Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Washington Wednesday: Hibulb Cultural Center

The Salmon People and their Story.
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A visit to the brand-new $19 million Hibulb Cultural Center, just north of Seattle, is . . .

. . . a journey through the lives and lands of the tribes and bands who’ve become known as the  Tulalip Tribes.

. . .a step into a time when cedar trees towered over the Pacific Northwest landscape – their wood providing shelter, transportation, clothing and tools.

. . . a look at when canoes carried fishermen into Puget Sound waters in search of the salmon; a fish so revered as the main source of food, that today its image in Tribal art stands for “the cycle of life – giving life to the people.” The Tulalip people were known as “the salmon people” because of their proximity to the water.

tulalip 008 (1)“The salmon, they are not really fish at all; they are salmon people and they live in a village under the sea.”   --Scho-Hallem Stanley G. Jones, Sr. Tribal leader    

The Center's name, Hibulb, was the name of the largest Snohomish (tribal) village, located at Preston Point, now the site of Legion Park in Everett, the city immediately to the south of the cultural center.

Using state -of-the-art equipment, interactive exhibits in the 23,000-square-foot Hibulb Cultural Center transport you through cedar groves to the fishing camps, and into a replicated Tulalip Longhouse. (Be sure to watch the short video of song, dance and  the celebrations that took place in this special gathering place.)

tulalip 005A particularly moving exhibit tells -- through stories and photos -- of the early 1900’s when U.S. government-run boarding schools threatened the Tribes’ cultural history.  The stories are told both English and Lushshootseed, the language of the Tribe,which today is taught in Tribal elementary schools. One Tribal Leader’s story is printed on the wall:

“They wanted me to forget my way of life and learn to be civilized and learn to be a good white person.  I still don’t know what a good white person is.  All I know is I learned to march, march, march and not speak my language.  You got in big trouble for that. I got many whippings and confinement.”
                  –Celum Young, Tulalip Leader (1895-1987)

The Canoe Hall, between the Permanent Exhibition Hall and the Longhouse is lined with cases displaying archaeological items that have been donated to the Tribe. 

The Center sits on a yet-undeveloped 50-acre Natural History Preserve with salmon-bearing streams, cedar, fir and hemlock  trees and estuary wetlands. 

If You Go: Hibulb Cultural Center  is closed on Monday.  Tuesday – Sunday, open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.  Admission prices vary, check the web site for prices and driving directions. It is about 35 miles from downtown Seattle; 50 miles from SeaTac Airport.

Travel Tip:  The Cultural Center is about two miles from the Tulalip Resort and Casino (see Washington Wednesday: Tulalip Treasures, last week’s post). Make it an outing, spend a night at the resort, explore its public art and then visit the Cultural Center.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Aloha Aulani: Disney's Doing Hawaii!

koolona2010 024I bet Mickey’s wearing his Aloha shirt and Minnie's dancing the hula today. 

And, if this were a movie, it would be titled, "Disney Does Hawaii" because today is opening day at Aulani, the new Disney Resort and Spa at Ko Olina, on the island of O'ahu.

Actually Mickey, that Pint-sized Prince of Happiness, has been hanging out in Ko Olina for several months keeping watch over workers preparing for today's opening.  I snapped this photo of the little fellow last January as he sat in the resort's van.

It's been great fun the past couple of years to watch the construction progress. We only wish we could be there today to be a part of the opening celebration; it is probably one b-i-g Disney extravaganza.

Because our Marriott’s Vacation Club digs are an easy walk and just two lagoons away, we've had plenty of opportunity -- for a few weeks each winter -- to watch and speculate on the neighbor resort's progress. (And thanks to the Disney media folks we had an up-close-inside-the-construction-fence  tour during our stay last January).

Aulani's (ah-oooh-lawn-ee) two towers blend 359 traditional hotel rooms with 481 two-bedroom Disney Vacation Club suites (their timeshare program).  The photo below was taken from the walking path that links the Ko Olina lagoons.

koolona2010 012The Disney folks put their team of “Imagineers” (could there be a better job title?)  with local historians, architects and artisans to create a resort that ‘celebrates’ Hawaiian culture.  Activities and resort design and decor reflect all things Hawaiian with just a hint of Disney.

 koolona2010 026 That means that Mickey and Pals, don't have starring roles in this Disney production but they do have a subtle presence as evidenced in the photo to the left of the guest room lamp.

