Tag Archive | Long Beach washington

National Clam Chowder Day

February 25, 2020

In search of the perfect soup

By the end of February, most people are longing for spring to arrive. Alas, the warmer days still elude in the northern hemisphere. So what better way to celebrate on February 25th than with a steaming bowl of Clam Chowder. Today is National Clam Chowder day.

Clam-Chowder-664In thinking about this particular soup I cannot recall a time when I did not know of it or eat it. Always a staple in my household growing up, my mother used to make it from the frozen razor clams my family dug each summer.

Which got me to wondering, what WAS the history of clam chowder?

As always, the Infallible Wikipedia sheds some light for us:

Clam chowder is any of several chowder soups containing clams and broth. In addition to clams, common ingredients include diced potatoes, onions, and celery. Other vegetables are not typically used, but small carrot strips or a garnish of parsley might occasionally be added primarily for color. A garnish of bay leaves adds both color and flavor. It is believed that clams were used in chowder because of the relative ease of harvesting them. Clam chowder is usually served with saltine crackers or small, hexagonal oyster crackers.

The dish originated in the Eastern United States, but is now commonly served in restaurants throughout the country, particularly on Fridays when American Catholics traditionally abstained from meat. Many regional variations exist, but the two most prevalent are New England or ‘white’ clam chowder and Rhode Island / Manhattan or ‘red’ clam chowder. (snip)

The earliest-established and most popular variety of clam chowder, New England clam chowder, was introduced to the region by French, Nova Scotian, or British settlers, becoming common in the 18th century. The first recipe for another variety, Manhattan clam chowder, known for using tomatoes and its consequently distinctly red coloring, was published before 1919, but it did not take on the current name until 1934. In 1939, the New England state of Maine debated legislation that would outlaw the use of tomatoes in chowder, thereby essentially prohibiting the ‘Manhattan’ form.”

I chuckled to myself when I read that last sentence about Maine considering a way to keep Manhattan chowder out of New England. Having grown up on New England style clam chowder, the red kind does seem a bit blasphemous.

My mother cooked wonderful clam chowder but me, not so much. I have, though, made it one of my fairly recent life’s missions to try clam chowder whenever I find myself in a coastal town which features the soup.

Fannizis Provincetown

Fanizzi’s in Provincetown was, I think, the restaurant where we ate.

While on Cape Cod in 2008 with my hubby and then 15 year old daughter, we happened into a quaint restaurant in Provincetown and enjoyed steamy bowls  of the nectar on a cool, but clear, early April afternoon.

Provincetown, for those unfamiliar with Massachusetts geography, sits at the very furthest away (by land) part of Cape Cod. It was where the Pilgrims first landed in 1620. Although I can no longer recall the name of the restaurant where we had lunch, it was that trip which began the quest for perfect chowder.

One summer, while on an annual trip to Long Beach Washington with my sister, we went to several local eateries to try the clam chowder. I was surprised when the place where we had always gone turned out to not be my favorite.


Not as flashy as Fannizi’s – but their chowder is top rate.

It was on the fourth day – and fourth restaurant – I declared a winner. Castaway’s has been a fixture on Pacific Avenue for years. But I’d never been there. So my sister and I got a high table in the bar rather than wait for seating in the restaurant portion which seems to always be full up. I ordered the clam chowder in a bread bowl.

From the first bite I knew it was a winner. Even better was getting to consume every last drop which the soft interior of the bread bowl had absorbed. It was heavenly.

Now, whenever I am lucky enough to visit the beach, Castaway’s is a required stop for a bread bowl full of their clam chowder.

Writing this article has inspired me to look for recipes and try my hand at recreating the very best chowder I can. The following claims to be the BEST clam chowder ever. I think I will mosey out to the fresh fish market on Highway 20 (between Burlington and Anacortes) and buy some clams to make the chowder. I will update the blog later this week with the results!

The recipe includes butter, half and half, bay leaves, and Tabasco sauce. What’s not to like? Here is the link:


And a couple more links on the history and variations of the eponymous clam chowder:



… The Astor Street Opry Company

Shanghaied In Astoria

August 7, 2018

Shanghaiing or crimping: the practice of kidnapping people to serve as sailors by using  trickery, intimidation, or violence.  A crimp is someone who uses these methods to conscript a person against their will. A related term, press gang, refers specifically to impressment practices in Great Britain’s Royal Navy.

shanghaied1.jpgNow, while I have not been kidnapped in the form of shanghaiing, I did enjoy being in Astoria this past weekend and watching a performance of “Shanghaied In Astoria” – a musical melodrama now in its 35th season.

