Category Archives: Road Trip

Alder Lake House – Alder, WA

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When I realized that my children had a four day weekend in the month of February, I thought it was an excellent opportunity to do something for fun as a family. I thought about things we could do and then thought about places we could go. Hawaii! Tahiti! I’m just kidding. I remembered knowing that there was a house available for rent near Alder Lake, so I searched for the website to read more about it. The house is located pretty much in the middle of nowhere – perfect! The location itself offered several different opportunities for outdoor fun nearby – even better! Without reading more, I sent a request to see if the lake house was available for February 15-18. As it turns out, my friend Diana Riehm owns and rents out the house. You may remember that Diana also owns the Old General Store in Roy, WA that we rented out in November for a friend’s wedding. She was so very pleasant the first time we did business together, there was no hesitation to rent from her again.

With a check in time of 3 p.m., we were in no real hurry and spent the morning packing and then stopped in Yelm for lunch on our way out of town. It took us about an hour to arrive to the Alder Lake House on Friday, February 15. We circled around the area twice unable to find the driveway for our lake house. There are about 15 houses (maybe less) in that area of Alder Lake. We finally found it and pulled up next to the brown, two story house. We were parked behind the house and walked on the near wrap around porch to the front of the house where we were greeted with the sunshine sparkling off a beautifully blue lake. Alder Lake is surrounded by beautiful, untouched green trees. What a sight! Holding my hand over my eyes to shade them from the sun, I felt this sense of relaxation come over me. With a deep breath, I exhaled and felt like we were truly on vacation.

View from the Alder Lake house deck

View from the Alder Lake house deck

We opened the double doors to the historic lake house that was built in 1910 and were surprised with how cozy the house was. It is fully furnished and features a full sized kitchen with more cupboard space than I would ever know what to do with. The cupboards are filled with the necessities like pots, pans, plates, bowls, and serving utensils. There is a generous sized living room with leather couches and an oversized chair complete with a television, Direct TV, and a DVD player. The dining room features a full sized dining room table with available leafs to make it even larger. The large bathroom is home to the washer and dryer, double sinks, shower, and again – plenty of storage space. The den off of the kitchen offers more space for kids to play and additional seating. Upstairs you will find three bedrooms each with an abundance of closet space. Outside of the bedrooms is a nice seating area. The coffee table reminded me of home because it is identical to a table my parents have. It is a little bear cub on its back “holding up” the glass part of the table. So cute! I had never seen it anywhere else besides my parent’s house. When I say the lake house is fully furnished, I mean, it is fully furnished. You have everything you’d need for an extended stay.

Soon after we unpacked, we immediately went down to the lake to explore. At this time of the year, the water level is very low, so we had to navigate around rocks that are normally under several feet of water. But the shallow lake offered us an opportunity to hike down to a point where we were surrounded by water and in awe of not only the quiet but of the incredibly beauty that nature has to offer. On one side, Alder Lake stretches out further than you can see. On the other, the stretches out and then hides behind tall trees. Beyond those trees, snow capped mountains peek out and if you look behind you, you’ll see Mt Rainier. The kids had a great time skipping stones, finding hiking sticks, and exploring through the sand. They pretended they were on a great hike and that they might even find gold among the endless amount of rocks.

Gorgeous view!

Gorgeous view!

My family loved hiking around Alder Lake and finding the perfect hiking sticks.

My family loved hiking around Alder Lake and finding the perfect hiking sticks.

That night, the sky truly showed off all its natural beauty. The sky was clear and no city lights or neighbor’s garage lights took away from seeing the stars. I live in a very small town and thought that I had an amazing view of the stars. Well, Alder Lake showed me that there is an even better view available. The stars seemed absolutely infinite. It was like my kids had thrown pixie dust into the sky and it just never came back down. It was truly a sight to behold. Just gorgeous.

The Alder Lake house is about a 15 minute drive from Mt Rainier National Park, so the next day we drove up to the park with the intention of having the kids go sledding from Paradise at Mt Rainier. Unfortunately, the weather forecast called for snow at about 4,000 feet and without four wheel drive or snow chains, we were unable to to go all the way up to Paradise. We weren’t letting a little snow dampen our day, so we stopped at Longmire near the lodge and decided to take a hike in the snow. The kids were bundled up in snow pants and snow boots, so we figured, why not? We hiked around the area for about an hour and the kids had a blast. The Alder Lake house is also a short drive from The Northwest Trek, which was another amazing stop. I think I’ll save that one for another post.

It rained on and off throughout the weekend, which was fine. While it was raining, the kids enjoyed playing together indoors, watching movies, and we all even found time to take naps. It was so nice to be together – with little or no cell phone service! – without life’s interruptions of phones ringing, the internet distracting anyone, video games, and noise. Not to say we don’t like hearing from friends and loved ones but you know what I mean. We were really on vacation. I have always been and will always be a firm believer that my kids don’t need the biggest, fanciest toys to be happy. To me, family trips, especially outdoors, are where the memories are. When our kids are older, I know they will remember that one weekend at the lake or wherever we go in the future. Great family vacations don’t need to be expensive and flashy, sometimes it is the smallest things that mean the most.

