2 mile up the gravel road.

(“Autumn Ritual” image courtesy of Seattle artist Kim Drew. Used by permission. Prints of this and other wonderful pictures can be purchased via his website, as well as from his gallery.)

More details on the trail from SPSSEG.


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