Monday, September 24, 2012


 "ROAD TRIP!" is the title of this blog post, because that is the name of the "map" you are given when you enter this most unusual-looking building, sitting high on a hill in Tacoma, Washington. 
 The building just opened in June of this year, and it is called "LeMay: America's Car Museum". 
 You can visit the museum's lobby and adjoining gift shop, even if you do not have time to enjoy all the sights you will see, with a paid admission.
 The museum's mission is to be more than just a building housing rare and beautiful automobiles. 
 Their vision is to be a place where all sorts of people can gather to learn, have fun and celebrate---first hand---America's love affair with the automobile. 
 The goal is to help visitors enjoy the memories and stories the museum's various cars will evoke.  For example, seeing this car, instantly took me back to my days as a junior in high school, because my boyfriend drove a car like this.  There were no air bags or seat belts to protect us back in those days, just lots and lots of chrome!
 Both ends of the new location for this museum have glass walls.  This vintage red convertible provides a striking foreground, to the skyline of Tacoma and Commencement Bay, that the visitor sees from the end of the building opposite the entrance. 
 The doors in above photo lead out to an elevated outdoor patio, where one can sit and relax on the colorful, movable benches, while taking in the beautiful view.  This would also be a great location for your party to get a group photo, as you could frame it with either the Tacoma skyline in the background, or the Museum glass wall in the background.  The movable benches would enable some of your group to stand, and some to sit. (Can you tell I think like a photographer??!!)
 When I saw these shiny pipes on the exterior of one of the automobiles on display, it made me have a better appreciation of what the architect had in mind, with the shiny, pipe-like design of the museum's new building exterior. 
 I read that the company that made the arch supports of this building's roof line, also worked on the custom-made roof of the Tacoma Dome.
 In a collaborative effort with Tacoma's popular Museum of Glass ( ), hot shop artists made the custom-designed pieces in this exhibit, to give a "nod" to abstract aspects of automobile design.
 There are various sections to the car museum, and one section is all about the story of race cars in America, with this vintage Indianapolis 500 car being the "title shot" for that display.
 For an additional fee, a visitor can try their hand behind the steering wheel at one of the CXC Racing Simulators.  If that is too much of a thrill for your nervous system to tolerate, you could try your luck  against your buddies on the pro-class slot car track. 
 I liked this section of old trucks that was on one of the lower stories.  Again, since the purpose of the museum is to evoke memories in its guests, I have to mention that seeing these lovingly restored old trucks, reminded me of a time when I was a passenger in the vintage truck of a high school classmate.  When we pulled into her driveway to park the truck to get out, the old truck's brakes failed, and we went right through their lovely garage door!  I will never forget the calmness with which her father assessed the damage, when he heard the crash from his location inside the house.  His first reaction was to express gratitude that Cathy or I had not been injured in the crash, and to say he was actually glad the accident happened where it did---demolishing their lovely garage door---rather than on "Harrison Hill", which we had just descended from!  I had great respect for him after that incident, and it taught me that one's first concern in an auto accident are the human beings, NOT the physical damage to the car, or objects it hits!
 Again with the memories, I had to take a photo of the iconic 1957 blue chevy.  That is because my family had a 1957 blue chevy.  However, since my father was the "King of Parsimony", our '57 chevy did not have a speck of chrome on it.  Dad ordered our new family car as "stripped down" and inexpensive as was humanly possible!  It didn't even have a radio, and air conditioning was out of the question! (And I wonder why I am so frugal??)
 Since NAPA company is one of the corporations that make this museum possible, it is understandable that they would having a working repair shop, that museum members can utilize, to get their vintage automobiles serviced.
 In years gone by, automobile companies put a lot more chrome and size into their hood ornaments.  Most of us recognize the well-known, circular symbol of Mercedes, and vintage auto aficionados will know the figure with the bow and arrow is from the now-defunct, Pierce Arrow automobile.  These symbols got me to thinking about what is the symbol for me as a Christian?  Although the cross is probably the first thing that comes to mind, Jesus' very own words in John 13:35 say "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."  Those words convict me that I need to be very careful that my "love walk" is my symbol of being a Christ-follower, and not just a cross on a necklace that I wear!
