Monday, October 29, 2012

It's nice to be a regular (Part II)

Being in the Navy and moving to a new duty station every couple of years makes it difficult to achieve "regular" status.  By the time you've been going to the same business often enough that the staff remembers you, it's time to move again.

Now, I'm not talking about Yelp's definition of "regular" where you go to the same restaurant twice in a week and ipso-facto-POOF!  Suddenly Yelp gives you a congratulatory message that you're now a REGULAR at that business.  No, there's no set formula for how many visits or how far spaced apart they have to be to achieve said status. 

It's all about recognition. 

Sort of like the old Cheers theme song, "Sometime you wanna go where everybody knows your name."  The employees don't necessarily need to know your name, but if they clearly recognize you and ask if you want "the usual," THAT's when you know you've arrived.  Yelp should make it so that "regular" status is only conferred by an employee of the business who enters some secret password into your smartphone to show that the employees of the establishment recognize you as a regular.

It happened a few weeks ago at the place we most frequently go to lunch after church.  Our waitress recognized us and asked if the boys wanted "the usual" to drink.  It just makes you feel... home... like a sense of belonging.

I can also confidently say I'm a regular at the Khaki Lounge on the submarine base.  The bartender, Margaret, recognizes me and asks how my boys are.  We have done a lot of wardroom lunches and "leaders lunches" for all our officers and chiefs there.  Then I took my boys in there for lunch one day while my wife was attending some sort of Family Readiness Group (FRG).  I don't imagine a lot of people take their kids to the Khaki Lounge, so it's easy to understand why that stuck in her memory.

Last weekend I was overjoyed and devastated all at once.

At first, I was overjoyed to have achieved "regular" status at the base barber shop.  Deja vu.  Last time I wrote about this, it had taken under a year, but I was in the shipyard and went to the same barber every week.  I didn't write about it on shore duty, but I know it happened a lot quicker on shore duty in the DC area going to the same places for lunch and the same barber shop every week.  Being on sea duty now, I go away for months at a time and the barbers forget all about you.  So here it is, a year and a half into my tour of duty in the Pacific Northwest, and I finally became a regular at the base barber shop.  My favorite barber recognized me and asked if I wanted it same as usual.  Yes, please!  :-)

Then I sat down in the chair and as she started combing my hair before she started cutting, she said sternly, "Somebody else cut your hair."  Ding ding ding!  :-)  That's another clear sign of being a regular - when they can tell someone else has messed with your hair or cut it differently, and another case of deja vu.  I confessed that I had to get my haircut, but she (the barber) was out of town. 

This is where my excitement of being a regular ended.

After my comment about her being out of town, she sighed and confessed.  Yep, she had to go househunting.  Her husband got out of the Navy and they're moving to Texas, so she was down in Texas shopping for a new house.  She just submitted her 2 weeks notice.


Back to ground zero.  It's just not fair!

Oh well, maybe at our next duty station...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Kitsap Favorites

Now that I've been living in Bremerton for a year and a half, I figure I've been here long enough that I should have a Kitsap Favorites list to keep track of the places we've gone.  Like my other favorites lists, I will come back and update this post as we find new places and events to enjoy, and I'll place a link to this post in the margin on my blog for easy reference.

Places to Go / Daytrips:

- Seattle Aquarium.  We've been to many aquariums around the country.  Although the Seattle Aquarium is somewhat small compared to others, it is a pretty nice aquarium with good exhibits.  We particularly enjoyed seeing the baby sea otter.

- EMP Museum.  I HIGHLY recommend the EMP Museum.  This place is awesome.  If we were staying in the area, I would buy the annual pass so we could go back again.

- Pike's Place Market in Seattle.  Oh my!  What a cacaphony of sights, sounds, and smells!  Just looking at pictures, you might be inclined to think to yourself, "Self, so what?  It's just a market."
- Seattle Seahawks.  One of my Sailors did a reenlistment here, and it was pretty awesome.  They allowed ten of us down on the sidelines to watch the Seahawks warmup.  I got hit in the shoulder by a practice field goal kick.  Head Coach Pete Carroll walked over and shook our hands and took pictures with us.  We got to watch the team run onto the field and stood on the field saluting during the national anthem.  Then we went up to our seats to watch the game.  Warning:  The Seahawks stadium is known as the LOUDEST in the nation.  It was deafening.  I saw kids there wearing headphones.

- Northwest Trek Wildlife Park.  We enjoyed this place.  You ride a tram / open-aired bus around the park and get to see tons of caribou, elk, mountain goats, deer, and other animals in their natural habiat.
- Olympic Game Farm.  I haven't actually been here yet, but my family has been a couple of times with visitors while I was out at sea.  I've seen the pictures, and it looks pretty cool.  You drive through in your own car, and you'll have all sorts of animals sticking their heads in your windows to eat bread out of your hand.

