Happy Birthday, Nons

Dear readers,

You might think you’re a loyal reader and that you’ve been checking things out for awhile. You know about my goals and my adventures and that’s awesome.

But today is my very best, most loyal readers’ 90th Birthday.

Nons and Beth

Happy birthday, Nons.

You never fail to make my day when you talk about how much you love reading my blog posts and tell me about how beautiful my photos are. I couldn’t ask for anyone to be more supportive of my dreams: I’m pretty sure there is no one else in this world as invested as me in seeing a home built in Ridgway and you never fail to ask when I’m going to have more travels to post about (I’m sorry there have been so few lately!). I don’t know many 90 year olds that are avid blog readers; at least of their granddaughter’s blog!

Thank you for always being interested in what I’m doing, teaching me the art of Norwegian Cookie making, feeding me, and being one of my biggest fans. Chatting on the phone every other week or so is a poor substitute for being back in town but I look forward to it.

I’m sorry I can’t be there with you in Tacoma to celebrate today. I love you so much.

-Beth

Tacoma at Christmas: Ice Skating

I landed in Seattle late on Tuesday night and got up on Wednesday morning and immediately launched into holiday festivities! My oldest nephew, Andrew, my mom, and I went to downtown Tacoma with my aunt and my cousin’s daughters. I had fun snapping photos of everyone (although a few turned out blurry they’re here anyway for fun), accepting my mom’s challenge to skate backwards, and scooping Andrew up off the ice.

Andrew ice skating

Eight year old boys will stick out their tongues in EVERY PHOTO if you’re not fast with the candid…

Andrew ice skating

Andrew missed the memo to wear pink:

Cousin ice skating

My mother, aka “Suzie Snowflake,” even got into the fun:

Mom and Beth

Aunty Beth and Andrew

After ice skating, we grabbed pizza at Elemental Pizza before heading home.

Cousins

Tacoma: Summer 2015

My trip to Tacoma was pretty brief but I managed to cram a whole lot in to a few days! After spending Sunday at the Rainiers, hiking in the Olympics on Monday, and a quiet Tuesday working on some projects at my mom’s house, Mom and I headed out Wednesday morning for an adventure: kayaking on the Thea Foss Waterway!

We’d gone kayaking a couple of times when I was a little kid and my mom wanted to share that experience with my nephew Andrew. She was a little worried about how much she’d be able to handle paddling the kayak so she recruited me for a practice run in a two man kayak. My job was to be a lazy paddler and see how it was for her to handle it for both of us and then to step up and paddle us back when she got tired. I was definitely up for some fun on the water in the sun and we headed down to the waterfront.

Murray Morgan Bridge

It’s been a long time since I was in a kayak and it took some time to figure out how to make it go in a straight line. Fortunately, the waterway was pretty quiet that morning so we didn’t have too much to dodge or worry about. This is my skeptical face about Mom powering the kayak on her own:

Kayaking with mom

I got a little wet but I was pretty impressed with how quickly my PFG pants dried out (review!).

Columbia Sportswear PFG

It really was a glorious day on the water. It’s not very often that I get a chance to look back on cities from the water and it really is the best. Tacoma has done so much work in the last 15 years to clean up downtown and it fairly sparkles from the water.

Murray Morgan Bridge

Beth and Mom

After our adventure, we had lunch at The Fish Peddler before taking a walk down at Point Ruston.

Lunch

Point Ruston

Our next stop was picking Andrew up at school! The one thing he asks for every time he sees me (and sometimes he calls me in Colorado) is to ask if we can go hiking. His excitement means that I make a very specific effort to get him outside when we’re together.

Hiking with Andrew

Hiking with Andrew

I think he’s learned that he can ask Aunty Beth all sorts of questions about how the canyon is made, what ants eat, and why there were no fish this time. We talked about what erosion is, what homo sapiens are, and how the decimals on the GPS watch I let him wear are just like dollars and cents (I guess that’s the only way that third graders see decimals!).

Wildflowers

Hiking Andrew

Hiking Andrew

Hiking Andrew

For the very first time, we reached the end of the trail. Instead of hiking out and calling my mom to pick us up, we continued up the canyon off trail. Andrew was totally tickled that we were able to scramble up to a road and then walk the rest of the way to Nana’s house to surprise her!

Hiking Andrew

Hiking Andrew

It might not be a high peak, but hiking with this little boy always makes me super happy:

Hiking Andrew

Sunset Tacoma

Tacoma Rainiers

Just after I landed in Tacoma, my mom and my oldest nephew (Andrew) and I headed to Cheney Stadium to watch the Tacoma Rainiers game with some other family members. My entire family loves baseball. The Mariners were always on the radio in the background of family gatherings and going to Tacoma Rainiers games (the Mariner’s AAA affiliate team) happens quite often.

Tacoma Rainiers, Cheney Stadium

Cheney Stadium got a major renovation in 2011 but I haven’t been back to see a game since they were completed. The place has been way more spruced up than it was the last time I was there! Renovations or not, I always love baseball stadiums. There are very few things in the world as beautiful as a baseball diamond in the sun:

Cheney Stadium

Rainiers Game; Beth and Andrew

We spotted the sign for the “Summit Club” parking and I explained to Andrew what a “summit” is and we decided to take a picture:

Summit club, Andrew and Beth

This is his summit face or so he explained to me:

Andrew at Rainiers Game

We don’t get to hang out very much but I really like being with my nephew. I think the feeling is mutual:

Beth and Andrew

My dad taught me a lot about baseball. Lots of my favorite memories with him were either practicing softball or watching the Mariners and Rainiers. After I moved away, I’d always call him to tell him about my games or about the stadium I was at. Andrew never got to really watch baseball with his Papi so I had so much fun spending a half inning teaching him how to keep score.

