Recent local blog posts

Orianna Clarke: Boldly Achieving Her Dreams

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 9:40am



By Barb Lally

SCJ alliance logoThough she has faced many challenges, Orianna Clarke has emerged stronger, more confident and able to pursue the dreams that she has had all of her life. A big part of her success was finding a place where her best talents could be applied, where she could learn and grow in her own individual strengths.

Growing up, Orianna had been unhappy in public schools because she didn’t fit in and found it difficult to learn. She says she was socially awkward, had a hard time making friends and constantly butted heads with authority.

orianna clarke

Orianna has overcome obstacles to pursue her dreams.

“I was different. There were times in school that I felt like a criminal,” Orianna explains. “I felt beaten down. I knew I deserved better, I knew I could do it.”

Finding an alternative

She and her mother sought alternative schooling where Orianna would be more comfortable and capable of learning.

They found that at the Sudbury School in Olympia. Though the school has since closed, it provided a greater chance at learning for Orianna because it gave her the reins to do what she knew she could.

However, the school was not accredited and when her scholarship ran out her sophomore year of high school, she had to look elsewhere to get her diploma. Orianna didn’t want to jump back into a traditional high school where she knew she would not fit in.

A place to learn

That’s when her mom found Secondary Options in the Tumwater School District with an “alternative approach to educating youth in a caring environment,” according to its head instructor Jeanette Holocher.

Holocher explains that their classrooms are wherever there is learning. For example, the school has no formal lab, so local parks serve as great classrooms for Biology. A Friday field study class that met last quarter compared the ecosystems of McLane Creek, Tolmie, Burfoot, Priest Point Parks and the Mima Mounds.

Orianna was reluctant to attend the school at first and wondered about the weird types that might be part of its student body, but she soon found that she fit right in.

“There were all types,” explains Orianna. “There were students who had straight A’s in traditional high school, and home-schooled kids and adults. I loved that we were all different. We affectionately called ourselves the ‘Island of Misfits’ but we all really respected one another.”

Taking on the challenges

tumwater alternative high school

At Secondary Options, learning takes place in untraditional classrooms. Orianna Clarke worked double time to finish four years of high school in two years time.

A huge challenge and potential roadblock to her education was that she transferred into the program her junior year with .5 credits and needed 21 to graduate. It was a lot to make up in two years.

Typically, Secondary Options students attend one class a day for two and half hours with an equal number of hours in independent studies. Orianna took on two classes a day earning 3.75 credits every quarter completing four years of high school in two years’ time.

It is a remarkable feat for this amazing young woman who also became a chief caregiver in recent years for her mom who was diagnosed with a disabling neurological disorder.

Orianna graduated with her Secondary Options class of 38 this past June.

“Secondary Options is amazing,” says the new graduate. “They take their time with you as an individual. They knew us, how we got there and how we learned so we could succeed. We were not just another chair in a big classroom.”

“Needless to say, her determination and ability to work is impressive,” says Holocher about Orianna. “She has always made any class she was a part of better because she causes her peers to think about what is important, reminds them to be grateful, and encourages them to be the best part of themselves. She will be a blessing to the classrooms and workspaces she enters in the future.”

Fired up for the future

Orianna has always dreamed of being a firefighter and sees it as an opportunity to give back to her community.

orianna clarke

Orianna wants to give back to her community by becoming a firefighter.

To pursue that dream, Orianna sought the help of the Community Youth Services CareerTREK program before she graduated from high school. Her case manager there found her a firefighter’s internship program.

Having completed her internship with the Littlerock Fire Station this summer, Orianna is now applying for the The Fire and Emergency Technology Services Program (FEST) that offers students hands on experience while working toward their Fire Protection Technology degree.

“She picked us for her internship,” says Lt. Lanette Dyer, the Public Information Officer for the West Thurston Regional Fire Authority in Littlerock. “She could remember the lights and sirens of the Littlerock fire trucks going by her home when she was a kid. It is why she wanted to intern here.”

A firefighter herself as well as the Emergency Medical Services Officer, Lanette acknowledges Orianna’s advantage in helping people.

“All of the challenges Orianna has overcome will make her a unique responder for her community, with a perspective of what people go through. We are very excited about being part of her amazing journey.”

Despite the many things she has had to overcome, this unique young lady is now looking forward to a bright and promising future. Orianna has proven that being “different” is a good thing and she is grateful to friends, family, a great school and a fire station who understood that and have believed in her.


Gourmet Camping Meals to Feed a Crowd Under the Stars

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 9:24am



By Mary Ellen Psaltis

uhlmann rvYou may think camping is all about roughing it – pit toilets, well water and smoky clothes. Nevertheless, there’s no need to lack luxuries in the food department. Consider upgrading your camping life with gourmet touches. The benefits are outrageous (eating like royalty) and you’ll likely have time to savor every bite. By taking only a few extra minutes of preparation before you head down the road, you’ll be surprised how much fun is found with your camping meals.