It’s good old fashioned, politically incorrect fun with over the top characters and toe tapping tunes. From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“Shanghaied In Astoria is a musical melodrama that is performed by the Astor Street Opry Company every summer in Astoria, Oregon. It has run since 1984, and has been attended by over 55,000 people. Traditionally the play is performed three days a week from July to September. (snip)

The story is set in 1904 Astoria around the Scandinavian Midsummer Festival. The Norwegian hero, Eric Olson, must rescue his sweetheart Miss Virginia Sweet from Max Krooke, her ward.”


Sneak Not Snake

A couple of sturdy women with the character Sneak. He knocked it out of the park!

I’ve attended the play five times now and can sing along with the cast. In fact, I even participated in a walk on role a couple of summers ago.

During intermission of each performance (the past four years at the least) they sell auction tickets for baskets.
The first year I bought tickets to be entered in a drawing for a walk on part. I won the honor of getting to play the part of the sheriff! I was given a badge, a play gun, and had one line: “Stop Krooke you crook!”
When I attended with my sister, niece and her fiance the next year, I once again purchased tickets and, once again, won the role of the sheriff!
Having done it the previous year, I didn’t want to do it again so I offered it to the members of my group but no one (not even my niece’s now husband who, ironically, is a police officer) wanted the role. So I gave it to a guy sitting next to me. He was thrilled!
Due to some family circumstances I was unable to attend last year, but we did make it this year. But, alas, they were not raffling off the role of the sheriff so I bought tickets for one of the baskets and… won.
Sturdy women.jpgSo I have a 100 percent success rate for raffles at Shanghaied. What’s not to like?
If you are ever visiting Long Beach or Astoria in the summer, it’s a fun evening of tossing popcorn at the villains, booing, hissing and cheering the hero (Sweet but Dumb!)
And be sure to enter the raffle drawing – who knows you might just get your big break on the stage!
A few links:
The Astor Street Opry Company:  http://asocplay.com/
A brief explanation on Wikipedia (of course):  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanghaied_in_Astoria
And a video from a few years ago about the production: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sR0xTIsV8vQ

… A Mountain Climbing Grandma

July 24, 2018

There are times in life when a real life story comes along that is so wonderful, you just have to share it. This is one of those stories.

Hulda crooks Mount fuji.jpgIt was on July 24, 1987 when 91 year old Hulda Crooks of California successfully scaled 12,388 foot tall Mount Fuji. She was the oldest woman to ever summit that mountain.

In fact, she was affectionately called Grandma Whitney due to the fact that she had climbed Mount Whitney – at 14,495 feet it’s the tallest mountain in the continental United States – twenty three times… all after the age of 65!

From the Infallible Wikipedia:

Mount Whitney peaks“In 1990, Day Needle, one of the peaks in the Whitney area was, by an Act of Congress, renamed Crooks Peak in her honor.  On July 24, 1987, at the age of 91, she became the oldest woman to complete the ascent of Mt. Fuji in Japan. She hiked the entire 212 mile John Muir Trail in the high Sierras, completing the hike in segments over five years.

Hulda Crooks was a long-time resident of Loma Linda, California and a Seventh-day Adventist. She often spent time with children in the community, encouraging them to appreciate nature and stay active. In 1991 Loma Linda dedicated a park at the base of the south hills as Hulda Crooks Park.

‘Early to bed and early to rise. Out jogging about 5:30am. Jog a mile and walk it back briskly. It takes me 12 minutes to jog the mile and 15 minutes to walk it. Do some upper trunk exercises, work in the yard, and walk to the market, and work.’ — Hulda Crooks describing life at 80

According to Congressman Jerry Lewis (R California), one of her hiking companions,

Hulda crooks hiking‘No mountain was ever too high for this gentle giant. With a twinkle in her eye, and purpose in her step, Grandma Whitney showed the world that mental, physical and spiritual health is attainable at any age.’”

This remarkable woman lived to the age of 101. Even more remarkable is that she did NOT start climbing mountains until she was 66 years old.