Keeping score

Once Andrew had enough of score keeping (although he was a really quick learner!) and wanted to go hang out with his cousins, I got to watch the game with my uncle. Uncle Skip is one of my favorite people to watch baseball with. We got to talk strategy and baseball history for a couple of innings before we headed over to join my mom, Andrew, my aunt, my cousin, his wife, and their two daughters for the rest of the game.

Beth and Uncle Skip

Cheney Stadium

The Rainiers won, I got to hang out with my family, and watch some baseball. We even wrapped up the night by heading over to my grandmother’s house for dinner.It was an awesome way to be welcomed back to Washington!

Beth and Andrew

Beer Tasting: Pacific Brewing & Malting Co.

As my mom and I were headed out of downtown Tacoma we noticed Pacific Brewing & Malting Co., a new brewery on Pacific Avenue. The brewery’s name came from a pre-Prohibition brewery in Tacoma. I looked up their beer list online and learned that they make a “Griswold’s Winter Warmer”…and the description was one of my most favorite quotes from Christmas Vacation:

Hey! If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one. I’d like Frank Shirley, my boss, right here tonight. I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there on Melody Lane with all the other rich people and I want him brought right here, with a big ribbon on his head, and I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit he is! Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where’s the Tylenol?

Mom decided since there was a Christmas Vacation inspired name on the menu that we really had to go and check it out. I’m so glad we did! The beer was all pretty darn good and their use of a vintage Tacoma brewing brand and it’s logo was excellent!

Pacific Brewing and Malting Co. logo

I did a tasting tray (which I did feel was a tad expensive at $14 for six tastes) to get a sense of what the brewery was all about

1897 Pale Lager: I was really skeptical about the chances of me liking this beer but I was told that it’s their flagship brew so I had to give it a shot. Surprisingly, I really liked it. The brewery needs to work on getting it on tap at the Rainiers because although I don’t think I’d sit down on a cold winter evening with this, it would be the perfect craft beer accompaniment to a summer baseball game. The original Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. was founded in 1897 which is honored in the name of this beer. Even better than this name, however, are all the vintage advertisements found throughout the tasting room. I found this one in the ladies bathroom pretty much awesome:

Pacific Beer ad

Moon Yard Ale: This amber was pretty solid. I used to really really dig ambers and browns but my tastes have definitely migrated to the hoppy and bitter. (Give me a Cascadian dark any day though!!) I enjoyed this but since the taster made up for being expensive with it’s generous pours this one probably got a little less love than it deserved.

As with all the beers on the menu, its name was derived from something T-town related. Half Moon Yard was the name of the rail yard located along the Thea Foss Waterway just below the brewery’s Pacific Avenue location.

Dirty Skoog IPA: I was a fan of this double IPA. It wasn’t overly bitter but had a good nose and was really drinkable. Besides, who wouldn’t be a fan of an IPA named after a semi-mythological blind pig speakeasy that operated in Tacoma during Prohibition. Someone please open something in Tacoma named The Skoog Saloon. I promise I’ll frequent it every time I’m back in the Northwest.

Donkey Puncher ESB: I am not a huge ESB fan but this was sort of a standout (for its style) on the tasting fleet to me. Deliciousness. I’m going to have a hard time deciding between the Dirty Skoog and the Donkey Puncher on return trips. A “donkey puncher” is another name for a steam powered logging winch (more commonly known as a “steam donkey” around here).

Griswold’s Winter Warmer: Pacific’s winter offering was a hit with both my mom and I. Mom doesn’t much like beer but she’s gaining a taste for “the darker ones.” I only got a few sips of this delicious malty Christmas beer because Suzy Snowflake was getting sort of possessive of Griswold but what I did taste was awesome.

Suzy Snowflake and Griswold's Winter Warmer

Grit City Porter: Compared to the brewery’s other offerings this one was pretty weak. I’m also not a huge porter fan so you probably shouldn’t take my word for it if this is the style that falls into your wheelhouse. It’s name is derived from a loving but slightly self-deprecating nickname for Tacoma—forever the less glamorous sister to Seattle.

I had a blast tasting with my mom and giving her my tasting notes as we went (and trying to steal sips of the winter warmer). I was so enchanted with the history, the naming, and of course the beer I even bought something to represent Grit City in beer loving Colorado. The sweet trucker hat only set me back $10. I totally give Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. status worth a visit…it’s going to get another visit from me sometime for sure.

Pacific Brewing and Malting Co. hat

Final Christmas Preparations

The Sunday before Christmas, my mom and I headed out to a large sporting goods store to finish most of her Christmas shopping. She did need to head to downtown Tacoma to pick up a few things at a small toy store there for my nephews so I tagged along again. It just so happened to be across the street from The Matador’s Tacoma location. We shared some awesome el pastor enchiladas and I tried this delicious cucumber jalapeno margarita.

Matador Tacoma

Matador

We made a few more stops in Tacoma (Northern Fish, Metropolitan Market, Ginko Forest Winery and Pacific Brewing & Malting Co.) before I headed over to a friend’s house to catch up while watching the Seahawks game. I even brought appropriate beverages to cheer on another Hawks win:

12th Man Beer