Scott McHugh, Store Manager at Boston Harbor Marina, eagerly offered suggestions. He recommends buying a whole fish such as a salmon, putting it in a grill basket and then letting the coals do their magic.

camping meal ideas

Scott McHugh recommends fish for your camping trip. Stop by and see him at Boston Harbor Marina.

The day I visited the Marina there was fresh tuna. Boston Harbor sells fresh crab and clams that McHugh said you can “boil right in the sea water!” Tuck a few lemons in your picnic basket for your seafood feast. Bring along a local loaf of artisan bread and a stick of butter. Better make that two loaves. Being outside all day revs up the appetite. By the way, Boston Harbor Marina has beer tasting on Fridays from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. You can stop by, taste, pick your fish and head out for your camping weekend.

Rather have beef for dinner? A few days before you leave, marinate steak cubes in a plastic bag then freeze. Add the frozen bag to your cooler. It will help to keep other things cold and will be largely defrosted by your second day out. Then skewer your seasoned cubes and pop on the campfire.

Vegetable lovers will do well by chopping up carrots, potatoes, onions, broccoli, and zucchini (anything you choose). Lightly coat with olive oil.  Portion into aluminum foil pockets. Top with rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic. Wrap tightly to create another item for your toasty embers.

If you are ambitious, you can make individual salads in glass jars. Layers of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and lettuce look pretty and the work is done at home. No jars? No problem. Put these same ingredients into a plastic bag (except the lettuce) and your salad will be almost ready to serve. A bag of miscellaneous greens will allow each person to take the right amounts. Select a bottle of dressing that you don’t usually have at home. Sometimes a little change is the remedy to enliven an otherwise standard dish.

camping meal ideas

Oakland Bay Farm’s Jason Dexter shows off strips of bacon for sale at their stand in the Olympia Farmers Market.

Who wants cold cereal on a cool summer morning? Not me. Soar to new heights of culinary delight by cooking a griddle laden with Oakland Bay Farm’s bacon. It’s thick and stays flat upon cooking. Eat as-is or cover each cooked piece with pancake batter that you have premeasured at home. Milk is in one container and the eggs in another. Now you have a bacon-infused pancake. Top with real maple syrup or berry jam. Way more fun than soggy breakfast flakes.

Do you need a cup of coffee (or two) before endeavoring to cook breakfast? Coffee professionals at Batdorf and Bronson have as many ideas as varieties of coffee. Graeme Smith gave me a taste of Skye’s Mountain Blend, which he thinks makes a fine dark roast for your first outdoor cup. Adam Carter suggested the Bohemian Blend, another dark roast. Knowledgeable, jolly and helpful, Batdorf and Bronson hosts are on hand to find a coffee to satisfy your desires.

Don’t stoop to instant coffee crystals. Carter showed me the Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker, a small, unbreakable option that would look mighty fine on your picnic table. It’s similar to a French Press, but easier to clean and sends fewer particles in your cup. If boiling water is the extent of your cooking skills then brew up a pot of concentrated coffee ahead of time. Store in a tight-lidded Mason jar and then add your hot water to a small amount of the concentrate. You can also use the concentrate for iced coffee. Have cream and sugar on hand.

camping meals ideas

Matt Buehler (left), Graeme Smith (center) and Adam Carter (right) from Batdorf and Bronson share their best coffee flavors for a caffeine fix after sleeping under the stars.

Are you taking along starving children? Or hike-hungered adults? Mix up refried beans with a can of chili beans, cream cheese, chopped peppers and salsa. Bring a huge bag of tortilla chips and a bag of baby carrots. Perfect snacking.

Another fun snack is popcorn. Yes, you can buy a pre-popped bag of someone else’s, but I say pack your own oil and a sack of Orville Redenbacher’s corn. Make sure you have a decent pot with lid and cook on your camp stove. All you need to add is a few shakes of salt. Remember to bring festive beverages such as sparking cider, a bottle of Prosecco or your favorite wine.

Finally, dessert.  Lug a whole watermelon – and bring a sharp knife. It tastes fabulous on a hot summer afternoon. For a more intimate crowd, pick up a small sized yellow (on the inside) watermelon. I used to make a 9×13 pan of cookie bars. They survive travel and can be cut into any sized pieces. The inclusion of nuts, raisins, and oats gives the illusion of health.

The best thing for us about camping is the time and space to disconnect from the usual demands at home. It always seems like work to get ready  – packing up the gear and fixing the food, but when the sleeping bags are unrolled and the fire is laid, there’s a collective sigh of relief. Once you’ve made your gourmet preparation, all you need to do is decide what to eat first.