There is no theme park. No rides. No long lines waiting for rides.  But that doesn't mean guests won't have plenty to keep them busy. The 21-acre site features a water playground with pools, slides, a 900-foot water course and lava rocks.  Aunty’s Beach House, their Kid's Club, offers activities, stories and movies for the younger guests, and the 18,000-square-foot spa with 15 treatment rooms and exercise facility will tempt adults.

Even those of us staying down the beach will get to enjoy its two restaurants, AMA AMA  and Makahiki, and, of course, its tropical bars.

koolona2010 029 The resort's name, Aulani, traditionally means ‘a messenger of a chief’ – one who delivers a message from a higher authority. 

"We want this resort destination to reflect the vibrant culture that surrounds it," says Joe Rohde, Sr. V.P. Creative for Walt Disney Imagineering. "The name 'Aulani' expresses a connection to tradition and deep storytelling - and its roots are in this land right here. As the history and heritage of Hawai'i are the inspiration for Aulani, we are committed to using our skills in design to put guests into these stories."

As I said above, the Imagineers and designers, seem to have gone into over-drive with the subtle blend of Disney and Hawaii.  The photo below is of one of the guest room quilts made in traditional Hawaiian design. Look close.  Do you see that Pint-sized Prince of Happiness?
koolona2010 027

If You Go:  Aulani is in Ko Olina, a development on O'ahu's Leeward Coast (the western side of the island). It's 17 miles from the Honolulu International Airport and about 30-45 minutes from Waikiki. It is about 20 minutes from some of the smaller North Shore surf towns and beaches.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Washington Wednesday: Tulalip Treasures

Welcome. Whales. Weaving. Whorls.

It’s all there. A wealth of Native American history to be had. . . for free.

You simply need to know where to look for it: walls, floors, ceilings. . .it is everywhere 
tulalip 001at the Tulalip Resort Casino, just north of Seattle, where art and artifacts tell the story of the Tulalip (pronounced, two-lay-lip), Tribes’ history in the Pacific Northwest.

Today's 4,000 Tulalip tribal members who live on the reservation are descendants of the Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Skykomish and other tribes and bands that signed the Treaty of Point Elliott in 1855.

The Tulalip Tribes in 2008 opened a luxury resort -- 370 guest rooms and 16  suites -- that connects to their expansive Vegas-style casino.  What makes the hotel notable, beyond its ‘luxe’ factor, is its emphasis on Tulalip history and culture – evident everywhere throughout the facility.


The photo above is of one of the three 25-foot high ‘house posts’ that tower over the lobby entrance.  These posts were patterned after th House posts once used as support structures in 'long houses', the Tribes' meeting place. The house post facing the lobby's doorway has upturned, open hands,the traditional sign of welcome.

tulalip 002Whales and Weaving

Because of their proximity to water, the Tulalips often refer to themselves as the ‘Whale People” or “Salmon People”.

The mural behind the hotel's registration desk, designed by Native American artist, James Madison, is made up of 1,200 pieces of  glass.  The predominant  red/orange pattern reflects the cedar basket pattern used by weavers who once turned wood from the stately cedar trees into clothing, baskets, fishing nets, ropes and mats. (Click on the photo to enlarge it, if you can’t make out the three whale fins in the water.)
tulalip 003

You walk on woven pieces of art in the hallways leading to guest rooms. Carpets tell another part of the Tulalip story. Each design symbol represents Salish art elements, for example, the squiggly red lines along the sides and surrounding the salmon in the center, depict the Puget Sound waters in which the fish are found. The salmon, the symbol of giving life to the people.

tulalip 004Spindle Whorls

Spinning wool was a part of everyday life and involved use of a loom and stick. A small round whorl acted as the fly-wheel to maintain the momentum of the spindle and was often decorated with art.  Tribute is paid to spinning in a number of large circular art pieces, patterned after the small weaving whorls, and can be found on the hallway walls in the convention center wing of the hotel. 
I loved the story this one depicts: the artist remembered being told by his elders when he was a child that when the dragon flies and butterflies come out (in the center) it is time to fish.  The stages of the moon make up the border.

