Dagobaz

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In the spring of 2005, my sisters presented me with an angry little ball of fluff which I lovingly christened Dagobaz, named after a battle victorious war-horse in an M.M.Kaye novel.  Dagobaz means trickster and the name was aptly picked for though he looked fluffy and dignified in his tuxedo of black & white fur, he was in fact, ornery as hell.  Nearly every house visitor was scratched by him at least once and his love was closely guarded & doled out sparingly to only a select few; and luckily I was one of those people-most of the time.

He grudgingly moved from Washington to Los Angeles with me, where his beloved green yard was replaced with a stuffy and sweltering Hollywood apartment.  No longer did he have the freedom to roam the outside world at his leisure and in my guilt of cloistering his wild animal nature, a cat leash was bought.  To say that was an epic failure of an idea would be a gross understatement.  My arms bore testament to his feelings about being leash bound and he escaped from its coils almost as soon as I had heroically wrestled him into it.  But then we moved again and Aubrey & Zelda joined us in a bigger, less stifling place so he once again had room to roam about…at least a little.  Our plantain covered balcony became he & Zelda’s lair where they would lay, catatonically on the stucco wall and soak up the endless LA summer days.

Then Edgar came and the two of them eyed each other warily and when it was clear that neither of them planned on leaving, a mostly peaceful and, at times, amicable bond developed.  They tolerated each other, simply put, though I suspect that a thread of love may have developed over the years or at least a sense of muted affection.

To soon it seems, we were headed North again, leaving Aubrey & Zelda behind-a crime which Zelda has never forgiven any of us for.  We were back in the land of green fields & evergreens and perhaps inspired by this change of scenery, Dagobaz took up midlife hunting, bringing in an array of both deceased and very much alive animals.  From roof rats to moles and even a baby opossum, it seemed that no prey was immune to his claws including us,  his human family.  Once London arrived and then Huck, this became a bit of a worry as we never knew when his ornery nature would emerge and possibly scar one of them for life.  In truth, he did scratch them both at least once though he quickly learned the error of his ways as Edgar put the Fear upon him & locked him out of the house for a day or two.

The boys too, learned to love or at least appreciate his cantankerous self.  Huck especially sought out his love no matter how many hisses Dago sent his way.  Never a cuddly animal; I could probably count on my hands the number of times I heard him purr, he became our token guard dog-chasing away actual dogs from in front of our gate and joining us on evening walks around the neighborhood.  He would lead the way up & down the block, dodging in and out of bushes, proudly & stealthily showing us the way.

For 13 years, Dago sauntered by my side doling out his aloof but hard-earned love when I needed it and scratching me just enough to keep me on my toes.  He was wild & dapper, as regal as a cat could be and my world won’t be quite the same without him.  He saw me at my worst and at my very best and through it all, he remained lovingly impassive.  He never demanded much from me, aside from the requisite food & water and I appreciated his fierce independence all the more as my life became busier & busier.  Yet he always remained my loyal companion, feisty & ornery till the end, and I will always love him for it.

13 Coins Restaurant

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Back when I was a young underage thing, my super hip uncle, who happened to live on Capital Hill at the time, would sometimes meet up with my mom & I at The Hurricane, the first 24 hour cafe that I had ever been in.  The Hurricane was kinda grubby and full of wannabe grunge guitar players but to my 15 year old self, it was heaven.  I was out past the hour I probably should have been in bed, surrounded by drinking adults who were ignoring me just enough to let their censored kid-guard down.  I sat there & enjoyed my watered down Dr. Pepper reveling in the anomaly of the moment & feeling like I had Arrived.  To this day I have rarely felt that cool again.

13 Coins is the grown up version of those late nights; instead of sticky tabletops & questionable clientele, it has high-backed booths & swiveling captain’s chairs with a Frank Sinatra vibe.  Walking in its’ doors feels like a step back through time, when the Martini’s flowed and men wore sharp suits.  It’s the kinda place where Don Draper would have fit right in had 13 Coins been in downtown Manhattan and he had actually existed.

