Hidden Treasures of Tumwater Historical Park

On any nice day (and even on many not-so-nice days), you’ll find crowds of people hanging out at Olympia’s Heritage Park and walking around Capitol Lake. It’s with good reason, of course, as both are excellent places to enjoy the outdoors. Not far at all from those spots, though, is the much quieter, secret gem of Tumwater Historical Park.

You can actually walk the whole way from Heritage Park to Tumwater Historical Park without having to cross any streets (the park’s location is pinned to the map at the end of this article). You can follow the paved walk that goes around the lake and then dip down the trails leading through the Interpretive Park and walk the whole way without having to worry about traffic.

Olympia, Washington—An Endless Procession of the Species

Or, you can just drive there. It’s simple enough to find.

Either way, you’ll find a spot much quieter and more private than Heritage Park. Even on sunny days, the number of visitors never strains the park’s capacity. I don’t know why this is. I only know that the huge grassy space and trails there rarely have more than a handful of people.

I’ve had many days where I bummed around Heritage Park and found it crammed with people, then skipped over the the Historical Park and found it nearly empty.

Even those who know of the park, I think, largely don’t realize all the hidden historical gems there. I assume this is the case, anyway, because I’ve been going to this park for years and only recently learned that it’s named Tumwater Historical Park and that it’s full of neat stuff.

I usually go there to relax in the lawn and get some sun or read a book in peace and quiet.

For starters, the park is an official Blue Star Memorial Highway point. I’d never heard of this organization until stumbling upon this marker (which is in the parking lot and concealed by bushes), but it’s a project of the National Garden Clubs.

The markers are placed in honor of the United States Armed Forces. I have to say that I found it somewhat disrespectful that park maintenance has allowed this sign to be partially swallowed up by vegetation, BUT it’s also kind of cool because now the sign is sort of like a hidden artifact.

What is not so hidden is the pair of houses you can find atop the hill where the road leads down into the park.

House at Tumwater Historical Park.
The interior of this house can be toured at certain times. It’s got beautiful landscaping and an educational flower garden.

 

A house from the early 20th Century.
As the placard in the lower screen says, this is a house from the early 20th Century. It’s so beautifully maintained that I didn’t realize it was a historical site until happening by and seeing the placard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These sites aren’t going to blow many minds, I’d wager, but they make Tumwater Historical Park a great little spot for a lazy weekend afternoon. For history buffs such as myself, they’re a bona fide destination.

There’s nothing I enjoy more than taking in some history, and Tumwater Historical Park is a great place to explore and feel the tides of Time lapping around your feet.

You don’t even need to visit the historical sites to enjoy the park. It’s got a huge playground for kids and a great big stretch of grass for soaking up the sun or throwing a ball around.

But, if you happen to be a history enthusiast, it’s got some real magic to offer—and it’s all free!

Things to Do at Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park

Tucked away smack-dab in the middle of the Olympic Peninsula Loop, Lake Crescent is one of the most beautiful destinations in Washington—a state FULL of beautiful destinations. I visit Lake Crescent often (and often make a dual trip of Lakes Crescent and Quinault), so I figured I’d put together a list of things to do at Lake Crescent.

This list is by no means exhaustive, and people with boats will almost certainly come up with a radically different itinerary. This is just my perspective as a guy who prefers to keep the earth under his feet.

#1 Things to Do at Lake Crescent: Storm King

For intrepid hikers, Storm King is a must when you visit Lake Crescent. It’s my favorite hike in that area, and one of my favorites in the entire state.

From the top of the trail you get an awe-inspiring view of Lake Crescent and the surrounding area. Be warned, though, my friends—with courage, endurance, and grit, you must EARN this particular view.

Mean, Mean Mount Storm King: Path to Stunning Views Littered With Bodies of the Broken and Dejected

#2 Things to Do at Lake Crescent: Marymere Falls

It’s with great shame that I admit my inability to find any of my pictures of Marymere Falls, though I’ve visited the location more times than I can count. I’ll shoot out to this location every time I visit Lake Crescent.

My lack of falls-photographs does, however, give me an excuse of the tunnel on the trail to the falls. I call it the Hobbit Tunnel, though far as I know it has no official name.

Tunnel through stone wall leading to Marymere Falls.

I think the reason the tunnel always brings Lord of the Rings to my mind is because “Marymere Falls” sounds like something from the Shire to me, and because…well…this tunnel looks like a Hobbit tunnel.

Marymere Falls is a much easier hike than Storm King, and it really is a must-see for visitors to Lake Crescent. The Washington Trails Association covers it well here.