 The LeMay Car Museum has a WONDERFUL gift shop that just about anyone, at any age, would enjoy perusing.  Since Route 66 is has the nicknames of "Mother Road", and "America's Main Street", it is not surprising that there is a huge selection of Route 66 items.  The store also carries auto-themed clothing, model cars for youth to assemble, and an extensive line of books, related to automobiles, motorcycles, and road trips.  Many of these items are also available for purchase on the museum's website, which is .
 During my recent visit to Tacoma, I used the light rail, FREE (daddy would be proud) public transportation that Tacoma offers, called THE LINK.  I took this photo from my fifth-floor room at the downtown Marriott Courtyard Hotel ( ).  It illustrates why that hotel property is such a good choice for your lodging needs while in the Tacoma area.
 Once you step onto The Link outside the Marriott, you just sit back and enjoy the "free ride" to the Tacoma Dome station, which is the terminus of the downtown Link.  The LeMay: America's Car Museum is just across the street from the Tacoma Dome.  There are SO MANY wonderful attractions/activities to do in Tacoma, that I hope you will go to the website of the Greater Tacoma Convention and Visitors Bureau ( ), or visit their page on Facebook, to start making your plans to explore this amazing area of America's Pacific Northwest.  If you are like me, doing so will give you MILES OF SMILES!  Tricia
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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Taste of Tacoma

During my recent visit to Tacoma, Washington, my friend, Jan, and I had the delightful experience of sharing an evening meal together at Maxwell's Speakeasy + Lounge (   
 Maxwell's is located on a corner, at 454 St. Helens Avenue, which puts it on the edge of both the Stadium District and the Theater District.  It occupies a section of the historic Walker Building in Tacoma.  Our very knowledgeable waiter told us that the Walker Building was originally built to provide housing for the hundreds of families that moved to Tacoma during one of  its boom eras, of the last century. 
 In fact, Maxwell's is known for its stellar service, terrific interior space, and fantastic food.  This photo shows their "Butcher Block" appetizer that we started our meal with.  The waiter meticulously gave us the names of the assorted cheeses, fruit, spreads, greens, and meats that we were sampling, before he left it with us to savor the complementary flavors the appetizer provided.
 For entrees, I chose a chicken dish, and Jan chose a beef dish.  As you can see, the portions were generous---so much so that we each had enough for our lunch the next day, after the waiter kindly boxed up that part of our entree items that we did not finish. 
 For dessert, we shared a creme brulee, with fresh fruit garnish, that was absolutely divine.  It gave me a new appreciation of the commandment in the Bible that says "TASTE"!  In all fairness, I need to quote the entire sentence of Psalm 34:8, which is "Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him."   You can be sure, we were blessed by the meal we had at Maxwell's.  Likewise, the management at Maxwell's is eager to bless others in the community, as evidenced by the NUMEROUS contributions that have made to charitable causes in the Tacoma area.  In addition, they are participating in the Tacoma Restaurant Week, which is set for October 14 - 18 and October 21-25.  The event was held for the first time a while back, and the executive chef of Maxwell's, Hudson Slater, is quoted as saying "compared to last year, diners can expect a better dining experience and a focus on seasonal ingredients and satisfying portions that will make up an appealing, elegant dinner."  To review details of the event, and see which restaurants are participating, check out 
 My last day visiting the Tacoma area might be called the "Farm to Fork Tour"!  Jan and I picked blackberries growing wild along the roadside.  Granted, there were several geese in the adjacent field that were giving us "dirty looks", as if those berries were for "the birds", and not us humans. 
The reason we came across the blackberries, is because we had seen this farm stand advertising sweet corn, and I wanted to photograph the big flock of geese that were "grazing" in the field beside the corn stand.  Upon closer examination, we saw that there was not an attendant at the farm stand, rather just a note to help ourselves to all the corn on the cob we wanted, at a mere 25 cents an ear.  There was a lock box secured to the back of the stand, where we dropped our money.  I can honestly say, that the corn on the cob I purchased from that stand was THE VERY BEST I have had in all my life!  Tasting it made we wish I had brought an extra suitcase with me, so I could take a bushel basket of the delicious golden nuggets back with me to Arkansas! 
 Later that same day, we had the added blessing of being a dinner guest of Jan's friend, Rose, a longtime Tacoma resident, who is a culinary expert (with Italian roots), and also the author or her very own cookbook!
 Rose, and her husband Don (who has also contributed some of the recipes in the cookbook) have taken culinary classes in the Tacoma area, and their frequent dinner guests are the beneficiaries of their expertise.