- Port Townshend.  Fort Worden State Park and the town of Port Townshend are where the movie Officer and a Gentleman was filmed.  Fort Worden was one of three forts guarding the entrance to Puget Sound and the approaches to Seattle, and the old concrete gun emplacements on top of artillery hill command a very nice view.  We also walked out to the Point Wilson Lighthouse and got to climb up and see the beautiful Fresnel lens.  The view from the top of the lighthouse is also pretty spectacular.

Weekend Getaways:
- Great Wolf Lodge, Grand Mound, WA - it's a hotel with a big INDOOR waterslide park.
- Evergreen Air & Space Museum and Waterpark in McMinnville, Oregon
- Astoria, Oregon - Goonies never say die!

Outdoor Activities:

Hiking and Snowshoeing:
- Green Mountain - Gold Creek Trail - close by, not too difficult, might be okay for kids depending on how used to hiking your kids are.
- Guillemot Cove Nature Preserve - close by, short easy walk with kids.
- Mount Rainier National Park - Snowshoeing at Paradise - I want to go back sometime and do the Park Ranger guided snowshoe trek.  It is open for kids 8 yrs old and up.
- Olympic National Park - Dosewallips River
- Olympic National Park - Hurricane Ridge in snow - in winter months they have sledding here for kids under 8.
- FAV! Olympic National Park - Hurricane Hill in summer
- Olympic National Park - Mount Zion - steep and strenuous hike, not recommended for kids.
- Olympic National Park - Marymere Falls and Spruce Railroad Trail - short hike to beautiful waterfall, easy for kids.
- Olympic National Park - Obstruction Point to Deer Park - long hike for adults only.
- Olympic National Park - Staircase Rapids - short and easy hike, easy for kids.
- FAV! Snoqualmie - Snowshoeing and Tubing

- See also Kitsap Kayaking Resources
- Port Gamble kayaking (Hood Canal)
- Belfair State Park kayaking (Hood Canal)

Places on my "to do" list but I haven't made it there yet:
- Hiking Cape Flattery
- Kayaking Nisqually Flats
- Weekend trip to Victoria or Vancouver, BC
- Weekend trip to Pacific Beach - Navy MWR has a beach hotel and cottages there

Restaurants:  I've been exploring and trying many different restaurants around the Kitsap peninsula, but here are a few that I have been back to more than once:

- Barbie's Cafe in Seabeck.  I found this place totally by accident when coming back from hiking Green Mountain, and it quickly became my favorite on the peninsula.  Nice little cafe on the Hood Canal with excellent food, and if you're lucky you'll get to watch the bald eagles soaring around the dock outside while you eat.

- Oak Table in Kingston.  THE BEST BREAKFAST on the peninsula.  They also have a second location in Sequim, and somebody who shall remain nameless accidentally entered THAT location into our car's GPS and started driving toward Sequim one Sunday morning.  Thankfully somebody else in the car had a clue and said, "Why are you driving past the exit?"  Granted, Kingston is about a 30 minute drive out from Silverdale, but it's totally worth it.

- Port Gamble General Store in... well... Port Gamble.  Also has excellent breakfast.  To wit - lemon ricotta pancakes with fresh blackberry compote. 

- Mike's Four Star Barbecue in Port Gamble.  Although I'm not a fan of their cole slaw, everything else here is delicious.  If you've got a large party to feed, Mike's does a great job with catering - just pick up some large trays of ribs and beef brisket and you're all set!

- Fondi's Pizzeria in Gig Harbor.  My kids beg us to go here all the time.  They love the pepperoni rolls that are on the appetizer menu.  I am also a big fan of their pizza and wish they were closer to our house.  Our favorite pizza place in Silverdale closed down and we haven't found a suitable replacement, so we've been making our pizza at home.

- Yacht Club Broiler.  Right on the waterfront in Silverdale, WA, the food is delicious, the service is good, and the prices are reasonable.  Twice now, I have hosted large group parties for 20 or so people there, and Yacht Club Broiler did a great job and for a very reasonable price.  (Thumbs down - they serve Pepsi, but so does just about every other establishment in Kitsap County.)

- Burrata Bistro in Poulsbo.  Think butternut squash ravioli.  My kids don't like this place (food too fancy), so we don't go often, but I LOVE their culinary masterpieces.

- That's Some Italian Restaurant in Poulsbo.  This is a family favorite for us.  The name is kinda cheesy and the prices are a little steep, but the food is really good.  I think my kids just like to eat here for the garlic bread and meatballs.

- Juanito's Taco Shop in Chico.  Little shack on the side of the road with great Mexican food.

- Tacqueria El Huarche in Silverdale.  There are MANY Mexican restaurants around here, but for those of you from San Diego, this is where you can get a California Burrito (carne asada burrito with french fries just like Santana's on Rosecrans in San Diego).

Ivar's Seafood in Seattle.  This is worth the ferry ride over to Seattle.  Take the Bainbridge Island Ferry over, get off the ferry and turn left.  Ivar's is one of the first restaurants on your left hand side.  Top notch food and service.