#3 Things to Do at Lake Crescent: Jeez, Just Chill and Enjoy the Lake

Many of these sorts of blogs go for outrageous, death-defying adventures. That’s all fine and good, but sometimes I feel like people get too caught up in chasing what will look cool on Facebook, rather than doing something that’s simply relaxing and rejuvenating (what crazy concepts in this modern age).

Bird perched in a tree.
Just BE…like this bird I found in a tree on the shore of Lake Crescent.

Lake Crescent is beautiful. Period. You can just relax on the shore and look out over the water and enjoy the simple pleasure of being alive. It’s okay to just…BE.

I still remember the first time I drove around a bend on 101 and caught sight of Lake Crescent. It pops up out of nowhere after a long drive through thick woods and high mountains.

The glacial water’s got a stunning shade of blue you won’t find in many other places around the country.

Personally, it’s natural beauty was, and IS, enough for me. My favorite times of each trip usually end up being just sitting on the shore and contemplating the beauty.

#4 Things to Do at Lake Crescent: Eat at Granny’s

Roughly 10 minutes east of Lake Crescent is one of the best-kept secrets of the Olympia Peninsula Loop: Granny’s Cafe.

Especially after a hard hike up Mount Storm King, Granny’s burgers and milk shakes are unbelievably good. This place is an absolute gem.

Granny’s Cafe near Port Angeles, Washington: One of the Best Places to Eat on the 101 Loop

Send Me Your Tips!

If you’ve got any more suggestions for things to do at Lake Crescent or just want to share your experience, please drop me a line or leave a comment. I’m always ready to learn something new!

Peace out, fellow travelers.

Enjoy the Northwest!

Camping Outside Mount Rainier: La Wis Wis

Mount Rainier is the crown jewel of Washington state, which means that it can get downright packed in the peak summer tourist season. So, if you’re looking to visit but having trouble finding lodging available within the park (or simply want to avoid the thickest crowds), then camping outside Mount Rainier is a great option.

There are multiple options for camping outside Mount Rainier, but today I’m going to share my thoughts on the National Forest Service’s La Wis Wis campground. I’ve written about La Wis Wis before in my Introverts Getaway Series, but that was in autumn, during the off-season.

Now that I’ve had a chance to try La Wis Wis during the busy tourist season, I’ve decided to cover it again. (This happens to be where I was camping, by the way, when I wrote my Pub Beer review.) Same campground, but different vibe, as last time I nearly had the whole place to myself but this time every spot was taken.

Three Easy Hikes at Mount Rainier

My brief summary of La Wis Wis during the busy season is simple: it’s very good. I highly recommend it to all visitors interesting in camping outside Mount Rainier. I stay at Forest Service campgrounds often, and I’d rank this as one of the better in the state of Washington.

The campground was filled to capacity when I visited in July, but my spot was wooded enough that I didn’t feel encroached upon. As you can see in the photo the left, there was a tent spot about 20 feet from the picnic table and fire ring, which is a feature I always enjoy in campgrounds.

With the separate tent spot, you don’t have to worry about stray sparks burning a hole in your tent, or about feeling crowded in when you sleep.

The fire ring has a grill and is excellently ventilated, so you can get a good hot fire going. Most of the spots are at least relatively close to water, which is also nice.

The campground is close enough to the town of Packwood that a short drive can get you to supplies, but the area in general surrounding area is so underdeveloped that it’s still nice and quiet.

The south entrance to Mount Rainier itself is not far from Las Wis Wis, which is also what makes it an ideal location for people who want to visit Rainier but not stay there. One thing that may confuse visitors is that it’s listed as being in Randle, but you drive many miles east of Randle before you get there.

You actually have to go all the way through Packwood and a few more miles east up the spectacular White Pass Scenic Byway before you get to La Wis Wis. You get ample warning that the turn is coming up, but it still kind of sneaks up on you because it’s right next to a bridge.

So, if you’re looking for camping outside Mount Rainier, I don’t believe you can go wrong with La Wis Wis. I’ll review some other sites in upcoming posts.

Pacific Northwest Beer Reviews: 10 Barrel Brewing’s Pub Beer

This isn’t content marketing. I receive no compensation from 10 Barrel Brewing’s Pub Beer or any other product or place that I write about on Northwest Nomad. These are just my real thoughts. 

Pure and simple: 10 Barrel Brewing’s Pub Beer is a GOOD FUCKING lager. I like it so much, in fact, that I’ve decided to make it the subject of my inaugural Pacific Northwest beer review (and by “review” I mean I slammed a sixer of it while camping at Las Wis Wis and then scribbled down my drunken impressions).

First of all, let me establish my lager-drinking credentials. I grew up in Northeast Pennsylvania, sucking at the tit of Yuengling. If you haven’t heard of Yuengling, allow me to educate you.

