Monday, April 22, 2013

Have you eaten at Fat Smitty's?

On the left hand side of the road heading west toward Sequim, this small-
appearing building actually can seat up to 50 people and serve more if
you want to do take-out in the summertime. 
My readers know that once in awhile I promote eateries that are unique, affordable (usually) and have good food. I have been driving by Fat Smitty's on Hwy 101, at the intersection of Hwy 20 to Port Townsend, here at the head of Discovery Bay on the Olympic Peninsula for too many months. Someone told me it was worth stopping there. On Saturday, I did it - I actually stopped and went in by myself. (This link will take you to a detailed story and more history of the place by Charlie Bermant of the Peninsula Daily News.)

Fear not... there is an ATM inside that will give you some
cash, if you have some in your account.
From the outside, it looks a little intimidating, but inside it is all heart... all the dollar bills stuck on the ceilings and walls eventually make their way to local charities. One of the servers told me that it all started when a salesman wanted to put up his card and tacked a dollar bill up on the wall with it. The gimmick caught on, and now when you walk in your hands will brush past bills on the door, bills framing the windows, dollar bills everywhere.

Last year, 2012, when a wall needed replacing, all the money was taken down and counted. The wall went back up and the funds were split between the Seattle Children's Hospital and the local chapter of the Boy Scouts for a total of $10,116.00. "All the money you see up there now has been put there since March 1 of 2012," my server said. Impressive. So it seems that once the customers realize how the funds will be allocated, they are only too willing to hang their money in the place where their mouths once were, leaving it for a good cause. (I did.) So much more appealing than a plastic tube on the counter.

By the way, as you will read if you go the the PDN link, there is a very good security system in place here and you might not want to risk the consequences if you try to help yourself to the 'decor.'

The split "Fat Smitty Burger" features several layers of burger with cheese,
lettuce, tomato, & a nice homemade sauce topped off with a pickle.
Fortunately the couple next to me decided to order the featured burger, the Fat Smitty Burger (link to the menu is here) and while the price is fair enough (and I don't guarantee the prices are going to be the same as shown here) it looked enormous to me. They opted to have it cut in half and pay the the "split burger' fee of $1.00 because they provide two plates with extra sides. I ordered the basic burger, just a bun and a package of chips and a soda for $6.75. It was a delicious burger!! Next time I'd probably get the cole slaw as the bag of chips was a waste of time, or you can get steak fries, but I knew I'd never eat them all. This is a Pepsi place, no hard liquor, so live with it... you shouldn't be drinking and driving anyhow.

Although I saw a motorcycle group pull up, this is very
much a family place with kid-sized meals. Those are
really dollar bills you see hanging from the ceiling!

A sweet touch is offering a Tootsie Roll Pop along with the check for 'dessert.'

The restaurant opens at 10:30 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m. every day, unless there's a change, and you can call them at 360-385-4099 to confirm.

I learned that the couple sitting at the bar with me are from Port Angeles and have been married for about 34 years. The wife had been to Fat Smitty's when it was in originally in Port Townsend and for all the years she's been married she has denied her husband the opportunity to eat at this fine establishment until this day... hope he doesn't have to wait another 34 years to come back! She said to me, "It seemed like every time we were going by we were on our way to eat someplace else or had just come from eating at another place. I'm really glad we decided to stop here today, though. It's just as good as I remembered it!"
The cook and the nearly life-sized burger carved in wood outside this
road-side eatery will remind you that you are coming in to eat!
Don't you make that mistake... you'll be missing out on a very fine burger and plenty of steak fries - there's nothing stingy about the food or the owners.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Open Mic on the Peninsula

This bird is not waiting for the open mic event...
but I am!
I was invited to an "open mic" event at the Sequim Senior Center last night and I was unprepared for the level of talent that appeared on stage. This is a weekly event, and anyone who wants to perform is welcome to sign in and gets a two-song, two-poem, two-somethings (about 10 minutes on average) before a tolerant crowd.

So you'll be thinking, "Oh yeah, seniors stepping up to the mic to recall days gone by, or worse yet, thinking they can still sing or dance or some such foolishness..." but you'd be oh so very wrong. Yes, there are seniors among the performers (50's and up) but they are some of the pros on guitars, dobros, mandolins, piano, and in song.

Here is Rick Burch (age unknown) presenting a song he wrote "Loosen the Chains," and while the YouTube upload is not the best, you get an idea of what last night was like. I am going to take my own equipment next week and do some recordings to share with you and you will see what I mean....
Rick Burch and friend
UPDATE: Here is Rick Burch singing his original song "What the Children Have to Say" now on YouTube. I went there to video it for him, but for reasons best left alone, the video done by someone else was the one that was uninterrupted and thus a better version. What is important is that he finally has it up for people to see and hear. Hope you enjoy it.

