A Beautiful Mural In Small Town Concrete, Washington

Concrete, Washington Mural

Often, some of the nicest attractions to see when traveling aren’t always the biggest name or most popular. Looking for local artwork, scenic viewpoints, state parks, and downtown or waterfront areas. If you visit Concrete, Washington, you’ll see one of the more unique pieces of public art around.

Concrete is a beautiful little town located right on the Cascade Loop, in the Skagit Valley where the Baker River meets the Skagit River. If you’re driving over the North Cascades Highway, it’s a nice stop for a quick bite to eat or a walk around the historic downtown area. If you’re looking for a quiet place to get away too for a fun time in the Pacific Northwest, Concrete is perfect for that too.

Concrete, Washington Mural

Located on the east end of town in Concrete is an amazing mural. It’s impressive in both its size and its location. The mural stretches across the entirety of the local building labeled as housing the police and fire department. The mural depicts the North Cascades in detail, including the town of Concrete itself. One of the big payoffs to stopping and having a look at this mural is that you also get to stroll through the historic downtown section of Concrete.

Concrete, Washington Mural

Small towns are a real pleasure and well worth exploring on a road trip. You can almost always find something worth seeing. One of those things worth seeing in Concrete is this beautiful North Cascades mural.

Concrete, Washington Mural

The Henry Thompson Bridge in Concrete, Washington

The Cascade Loop and the Skagit Valley are filled with interesting things to see. Here’s one that’s easy as it’s right off of the highway and in the very welcoming town of Concrete, Washington; the Henry Thompson Bridge.

Henry Thompson Bridge - Concrete WA

Henry Thompson was a prominent settler to the Concrete area and also served as a Skagit County Commissioner. He played an active role in promoting the need for and then the construction of a bridge in the area it would eventually be built.

Concrete Washington ~83

The Henry Thompson Bridge has a unique white color and a very retro architectural look to it. At the time it was finished in 1918, it was the longest single-span reinforced concrete bridge in the world. Henry Thompson was killed in a logging train accident in 1918 and the bridge was named in his honor.

If you’re visiting Concrete, the bridge is easily reached from the main street that runs right through town. Below the bridge on the eastern bank of the Baker River is the Baker River Upstream Fish Trap which assists with the once struggling salmon populations on the river.

Baker River Upstream Fish Tramp - Concrete WA

You can have a lot of fun when you visit Concrete, Washington. The Henry Thompson Bridge is just one of the many interesting things to see there.

Three Great Places To See Near The Olympic Peninsula’s Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent is located on the northern side of the Olympic Peninsula, right along the very popular to drive Highway 101. The lake is located less than 20 miles west of Port Angeles and the closes community is the tiny town of Piedmont. People visit Lake Crescent for all kinds of reasons including the opportunity to relax while getting away from it all as well as a wide variety of outdoor recreation possibilities. Lake Crescent is a popular getaway, and has been for a number of years.

There’s more to the area than that though. Take a look at these three great places to see within an easy drive of Lake Crescent.

Visit Hurricane Ridge

Located a little over an hour to the east of Lake Crescent, the Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center sits high in the Olympic Mountains. To get there you have to drive to Port Angeles first and then head south into the mountains to the visitors center. A lot of outdoor recreation can be participated there, including hiking, bird watching, cross country skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing. The Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center itself is home to some great information about the Olympic Mountains, maps of the Olympic National Park, and very interesting local history items. The views from the center of Hurricane Ridge itself are extraordinary.

Visit Dungeness Spit

Dungeness Spit sticks out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca near the community of Sequim. It is a sand spit that stretches five and a half mile into the water and is the longest natural sand spit in the entire country. The entire sand spit is explorable to visitors going there. Those willing to make the journey all the way to the end are rewarded with the opportunity of seeing the New Dungeness Lighthouse which is maintained entirely by local volunteers. Enjoying Dungeness Spit though doesn’t have to be done with a five and a half mile walk as there are a number of great viewpoints to see it from.

Visit La Push, Washington

Located out on the open Washington coastline, the tiny community of La Push can be reached from Lake Crescent in a drive of just under an hour. Along the way, you will drive through the community of Forks. La Push features some of the most beautiful scenery on the Washington coast. There are a great many huge driftwood trees laying on the beach where they wash up in the surf. You can stay there a few hours and explore the scenic coastline or you can stay there overnight in the local resort that offers the choice of RV spaces, cabins, or a motel. La Push offers the kind of experience you can’t get elsewhere.