Eat Well – Be Well


Parents, Get Your Cameras Ready: From Tutus to Turnout, Johansen Olympia Dance Center Has an Exceptional Class Schedule Planned for the 2014 – 2015 Year

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 6:45am



olympia dance classes

Young ballet students perform the classic “Picking Flowers” routine during a recital for Olympia Dance Center.

Watch a ballet recital for students at the Johansen Olympia Dance Center and you’ll find yourself asking this question: How do the dance instructors at the studio manage to transform those teeny tiny and oh-so adorable four and five year olds flitting around the stage into advanced dancers en pointe?

“It is a process, one which we’re improving upon every year,” said Ken Johnson, Co-Director of the ballet school that recently celebrated its 40th anniversary.

Walk into the lobby of the Olympia Dance Center during the academic school year, and you’d see the first step of their teaching process. It is a simple one — clusters of dancers, from the very young in pink leotards to pink skirts, to dancers a little older in lavender leotards, a little older in royal blue, burgundy and so on. For boys it is the same no matter what class they are in — white shirt, black tights.

Uniformity in leotard color by class is just one example of the many innovative programs implemented by Ken and Josie Johnson, the husband and wife duo that directs the ballet school. “We implemented leotard color by class a few years ago and our students and parents have really embraced it,” said Ken.  “The kids love promotion to a new color every year and it makes it easier for our dance instructors to teach.”

olympia dance class

Olympia Dance Center students perform annually at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts.

The leotard color system is also a visual representation, of sorts, of the curriculum taught at the school, a curriculum that promotes fundamental skills at each level of dance allowing students to rapidly progress from year to year, instructor to instructor, from flitting three year olds to advanced dancers en pointe.

Before implementing the curriculum, the Johnsons attended the American Ballet Theatre in New York to receive certification to teach the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum, from the primary level through level five. The curriculum consists of a comprehensive set of age-appropriate, outcome-based guidelines to provide the highest quality ballet training to dance students of all ages and skill levels.

“The certification process was intense and rigorous and not everyone who was accepted into the program made it through. When we completed the program we had a huge sense of accomplishment,” said Josie. The Johnson couple returned to Olympia and implemented the curriculum across all ballet classes at the studio.

olympia dance lessons

Ken and Josie Johnson are co-dreictors of the Olympia Dance Center.

“The American Ballet Theatre curriculum is a clean and healthy technique that enables dancers to dance a variety of styles. The instructors who designed the curriculum have travelled all over the world and have had the opportunity to see what types of instruction work and what doesn’t. This curriculum gives our dancers a strong foundation that will allow them to dance a variety of styles,” said Ken.

In addition to dance, the certification process involves instruction in child nutrition, child development and physical therapy. “We use this curriculum to give our instructors a road map for what their students need to accomplish at the end of the week, month and school year. Yet at the same time, teachers have an incredible amount of flexibility in how they reach those goals,” said Josie. “We know that at the end of each year all our students in each grade level will have received the instruction they need to move on to the next level with outstanding technique and skill.”

The Johnsons know quite well that terms like turnout, technique and rigor are not appealing to aspiring ballerinas age three and four. Younger children dream of pink tutus and pirouettes. The Center’s pre-ballet teachers have trained at the nationally renowned Creative Dance Center which features an innovative training system that is great for the kids developmentally.

olympia dance classes

Olympia Dance Center is incorporating the Angelina Ballerina Dance Academy curriculum into classes for its youngest students.

The Johnsons also recently discovered the Angelina Ballerina Dance Academy curriculum, which compliments the current syllabus in place. “The program creator, Beverly Spell, has a great understanding of where kids need to be at that young age. The structure of the curriculum creates a learning environment seamlessly integrated with pure fun,” said Josie.

Originally created by author Katharine Holabird in 1983 as a series of books, the wildly popular dancing mouse even has a musical in New York City. The Johansen Olympia Dance Center joins more than 120 studios throughout the United States and Canada offering weekly classes based on the dancing mouse. The school offers a 34-week program inspired by the animated series Angelina Ballerina: The Next Steps. The classes focus on one storybook per month.

The Johnsons were able to first implement a shortened version of the program over the summer during a week-long day camp for young dancers. Just picture groups of girls dressed head to toe in pink, complete with mouse ears, led through a series of simple ballet moves.

With these innovative training programs, the Johnsons have received great feedback from Master Teachers they bring to the studio from around the region, including the Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Oregon Ballet Theatre, University of Washington and Cornish College of the Arts. Josie said, “The instructors that we bring in to teach our Master Classes tell us over and over how impressed they are with our students. These instructors can teach anywhere, yet they come back to Olympia because they enjoy these kids, their positive attitude and their skill.”

For more information and to view the class schedule, visit


Win New Summer Wheels with Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 5:30am



lucky eagle giveaway

One lucky player will drive off with a 2014 Chevy Camaro LS courtesy of Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel.