Yuengling is the oldest standing brewery in America. The lager it produces is like Coke Cola for Northeast Pennsylvanians. You get small amounts of it put in your baby bottle (not really). At my brother’s recent wedding, it was Yuengling that we slammed directly after the ceremony (to the horror of the bride’s mother).

Point is: I know lager.

So, as pure-bred lager man, I can say confidently that Pub Beer is my favorite Pacific Northwest lager and possibly my favorite in the nation (though, as a loyal man by nature, I don’t think I could ever betray Yuengling that way by making the declaration official).

Pub Beer is also one of my favorite Pacific Northwest beers, period. We’re not talking just lagers anymore, sunshine. We’re talking motherfucking beers. As is “all of the beer.” Every damn one of them.

The Pub Beer can design says it all. There’s no hoity-toity bullshit about it. It’s what Rocky Balboa would be if you liquefied his body and poured it into an aluminum cylinder.

The design reminds of the beer from the film Repo Man. That’s a high complement, because Repo Man also happens to be the finest American film ever made (RIP Harry Dean Stanton). Some people may disagree with that statement. Then again, some people are also dumb as hell.

Repo Man (finest American film ever made) beer.
10 Barrel Brewing’s Pub Beer.

While so many beers today are racing to see who you can put the weirdest bullshit into their IPA, Pub Beer just does what it does. It doesn’t put on any airs. It’s Neil Young in flannel and blue jeans playing a beat-up acoustic guitar, not Justin Spears shaking his half-naked ass around in multi-million-dollar dance sequences designed to hide the fact that she can’t fucking sing and has nothing interesting to say.

I took Pub Beer to my camp at Las Wis Wis, which is just outside Mount Rainier. For me, bottles have never gone well with camping. For whatever reason, coming up in a country town where weekend fires were a regular thing, we always brought cans. To me, campfires are meant for crushing cans.

Without getting into the sordid details of my trip (mainly composed of me reading Mystic River and books about John Dee), suffice it to say that Pub Beer went deliciously with the mountain air and sound of the Cowlitz River running nearby.

That’s all that needs to be said. I’ve already said too much, I think. Pub Beer would beat me for my verbosity.

The whole damn article could have stopped right at the beginning. Pub Beer is a GOOD FUCKING lager. ‘Nuff said.

Rating: 10 out 10 Mount Rainiers (I’m eventually going to get actual Mount Rainier icons for this rating system and it’ll look really cool. One thing at a time, alright? Get off my damn back).

 

Review of India Garden in Lacey, Washington

This isn’t “content marketing.” I receive no compensation from India Garden or any of the other places I write about. These are just my honest thoughts. 

India Garden is a new restaurant in Lacey, Washington. I’m not exactly sure how long it’s been open because I live in Tacoma, but the “Grand Opening” sign was still up, so I assume it’s not been more than a month.

Being a big fan of Indian cuisine, I decided I had to try it out. I’m glad I did.

I went right for their lamb jalfrezi. It’s my favorite Indian dish, and I’ve eaten it hundreds of times over the course of my life. Every time I try a new Indian place, I try their lamb jalfrezi first.

Well, I can say, unequivocally and without hyperbole, that India Garden made the best lamb jalfrezi I’ve ever had.

The dish was tangier than any other jalfrezi I’ve ever had, and a little heavier on the cilantro. The lamb was succulent and not hardened and overcooked as lamb often gets at other places.

I also tried the India Garden Noodles, which you can see described on their online menu. I’ve never had anything quite like these noodles. They are one of the restaurant’s “savory snacks,” which are “tasty and delicate typical Indian road-side snacks from stalls or courts in India.”

Despite being a “snack,” the portion was large enough that I still had some left over to eat when my main course came out. The taste of the noodles contrasted interestingly with my jalfrezi.

As if all those things weren’t enough, the restaurant also gives complimentary chai tea and coffee with your meals.

Interior of India Garden with several people eating.
This image is borrowed from the India Garden website.

The restaurant is bright and open, with colorful decor and plenty of windows letting in natural light, which was nice for the summer day I visited.

I didn’t get a chance to hang out at the India Garden lounge, but I did peak inside. It, too, is a clean, well-lighted place (high-five to anyone who gets the literary allusion there).

India Garden is my new favorite Indian restaurant in the Tacoma/Olympia area. I look forward to trying more of their dishes and those interesting savory snacks.

If you’re a fan of Indian and looking for a new spot to try, check them out. I think you’ll be glad you did. I’m not the only one raving about this place.

If India Garden had been in Lacey a couple years ago when I made my list of favorite Indian restaurants in the Tacoma/Olympia area, it would have been at the very top. The location is pinned to the interactive Google Map below.