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The name 13 Coins stems from an old Peruvian folk story that tells of a poor young man in love with a girl from a wealthy family.  Begging her father for his permission to marry the girl, the father asks what he could possibly offer her in life? The young man reached into his pocket and pulled out all his worldly monetary worth, 13 little coins, but pledged his undying love, care and concern for the girl as well.  Apparently his declaration of devotion was enough to move the father into agreeing to the marriage and 13 coins became a symbol of love & devotion.

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So what better place to celebrate my husband and I’s rare night out than at a restaurant named after a folklore romance? Pasta was the theme of our night, from creamy hazelnut cappelletti to a pancetta infused spaghetti carbonara.  Not your typical 24 diner fare, right? That’s because 13 coins is a great restaurant, that just happens to operate round the clock.  So the next time you find yourself in the city & your mom is watching the kids, and you are miraculously still awake past 10pm, head over to 13 Coins to revive some of that old school magic.  Sipping on chilled Prosecco while retreating into the privacy of those infamous leather booths, I felt vaguely nostalgic for my 15 year old self and her flat, tasteless soda.  Had I known those moments of cool were to be few and far between, I would have relished it more.  Sitting there, at 13 Coins though, with my handsome date and a glass of bubbliy magic in my hands, I was as cool as ever, at least I liked to think so.

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13 Coins Restaurant

*255 South King Street

Seattle, WA 98104

206-682-2513

*New location opens Feb. 2018*

 

 

 

 

The Heritage

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My father’s lands and those of his father & his father’s father are still in my family.  We own mountains, rivers and trees as much as men can own nature and our name echos thru the history books of those wild places.  We were pioneers in the forest and explorers in the rugged, rocky landscape which surrounds the little patch of mountain dirt where I was born.  It is a place where a child can run free through the cedars, where seasons are strongly defined, and where everyone who knows anyone, knows us.

It is a legacy we struggle to hold onto~as we venture out of the shadow of the mountains and scatter throughout the rest of the world.  Yet, that untamed terrain has shaped us, and the same pioneering spirit which sent my great grandfather trekking across a dusty wagon trail flows through all of our veins, sending most, if not all of us, on our own twirling adventures across this great earth.  Yet that piece of mountain, that patch of blue, that dash of green holds us all captive and inevitably, we all return.  Whether that’s for a lifetime, a day, a month, a year or only for a fleeting moment, there’s something in that mountainous breeze which heals us, for it’s the place our blood calls home.

Carkeek Park

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Hidden in Greenlake’s backyard & mere blocks away from bustling highway 99, Carcreek Park is as quintessentially Seattle as a park can get.  From Puget Sound beach access, to hiking trails and a plethora of picturesque picnic spots, there literally is something for everyone in this park.

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Named after Morgan J. Carkeek, an English building contractor who was also an accomplished stone mason who built many of Seattle’s early stone buildings, the park is 220 acres of green space with over 6 miles of hiking trails.  There are plenty of climbable trees and salmon berries galore, so a jaunt through these moss covered woods is never a bad idea.  London delighted in showing off his green ninja forest elf skills every time there was a gnarly root or stump that caught his eye.  Needless to say our jaunt turned into a rather long one hour snail hike but there was plenty of time to eat those salmon berries.

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Speaking of salmon, the single coolest thing about this park is that it does in fact have a salmon slide.  I mean, can you get any more Northwest than that!? Kids literally climb into the salmon’s mouth, speed their way down it’s concrete belly and shoot out like a pile of roe in a stream bed! It’s fun and vaguely educational; playgrounds really don’t get better than that.

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There is a nautical theme to most of the playground, including mosaic “tide pools” and sea caves.  While you absent-mindedly push your kid on the swings, you’ll be rewarded with great views of Puget Sound and on a clear day, you might even spot the Olympics. There is also a historic apple orchard somewhere in the park, which was planted by the Piper family near the turn of the century and which lay forgotten under sticker bushes and brambles for years until it was rediscovered in the 1980’s.  A volunteer group was put together and now it hosts a yearly Festival of Fruit celebration complete with apple pie contests and homemade cider made from apples grown in Piper’s orchard itself.

Northwest views, a salmon slide and heirloom apples? Sounds like Washington at its best and Carkeek Park has it all.