I cannot thank Diana enough for renting us the Alder Lake house. She is such a sweetheart and even followed up with us after our stay to see how everything was. She seemed so genuinely excited and happy to hear about our weekend and everything that we did. If you are looking for a wonderfully, quiet place to stay during any season of the year, please consider renting the Alder Lake house. It has so much to offer for every season. It is a nice, cozy place to stay in the winter months if you’re out that way for hunting, skiing, or snow boarding and there is a boat dock and horse paddock for you to use in the spring/summer. The property also has a fire pit for the nights when you want to take advantage of star gazing. I also hear there is great fishing out on Alder Lake. It is the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of every day life and the perfect place to go to remind yourself of what is truly important in life.

Enjoying the sunshine at Alder Lake!

Enjoying the sunshine at Alder Lake!

For more information, including rates, please contact Diana … and let her know Heather sent you!
http://alderlakehouse.com

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The Depot Restaurant – Seaview, WA

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I had passed The Depot Restaurant while out on my bicycle tour with Jim Sayce during the morning of Saturday, June 16. So when my family and I set out from our hotel for dinner that evening, I knew exactly where I was going.

The Depot Restaurant
Seaview, WA

As soon as we arrived, we could see that it must be a popular little place. There was no available parking nearby. We eventually found a spot when another Depot Restaurant guest left. Once inside the restaurant, I could feel that this was some place special. We were immediately greeted owner Nancy Gorshe. She was just as sweet as could be with a twinkle in her eye as she welcomed us into the restaurant. She brought us to a table that had one of those fancy “Reserved” signs on it. My goodness, I felt like someone incredibly special to have my family arriving at a table that had been reserved just for us.

Our waitress immediately took our beverage order and told us about the specials of the day. The Garlic Festival was also going on the same weekend we were in Long Beach, so many of the specials featured fresh garlic. While reading through the menu, there was an appetizer (or Small Bites dish as it is referred to on their menu) that kept catching my eye: Peruvian Mango Sea Scallops. Even though I had fried scallops for lunch earlier in the day, I couldn’t resist and so we ordered the scallops to try. When the scallops arrived – this is going to sound cheesy – but they were so beautiful, I almost was afraid to eat it. The presentation was just gorgeous. Three giant pan seared Atlantic sea scallops sat on a rectangle dish bathing in a spicy mango salsa and topped with pickled red onion. After drooling over them through the camera lens, my husband and I finally decided to take a bit (the kids were not feeling adventurous that day, so they did not try it). The scallop was like butter. It had an incredibly smooth texture and not an overwhelming taste of “sea food”. The mango salsa was fresh and sweet with a right amount of spice. With each fork full of scallop both my husband and I would drench our bite of scallop in the mango salsa. It was just incredible. Want to know just how incredible? My husband put his pride aside and politely asked for another side of bread so he could finish the leftover mango salsa. When the bread came, the kids finally tried the mango salsa … and loved it. It was really just that amazing.

Peruvian Mango Sea Scallops

For my meal, I ordered the pan searched King Salmon with garlic pesto butter, garlic mashers, and vegetables, which was one of the daily specials. I am not sure that I can correctly put into words just how delicious the meal was. Every aspect of it was just perfect. The salmon was perfectly cooked and the garlic pesto butter added a wonderful burst of flavor to the salmon. The garlic mashers had the perfect amount of garlic flavor, nothing too overpowering. The vegetables were cooked but still retained a slight crispness to them – which I love and prefer.

Pan seared King Salmon
with garlic mashers & vegetables

While enjoying our meal, I couldn’t help but look around and take in the restaurant itself. It is a small place but I almost couldn’t see it as anything bigger. The Depot Restaurant sits in a former train depot built in 1905. The depot discontinued operation in 1930. It wasn’t until 2001 when the ¬†former train depot was transformed into The Depot Restaurant by Chef Michael Lalewicz and wife, Nancy Gorshe. Chef Lalewicz is a classically trained chef who brings his experience as an international traveler and chef to the table. His food preparation and presentation takes front and center in the area, if you ask me. I had no idea walking into the small Depot Restaurant that this was the place that houses such an award winning chef and his amazing creations. Nancy mentioned that most of the food they cook with and serve is purchased locally or imported from Portland (where Chef Lalewicz developed and opened the Greek Kitchen at Jimmy Mak’s).

The Depot Restaurant is adorned with old, historic photos of the former depot. Inside the restaurant is a little on the dark side but I think it suits the ambience just fine. Maybe it brings you in a little closer to share a conversation or to share a meal. But I think it creates a cozy, warm atmosphere. No matter what table you are at in the restaurant, you can see into the kitchen and see Chef Lalewicz creating his magic. I would occasionally see him look out into his restaurant with a big smile on his face and that same familiar twinkle in his eye that Nancy has. Don’t be fooled by the high quality food and assume that it isn’t a place you wouldn’t take your young children. That is not the case here! The Depot Restaurant is family friendly and our waitress did an amazing job making our children feel welcome and important. She put together a special dessert for our daughter and even gave both of my kids hugs goodbye while thanking them for coming to the restaurant. Truly exceptional!

Nancy lovingly told us that all the food they serve is, “handled with love and care” – and it clearly shows. Each plate that was brought out, whether it was the house salad or our main meal, was brought out as a presentation not of just any food but as a presentation of pure artistic ability. Years of experience can create good things but years of experience combined with love and appreciation creates unforgettable experiences that can be shared with everyone … and that is exactly what we had thanks to The Depot Restaurant.

 

If you find yourself in the Seaview/Long Beach area, please stop by The Depot Restaurant:
1208 38th Place
Seaview, WA 98644