You know what would help combat the dog days of summer?  A new car.  And that’s just what you could win this August, courtesy of Rochester’s Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel and their Turn Up the Heat Camaro Giveaway.

Through August 24, members of the Lucky Eagle Players Club are automatically entered when they use their club card with special bonus multipliers occurring every Tuesday.  By simply playing their favorite games, Club members can increase their chances to win based on that Tuesday’s multiplier amount.  For the same amount of money, you can double, triple, or even quadruple your entries.

The highlight of the Turn Up the Heat celebration will be the prizes!  Players could win up to $5,000 and a 2014 Chevy Camaro LS with lifetime free oil changes courtesy of Olympia’s Titus-Will Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac.  This fantastic giveaway takes place amidst the festivities on August 24 from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Lucky Eagle Marketing Manager Lindy Waring says the casino is proud to partner with Titus-Will again; they’ve paired “on a few other car giveaways over the last couple years.  They are a great company to work with.”  Recently recognized as the best car dealer in Olympia in the 2014 “Best of South Sound” competition, they offer a wide array of vehicles, services, and competitive pricing.

Joining the Players Club is free and easy to anyone over the age of 18.  If you have a summer birthday, stop by the Players Club window for a free lunch buffet during your birth month.  For everyone else, enjoy the discounts available for food, game play, and hotel bonuses.

While in the flashy car mood, visit Lucky Eagle on Saturday August 9 to enjoy the Olympia Street Rod Association Annual Summer Car Show.  This family fun event will showcase more than 400 classic cars on display, live entertainment, a DJ, and hourly drawings for Free Play and prizes.

This time of year we’re all dragging a little.  Whether it’s the long, hot days or the tired, underfoot kids, sometimes it’s nice to get away for a while.  The Lucky Eagle is always available to be that close to home escape.  Their array of amazing food, games, concerts, events, and contests are sure to keep you cool and break the lazy summer routine.

Visit the Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel at 12888 188th Ave SW, Rochester, or call 800-720-1788 with any questions.


Pink Elephant’s Gravecast 007

K Records - Tue, 08/05/2014 - 5:28pm
The Pink Elephant’s Graveyard is where we store all the cultural artifacts which are uniquely K. Host Calvin Johnson (The Hive Dwellers) interviews Brian Tighe and Allison LaBonne of the Starfolk (from Minneapolis, MN) and their tour mate Holly Munoz. They discuss the Starfolk and some of their other musical entities the Owls and the […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Dr. Evan Hirsch Accepting New Patients in August

Thurston Talk - Tue, 08/05/2014 - 4:48pm



Submitted by Hirsch Institute for Integrative Medicine

olympia alternative medicine

Dr. Evan Hirsch

As patients get better, we often find ourselves available to serve new patients. Consequently, Dr. Evan Hirsch is opening his practice to new cash patients and insurance patients for the month of August! If you have been on Dr. Hirsch’s waiting list or if you know of someone who would benefit from becoming a patient in his practice, please share this announcement with them. New patient appointments are available starting August 8th and continuing through August 29th.

To take advantage of this opportunity please visit the new patient page of our website and read through the information. Then complete the New Patient forms listed at the bottom of the screen. All forms are submitted electronically to our office and must be received at least 48 hours in advance of your appointment. You can schedule your new patient appointment by following the online instructions.

Additionally, our two other primary care providers have availability for new patients. Dr. Boxill’s next available new patient appointment is in September and Anne Rhody, PA-C still has August availability. Dr. Boxill holds a vision for offering healing to the whole family – moms, dads and the little ones. Anne has a wealth of knowledge working with Lyme disease, fatigue and autism. To ensure there is a good match both practitioners are available for a free meet and greet appointment.

We look forward to seeing you! Have a great rest of your summer!


Get Ready for the Blueberry Bash - August 17

Griffin Neighborhood - Tue, 08/05/2014 - 3:32pm
It's almost time for an annual tradition: St. Christopher’s Blueberry Bash is Sunday, August 17, from 12 noon to 4 PM.

Blueberry Bash
Sunday, August 17
12 noon to 4 PM
St. Christopher’s Community Church
7902 Steamboat Island Rd. NW, Olympia, WA 98502

Click on the image for a larger viewThis year's musical guest is The Pine Hearts. They will be playing from 12 noon to 3:45 PM.

Come enjoy the food, the fun, the silent auction and bingo garden. There are games for folks of all ages.

A portion of this year’s proceeds will benefit a local charity. In 2012, 20% of the net proceeds were donated to the Olympia Free Clinic. In 2013, 20% went to SideWalk. See the St. Christopher's web site soon for information regarding which organization has been selected to benefit this year.