The Tulalips' Tale is too expansive to tell in a single post, so next week's Washington Wednesday will take you just down the road from the resort to the Tribes’ just-opened cultural center.

If You Go: Tulalip Resort Casino is 35 miles north of downtown Seattle, just off I-5, exit 200. It is 50 miles from Sea-Tac airport. There's a direct shuttle to the resort from the airport that runs 11 times a day.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Celebrity Feast: To Pay or Not To Pay?

That is the question!

Celebrity, like most of the larger cruise lines, have ratcheted up the quality of cuisine in recent years with the introduction of on-board specialty dining restaurants. The bigger the ship, the more restaurants will likely be there to tempt you.

solsticetransatlantic 050 And that focus on cuisine has come with a price: you pay extra to dine in the elegant digs where the service and the cuisine, well, simply, is haute.

I’ve written in early posts that our dining on the Solstice transatlantic cruise might have been the best – at least right up there in the top two – we’ve had on a cruise.  And that was in all the restaurants; inclusive, as well as those requiring an extra fee.

solsticetransatlantic 008
Although our dining room’s food was excellent,( note that plate above!) and  included in the price of the cruise, we also dined at Murano and the Tuscan Grille, two of the ship’s three specialty restaurants.
solsticetransatlantic 049

We were guests of Celebrity at Murano so the $35 per person charge was waived and our cost was $20 for a bottle of wine, plus tip.  Both of our meals were culinary works of art; my fish is pictured above.

solsticetransatlantic 048
We paid $137 in Tuscan Grille, $70 of which was for food. Here, as with Murano, so many courses were offered that we had no room for dessert (which was good for our D2G, Diet to Go effort).  This is my heirloom tomato salad, large enough to be a meal in itself, but was served  between the antipasti platter and the filet mignon.

solsticetransatlantic 012

This week the blogosphere's cruise writers and readers went nuts with Celebrity's announcement that beginning September 1, 2011 the  price of those alternative dining venues would increase from $35 to $40. ($30 to $40 at the Lawn Club on the newest ship, Silhouette.)

“Enough,” cried cruise passengers, “we’ve had enough fee increases!”  And their point is well taken.  But. . .

In Las Vegas we've noted fine dining menus offering a filet mignon for $45 - $50 and then adding $11 - $12 for the potato that accompanies it and another $11 - $12 for the asparagus, not to mention the cost of appetisers, salads and desserts.  Tasting menus, those multi-course offerings created by the chef,begin at $59 and head into the three-digits.

While dining at a Seattle waterfront restaurant this week, I noted that a fish filet dinner (halibut or salmon) was in the high $20’s – salad and dessert, extra. 

So the question cruisers must ask themselves is, “To Pay or not To Pay?" And, thankfully, the cruise lines still allow them to make the choice.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Washington Wednesday: Yakima’s Fruit Loops

We’ve spent a good deal of time in my hometown in recent weeks because I had a number of reunions to attend this summer.  And they couldn’t have been held at a better time. It meant we were in Yakima, during harvest season – the absolute best time of the year to visit.
washington wednesdays 039
August’s 90-degree days allow us to open the car windows, and breathe the heady scents of tree-ripened produce when driving on one of what I call my favorite ‘Fruit Loops’. They are those winding two-lane roads that lead through orchards heavy with peaches and apricots, and past sprawling truck gardens where vegetables are grown and then sold at mom-and-pop stands along the roadway. 

washington wednesdays 026Saturday morning we drove a ‘Fruit Loop’ northwest of town through the orchards in the West Valley area, into Peck’s Canyon and toward Tieton, another small agricultural town a stone’s throw from Yakima. 

washington wednesdays 037 Sunday morning we headed south from Yakima on Highway 97 to Lateral A in the Lower Yakima Valley.  We followed it to Kyles Korner, where produce and fruit stands can be found on nearly every corner.  Temptations were great – how much can one load into a car?  Well, we weren’t as bad as the photo implies, but we did stock up on fruits and vegetables.

washington wednesdays 030
If You Go:  The Yakima Valley Visitor’s Center has a map of the valley’s agricultural areas and can tell you what crops are in season.  Just click the word Yakima in the post to get to their website.  Or drop us an email, and we’ll tell you where we shopped.