SUSHI.  While I've been happy with the plethora of Mexican restaurants to choose from, I've been disappointed by the selection of sushi.  Probably just because I was spoiled coming here from Pearl Harbor where I had dozens of awesome sushi places to choose from and ate sushi multiple times per week.  There are two places here in Silverdale - Origami Sushi and Hakata.  Neither are great.  Hakata violates their agreement with the credit card company and won't let you use a credit card unless you spend $25 or more.  Their sushi isn't bad, but the quantity I received was small in comparison to the price I paid.  Origami likes to put gobs of mayonnaise on their rolls.  Yech.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Olympic National Park - Dosewallips River

This was supposed to be hike #3 in the Falcon Guide titled Best Easy Day Hikes - Olympic National Park.  Unbeknownst to me, at some point between when the book was published in 2008 and now, the road was washed out about 5 miles short of the entrance to the National Park.

At the point where the road is washed out, we found about a dozen cars parked (see the victory pose photo below), so we figured people were just beginning their hikes from that point onward.  We encountered a few hikers coming out and asked what it was like.  They told us after the initial switchback trail up over the hill above the washout that it was pretty flat and easy.

This is what the switchback part of the trail looked like.

The trail over the hill was well-defined hard pack dirt and easy to follow.  When we got over the hill, the trail dropped us back down onto Dosewallips Road on the other side of the washout.

Blunoz Self Portrait by the Dosewallips River

From the point we rejoined the Dosewallips Road to the Elkhorn campsite, we enjoyed the deafening roar of the river at our side.  Still photos don't capture the essence of walking along the roaring river, so I had to post a short video clip instead.  The section of road from the washout to the Elkhorn campground was a nice flat road and would have been nice for a bike ride.  We saw a family riding their bicycles near the campground.  You'd just have to push your bikes up over that first hill.

The Elkhorn campground was a nice place and clearly still gets used.  There was no privy or any sort of facilities available though.  We spent some time by the river skipping rocks and marveling at how crystal clear the water was.  Considering how little rain we've had in the last couple of months, it was odd to see so much water in the river, but it was frigidly cold glacier runoff. 

From this sign by the Elkhorn campground onward, the road starts a steady uphill climb and diverges away from the river.  If you look at the altitude profile in my Garmin track below, you'll see that the trail was fairly flat - about 100 feet of elevation gain over the first 1.4 miles, then it gained a little over 300 feet in the next 0.6 miles as we climbed up the road away from the Eklhorn campground.  There really wasn't much to see here.  When we got 2 miles away from where we parked the car, we decided to head back down again.

There were lots of these little white and black butterflies flittering about all around us along the trail. 

We also spotted a couple of different catepillars, lots of pearly everlasting and some other common flowers along the way.

Long shadows at the end of the day.

On the hill over the washout.

Victory Pose

This was a first.  When we arrived back at the car, the boys declared "victory pose!" and ordered me to take a photo of them.  Goofballs.

Hike Stats:  When I'm searching for places to hike with my kids, I appreciate having some basic facts and figures about the hike for me to judge if it's doable with my kids.  With that in mind, I hope other parents considering this hike find the following information useful.
  • Date: 6 October 2012
  • Time of Departure:  Left the house about 10 a.m.  Stopped at the Quilcene Ranger Station to stamp my book, then had lunch at Logger's Landing (great food and excellent service).  By the time we got up to the end of the Dosewallips Road and started our hike, it was 1:41 p.m.
  • Time of Return:    Around 4:30 p.m back at the car.  Held up by the Hood Canal Bridge opening on our way back.  Stopped and picked up Mike's Four Star Barbecue in Port Gamble on our way home.  Got home around 6:30 p.m.
  • Elapsed:  2 hours 52 minutes
  • Moving Time (GPS):  1 hours 48 minutes 
  • Stopped Time (GPS):  1 hour 4 minutes 
  • Mileage (GPS): 5.0 miles
  • Avg Speed (GPS):  1.8 mph
  • Elevation Gain:  725 feet
  • Max Elevation:  1,004 feet
  • Weather:   Clear and sunny.
  • Winds:  None.
  • Air Temp: 61F climbing to 66F by the car thermometer.  It felt a little chilly at spots along the river.
  • Trail:  Well-defined hard-pack dirt or gravel trail.  
  • Crowds?  Not crowded, but not alone.  There were about a dozen cars parked at the washout.  We passed about a dozen people along the way going in both directions.
  • Hazards?  Some short but steep dropoffs into roaring rapids below.
  • Geocaches?   Didn't bother looking - assumed there were none because it's a National Park.
  • Kit: Long sleeve T-shirt, shorts, new Merrell Moab Gortex hiking boots, ballcap, walking stick.
  • Route:  Intended to follow the route of #3 in my ONP day hikes book, but never made it to the Dosewallips Park Ranger station due to the road washout.  Note to self:  Check road conditions on national park website.  Instead just hiked along the road.  If I didn't have my kids with me, I would have kept going all the way up to the Park Ranger Station. 
  • Facilities:  None.