More about St. Christopher's Community Church: "St. Christopher's is a community dedicated to living, sharing, celebrating, and growing in the transformative and inclusive love of God through Christ. We are a congregation of the Episcopal Church and the Lutheran Church (ELCA). All are welcome: That means you."

Young Choreographers Set to Delight Audience at Third Annual Ballet Northwest Young Choreographers Showcase

Thurston Talk - Tue, 08/05/2014 - 1:49pm



Submitted by Ballet Northwest

For the third year, choreographers from Olympia’s Ballet Northwest will surprise and delight the audience at the Young Choreographers Showcase (YCS) on August 24, 2014 at 7 p.m. at the Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts on the South Puget Sound Community College campus, an event created to allow Company dancers to explore creativity and leadership in dance.

This year the event will showcase original productions from 11 choreographers. Nine are dancers from Ballet Northwest who range in age from 14 to 18. The other two are Ballet Northwest alumni, and recent graduates from the Hartt School at the University of Hartford, with Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance.

At the event, audiences will encounter dances in variety of styles, including ballet, modern dance and jazz. Choreographers get to take advantage of professional lighting and costumes. “This is the first year we’ll have the event at the Minnaert Center, which is a beautiful venue for dance,” said Josie Johnson, Co-Artistic Director at Ballet Northwest.

Created in 2012, YCS gives the dancers at the Company an opportunity to create their own choreography, explore creativity and produce their own work. “Our dancers were getting more and more comfortable in different dance styles and were starting to show an interest in choreography. We saw the talent developing, so we created the Showcase to give these dancers the opportunity to stage their creativity,” said Ken Johnson, Co-Artistic Director at Ballet Northwest.

In order to participate in the event, dancers had to submit an application outlining why they wanted to participate, the style of music they would use as well as how many dancers they would need to stage their production. Next, choreographers attended Choreography Master Classes taught by Master Teachers from the region.

The Johnsons mentored the students throughout the creative process as well as at rehearsals. “We provided guidance and would pop into rehearsals to make sure things were going well and progressing. We’ve discovered that this process is a great leadership opportunity for the students. They have to manage rehearsal times, make sure dancers are available and take charge of their peers,” said Josie Johnson.

Ken Johnson added, “It is exciting to see the amazing quality of work that these local, young choreographers produce. Audiences are continually blown away by the choreographer’s imagination coming to life on the stage.”

Tickets are $12 (plus $3 Washington Center service fee) and can be purchased at: or by calling 360-753-8586.


Girl Trouble Strictly Sacred All Week!

K Records - Tue, 08/05/2014 - 1:08pm
Strictly Sacred can not be stopped! After two sold-out June screenings of the infamous Girl Trouble tell-all the Grand Cinema (Tacoma, Washington) has booked the feature-length documentary film for an entire week, September 12-18. Directed by Isaac Olsen, Strictly Sacred tells the story of Girl Trouble, a punk/garage/rock’n'roll combo from Tacoma, Washington who started playing […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Judy Reynolds Joins Leadership Thurston County as Program Coordinator

Thurston Talk - Tue, 08/05/2014 - 1:06pm



Submitted by Leadership Thurston County

Leadership Thurston County (LTC) and the Thurston County Chamber Foundation are pleased to welcome new Program Coordinator, Judy Reynolds. Judy joined the organization August 4.

Judy comes to LTC after serving 24 years as Executive Director of the Washington State Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) based in Olympia. She has a strong background in leadership development, organization management and event planning. She is a long-time Thurston County resident and committed to serving the community.

Judy replaces Patti Grant, who is retiring after five years in the position.

Leadership Thurston County is an experience-based program that develops informed, connected and committed civic leaders. Since 1994, over 500 graduates from businesses, government agencies and non-profit organizations have completed the course.

LTC is a program of the Thurston County Chamber Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) educational, non-profit organization. For information, go to or call 360.357.8515.


Family Fun Day at Lacey Community Market on Saturday

Thurston Talk - Tue, 08/05/2014 - 1:05pm



Submitted by City of Lacey

Magic, marimba music, and a myriad of reptiles will delight all ages at the Lacey Community Market in Huntamer Park this Saturday, August 9. In addition to free entertainment, the market will also feature more than 60 vendor booths offering flowers, produce, food, bakery treats, hand-crafted gifts, and re-purposed treasures.

The theme of Saturday’s market is Family Fun Day! Kids will enjoy free face-painting, hands-on activities, balloon animals, and inflatable rides including the 21-foot mega-slide and a bounce house. The entire family will be entertained at our main stage by “Reptile Man” Scott Petersen and his menagerie at 11:00 a.m., the joyful Mukana Marimba band at noon, spell-binding magician Michael Budd at 1:00 p.m., and a Zumba dance party at 2:00 p.m.