 Their back yard is a gorgeous example of an urban container garden, and we got to sample some of their harvest, such as the fresh, homegrown rosemary, that seasoned the chicken and vegetable dish they served.
 This Hot Artichoke Crabmeat Dip is one of the recipes in the cookbook, and I can vouch for its deliciousness!
 Also, Don has been trying his hand at winemaking, in small batches, for family use.  I was impressed with the colored labels he designed, with a shield containing the initials of this most hospitable couple.
 With the first name "Rose", perhaps this hostess was predestined to be growing fabulous roses in her backyard (see bouquet on the table), as well as having rose-shaped serving dishes, garnished with  local berries, and mint she grew herself!
 In our hectic lifestyles of buying convenience foods and frozen desserts, it is a rare site, indeed, to see a "made from scratch", New York-style cheese cake.  That is why I wanted to take a photograph of it, before Rose took off the sides of the cheesecake pan!
 And these culinary aficionados do not use canned or frozen whipped topping, either!  Rose had this special tool, complete with carbon dioxide cartridge, that instantly turns heavy cream into a beautiful, and tasty addition to the homemade cheesecake!
 The result of her efforts was this gorgeous and delicious dessert!
 Rose and Don had many interesting objects decorating their garden, and I was especially impressed with the way she had turned an antique Washington State souvenir plaque, into a decoration in her flower bed.  Looking around her lovely garden, it was evident why Washington is known as "The Evergreen State"!
 This stone book in her flower bed, with the passage from Ecclesiastes, made me thankful that the season that I was getting to experience in Tacoma, Washington, was one full of blue skies and pleasant temperatures!
 My "Taste of Tacoma" was SOOOoooooo rosie, that I am hoping that you will want to go there and get a taste of it for  yourself!  If so, just log on to to start planning how you can sample flavors that will give you Miles of Smiles!  Tricia
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 The first thing I saw when I entered the Tacoma Art Museum ( ) was this giant dog!  His name is Leroy, the Big Pup, and he is the 12-foot-tall, cardboard sculpture creation of Seattle artist, Scott Fife.  His presence at the doorway is a great example of the Mission Statement of the Tacoma Art Museum, which is to showcase the art of Northwest artists, and to connect people through art.  An example of the way that the Tacoma Art Museum connects people through art, is their regularly-scheduled workshops.  For example, Scott Fife did a workshop where participants could learn how to create their very own cardboard sculpture animal!  Another way the museum is connecting with the community is by having the donation box adjacent to the dog, where those who would like to contribute to the welfare of Tacoma animals, can leave a donation.
 The next installation that caught my eye was this colorful sight in the outdoor courtyard.  It is called "Ma Chihuly's Floats", and is a gift from well-known Northwest glass artist, Dale Chihuly, in honor of his mother.  As it turns out, I was fortunate to get to see it, because it is a "seasonal" exhibit, meaning that when bad weather arrives later in the fall, it is CAREFULLY dismantled, and CAREFULLY packed away until the following spring.
 But the remainder of Chihuly works on display at the Tacoma Art Museum are NOT seasonal, and can be viewed year-round.  In fact, Dale Chihuly has a permanent gallery at the museum, dedicated to his work.  He has been incredibly generous to the Tacoma Art Museum, as I counted at least 39 magnificent glass creations that he donated, all in honor of his parents, Viola and George Chihuly, and his brother, George W. Chihuly.  I read that he credits his growing up in Tacoma, along with the support of his family, to his outstanding success as an artist.
 In addition to this comprehensive exhibit of Dale Chihuly's work on long-term display at the Tacoma Art Museum, there are five large-scale installations of Chihuly's art in Tacoma's Museum District, further testifying to the close ties to his hometown that Chihuly retains.  To provide an overview of these installations, Tacoma Art Museum has created "Ear for Art", a free, self-guided walking tour of the installations, that includes an audio tour, accessible through your personal phone.  The number is 1-888-411-4220.  It was cool getting to hear Dale Chihuly's recorded voice telling you about his creations,  simultaneously as you were examining/admiring it!  It reminded me of the way that God's Word, The Holy Bible, tells us about HIS creations---human beings---as we are examining/admiring them!  Ephesians 2:10 says "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."  That verse is especially meaningful to me, because my son's last name is "Shipman", so when you say "shipmanworks" it is a reversal of "workmanship"!  And, I am especially glad that God created my son!