Buddy & Howie’s Old Fashioned Sweet Shoppe – My Kind of Attraction

Buddy & Howie's Old Fashioned Sweet Shoppe

Buddy & Howie's Old Fashioned Sweet Shoppe

I remember back in 6th grade learning an interesting science lesson.   My teacher had laid a large magnet flat on a table and then rolled a metal ball bearing past the open end.  The lesson was in watching the metal ball’s trajectory curve right into the magnet.

I was reminded of this moment from childhood on a recent visit to Ocean Shores.  You see, I came rolling in on the main road into town when out of the corner of my eye I spied Buddy & Howie’s Old Fashioned Sweet Shoppe.  My car then, seemingly at the mercy of an unseen force, curved right into the parking lot, coming to a rest right in front of the store.

Ahh, the magnetic power of candy.

Buddy & Howie's Old Fashioned Sweet Shoppe

Buddy & Howie’s Old Fashioned Sweet Shoppe is like a trip down memory lane.  You just don’t find many stores any longer than only sell candy.  They offer everyone’s favorites too so you’re sure to find something you like.  They also have a well stocked inventory of candy you’ll remember from your youth or that you haven’t seen in a long time.  As you browse the selection there you’re also sure to find a few candies that you’ve never tried before but look too enticing to just leave behind.

Saltwater taffy, chocolate covered Twinkies, sour balls, candy bars, Jolly Ranchers, sour gummies, fudge, peanut clusters, and more… Buddy & Howie’s Old Fashioned Sweet Shoppe seems to have it all.

The kids didn’t even mind this stop.  It seems like I had stumbled on a shared interest of ours.  A particular favorite of theirs was a brick shaped candy that you could build with, like Legos, but then also eat.

When our visit to Ocean Shores was complete, a couple of days later, we made one more stop at Buddy & Howie’s Old Fashioned Sweet Shoppe so we could each have our own small bag of hand picked treats on the way home.

Find out more about this great little candy store by the sea:  Buddy & Howie’s Old Fashioned Sweet Shoppe

Bring The Kids To Pacific Paradise In Ocean Shores, Washington

Ocean Shores - 2015 (49)

One of the challenges to going on a road trip with kids is to make sure they’re properly entertained. Few things entertain kids more than a good arcade or fun center. Luckily for those coming to Ocean Shores, they have just that in Pacific Paradise.

Pacific Paradise is located one block off the main road into Ocean Shores and can easily be reached, even on foot, from most of the more popular hotels in town. Walking up the street and seeing the flags fly and the signs on the sides of the building gets the blood pumping in the younger ones. And arriving there is sure to put smiles on their faces.

The main building of Pacific Paradise is filled with a nice selection of video games. Our kids enjoyed going from one to the next as they battled bad guys, drove off road vehicles, and played sports. They also got the chance to try games like skeeball, basketball shooting games, and more. There are even ticket games to play with prizes that can be bought.

Video games aren’t the only thing available at Pacific Paradise though.

Ocean Shores - 2015 (51)

Pacific Paradise is also home to a very nice miniature golf course and the whole family can have fun playing against each other. We had just as much fun as our kids walking around the golf course and trying our hand at some very tricky shots.

The most loved part of Pacific Paradise though, as far as our kids were concerned, were the bumper boats. Both kids took right to these little engine powered bouncy boats and had a blast sneaking up on and bouncing their sibling into the pool wall or another driver. We even had to give in and spring for a second ride too. It was worth it though when you saw them laughing and enjoying themselves so much.

Ocean Shores - 2015 (50)

A visit to Pacific Paradise is a great idea for any family.

Check out this wonderful Ocean Shores attraction online: Pacific Paradise

Waterslides At The Aberdeen YMCA

On a a recent trip to the ocean along the Washington coastline, I found myself with a car load of kids (okay… two) who were feeling a bit bored. We were staying in a rented house out in the Ocean City area, just north of Ocean Shores.