In addition to unique vendors, great food, activities and entertainment, the market also offers plenty of free parking and a pet-friendly atmosphere.

The Lacey Community Market is held every second Saturday in the summer at the beautiful Huntamer Park, just four blocks from the freeway on Woodland Square Loop at College Street, behind the Lacey Fred Meyer. Market times are from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. New vendors are welcome. More information can be found on the city’s official website at


Process: Molly Raney on The Blue Sky is Always Blue

K Records - Tue, 08/05/2014 - 11:00am
One of the last albums Bob Schwenkler did at Dub Narcotic was Poppet‘s debut, The Blue Sky is Always Blue, released March 2014 by Bicycle Records. Poppet is the project and alter-ego of Davis, CA based musician Molly Raney. I interviewed Molly, via email, about the making of the album and perks of having an extreme […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Ballard… hip Seattle neighborhood

ballardtugBallard used to be known as a quiet, Nordic fishing-centric section of Seattle.  It has emerged into THE hip neighborhood.  Market Street is bustling, but Ballard Avenue still has the small village feel to it.  Narrow storefronts, with time-worn hardwood floors and deep display windows are predominant in this three block stretch off Market Street.  Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate factory is worth a stop… to smell the smoky chocolate, if nothing else!  I picked up a small jar of smoked chocolate chips to give as a gift.  They’ll make interesting chocolate chip cookies!

One of the highlights of this trip (other than enjoying the company of another stellar group of Rebels!) is the Hiram Crittenden Locks and Carl English Gardens.  This colorful little tug was going through the locks during our visit.  (Thanks, Vicki, for sharing the picture!)  Lots of boat traffic on this lovely summer day.  The locks transition boats to and from different water levels, from Shilshole Bay of Puget Sound to Lake Union.  It’s an interesting process to witness!

The Carl English gardens are a lush oasis… deep green lawns, with huge trees and lots of benches to sit and ponder.  The periennial gardens were just past their peak, but still lovely.

Rebels ate at several different places on this trip.  Po Dog was a big hit.  A few of us ate at the Portage Bay Café, which serves brunch at this location.  There was a fresh berry bar to add to your pancakes.  Yum!

Our return trip included the ever-popular and relaxing Sounder train.  Skimming along the tracks, you don’t even SEE I-5!


Categories: Local Environment

Gear Up for Your Next Adventure at Olympia’s Uhlmann RV

Thurston Talk - Tue, 08/05/2014 - 7:00am



olympia rv

Uhlmann RV is conveniently located at Olympia’s Auto Mall.

Few things are as rewarding as loading up the car and experiencing the splendor of America’s breathtaking landscape, one mile at a time. Whether you’re a retired couple ready to do some sightseeing or a family interested in teaching the kids some US geography firsthand, an RV can enhance the pleasures of long distance road trips by providing all the amenities of home on the go.

For over 10 years, Heidi Pehl of I-5 Car Group has provided the South Sound with quality new and used RVs at Uhlmann RV’s Chehalis location. However, as more and more people are taking to the streets in Winnebagos, EverGreen and other recreation vehicles, I-5 Car Group decided to serve this growing market by expanding their operation with an Uhlmann RV Oly location in Olympia.

Uhlmann RV opened in June and is already Olympia’s premier choice for new and used RVs, providing a one stop shop for motor homes, Travel Trailers, campers and more. Conveniently located at Olympia’s Auto Mall on Cooper Point Road, Olympia-area residents needn’t travel far to find the RV that’s right for them.

olympia rv

Uhlmann RV carries a variety of popular name-brand RVs like their flagship brand, Winnebago.

Chris Hardesty is the General Manager for Uhlmann RV’s new Olympia location, and he says he is excited to see a name as trusted as Uhlmann RV providing Olympia with reliable, affordable RVs. Hardesty says whether it’s your first time buying or you are looking to upgrade, Uhlmann RV has what you are looking for. “We sell everything from camp trailers that can be towed by your car, to huge, diesel motorhomes,” he said.

And, because Uhlmann RV is Olympia’s only retailers of new RVs, included among their vast inventory is a wide selection of shiny, new RVs from trusted brands like Winnebago, Ever-lite, Denali and more. Of course, if you’re in the market for something more affordable, a used RV can be a great option, and Uhlmann RV has a wide selection of those too. “We sell consigned, and we consign at no charge,” said Hardesty.

Because more than half of Uhlmann RV’s customers are first-time RV buyers, Uhlmann RV takes special care to educate their customers, preparing them for their new life as a recreation vehicle owner.”We supply everyone with a starter kit. We also do a walkthrough with a service tech that can take up to five hours. We make sure you know the ins and outs of your RV. And, if you’re having trouble setting up and you’re nearby, we’ll drive out and help you get things set up… “We make sure you have the right training. And if you forget, it’s not a problem,” explained Hardesty. “We’re 100 percent service oriented.”

uhlmann rv olympia

Uhlmann RV carries a variety of campers and trailers in addition to their extensive RV selection.