Oh, in case you’re wondering about that helicopter. The pilot was spraying crops and swept so low over us that I thought he was going to crash into the car.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Summer Armchair Travels

A beach, a mountain cabin, or a back yard lawn chaise lounge – is the perfect spot from which you can  enjoy the ease of armchair travel. 

This summer's laid-back 'travels' have taken us on a road trip, introduced us to several interesting people and have taken us back to Greece, all we had to do was to read these three books:

J. Smith, (C) 2011
The Leisure Seeker, (by Michael Zadoorian; Harpercollins, 2009) is a touching love story/travel book that tells of two 80-year-olds, Ella, who has cancer, and her husband, John, an Alzheimer’s victim, who ‘kidnap themselves’ from well-meaning children and doctors and set out on one last road trip in their 1978 Leisure Seeker RV. 

I laughed and I cried as I 'rode along' on this final journey. It is one of the best reads we’ve had in months.  (Note: I said ‘we” which means that Joel also liked it and ‘love’ stories aren’t high, make that, on his list). We read it because I had won it in a contest on  A Traveler’s Library. BTW, if you love travel and books, and haven't checked out that blog, you should, just click the link.
During our stay in London last May, the travel section of the Sunday London Times  ran an excerpt from a book that, lucky for us, hit the bookshelves while we were there:

Ox Travels Meetings of Remarkable Travel Writers, with an introduction by Michael Palin and edited by Mark Ellingham, Peter Florence and Barnaby Rogerson (Profile Books, 2011), is a fund-raiser for Oxfam.  All the writers have donated their royalties from the book to that organization, which is a confederation of 15 organizations working to end poverty and social injustice.

The best travel writers in Britain and a bit further away were asked to write about a meeting they had had with someone somewhere. (No, in case you are wondering, they didn't ask me to contribute.) The only rules for those who did were that the story be true and the meeting real.  The editors envisioned perhaps 20 writers agreeing to the project and a book of about 250 pages. The response was overwhelming with 36 writers contributing stories that filled 432 pages!  And the price is only 9.99L or $15.95US.
J. Smith photo, (C) 2010
Another newspaper excerpt, this one from the Wall Street Journal, led us to  News from The Village, Aegean Friends, a Memoir by David Mason, (2010 Red Hen Press). The article in the paper was so beautifully written that it sent me straight to the computer to order a copy. But not before I spent 20 minutes – thanks to the wonders of YouTube listening to Mason read excerpts. His book tells a beautiful tale of pursuing his writing dreams while having the good fortune of developing a friendship with, Patrick Leigh Fermor, his neighbor in Greece, who is recognized as one of the world’s greatest writers.

If you have been to Greece or dream of going to Greece this book will transport you there.  Ten minutes into it, Joel announced he was ready to go back.

Of interest, to those of you in Washington State, David Mason, was raised in Bellingham, the small town near the Canadian border.

Note: The books are on the Amazon carousel on the blog's homepage and if you order one from it, we are paid a small commission.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Washington Wednesday: Mountain Madness and Magic

Winter weather can turn Washington State mountain passes into a white-knuckled-steerwheel-gripping experience, and so can a parade of summer bike enthusiasts who hit the road at the same time as those of us in cars. 
kirkland 015 But without ice-slickened roads or those lined with those two-wheel travelers, a trip over the Cascade Mountain range provides travelers with a drive-through window of some of Mother Nature’s most scenic handiwork.

We dealt with the two-wheeled hazards last week on two of Washington State's mountain passes, but still managed to catch glimpses of the beauty of these deep, dense forested peaks that rise between Puget Sound’s wetter western side and the arid Central and Eastern parts of the state. A third mountain pass took us up into the desert-like, sage- and scrub-brush country where Yakima and Kittitas Counties merge.