Oh, and just so you know, I am not getting paid for this testimonial, but I think there's some talent here that may have gone unnoticed for too long... like the 84-year old singing the old cowboy song by Jim Reeves, "Four Walls" and it could be re-lyricized (is that a word?) for a lot of humor. Stay tuned!!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

April in Sequim

The annual Robin Hop is going on in my front yard.
Perhaps because I am identified as a 'spring baby,' it is one of my favorite seasons. I love seeing the first Robin with their puffed up red-colored feathers on their breasts hopping along and cocking their heads, listening for the movement of something they can eat.

Where I used to live in Florida, the house was right under the Flyway and robins and cousins were dropping out of the sky right into my back yard. I had an organic yard (used no pesticides) with spring water oozing up in it, so they had all they needed for water and nourishment whether heading north or south.

The place where I am staying now has plenty of evergreens nearby so there are eagles of all ages hanging out, and that may be a deterrent to the smaller robins, but it was a pleasure to see one bouncing around near the dandelions.
Main Street, Sequim, WA

A neighbor offered to drive me around with her dog in the back seat to see the various local parks and to get better acquainted with the area around Sequim, here on the Olympic Peninsula. I also made notes about back routes to get past the center of town because in a couple of weeks the 118th Irrigation Festival will be starting (runs May 3-14 - over Mother's Day weekend, too) and it will be extremely difficult to access certain parts of town quickly. (If you go to the link, you will see specifically what the festival is all about and understand why water is so critical for this part of the peninsula.) In summary, a fellow called D.R. "Crazy" Callum designed and installed the irrigation ditches that turned prairie into paradise with water and the water started flowing on May 1, 1895 for the first time. The very next year the festival was started with a celebration at Callum's farm and it evolved into what is now the longest, continuously operating festival in Washington state.

This is also the Centennial year for Sequim, so the duration of the festival is being celebrated along with the founding of what was - all those many years ago - a village.
It is hard to see the city of Sequim due to the slight rise in the topography
here, but it is just on the other side of the evergreens. The very symmetric
peaks of the Olympics are getting more snow; much needed.
It turns out there is a community pot-luck dinner followed by a barn dance on Saturday, May 4, and I think I am going to take advantage of that event and do a little celebrating myself that night.

Driving around this portion of the peninsula, I was motivated to take a few photos to share with y'all...
This is a very tiny park with a huge shoreline but the sandstone cliffs
are daunting as you can see a man walking below them in this shot.
You are looking toward the Olympics, over part of Discovery Bay.
The weather was sunny one minute and rain came pouring down in others, so it was just by luck that I got some decent shots at all.

If you look at the blue sky in this photo to your left, you can see just a bit of what is called the "blue hole" that seems to open up over Sequim when everything else is grey or wet. Apparently due to the rainshadow effect from the Olympic range, the height of the mountains is enough to disturb the air flow and creates an opening to the sun and blue sky once in awhile. Where Seattle gets upwards of 35 inches of rain a year, Sequim is closer to 20, thus the prairies and the need for irrigation water. Mt. Olympus, on the other hand, gets something like 220 inches (!!!) of rain per year... barely 60 miles to the west of Sequim! (If you go to the link, you can see the map and a more scientific explanation than the one I've given.)

Looking west over the Strait of San Juan de Fuca and B.C.
So that's why I like to spend time here... and why houses are so expensive here and in Port Townsend, Coupeville, Gig Harbor, Whidbey Island, and in Vancouver, B.C. People long ago figured out the benefits of living in the NW and finding the sunny spots to settle in.

Plum trees on Sequim Ave.
This has been a wetter spring than normal, according to local information and much cooler as well. I wonder if we're getting all the wet that should have been going to Colombia, because my sources there tell me the rain has been slow in arriving for them.

Nevertheless, the rhododendrons are blooming as are the daffodils, crocuses (croci?) and other signs of spring in this part of the world. The shifty weather is just another part of the seasonal timing.
Cat-O-Nine Tails shedding their seeds for another season.
In the distance the Olympics collect water for later...
Sequim Ave., looking west (I think)

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Sweet Little Casita in Colombia

I remember the first time I saw this little casita in Barichara, and I thought then it would be a lovely place to live. Unfortunately, it was not for sale then and I cannot afford it now, although it is much more reasonable than many houses for sale in the city.