Taking extra steps to educate their customers and provide support both during and after the sale, Uhlmann RV goes above and beyond to ensure that all of their customers’ needs are met–which is why Uhlmann RV also provides its customers with a variety of other helpful post-sale services. For instance, if your RV needs to be serviced, you can drop your RV off in Olympia and a staff member from the Olympia store will drive your RV down to Chehalis, where their 40,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art service center is located. Uhlmann RV also offers RV storage at their secure lot, available at a discounted rate to Uhlmann RV customers. Come fall, Uhlmann RV will walk you through all the steps necessary for winterizing your vehicle. And, if you ever decide to get rid of your RV, you can trade it in exchange for store credit toward a vehicle off any of I-5 Car Group car lot, including South Sound Trucks and Volkswagen of Olympia, located next door or the other three dealerships they have in Chehalis. They can all be found at

Providing the people of of Olympia with a large selection of recreational vehicles to choose from, a customer service experience that is unmatched by their competitors, and a convenient location, Uhlmann RV is Olympia’s obvious choice for purchasing a new or used RV. So what are you waiting for?

olympia rv

Your next adventure starts with Uhlmann RV.

If you have been wanting to purchase an RV, consign your old one, or upgrade to something bigger and better, Uhlmann RV’s new Olympia location is your one stop, recreation vehicle stop. For more information about Uhlmann RV’s new Olympia location–or any of the other  I-5 Car Group dealerships–click here.

Uhlmann RV


2015 SW Cooper Point Rd

Olympia, WA 98502



Low stress bicycle routes

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 08/04/2014 - 10:40pm

Lately, the Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee has been talking about where the City might create some "bike boulevards" - relatively low stress routes somewhere in between standard bike lanes on streets with regular traffic and bike lanes that are actually physically separated from the cars. They'd have less traffic, and slower traffic, and special arrangements at intersections, etc...

According to the committee's background paper, a 2006 study in Portland found that 60% of the public there fell into an "interested but concerned" category as far as bicycling regularly went. They knew how to ride a bike; they rode one occasionally for fun; they would consider riding one for transportation - except that they didn't feel safe riding where they'd need to. (It doesn't say whether or not the bike infrastructure that Portland has built since then has changed this number.)

The committee has talked about a lot of possible routes, and now the City's asking for suggestions on their spiffy new website for public comment, OlySpeaks!, at:

(Unfortunately, nothing exciting is about to happen - as a first, pretty tiny, step the City intends to "make improvements to a few routes by adding signs and pavement markings.") I don't think that's going to be a game changer for the 60% of us in the "interested but concerned" category... I think that the City could do something pretty exciting and inexpensive by putting up a bunch of signs saying "Local Traffic Only" on a number of streets to create a real working network that we could try out for a couple of years, to see what it was like, but I don't think that's what this quote means.) logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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Elections have begun! Olympia's Plinth Project on Percival Landing

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 08/04/2014 - 10:33pm
The 2014 People's Prize competition began Friday July 25 and continues through August 31st. You can vote for one of the sculptures displayed on the plinths of Percival Landing. The city will purchase the sculpture with the most votes and place it in a different location as part of the city's public art collection.    Plinths in architectural terminology, are pedestals upon which columns, statues, monument or structure stands. The City of Olympia has placed several plinths on Percival Landing providing a base for sculptures and performers. Take a walk along the landing, get a ballot and add your voice to the city's public art logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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Westport Winery Earns Medals in San Francisco

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/04/2014 - 6:35pm



Submitted by Westport Winery

Westport Winery earned four medals at the 34th Annual San Francisco International Wine Competition in June. Red Sky at Night, the winery’s decadent raspberry and chocolate dessert wine, earned a silver medal. The winery’s tasting notes say it tastes like “Sensible love with old world romance!” It is recommended to be paired with their Molten Chocolate Soufflé while listening to How Do I Live Without You by Leann Rimes. A portion of the proceeds of this wine benefits the Westport Timberland Library.

Pineapple Express, Nirvana and Boom Runner all earned bronze medals. Pineapple Express, a unique blend of pineapple, Gewürztraminer and Riesling is described as “easy breezy, happiness in flip flops at the beach. It is best enjoyed with one of the winery’s famous Giant Cinnamon Rolls while listening to Over The Rainbow by Brother Iz. A portion of the proceeds from this wine benefits the Grays Harbor YMCA.

Nirvana is the winery’s ultra-premium blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grapes from Discovery Vineyards in the Horse Heaven Hills. They say it is “A magic, inviting, red sunset that feels like fire.” It pairs perfectly with the Shut The Front Door Burger while listening to Come As You Are by Nirvana. A portion of the proceeds from this wine benefits the Kurt Cobain Memorial Committee.