 I was captivated by the gallery containing the work of Portland, Oregon artist, Marie Watt.  Her exhibit, called "Lodge", will be viewable until October 7, 2012.  In fact, I spent almost my entire time at the Tacoma Art Museum within the gallery walls of the Lodge exhibit.  It was FASCINATING!  The giant, colorful rectangle you see in the right side of this photo is a stack of wool blankets, over nine feet tall!
 Reading the manila tags that were visible for some of the blankets, was intriguing, and went right along with the title of the exhibit.  Marie Watt states that the title of the exhibit, "Lodge", refers to a space of welcome and a place where stories are shared.
 Just seeing the small section of the blanket with the red, white, and yellow stripes, probably instantly evokes memories for many Northwesterners, especially Canadians.  These are called Hudson Bay Company point blankets, and hold iconic status in Canada.
 This tag states that cat hair goes along with the donated blanket, because the cat and the blanket were constant companions of this donor's mother.
 Other parts of the Lodge exhibit included the igloo-type structure in the corner, and the even taller stack of folded blankets, called "Three Sisters" which is made up of wool blankets from the artist's relatives.
 Seeing this fabric art, made in part from green, wool army blankets, immediately took my mind to childhood memories of camping with my family, when we ALWAYS took along the old, green army blankets that my father had purchased from an army surplus store.  Later, these same blankets, were standard-issue "linens" for the many nights we spent on the family houseboat.  Part of the interactive process of the exhibit was to supply manila tags for the viewers, so they could write the story of their very OWN blankets on the tags, then attach the tag to their heirloom blanket.  I had started doing this for family heirloom quilts, but it had not occurred to me, to do it for blankets.  However, after my visit to Tacoma, I plan to go through my cedar chest to give that old green army blanket its due historical recognition!
 Having been to two different Winter Olympic events in Canada, I had become acquainted with the reverence Canadians have for the Hudson Bay Company blankets.  This art work, made from one of these blankets, reminds me of scenes from Canada, including the ever-present Canadian Mounted Policeman!
 This wall hanging interested me because my home is decorated in the "lodge" style, with antlers found in just about every room!  The artist describes this work as a Pendleton stadium blanket, with appliques, and hung by shed antlers.
 After leaving the nostalgic "Lodge" exhibit, I returned to see work by other glass artists, who have benefited from the attention that Dale Chihuly's success has brought to their field.  The intricacies of this hand blown, glass vase were incredible!
 The museum also has an outstanding educational program, with about 6,500 school students visiting the museum through the School Tour program.  In fact, approximately 25% of all visitors enter free-of-charge through various promotions as "Free Third Thursday" that provides free admission all day.
 In addition, the Tacoma Art Museum is promoting Thursday night "IGNITE" events throughout the season, where they have special prices on food and beverages in their restaurant.  My friend and I ate supper at the museum on a Thursday night, and enjoyed a delicious meal, in a lovely setting, that was very reasonably priced.
 Since I enjoy photography, I didn't want to miss the room that contained a small photo exhibit.  I am always amazed how much putting a photograph in a frame, with appropriate matting, can enhance its enjoyment.
 As you exit the Tacoma Art Museum, you get a different perspective on the "Ma Chihuly Floats" exhibit, than what you have as you enter.  The mirrored effect of the triangular-shaped hallway serves to "double" your viewing pleasure!
 Museums usually have great gift shops, and the Tacoma Art Museum is no exception.  And of course, one can visit the museum gift store, without having to purchase a paid admission to the museum.
 One thing that keeps the Northwest so green and lush-looking, is their frequent rain.  So one can find some very creative ways to decorate the ever-present umbrellas you will see these folks carrying.  Of course the design on this umbrella in their gift shop, very appropriately brings to mind the work of Dale Chihuly.
 This photo shows that the downtown Marriott Courtyard  ( )  is directly across the street from the Tacoma Art Museum, and is great place to choose as your headquarters hotel when visiting Tacoma.  In addition, the Tacoma Convention and Visitor's Bureau ( ) operates a visitor information office in the lower street level of the hotel, which is extremely convenient.  The building adjacent to the Marriott Courtyard on the other side is the Greater Tacoma Convention Center, another reason why this particular hotel property is so popular with guests.  Hopefully, reading this blog will make you want to get off the couch at your "lodge", and go to check out a lodge in the Pacific Northwest. The "logical" conclusion is that such a journey will bring you miles of smiles!  Tricia 
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