Tag Archives: Vacation

Alder Lake House – Alder, WA


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!


Nanci and Jimella’s Market Cafe – Ocean Park, WA


Before I write anything, I must say how ashamed I am that this has taken so long to post. I drafted it and never completed it because well, life sometimes gets hectic. Which is no real good excuse at all. So, please accept my apologies.

After driving up the beach highway and sight seeing through some neighborhoods full of lovely beach houses, we made our way down Pacific Highway in Ocean Park. When we pulled into the parking lot of Nanci and Jimella’s Market Cafe, I took notice that it looked just as I almost expected it to: a small market store. We walked in the front door and immediately on our left are rustic shelves of tempting foods to purchase and bring home. There is a cooler full of local cheese, pasta, and seafood. What really caught my eye was the very large wine selection. Beautifully showcased in a large wood shelving unit that was probably custom made. It was Father’s Day and we were there to relax a bit and enjoy some brunch before we set off on more adventures for the day.

The impressive wine selection

Nice selection of cheese, pasta, and local seafood

Lots of goodies offered at Nanci and Jimella’s

We arrived before the restaurant was officially open on that Sunday but a very pleasant waitress showed us to our seats and told us about the daily specials they were about to make. I ordered a seafood dish that included chorizo. The chorizo is what caught my interest because it is one of my favorite meats. It is spicy and you don’t need much of it to make a great meal. I probably didn’t hear much passed the waitress mentioning that the dish had chorizo in it because I was surprised when my piping hot plate was brought out and I saw … clams. I have nothing against clams. I love clams. I love seafood. I especially love fresh seafood. But as some of you may remember, I had a horrible experience in Astoria a few months ago in which eating clams made me severely ill for about four days. That food poisoning was probably the worst and most painful experience of my life. So, I could not help but be a little cautious, if not scared, about eating clams again. Once I took a spoonful of the chorizo with the tasty, yet simple broth – I was hooked. It was so delicious. The clams were fresh and had just a hint of the chorizo’s spiciness cooked in it. Everything just worked so well in the Skillet Clams dish to create this amazing one of a kind taste. The dish is cooked with Willapa Bay littleneck clams, leeks, tomatoes, and garlic. It didn’t take long for this dish to get me beyond my hesitation about eating clams again. This was not the kind of dish I envisioned having for brunch but boy, it was above and beyond any expectations.


While we were eating, both Nanci and Jimella came to our table to introduce themselves. What an honor! Nanci’s bubbly personality is so refreshing and inviting, it mixes well with Jimella’s more quiet demeanor. Before owning Nanci and Jimella’s Market Cafe, the chefs were the proud owners of The Ark Restaurant for 25 years! Their comfortable little market has what you’d need to bring home some delicious groceries after grabbing an excellent bite to eat. There is a bottle of wine to pair with probably any dish you’d be making yourself or enjoying at Nanci and Jimell’as Market Cafe. The Market Cafe has a wonderful bistro feel to it that I think makes it feel inviting.There is a wall near the restroom that is home to newspaper articles that have featured their cafe over the years. It was nice to see that their community has given them recognition for their accomplishments. Nanci and Jimella are also responsible for having created the Long Beach Garlic Fest. Nanci told us that she was heading over to the festival to sell their famous garlic ice cream and invited us to go see her. After we finished our brunch, we headed over to the garlic fest to try the famous ice cream. And now we know why it is so famous: it is delicious! Who knew that garlic would make such a fantastic flavor for ice cream? If you haven’t tried Nanci and Jimella’s garlic ice cream, please try it. You will quickly understand why I say it is so delicious.

At the Garlic Fest enjoying Nanci and Jimella’s garlic ice cream!

Before we left the market, we purchased some of the very chorizo that was featured in my brunch dish. We also purchased some crackers and truffles. Nanci and Jimella’s Market Cafe is definitely a place that I wish was closer to where I live. I could imagine myself visiting the market cafe quite regularly for food, wine, and excellent company. There is just something that I love about locally owned establishments. I think the fact that the owners are accessible, friendly, and loving with all that they do that really speaks volumes. I think it is all of these qualities that has made Nanci and Jimella successful with all their endeavors.

Shortly after visiting with Nanci and Jimella, I found out that Jimella is currently going through chemotherapy and radiation for cancer of the esophagus. I just wanted to say we are thinking of you and wish you the best of luck as you continue your treatment.

Nanci and Jimella’s Market Cafe
Ocean Park, WA

Please stop in and visit Nanci and Jimella’s Market Cafe:
21742 Pacific Way
Ocean Park, WA 98640