It’d been a fun road trip to the central coast area and we’d done all the favorite stuff, rented scooters on the beach, walked for hours, gone for beach drives, collected shells, ridden go karts, and more. The weather had been good but we all of a sudden had a day of rain and, after a nice relaxing morning of staying inside, the kids were going a bit stir crazy. I looked around for some indoor activities, we’d already been to the arcade in Ocean Shores, I found a link online to the Aberdeen YMCA.

I’ve never really thought of the YMCA as a vacation attraction, but as I explored their website I saw that they had a pool equipped with waterslides. Open swim time that day was from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm and since we were not members, there was a minimal day pass fee for guests which was entirely reasonable.

Aberdeen YMCA Waterslides

Once inside, the kids had a blast in the pool, the hot tub, and of course on the waterslides. It ended up being the perfect rainy day weather escape plan and it was easy to get to from the beach.

The rest of our beach stay went perfectly, but I’m very grateful for our midday excursion to the Aberdeen YMCA.

The Washington State Ferries

WSFerries

When we’re roadtripping around, we generally think of our activities taking place on the road, or at least on land. A little known fact though is that Washington State’s ferry system is operated by and considered a part of the Washington State Department of Transportation. It is the largest passenger and automobile ferry fleet in the entire United States, and the third largest in the entire world. Ferries arrive and depart from terminals in locations like Seattle, Bremerton, Bainbridge Island, Vashon Island, Point Defiance, Clinton, Mukilteo, Edmonds, Kingston, Keystone, Port Townsend, Anacortes, and all of the major San Juan Islands. You can get pretty much anywhere in the Puget Sound area aboard any of the Washington State Ferries.

Riding on the ferries is not only part of your transportation, it can be part of the fun. When you get on one of the longer routes, you have time to get out, walk around the decks, sit and enjoy the view, or hang out at the railing where you can enjoy the sound of the huge ship going through the water. There are all kinds of photo taking opportunities when you ride the ferry. I make use of that, probably a little too much, each and every time I get on one. There is seating available both inside and out, and depending on the weather, you can enjoy the ride from either spot.

Whenever possible, I love to add a ferry ride into a road trip I’m taking. The last time I did this, after a trip around the Olympic Peninsula, I took the ferry from Bremerton to Seattle. The weather was great which gave us some awesome views of Mount Rainier and the city of Seattle. There were a lot of other boats out on the water that day too and it’s always fun to check them out. Like every other time, it was a great time and so much more than a means of transportation. It was definitely one of the better attractions we experienced that day.

Olympic Game Farm – Sequim

I have to tell you, I was blown away by Olympic Game Farm!

Olympic Game Farm is located in Sequim, Washington. This fun little coastal town sits right on the Strait of Juan de Fuca and is a very nice place to visit. The Dungeness Spit is a big draw and something special. The Olympic Game Farm though topped that.

This special place has a special history that dates back to a time when many of the animals housed there were used in several Hollywood movies, including some made by the Walt Disney Company. All that is very cool information to learn, but the fun is in the drive through the park. We entered, fully armed with about five loaves of bread, and immediately headed up the hill to the first animals waiting for us. All of the animals entertained everyone in the car and were so eager to come and eat the bread, be petted and scratched, and put on a show.

Along the way, wandering freely around our vehicle, we encountered elk, zebra, prairie dogs, llama, yaks, bison, deer, and more. There were also bears, including some that would wave at you in the hopes that you would throw them some of your bread. The bears were safely behind fences though. I’m not sure how people would react to bears, even ones this friendly, walking up to their car.

OGF-Waving-Bear

Tigers, mountain lions, lynx, and lions were on display as well, but in pens located a bit of a distance from the vehicle. We happened by the tiger enclosure shortly after some fresh meat had been handed out there and that was quite a show.

One of the hits had to be entering the bison area though. Shortly after going through the gate, our car was surrounded by these huge and gentle (we hoped) beasts. It became extremely difficult to move the car and as we inched through the herd, big black tongues would slither in through the windows hoping to get a tasty treat.

After driving through the park we went and viewed remnants of old leftover movie props and equipment, a small petting zoo, and of course the gift shop.

Without a doubt, a stop at the Olympic Game Farm is a necessity when you are in the Sequim area. I think we’ll be heading back for another road trip on the peninsula soon.