Fun island town adventuring through Vashon

I love a peaceful, quaint, distant getaway that doesn’t feel too isolated. Vashon Island is awesome, for its lovely greenery and sense of community that I feel such be model for this pandemic time.

Vashon Island a little island of two parts (Vashon and Maury) located west of Seattle, deep within Puget Sound. The 36.9 square miles (95.6 km) landmass has a population of over 10,000, and only accessible from the outside by boat. There are two state-run ferries on the north and south end, where vehicle boarding is possible.

This visit to Vashon Island is my second since the Spring of 2015. I thought of coming back here on remembering that it’s still an island, therefore not likely overwhelmed by summer visitors during this pandemic. And unlike the Seattle city, there has been little growth since.

Coming back, I notice not much has changed in its mostly rural parts. Still, very peaceful, lush, and green. But I saw much awareness and respect for the current times. Many signs of Black Lives Matters on yards and fences, with painted portraits of George Lloyd and Breonna Taylor upon various walls, all express solidarity. There are also constant reminders to keep the virus masks on and be mindful of those around you with social distancing. Sadly, such things have become very polarized and would perhaps bother a more Trump-loyal conservative person, who would otherwise enjoy this lovely island. For myself being a person of color, I find the solidarity welcome. For not wanting to suffer horribly from someone else’s carelessness, I find the pandemic safety awareness also welcome.

I find these positives amplified and mixed in with, the Vashon central town center area, where SW Bank Road and SW 99th cross. Close and quaint, are huddled little shops, markets, restaurants for locals and tourists to enjoy and sink into that Pacific Northwest charm. Not much has changed, except for some good signs of support in these challenging times.

Here, are some pics I took with notes while with other friends, as we walked around…

One of many small local businesses in central Vashon. Some are open, some are closed. Most are well-preserved structures with some little extra character added. This gives Vashon Island a timeless appeal in these changing times.

Raven’s Nest, Northwest Native Art Gallery and Gifts, an indigenous owned and run store of wonderful native art.

The Vashon Theater. A little spot I hope to see open upon a future visit. But for now, they do offer drive-In movies for the summer!

The front of the Vashon Print and Design Shop, showing many ways for one to express support, awareness, and solidarity through glorious poster art.

Lots of gift ideas at the Vashon Pharmacy. Yes, it’s a pharmacy within the place that I barely noticed while looking at all the fun, various housewares.

A large sign in front of Granny’s Attic Thrift Store, an awesome thrift store I highly recommend for treasure hunters. But also, well-aware and meeting of the challenges on running business during the pandemic area. There was a line of people on Saturday, but the measures taken were well worth it, and we picked up some cool, vintage things.

Berries and summer blooms everywhere!

At the The Hardware Store Restaurant, with this canine decoration that I had to take a picture of.

Also at the Hardware Store Restaurant, the pancakes and other food is super great. I highly recommend!

A little art gallery behind the Hardware Store Restaurant, this time with a little pet theme.

A little random art piece alone outside, because no small town is complete without one.

The old bike in a tree, a sub-famed attraction of the island. Sadly, much of the attraction has rotted away as the growing tree swallowed it more. According to this site, the bike was abandoned in 1954, by a local who received it was a gift, and just didn’t want it, and left it in the trees.

And my new favorite part of the Vashon town center is this artistic fence of doors done by a local, located in an alleyway. It’s quite amazing and deserves its own post. I will share more on the doors, the history, and the artist behind the work , in my next post.

Weekend Adventuring in Olympia, Washington

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Check out the Olympia town in Washington State, when exploring the Pacific Northwest.

Olympia a wonderful stop, halfway between the Portland and Seattle cities, close to the 5 and one 101 freeway intersection. This area is also the best stop for food and a stretch when traveling the between the major cities in no particular hurry. You’ll find much to love for any length of time you spend here.

A few things special about Olympia. You will find much art around many corners, more notably upon the walls of allies and businesses. This brings much color and uniqueness to the area. There are also some fantastic sources for literature, with some bookstores I checked out (Browsers Book Store and Danger Room Comics Store). The variety of food is excellent, with the best of it from local businesses. Also, lots of vintage antiques are also visible and up for buying. In between and throughout, you may also notice multiple signs of social activism and awareness with Black Lives Matters signs, climate change awareness, and other messages of modern progressivism. Olympia shows character aplenty in its overall presentation.

For me, it was all about stepping out from the weekday work stress. With a friend as company, I went to explore, and seek interesting visuals, eats, and a little shopping. Olympia did not disappoint, as this was my second visit to the city. Last visit, I barely walked around. This time,we had no particular direction here, other than its main downtown center.

Here are some findings in pictures, with some more notes on the area..

One of Olympia’s prominent buildings, the Old Capitol Building. It’s now the office home of the Superintendent of Public Instruction since 1906. Before in Sylvester Park, stands John Rankin Rogers..twice governor of Washington State, who believed in giving a fair education to “every poor son of the commonwealth.”

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Some up close sculpting on that building. Love the detail here..

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The charming outside of Darby’s Cafe and neighboring local businesses on a 5th avenue block. I love the random little deco touches upon this old building…

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The Capitol Theater across the street from Darby’s. I love the look of this old movie theater, and will look into seeing its inside in a future visit.

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The inside of Darby’s Cafe, to a wall of wild art…

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Above and around inside Darby’s Cafe, a tribute to the Wizard of Oz. The food was quite good too. I had a Brocco Burger (Broccoli, white cheddar, other good stuff) with fries (a bit too much they give) and a root beer float (root beer can be replaced with an alcoholic alternative). All quite good, and filling enough until my trip back to the Emerald City.

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Some art on the side of The Great Cuisine of India restaurant.  Many of the following pics are select examples of the overall mural art scene of the Olympia area.

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The Olympia Rafah Solidarity Mural. from About this from olympiarafahmural.org. “Four thousand sq. ft., interdisciplinary mural with over 200 participants from all over the world. Project celebrates and mourns Rachel Corrie through action. Rachel was born in Olympia and killed in Gaza when run over by an Israeli driven bulldozer in 2003. ORSMP mourns and celebrates the lives of all who struggle for justice.”

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Up close on a select section of the Rafah Mural..

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A mural inside the alley of next to the building of the Old School Pizzeria. A wonderful and very colorful tribute to the imagination..

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The best thing for us comic nerds out there, this old school tribute to the classic Marvel Comics. Located to the side of the Old School Pizzeria. I love this.

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The inside of the Old School Pizzeria is pretty awesome too. Lots of vintage nostalgia all around, and the pizza was pretty awesome too.

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Capitol Lake, with what I think is the Washington State House of Representatives capitol building.

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The lake itself is very serene, and calming for anyone who enjoys a nice walk in the park.

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That’s all for now on this amazing area of the Pacific Northwest. I will be back, with a look at other interesting signs and aspects of this interesting area.

Orion T