The trip was a reminder that the journey can be as spectacular as the destination, especially in Washington State where we have some 16 mountain passes.
We drove Interstate 90 from Seattle, a divided multi-lane highway through the mountains, where it reaches its highest point of 3,022-feet (921m) at Snoqualmie (snow-qual-me) Pass. This highway, opened in 1969, follows the route of a 1909 wagon road and is named after the American Indians who lived in the valley to the west. 

Snoqualmie Summit is a popular winter ski destination with a public rest stop, eateries, and hotel located there. And last Saturday it was a popular bike route for some skilled riders and others who were very obviously not.
Less than an hour later we headed up Manastash (mah-nash-tash) Ridge on Interstate 82, just outside the university town of Ellensburg. From the Ridge, (elevation 2,672 ft/814m) we had sweeping views out over the Kittitas Valley's agricultural lands.
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Blewett washington wednesdays 007 (blew-it) Pass, elevation 4,102-ft. (1250m) took us east from Interstate 90 to the Wenatchee Valley on a beautiful Sunday morning.  This two-lane road with occasional passing lanes and turn-outs, once called Swauk Pass, is named for Edward Blewett, a Seattle mining promoter of the 1880’s.

Its summit is marked by a large vehicle pull-out, there are no commercial outlets. But there once was a time when Blewett was a hub of activity according to some wonderful old photos I found on a blog devoted to its history. (The link takes you to that blog.)
washington wednesdays 006
The hub of activity on this past Sunday was a straggling herd of bikers -- some who were pushing our state's 'share the road' philosophy to the near 'braking' point - (yes, a play on words there).

It made for a white-knuckle car trip and I noticed most of the bikers were bent over either looking at the front wheel or monitoring their handlebar mirrors.  Can't imagine they had much more opportunity to enjoy the passing scenery than we did.

The weekend road trip was a reminder that a trip over Washington's many mountain passes should not to be missed -- even by those of us who travel the roads regularly.

If You Go:  Information about each of the state's mountain passes -- including web cam views -- can be found on the state's transportation web site below.  Weather and road conditions, road construction alerts and other travel information is at:

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Saturday’s Satchel: Suitcase Savvy, the short list

washington wednesdays 005 Our longer travels always present a packing challenge thanks to the self-imposed ‘small suitcase’ size limits we’ve given ourselves.

We set those limits on size and weight after the first few European trains we boarded required getting us and the bags up steps made for giants and through midget-sized doorways within the few minutes allocated for the train stop and doing it as two dozen other travelers were all clamouring  to accomplish the same task.

Smaller and lighter, is now our suitcase mantra.

While it still seems at times that our bags are too heavy, we laughed when reading the packing list given to Mark Twain when he set out on his transatlantic cruise on the steamship, Quaker City, back in 1867, because it included:
  • light musical instruments for amusement on the ship,
  • saddles for Syrian travel,
  • green spectacles and umbrellas,
  • veils for Egypt,
  • substantial clothing for use in rough pilgrimizing in the Holy Land
  • and a few guidebooks, a Bible and some standard works of travel. *
Can you imagine flying off to catch a cruise ship with those items? Think of  the fees!

Speaking of fees, did you know that  in 2010 airlines made $3.4 Billion in their airline fees, which, of course, included charges for checked bags?

Tip:  A good one-stop source of airline fee information is:
*From Twain’s Innocents Abroad

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Washington Wednesday: Road Trip Treats

Eastern Washington’s farm land, orchards,vineyards and hop yards are spectacular backdrops for summer road trips. An added plus in the last decade has been the proliferation of wineries where visitors are welcomed to tasting rooms that range from vast, elaborate themed structures to small mom-and-pop operations in the family garage.

However, there's more taste in Washington's vast agricultural region than wine. Two of our recommended stops are:

fromagerie* Monteillet Fromagerie –  the first farmstead artisanal cheese facility in the Walla Walla Valley of southeastern Washington.  Our visit took us down a long driveway into the heart of a goat and sheep farm to a small cheese tasting room with outdoor tables as well (where they pair the cheese with wine).

If you can’t be in the heart of France, there is no more perfect setting to eat farm-fresh cheese and sip wine on a hot summer day.

And if a few hours aren’t enough for you, Joan and her husband, rent a charming three-bedroom ‘gite’, (that is small house in French) and also rent out camp sites on the farm as well.

