River view and Indiana opening again

On one of our drives we came upon a pretty little river. The current was fairly fast flowing, and we did see some ducks on the river, and some folks in kayaks enjoying a nice day.

People in Indiana are slowly trying to get used to the “Back On Track Indiana” procedures. This is the first full weekend of the Stage 2 of the “reopening”. Restaurants are back at 50% capacity, travel restrictions are gone, and everybody is to wear masks anytime you are outside your residence, among other changes. If you are interested, you can see Indiana’s plan at this website.

Missing a restaurant sit down

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit nearly every segment of people’s lives. We’ve been in isolation for over a month. Other than a very few times when we took a drive, we have been at home.

American comfort food

So many things that we used to take for granted are no longer available to do. Our favorite dinner theater is closed. We were going to a dinner and show this Saturday. Not now. The casino we usually enjoyed is closed. Even mundane shopping trips are out for us. Our son is doing that for us.

But we miss being able to have a nice restaurant meal.

Healthy food

Hmmm………real Mexican fare

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s funny how you adjust to the self isolation thing. Keeping up with the news is a daily thing. Watching movies and TV series, surfing the net, reading blogs all are part of the daily routine. But dang, it sure would be nice to one evening decide if we want Mexican, Chinese, American or something else and just go. Nope, carry out or delivery is not the same as getting out.

Best doughnuts on the west coast

If you ask the folks that are patrons of Frost in Mill Creek outside of Seattle they will agree with the boastful title of this post. Seattle agrees that they are the best in Washington State. Sher and I were treated to a trip to Frost by our Seattle family.

The doughnut case

Delicate French style macarons

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Frost store is found in the Mill Creek Town Center, an upscale shopping and entertainment complex in this nice Seattle suburb. The store offers doughnuts, cupcakes and French macarons. The macarons are not to be confused with macaroons, a totally different treat.

That is a chocolate filled masterpiece

This perfect apple fritter defines the craft

 

 

 

 

 

 

We enjoyed a variety of different doughnuts during our visit. Though they were typical in type, all were extraordinary in taste. In addition the gourmet coffees were a special addition to our mid-morning sweet tooth break.

Artistic gourmet coffees compliment the pastries

The next time we are in the Seattle area, we’ll for sure want to  go with our family to the Frost store. Perhaps we will try a cupcake or a macaron on our next visit. But I don’t know, those doughnuts are pretty darned good! Check out the Frost website and be prepared to get hit with a sweet treat craving.

Seattle area’s Tulalip Resort Casino

North of Seattle just off I-5 is the Tulalip Resort and Casino. There is of course a massive multi-story hotel, many restaurants and shops, and 200,000 square feet of gaming floor with over 2400 slot machines and the usual table games.

The casino is currently offering some very good promotions during March. Lots of opportunities to win Free Play and other promotions including reduced hotel room rates. I wonder if this is due to the corona virus in the Seattle area. Perhaps casino attendance is lower than normal, and offering these promos is a way to keep people coming to the casino.

Beautiful display in the entrance fountain

Statue of Tribal member spear fishing

 

 

 

 

 

 

When visiting family in Seattle, Sher and I like to go to the Tulalip Casino, owned and operated by the Tulalip Tribe. It is really huge, and walking the gaming floor does provide some good exercise! We always designate a certain amount to gamble with, and never go over that amount. Sometimes we actually come out ahead.

Lucky spin turned 50 cents into $25.81 !!

 

Tulalip has some great restaurants, and the last time we went we decided to try their buffet. With the senior discount we felt it was a decent enough price. The buffet was good, but honestly had a rather small selection. We have been to better casino buffets for less money. Overall, though, the Tulalip Casino is definitely worth a visit if you  are in the area. Even if you never gamble, it is fun to just see how big the place is. There are also some great displays of Tribal art that are worth seeing. Here is the website.

 

Bastrop Texas

Bastrop Texas is an interesting little town southeast of Austin. We headed there with our Austin family to check things out.  We found a place to park and found a nice map of the town on a large display board. This let us kind of make some plans for our adventure.

Great map allowing for planning the day

Cute gravel alley leading to some shops

 

 

 

 

 

We enjoyed the visitor center that also had a museum as well. The history  of Bastrop is a tale of the old West that is fun to learn. The town is proud of its heritage and rightly so.

