Labor Day Weekend 2011: Tacoma, WA

Since Labor Day is a holiday for workers, Shaun & I took advantage of it.  We took a few vacation days to give ourselves a 5-day weekend from work.  We flew up to Washington via SeaTac Airport and spent a nice, long, enjoyable and relaxing weekend in my hometown of Tacoma.

Our flight was at 6:30am on Saturday. Yuck. But it was much cheaper that way and we would be out of the airport in WA by 9am.  My mom picked us up, we headed to her house and lounged around for the first part of the day.  My cousin and her hubby (see a previous post about her here) had come to the Westside of WA from the small town of Colfax to spend the weekend with us.  At about 2pm we got a late lunch at MSM Deli (“Magical Sandwich Makers”), a Tacoma favorite.  I ordered the Catch of the Day sandwich and Shaun had the Reuben.  Pretty darn good and definitely just what we needed to fuel us up for our plans for the rest of the day…

We had my mom drop us off near the Tacoma Union Station which is a short drive from her house.  We meandered down to Dock Street Park where we found the entrance to the Tacoma Craft Beer Festival which we had already bought tickets for.  $25 gets you admission to the festival, 10 beer tokens and a souvenir tasting glass – with over 40 breweries to sample, live music, food and games.

I ended up seeing a few friends from high school and my 8th Grade teacher there.  Small world.  The samples of craft brews began to add up and by closing time at 8:30pm we were all feeling great.  We spent some time enjoying the scenery at the Museum of Glass before calling it a night early and having my mom pick us up around 9:30pm – the consequence of a long day of beer and sun.  But we did manage to ravage my mom’s kitchen for any and all left over food and devour a batch of brownies before we all fell asleep.

Sunday morning we got up and researched where to find a Bloody Mary.  We decided on the Hob Nob Restaurant – self proclaimed best Bloody Mary in Tacoma (plus I did a history report on this place back in middle school).  The food was not amazing, but check out this Bloody Mary:

Truth be told, the drink itself was not the best I’d ever had, but the garnishes were so fun!  Shrimp, sausage stick, tomato, olive, pepperjack cheese cube, peperoncini, pickled green bean, celery and lime.  A meal in itself.  A few of us ordered the crab eggs benedict and agreed that it was so-so.

My mom had planned a BBQ for Sunday afternoon with her side of the family.  We had burgers, beer, and plenty of side dishes.  We played “ladder ball” and spent some quality family time in the beautiful weather – my mom said it was the first and most likely last summer weather weekend of the year for the Pacific NW!

After everyone had left, Mallory, Jamie, Shaun & I all headed to the local dive bar called Top of Tacoma.  I had been there a time or two before and it was a pretty short drive from my mom’s house.  Drinks were dirt cheap (Shaun bought a round for the 4 of us and it came out to $12!!) and they play good music there.  We played a friendly game of pool and called it a night.

Mallory & Jamie had to leave early in the morning on Monday so they could make the 5-hour drive back before Mallory started her shift at work.  My mom had planned to take us out on their new boat out so we got ready and hit the road to Lake Sammamish near Issaquah.  The weather was beautiful and we cruised around looking at the lake-front properties and stopping to swim every once in a while.

That evening we ate dinner at my Dad’s house in Lakewood.  He had just returned from a vacation to Disneyland with my baby sister so they had lots of fun stories to share.

Tuesday morning, Shaun and I headed up through Bonney Lake/Buckley to go on a day hike in Mt. Rainier National Park.  We entered through the NW entrance and headed towards Mowich Lake for the Tolmie Peak Trail, which we chose after much reading and research.

The Tolmie Peak Trail actually “summits” at an old fire watch station, built in 1933.  You can find some interesting information about these fire lookouts here.  It was about 2 miles to reach Eunice Lake, a turquoise lake surrounded by rocky slopes with the massive Rainier to the south.  We knew it was supposed to be another mile to the lookout – but when I actually saw that teeny tiny little building in the upper left of the picture below, I got majorly discouraged.  It looked so high and far away!

We continued up the trail and definitely did not regret it.  The views of Rainier and Eunice Lake got better and better with each increasing step of elevation gain.

Finally we reached the lookout and ate our lunch quickly, as the mosquitoes were out in force.  The fire station offered a great wrap around balcony to get the full panorama effect.  You could see many other peaks in the distance on this clear day as well.

We hiked back down after some time and got back to the car.  We decided to check out Ipsut Creek Campground, my Dad’s favorite place to take our family camping when I was growing up.  Unfortunately in 2006 a major flood caused damage to the road and the campground has been closed to vehicles since then – check out these photos.  We stopped at the ranger station and learned that backpackers could still hike in and use the campground.

We drove back down into Puyallup and grabbed some burgers at Don’s Drive In, another one of my childhood favorites.  We ordered 2 Deluxe Smitty Burgers (that’s what my dad used to order when I was a picky little brat kid), fries and a chocolate shake.  Good post-hike meal!  We also drove by Shaun’s mom’s old neighborhood and house in Puyallup, which was very close to the fairgrounds and Don’s Drive In.

We met with another one of my high school friends that night for a few beers and some chit-chat.  The next day we got breakfast at Old Milwaukee Cafe (Shaun ordered cinnamon roll french toast – so amazing).  We drove around Tacoma and had lunch at Pacific Grill in downtown Tacoma.  Later that evening we flew back to Oakland and got ready to go back to work for the rest of the week.

This long weekend vacation was so great because we were able to just enjoy Tacoma – not heading up to Seattle where I don’t know the area as well.  It was good to catch up with family and friends but also good to get out and do something outdoorsy.  And now that I’ve summarized this WA trip, I can turn around and start packing for my next one (in 3 days!).  See you soon, Tacoma!

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