If you Go:  Monteillet Fromagerie, 109 Ward Rd., Dayton, 99382, tasting room open Friday and Saturdays, 12 – 5 p.m. and other times by appointment.  A trip here would be a great addition to southeastern Washington’s Walla Walla wine country.

The nearest airport and rental car companies are in Walla Walla. Regional airlines serve the area.

Accommodation information is on the farm's website, use the name link above, or phone at 001-509-876-1429
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 DSCF0271*Aplets and Cotlets, America’s famed fruit-and-nut confection, that tastes much like Turkish Delight, has been made in the small town of Cashmere since the 1920’s. Cashmere is in the heart of Central Washington's apple country, just outside Wenatchee.

The company, founded by two Armenian immigrants who settled in the town, began with Aplets, a powdered-sugar coated fruit candy made from locally grown apples and walnuts. It expanded to include Cotlets, made from apricots, and now offers a candy-store sized menu of fruit confections.

Stop by the retail store at the factory in Cashmere’s downtown, watch a video about the candy’s history and how it is made. Take a free tour.

If you Go:  Aplets and Cotlets, 117 Mission Ave., Cashmere, 98815, phone 800-888-5696 in the U.S. and 001-509-782-1000, outside the U.S.) The day we toured they were not making the candy, but the crew was cutting and packaging the product.  Call in advance for the candy making schedule. 

The nearest airport and rental car companies are in Wenatchee. Regional airlines serve the area.

Monday, August 1, 2011

An Old Friend ~ A Sentimental Journey

Sometimes it’s the destination; other times the journey.
Sometimes it is both.  A Saturday afternoon jaunt to downtown Kirkland, less than five miles round trip from our home, highlighted a personal sentimental journey and sparked memories of similar journeys for others before the day was done. 

Mine is a journey that began 39 years ago. . .the year my ‘old friend’ and I first met . 

herbie 012
It was the summer of 1972 in a used car lot when I first laid eyes on the funny little green German-made ‘69 Volkswagen “Beetle”. 

This "Bug" as Beetles were often called, had been declared the perfect ‘college car’ by my father and thus a relationship was to begin that would transport me and my car through nearly four decades together.

Soon after driving the car off the lot, I christened him, Herbie, (as did most who owned VW Bugs in that era – thanks to Walt Disney' "Herbie the Love Bug" movie.) and that is how he continues to be known. He or him, but never it.

Herbie and I began our college-years journey traveling the same 37 mile stretch of Central Washington roadway weekend after weekend, from school to home and back again. Herbie took me to my first newspaper job and was with me as I moved from single-womanhood to my newlywed home.

0890350-R1-029-13 Our journey together seemed to hit a roadblock when Joel and I moved across the state, putting Herbie, quite literally, out to pasture at a relative’s home in Eastern Washington. After we got settled, Herbie would move as well. 

The years turned into decades and still my old – deteriorating– friend waited. The photo to the left is Herbie in 2003; long after the time I should have moved my trusted old friend. Restoration got underway that fall and continued for several years.

Herbie’s Kirkland homecoming was in November 2009 (the photo at the top of the post commemorates his arrival). 
kirkland 034 Saturday’s trip was to downtown Kirkland’s was to introduce Herbie to the community. He appeared in a "Cruise In" day of Kirkland's Classic Car Show; an appearance that sparked several other sentimental journeys:   

There were stories of other ‘Herbie’s’; those college cars and newlywed cars  of Boomer’s youth. One woman recalled a family road trip taken with four kids crammed into the backseat. Laughter. Much laughter as memories included driving without power steering, adequate heat or cooling systems and other modern-day comforts.

One man told his teenage children about his VW, while another fondly recalled that he'd driven the same green-colored Bug, another pondered ways to get his 'Bug' from a mid-western barn to Kirkland for restoration. Two ladies came by, called out to each other in Chinese and began snapping photos of ol’ Herb.

Their stories were many and diverse but all shared a common theme:
An old friend and a sentimental journey.

How about you? What's your sentimental journey?

(Click the movie link to see a Michael Bolton YouTube video musical tribute to the movie's Herbie)


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