If you go to this link you can see all the photos for yourself. $190,000 millions works out to about $105,000 USD today which is pretty affordable if you are working and can afford a second home. There are flights from Orlando, FL, every day to Bogota now and I've just heard that Delta is going to start offering service as well. If you read back on my blog, you will discover how lovely Barichara is for a place to retreat to from your busy life, and this would be a delicious place to call home there.
Casa Itaca - a view of the Cathedral - for Sale!
Estas son las fotos de Casa Itaca. La casa tiene 199mts 100 mts construidos. Tapia pisada. Madera de los techos en cucharo.
Desde la puerta principal se ve la Catedral tiene  una terraza con vista a todo Barichara Los papeles en regla. (Translation: These are the photos of House Ithaca. The house is 100 meters construidos. Tapia 199 mts tread. Wooden beams throughout, especially nice in the kitchen.
From the front door you can see the Cathedral. It has a terrace overlooking Barichara; all the papers are in order.)

The garden is small, but can be seen from the kitchen and one of the bedrooms. It is very clean and ready to move into. I know the owner has taken very good care of it, and it has been well-maintained.

Please, if you decide to contact the seller, let them know you saw it here. I probably won't realize anything from my promotion of it, but I would be interested to know if someone finding it here decided to buy it. You can contact Shayo here: for more information.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Bucket List Revised

Recently a national on-line publication listed 20 things everyone should have on their Bucket List. Here is the list, though perhaps out of order as I scrawled it down:
1. Own your own business
2. Live in a foreign country
3. Learn a foreign language
4. Buy a house
5. Drive coast to coast
6. Get heart broken
7. Be cheered by a crowd
8. Do something that really scares you
9. Adopt a pet
10. Take a stand
11. Do work that really inspires you/that you care about
12. Give something back
13. Take a leap of faith
14. Design and build a house
15. Make a meal with food you have raised/grown
16. Buy a piece of art just because you love it
17. Go wilderness camping
18. Take a sabbatical
19. Make a piece of furniture
20. Go scuba diving or snorkeling
Breaking waves from the Pacific at Cabo Rico (2009)
Having done all but #18 and #19, here are some of my own created and completed over the years:
1. Learn to tap dance and do "Singing in the Rain" and another number in the Idaho State Capital building on the marble floor. (Which, by the way, is one of the WORST things to dance upon; my feet and calves ached for days afterwards!)
2. Swim with dolphins (Everyone should have this experience, but the dolphins might get tired of it.)
3. Own and ride a motorcycle (this also covers #8 above)
4. Own my own horse (which also included other critters in #9)
5. Learn another foreign language (now I have three: French, Swedish and Spanish - did I say I had to be fluent? LOL!)
6. Write a screenplay (One was a third-place winner in a local theatre competition and the other is still waiting to be read by someone who might do something with it.)
7. Learn to waterski, then learn to slalom
8. Have my paintings displayed in a gallery, then I wanted them displayed in an international art show
9. Train a dog so well that it will respond entirely to hand signals
10. Live on a sailboat
11. Be an active member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, doing more than just checking boats for life preservers (ended up being part of a weekend team that patrolled St. Johns River one summer when ships were loading up supplies for Desert Storm)
12. Be acknowledged as a writer... (started this goal in 1973 and revised it upward after various jobs throughout my lifetime. I'm thinking about revising it again.)
13. Pass the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) qualifications written and oral exams (got my results on the day my son was born - I did pass)
Sunset near Deception Pass, WA (2010)
And there are probably tons more that I wrote down and accomplished, because one thing I learned is that if you write it down, you have made it real and you can do it.

Now I am at a point where I want to re-do the Bucket List, update it, revise it, re-think it. There are some things I am never going to do, partly because I don't have the desire to put in the effort for them, but others, like #1, require much more than just effort!
1. Climb Mt. Everest
2. Be a solo sailor in a long-distance race
3. Compete in a marathon
4. Learn how to drive a race car
5. Be a jockey
6. Fly to moon in a rocket/spaceship

And although a Bucket List is generally about some individual goal or accomplishment, I am seeing that I have some time left to do some things that have more value than just achieving something to prove I can do it; rather putting some energy toward making the world a little bit better, at least in my corner of it.
Washington State spring (2010)
The Revised List - for now...
1. Attend the church's 'Helper" meeting this week to see what I can volunteer to do
2. Plan to help my granddaughter select and plant some new plants in the planter box at her house
3. Go to Watercolor art class to learn enough to have something to show next year in the local show
4. Take some more interesting photographs; something I am truly pleased with
5. Draft the screenplay that keeps turning up in my head
6. Finish my physical therapy so I can take a trip back to Colombia
7. Continue to revise my Bucket List!!

In the words of Monty Python... "I'm not dead yet!"