Some neat old stuff

A very unique raised flower bed

 

 

 

 

 

We enjoyed the 602 Brewery and Restaurant for a beer and a delicious meal. (read our review of the 602 Brewery here) After our meal we walked around the Main Street looking at the stores and shops. We also took a driving tour that led us to several historic homes in and around the downtown area.

Posing with a tortoise outside Visitor’s Center and Museum

Main Street, Bastrop

 

 

 

 

 

All in all we really enjoyed seeing Bastrop. There seem to be a lot of activities planned during the spring and summer months. There are over 30 festivals planned each year.  The 900 acre Lake Bastrop has a plethora of recreational opportunities. This town is proud of its heritage and is most welcoming to visitors. Put Bastrop on your list of Central Texas places to visit.

Top It Yogurt Shoppe is the place for frozen treats

When we visit our daughter and her family in Seattle we always enjoy the town of Snohomish which is across a large agricultural valley north of Seattle. One of the unique places in Snohomish is the Top It Yogurt Shoppe. This popular shop is at the top of the hill on First Street.

The interior of the Shoppe

When you enter the store you are given either a cup or a cone for your yogurt or  ice cream. There are “serve yourself” stations where you can fill your cup or cone with the flavor(s) of your choice. Eight different flavors are offered.

Lots of toppings

Start here at the self serve machines

 

 

 

 

 

Then after you have filled your cup or cone the fun really begins. There are over forty different types of toppings for your treat. Name it, and you’ll find it in the tremendous array of delicious toppings you may choose. I chose hot fudge and two kinds of nuts for my cup of chocolate and vanilla swirl.

Even more toppings!

Syrup, syrup and more syrup

 

 

 

 

 

Ready to enjoy after checkout

Once you and the others in your party have your treats prepared to your liking, each serving is put on the scale. You see, you pay for your treat by weight, then enjoy your delicious creation. What a great idea to have for a mid-afternoon snack. You can get some more information at their Facebook page here.

Austin’s Jack Allen Kitchens utilize locally sourced foods

Our son and his family introduced us to Jack Allen Kitchens restaurants. This local chain of 4 establishments in the Austin area has really set a very high standard for reasons beyond high quality menu items. We went to the Anderson Lane version of the restaurant.

A portion of the interior of the Anderson Lane location

The base concept behind this eatery is a combination of local sourcing and local involvement. By utilizing local sources nearly entirely, you can be assured of fresh ingredients in every dish served. The company is very much involved in local charities as well.

The menu? Folks, you can’t get any better than the culinary delights found at Jack Allen Kitchens. The atmosphere is one of the most relaxed that you will ever find. You never feel rushed. The service is 5 star provided by truly professional wait staff.

Wedgies Salad

All of the cocktails are superb. The appetizers are great. (Try the house made pimento cheese and flat crackers. Yummy) But let’s talk the entrees! Sher had the “Wedgies salad”. It was huge, and as she said, the best ever. Garnished with onions, grape tomatoes and blue cheese crumbles, this salad was topped with green goddess dressing.

Chicken fried chicken, mashed ‘taters and veggies

I fell in love with the menu listing the “Chicken Fried Anything”. I went with the chicken breast, instead of the pork chop, ribs or meatloaf. (Yes, meatloaf.) The chicken fried chicken breast came smothered in gravy, resting on a portion of the large helping of mashed potatoes and accompanied by a squash medley veggie. Our son had the chicken fried meatloaf. He let me have a taste, and it was good too.

The dessert

And at the end of our meal, we were tempted with the dessert offerings. Biff (our waiter) offered to bring us 5 spoons and plates so we could share the decadent chocolate/pecan/ala mode you see in the picture. It was twice as good as it looks.

In or near Austin? Go to the Jack Allen Kitchen website here. Find the facility handy to you, and by all means go and enjoy a unique and memorable dining experience.

The Snohomish haunted Oxford Saloon

Snohomish, Washington is one of the most historic and haunted locations in the state. We recently had the pleasure of having a private tour of this historic and ghost filled structure originally built in 1900.

1st floor bar

After a delicious meal Rebecca Caden, General Manager of the Oxford Saloon, started our tour of the building by leading us to the basement. Used for parties and other events, the basement of the building has two pool tables, a full bar and seating scattered around. Rebecca shared with us some of the history of the place. After a time as a store, the saloon opened and immediately became one of the most notorious joints in town. It even was a speakeasy during prohibition, with a basement entrance from a tunnel.