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Carkeek Park

950 NW Carkeek Park Road

Seattle, WA 98177

206-684-0877

Open Daily from 6AM-10PM

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Sky View Observatory

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Initially purchased as a date night adventure with my husband, my tickets went unused & nearly disappeared into the dark abyss that is my purse, until my son found them and graciously offered to be my date.  Well, he’s four so it actually went more like this:

“Mama? Maaama? MoM! What are these!?”

“They are tickets. Now get out of my purse.”

“Tickets? For what? For an airplane? A boat? A dinosaur ride?”

“No, they are tickets to a big building. Now please stop dumping my purse out.”

Barely able to contain his excitement, London ecstatically shouted “I want to go with you!!! Let’s go right now!!!” while the final contents of my Mary Poppins sized purse scattered across the floor.

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Though we didn’t leave that minute, I was swayed enough by his unbridled enthusiasm, which was the exact polar opposite of my husband’s reaction when I had first mentioned the tickets to him; to plan a day date with London that week.  Of course Grandma and baby Huck tagged along too and somehow we miraculously picked a day without rain.

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Getting to the Sky View Observatory was not without its’ mishaps however.  Firstly, there was the usual two hour get-out-of-the-bloody-house departure, the oh-shit-I-forgot-I-needed-gas moment and then the requisite I-am-hungry chant coming from the back seat.  Once we finally did arrive, being the fugal being that I am & refusing to pay for parking when there is free street parking just 8 blocks away, we found a spot & began hoofing it downhill towards the observatory.

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No sooner had we made it a block or two, when Huck and I turned to the commotion suddenly unfolding behind us, and we see both my mom and poor little London literally rolling down the steep sidewalk much to the horror of the street cleaner who was standing guiltily to the side with his broom clutched to his chest.  In an effort to avoid his extended broom handle, my mom swung to the right but the happily skipping London wasn’t so graceful and in a tangle of arms and legs, he took them both down. My mom had valiantly attempted to take the brunt of the fall herself, which she primarily succeeded in doing by bloodying up both her palms and one knee. After recovering from our sidewalk trauma and bravely brushing themselves off & carrying on, we finally made it to the Observatory with two of our party bruised & bloodied but ready to take in the view.

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The Sky View Observatory is located in the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle & was completed in 1985.  At 902 feet tall, the observatory, located on the 73rd floor, is the tallest public viewing observatory in the Pacific Northwest.  It offers unparalleled 360° panoramic views of  Seattle itself, the Puget Sound and the outlying wilderness.  We could see the Olympics off in the hazy distance the day we went as well as the Cascades.

The Columbia Center has over 8,800 windows and 48 elevators and since it was built to withstand earthquakes and hurricane force winds, it claims to be one of the strongest & safest buildings ever built in the Pacific Northwest.  Looking out of the 73rd floor windows that day, I certainly hoped that this engineering claim was indeed true.  It’s a beautiful view for sure, full of picturesque photo moments and floor to ceiling windows; but those Seattle sidewalks sure are a long ways down.

Sky View Observatory

20160622_134637_HDR701 5th Ave 73rd Floor
Seattle, WA 98104

206-386-5564

Tickets

Adults $14.75

Kids 6-12 $9.00

Kids 5 and under FREE

TNT Taqueria

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One of the things I miss most about my hood living LA days, is the vibrant street food culture.  Though I am sure its varieties pale in comparison to some cities like Mumbai or Bangkok, LA’s plethora of street vendors seemed like an exotic and slightly dangerous way of eating compared to the refrigerated snacking of my youth.  The food on those makeshift carts was real & authentic and though maybe lacking in sit-down restaurant ambience, they made up for it with pure flavor and refreshing simplicity.

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So when I stumbled across TNT Taqueria, a hip walk-up taco shop on 45th street in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle, I was transported back to the streets of Hollywood, with the smell of sizzling tortillas in my nose and shouts of “champurrado” echoing in my ears.