Boom Runner, a beautiful sparkling pomegranate wine, is said to be like “A harmonious, fireworks of bold, blue fruit and pie filling” to be enjoyed with Coconut Cream Pie and the song Raise Your Glass by Pink. This wine benefits the Polson Museum in Hoquiam.

Westport Winery and Vineyards By-the-Sea Gardens with the unique outdoor sculpture garden, lavender labyrinth, musical fence, 9-hole executive golf course, giant chess set, outdoor scrabble game, and grape maze, is located on the corner of Highway 105 and South Arbor Road halfway between Aberdeen and Westport. Westport Winery was named Best of the Northwest Wine Tour in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014.

Westport’s award-winning wines are exclusively available at the winery. The tasting room, gift shop, produce market, plant nursery and bakery are open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The restaurant is open for lunch daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and for dinner on Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information contact Westport Winery at 360-648-2224 or visit the website at


Algae Advisory Posted for Black Lake

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/04/2014 - 6:33pm



Submitted by Thurston County

A blue-green algae bloom in Black Lake has recently produced enough toxin to prompt a swimming advisory for the lake that is now in effect. Swimming or water-skiing in water with algae toxins or drinking it can lead to serious illness, so people and pets are advised to stay out of the water at Black Lake, and anglers are reminded that the safest bet in algae-prone waters is to catch and release.

Water samples taken from Black Lake on July 29 found the algae toxin Microcystin at 162 micrograms per liter of water—well above the state standard of 6 micrograms per liter for recreational water use. Microcystin can cause liver poisoning in people and animals. Symptoms, which include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting in humans and death in animals, can take hours or days to appear.

“We know this comes when recreational use of the lake is at its highest point of year. Anglers, boaters, water-skiers and swimmers are all using the lake right now,” said Art Starry, Director of the county’s Environmental Health Division. “Our advice to folks is to stay out of the lake and not take the chance of getting sick. It is especially important to keep small children and pets out of the water.”

Warning signs will be posted at public access points, including Kenneydell Park, the public boat launch and the community docks across from Black Lake Grocery. The lake will be monitored weekly until the algae bloom is over and the advisory can be lifted.

While not all algae blooms are toxic, some algae can produce toxins that can harm the nervous system, the liver, the skin, and the stomach and intestines. Experts from the county’s Environmental Health Division recommend a few simple tips to help prevent illness from algae:

  • Avoid swimming, wading, wind surfing and water-skiing in waters where algae blooms are present.
  • Don’t drink untreated surface water.
  • Keep pets and livestock out of waters with algae blooms.
  • When fishing, catch-and-release is the safest practice. If you do eat your catch, clean any fish you catch thoroughly if you see algae blooms. Before eating, remove the internal organs, which may contain harmful algae toxins.
  • Avoid areas of scum when boating and clean your boat thoroughly.

WHAT:           Toxic Algae Advisory for Black Lake

  • No swimming, no pets, no fishing advised

WHEN:          Effective Immediately

WHERE:        The health advisory is in effect for all of Black Lake

  • Kenneydell Park is located at 6745 Fairview Road SW in Olympia, 98512
  • Public boat launch is located at 7107 Fairview Road SW in Olympia, 98512

For more information about toxic algae blooms and other water quality information, visit the Thurston County Environmental Health web pages at


Lacey Unveils Totem Pole in Special Ceremony

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/04/2014 - 4:27pm



Submitted by City of Lacey

lacey totem poleThere’s a new addition to the Lacey City Hall that is sure to get the attention of anyone entering the lobby. It’s an eleven foot totem pole, intricately carved from a single cedar tree and set in a base of rocks from the Nisqually River. The public is invited to view the totem pole anytime during normal business hours in the City Hall lobby at 420 College Street SE in Lacey.

The totem pole was a gift given to the Lacey City Council from the Nisqually Tribal Council. The totem was unveiled and dedicated at a special ceremony last week, featuring sacred ceremonies and performances by the Nisqually Indian Tribe. The gift was given earlier this year at the signing of a historic accord between the two councils to symbolize mutual goals and a collaborative partnership.

lacey totem pole“On behalf of the Lacey City Council, I would like to thank the Nisqually Tribal Council for this very meaningful and heartfelt gift,” stated Mayor Andy Ryder at the dedication ceremony. “We, and all who enter this building from this time forward, will be reminded of our partnership when greeted by this stately Totem Pole.”

Nisqually Tribal Council Chairperson Cynthia Iyall stated that “we value the partnership between the Nisqually Tribe and the City of Lacey. This Totem Pole expresses how important our future is, and the path we will walk together.”

For more information, please call Lacey Public Affairs at (360) 491-3214 or email


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