Yes, the 1st Earth Day was 50 years ago

Big 4 Mountain, Cascade Range

Wow, April 22, 1970. Where were you on the first Earth Day? I was a freshman at a small liberal arts college in Illinois. I knew several fellow students who were really activist minded about the environment, anti-war movement and other social issues. My geology professor was already a hard core environmentalist. The Nation wide and world wide Earth Day marches were quite something to see/read about.

Here we are in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic. There have been many reports documenting the effect that all of the stay at home orders have had on Earth. Have you seen the air quality/pollution studies showing the very dramatic decrease in smog due to few people driving?  How about the video of the kangaroo hopping across an Australian city and only seeing one car?  Geologists studying earthquakes are seeing subtle readings on seismographs that before have been hidden due to human activity.

I read somewhere that the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is Earth’s way of scolding humankind and sending us to our rooms until we learn how to behave. Makes sense to me. It is my hope that the “new normal”, what ever that turns out to be, will show much more respect for Earth. Our existence depends on it.

— stay safe, wash your hands,  stay healthy —

Sun on the water and fog in the valleys

Here’s another photo from one of our past adventures

This photo was taken on a whale watching cruise in the Salish Sea north of Seattle. The sunlight was creating diamonds of reflections on the surface of the Sea. A wispy fog was at the same time flowing up the valleys lending a flavor of mystery to the scene.

A cute critter in Washington State

Another “not traveling so here’s another old picture” thanks to COVID-19

We actually took the picture of this cute little chipmunk a few years ago when we were visiting our daughter and her family in Seattle. He was running around on a street where nuts had fallen and traffic had broken the shells making for a great smorgasbord.

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.

 

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.

Back in Austin and the sunshine

Sher and  I thoroughly enjoyed our time in Seattle with our daughter, son-in-law and grandson for the past 3 weeks. On our way out there, we flew Delta from Austin to Seattle with a layover in Salt Lake City. Scroll though our blog for recent posts about the highlights of our Seattle trip.

Real winter in Seattle 2020

Before we left someone commented that we were nuts going to Seattle in January. Guess they were right as we were snowed in for three days the first week we were there. Seattle does not have the road equipment to handle snow! Oh, and Seattle maintained its reputation of rain, fog, rain, fog and more rain. We witnessed the sun one day, I should say about 3 hours, while we were there.

Returning to Austin we had the de-ice process at Cincy airport on a heavy frost morning

This is the first time in over 10 years since we have traveled by air. (You know, with an RV you don’t need planes!) Next time we fly we’ll have one large suitcase to check and each of us will have a small carry on bag. It was a pain carting those “carry on” size suitcases and stuffed smaller bags around. Coming back we flew Delta from Seattle to Cincinnati for crying out loud. Now I know what they mean when they say “red eye” flight. Left at nearly 11 pm, got into Cincy about 6 am. Got in to Austin about 10:30 am.

Welcome home!

Once in Austin, we got back to the La Hacienda RV Resort. Got the RV out of the storage yard, parked in our new site, hooked up the utilities and got things somewhat back to normal. My were we tired! Got carry out fast food for supper. We’ll hit the store next day. It was good to get back to our RV.

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.