20160716_163010With locally sourced meats and five unique homemade salsas made daily, TNT takes taco truck grubbing up a notch.  It’s street flavor with a not so street feel.  The menu is uncomplicated, as tacos should be, and the bottled Coke is ice-cold. There are a few other items on the menu, from tortas to quesadillas and lets not forgot the pretty killer breakfast menu.  And good news here;  if it takes me 2 hours to leave my house due to my kids playing hide & go seek with my car keys and then another hour and a half to reach the restuarant due to London’s pea sized bladder and the million stops that that requires, TNT Taqueria will still be serving breakfast once I actually arrive. Yes!! Breakfast all day, you heard that right Mamas, you might actually eat a warm egg again in your life!

As London and I clamored up on the outside stools, ready to munch down on my burrito, a breakfast burrito I might add, we were surrounded by festive music, bright colors and delicious smells.

20160716_163311Though he ended up eating pretty much only his cheese quesadilla, he at least tried mine, even hesitantly dipping a corner of it into the creamy avocado dip.  Perhaps someday when he himself is out exploring the world & he comes across unfamiliar culinary terrain, I hope he remembers moments like these and drives right in & tries it. And though his cultural awareness began not on the streets of Hollywood, but in the slightly less diverse Pacific Northwest, I hope it stays with him, evolving year after year, pushing him to seek out those unknown flavors and challange his tastbuds every chance he gets.

 

 

 

 

TNT Taqueria

2114 North 45th Street

Seattle, WA 98103

206-322-0124

Open Daily 8am-10pm

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Samoa Cookhouse

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When I was 9, my grandparents & great grandparents took me on a roadtrip to California. It was just me & the four of them, cozied up in my Grandpa Sugar’s blue minivan.  I had a library copy of “On the Banks of Plum Creek” on the seat beside me, Grandmas’ who had a seemingly endless supply of gum in their purses and Grandpas’ who would let me order steak for dinner.  I was queen of the road for those two weeks and I loved it.

We would stop here & there on our way down south; to play miniature golf or read a historical marker about the Oregon Trail.  Yet no place held my Grandpa Sugar’s attention long enough to veer too far off course from his true destination, the Samoa Cookhouse near Eureka, CA.  For days before we reached it, my Grandpa could talk of nothing else it seemed, until the cookhouse was built up in my mind as this mythical roadhouse full of the fluffiest bread on earth and never ending portions.

When we finally did reach it, I ate so much of that infamous bread that I fell into a brief carb induced coma.  It was some damn good bread indeed.

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Serving up one daily menu, family style, the Samoa Cookhouse is the last operating cookhouse in the West.  Opened in 1890 as the Hammond Lumber Company Cookhouse, it kept the loggers fed with three square meals a day & prided itself on “never sending a man away hungry”.  This philosopy still holds true today, so its always best to arrive with an empty belly & a voracious appetite.

The cookhouse is not for those delicate eaters who boast about their not-so-special dietary restrictions of one kind or another.  You get what’s on the daily menu be it pork chops, pot roast or fried chicken.  Between the soup, salad, bread and side dishes though-one would be hard pressed not to find something to grub down on.  And there’s always dessert.

Adjacent to the dining room is a well stocked logging museum, packed with local logging artifacts and pictures.  It’s a good place to stroll around after gourging on the lumberjack sized meal from next door.  I remember the musuem being my Grandpa Jim’s favorite part of the Cookhouse, though my 9 year old self could only appreciate so much logging history before my eyes started to glass over.

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It was the entire experience though that I think made my grandparents love that place; from the family style comradery & the heaping portions, to the pure history of the place itself.  I’ve never seen someone have a bad time there.  Besides offering road weary travelers a place to eat,  The Cookhouse serves up a chance to be a part of something, to feel what it must have been like to be a logger, a waitress, a cook when life was simpler but by no means easier.  A world which my grandparents were familar with and which they tried to share with me all those years later.

Today, three out of the four of them are gone but whenever I return to the Samoa Cookhouse; whether as a young college student, a newlywed or now as a mom, I remember that trip & I feel the memories of my time with my grandparents flood back to me.  Now it’s my turn to pass on a little bit of history, to show to my sons that era in time which defined my grandparents generation and to share with them some of the fluffiest damn fine bread around.

 Samoa Cookhouse

707-442-1659

908 Vance Ave, Samoa, CA 95564

Open 7 days a week 7AM-8PM