Having spent the weekend in Olympia, I got to thinking that it is a really great place to live, and how glad I was to be brought up in the area. I’ve lived in Olympia (well, Lacey) longer than any other place in my life, and I’m glad that as long as I have family there, I’ll always have a reason to visit. So here’s my list of ten things I like about Olympia:
1. The local restaurants. I have yet to have Thai food that is quite as good as Chili Thai, which is in Lacey. If you want a burger, you can always go to the local burger joint, Egan’s. And for pizza, there’s nothing better than getting the Plum Street Pizza at Casa Mia (the pizza doesn’t actually have plums on it, the restaurant is located on Plum Street).
2. Tumwater Falls. No, they’re not as big or as impressive as Snoqualmie Falls, but Tumwater Falls are quite lovely in their own right. After parking on the park grounds and taking a short little stroll, the falls are a great way to spend an hour or two in the afternoon.
3. Wind Up Here. As a kid, I always wanted to go to Toys R Us, but my experiences there were somewhat lacking when I actually went. I realized that it was because it was not a very interesting toy store. Wind Up Here, on the other hand, is a fun toy store with lots of things that kids can play with while they’re there. Even as an adult I like visiting just to see what they have on stock.
4. The parks along Budd Inlet. Priest Point Park and Burfoot Park are two great parks along the southern tip of Puget Sound. I slightly favor Burfoot Park – it’s smaller, but I always remember going there for church picnics and playing in the big open area. The short hike down to the water is quite lovely, too. One time Kurt got squirted by a geoduck on the shore. It was amusing.
5. The Procession of the Species. When April rolls around, it’s time for Olympia’s hippie subculture to get wild and crazy. The procession is a parade where everybody dresses up as animals (or other things found in nature). Sounds silly, but it’s actually a lot of fun. Adults and kids alike have a great time. Plus, the event corresponds with Arts Walk. Good times!
6. The Flat Win Company. The guy who runs this is a great performance artist – he sets up his booth before the procession and sells things like twigs, crushed cans, and burnt toast. The way he presents them is oddly hilarious. I wonder what would happen if a competing company ever came up, however…
7. The arts scene. Olympia has a vibrants theater scene, starting with some strong youth theater programs like Capital Playhouse, and the theater companies at Capital and Timberline High Schools (the latter being my school). Ah, what would my extra-curricular activities had been like without being directed by Jeff Kingsbury, Troy Fisher and of course, Brenda Amburgy (or Kirk, as I continued to call her all throughout high school). There are always good shows at the Washington Center, of course – I took mom to a ballet once, saw the Olympia Symphony, and saw the performers from Whose Line is it Anyway twice.
8. The sounds in Glen Terra. In the warm months, you’ll hear all varieties of birdsong during the day. At night, the birds go silent and give way to a thundering chorus of croaking frogs, thanks to the nearby swamp. Listening to these sounds makes me think of growing up and exploring the forest nearby, which unfortunately has been partially leveled. The swamp, thankfully, remains undisturbed.
9. Lattin’s Cider Mill. Dad used to take me here when I was a boy, and I always liked going there. Not just for the quaint mill, farm animals and delicious cider (the best I’ve ever tasted), but also for the pleasant drive through the country to get there. I still make the trek down there every now and then when I’m visiting, and I almost never leave Lacey without going to a supermarket to pick up a gallon of their cider. Yum.
10. The view from Lakeridge Drive. When I returned from my mission in Argentina, I was so glad to see green country again. I got a job driving a mail truck, which took me to the state offices on the east side of Capitol Lake. When driving down Lakeridge Drive to finish my route, I saw a spectacular view of the Capitol Building and surrounding area. Now, whenever I take people to Olympia for the first time, I always make sure to take them on this drive. It is, in my opinion, the best view in the city.
11. Nisqually Road. When coming to (or leaving from) Olympia during the daytime, it’s worth it to approach my parents house by taking Nisqually Road rather than going through town. It’s a fun drive, passing by farmland and the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge. For some reason, it’s always more gratifying for me to approach this way rather than by going through town.
So there you have it. Ten things I like about Olympia, except this list goes to eleven.