The basement bar, where the black caped figure was seen

One of the resident ghosts is a chap named Henry. Henry was a policeman and tried to break up a fight resulting in his death by stabbing. He died on the bottom step of the basement stairway, and is known to stand behind the bar talking to folks. Rebecca shared with us that she personally does not like to be in the basement, and goes there a little as possible. She has seen a large black shape with a black flowing cape down there. The son of the owner finally became a believer when he too saw this figure the same time as Rebecca.

The infamous doll locked safely (?) in her case

Above the main floor bar is an old antique doll in a glass case. This doll has a creepy history. Ready? Many people have bought the doll and all soon returned it to the person or antique store where they got it. Rebecca says she has determined that the doll does cause chaos and is best kept in the case and inside. She once took the doll without a case from the upstairs and slipped outside and then back into the main floor. There was a large and happy crowd. When the doll came into the room conversation ceased, everybody felt bad emotions and said “what has happened”. The doll has been in the case ever since.

At the top of the 2nd floor stair

Upstairs rooms

 

 

 

 

 

The upstairs is equally filled with other-worldly beings. It was once a thriving brothel, and the Madam of the business still walks the upstairs hall and the many rooms. The rooms are currently used for special events, and are beautifully furnished. One of the furnishings, however, has a tragic story. The claw foot bathtub was the location where a young lady’s body was found. Stories say she fell down the stairs (or was pushed) and placed in the tub to make it look like suicide.

On the left is our tour guide, Rebecca Caden

Rebecca shared other instances of strange happenings. One time after a band was done playing on the stage on the 1st floor one of the ghosts had fun with the speakers. It played music and when they tried to turn it off, it wouldn’t. Unplugged from power, it still played. In addition, for a while there was a jukebox in the bar. The ghosts had too much fun with it as well, so it was removed.

Upstairs, former brothel room

Original double sliding doors

 

 

 

 

 

It was very interesting to hear of all of the paranormal happenings at The Oxford. Also interesting is the fact that there have been several paranormal investigations held on the site. Rebecca shares that investigations are still allowed, however the Oxford does not want anyone to try to remove any of the ghosts. She says that they are happy and will move on when they are ready. Rebecca shares that some employees like the basement, others prefer the upstairs rooms.

Sign from the 2nd floor

By all means visit the Oxford Saloon in Snohomish. Not only is there a fascinating history and some ghostly residents but also great food and good times. Live music is common on the weekends. Private parties can be accommodated. The main floor is family friendly. Here is The Oxford’s website.

Snohomish pie!

What better way to enjoy a cloudy misty day in the Pacific North West than having some warm fresh pie in a quaint and cozy pie shop? Well, Sher and I along with the rest of the family spent such a time today at the Snohomish Pie Company.

Just some of the flavors available

The Snohomish Pie Company baked the first pies in 1996. Known throughout the Seattle area as home of the best pies, this award winning store deserves its many accolades. It is only open from 10 to 6 M-F. If you have a favorite flavor pie, you best get there early: it is not uncommon for some pies to sell out before closing.

Snohomish Pie Company storefront on 1st. Street in downtown Snohomish

Sher and I enjoyed the Northwest Berry along with our son-in-law. We ordered the pie all warmed up. Daughter and grandson had the chocolate pecan pie. Yummy for sure. Our grandson also had ice cream with his. These pies are as good, if not better than they look. It is easy to see why they are so popular.

 

All kinds of good stuff!

Beardslee Public House in Bothel, Washington

While our grandson was having his music lesson, Sher and I went with our daughter and son-in-law to a brewery/restaurant in the town of Bothel, north Seattle. This place was opened in 2015 serving brewed in house craft beers and food made from locally sourced ingredients.

We ordered the “Brewer’s Choice” selection for our flight to taste

The variety of beers was fun to sample. Sher and I liked the Tangelo Sour Ale with a sour citrus taste and a low IBU of 18. Our favorite turned out to be the Grappen Belgian Tripel. This ale is an American version of the famous Belgian ales. The 8.6% ABV and an IPU of 24 fits the bill for me for sure. We always enjoy trying the different beers in the flights. Sher and I are starting to know what we like and don’t like.

Current listing of the crafted onsite brews

The food was Excellent! This was my bacon cheese burger . Yum!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The food at Beardslee Public House was just as good as the beer, IMO. The burger I had was delicious, Sher enjoyed the tomato basil soup, and the kids had a huge appetizer sampler plate. The atmosphere here was informal and comfortable. Service was excellent and very friendly. Yet another good time during our winter stay in Seattle!