In the obituary for her from Loma Linda University it said, “She held eight world records for women over the age of 80 including Senior Olympic events in marathon and road races. In addition she climbed a total of 86 different Southern California peaks, each over 5,000 feet between 1977 and 1983. When Mrs. Crooks spoke about the advantage of a good diet, proper exercise, and a positive mental attitude, she was speaking from experience. It was during a period of poor health while a student at Loma Linda that she changed her lifestyle. During her retirement years, she would give up to a dozen talks a month on health and physical fitness. She would walk up to 100 miles each month to stay in shape.”

Back in 1997 there was a movie released which featured a heroine named Rose. The movie: Titanic.

For those unfamiliar with the plot line: Rich girl, Rose, meets poor boy, Jack, and they fall in love. Both are passengers on the Titanic but, due to societal pressures, it’s a hidden love affair. When the boat hits an iceberg, their love – and pretty much everyone on board – is doomed. In the final moments of the movie, we see Jack succumb to the frigid waters of the north Atlantic. But his ultimate sacrifice saves Rose.

It always struck me, as we got the briefest of glimpses into Rose’s life after Jack, that the real gift he gave her was the understanding that life is to be lived to its fullest. She promised him to live her life that way – and she did.

Which is why Hulda’s story is so inspiring. No matter what your passion might be, go out and pursue it! For me it’s writing novels. Haven’t published a single one. Yet. But I’ve completed five and am halfway through number six. And I have no shortage of ideas and plots for seven, eight, nine, and ten.

Now, climbing a mountain? Not on my bucket list. Or riding a horse now that you mention it.

For years my sister, Susan, and I have spent anywhere from two weeks to a few days each summer at Long Beach, Washington. It all started in the summer of 1991 when, with her then two year old daughter and my one and half year old son in tow, we made our first ‘girls’ trek. Over the years our activities changed depending on the age and interests of the kids. Sometime in the early to mid-2000’s her two daughters decided they wanted to ride horses. In Long Beach there are a couple of outfits where you can sign up for a guide led trot to the beach.  The first year we opted for the half hour ride. This consisted of riding a horse with an attitude in a single file line over bumpy, sandy terrain to the beach. Once at the beach the horses were allowed to fight with each other and trot a little bit horse ride views long beachbefore the whole pack turned around and went back.

The next year the girls’ wanted a longer ride so we opted for the hour and half adventure. Which just meant more time doing exactly the same thing as the previous year. The only real difference was that I walked like a chafed cowboy for two days instead of one.

When the third year rolled around I had made a decision. The night before the proposed ride I said to my sister, “So here’s the deal. I’m not going horseback riding this year. In fact, I’m never going horseback riding ever again. Tomorrow morning my plan is to put the girls on those horses then wave goodbye. After that I’m driving to Laurie’s Homestead Café and having breakfast. If you want to go on the horses, then that’s fine, but I’d love to have you join me for breakfast.”Girls with horses 2008.jpg

So if you are ever in Long Beach, Laurie’s has the BEST hash browns.*  Which my sister found out that fateful morning when we marked horseback riding off our bucket list along with climb a volcano. I’ll leave that activity to the Hulda Crook’s of this world.Laurie's breakfast

After all, I can always tap into my imagination if I need a new adventure.

And, of course, a few links:



Two scenes from Titanic:



And if you’re on the peninsula: https://www.yelp.com/biz/lauries-homestead-breakfast-house-seaview

* With the continued shutdowns from the COVID19 Pandemic I am unsure as to the status of Laurie’s Homestead cafe. I will check it out next time I’m in Long Beach and provide and update here.


December 26, 2017

TsunamifloodBigI admit it. I’m a complete nerd when it comes to natural disasters. I’m fascinated by tornadoes and all nature related phenomenon. And while we are mostly able to deal with windstorms, snowstorms and the occasional earthquake here in the Pacific Northwest, it’s impossible to imagine what December 26, 2004 must have been like for the people who experienced a rare mega-thrust earthquake and the devastating tsunami which struck near Sumatra in the Indian Ocean.

According to the infallible Wikipedia:

“It is the third-largest earthquake ever recorded on a seismograph and had the longest duration of faulting ever observed, between 8.3 and 10 minutes. It caused the entire planet to vibrate as much as 1 centimeter (0.4 inches) and triggered other earthquakes as far away as Alaska. Its epicenter was between Simeulue and mainland Indonesia. The plight of the affected people and countries prompted a worldwide humanitarian response. In all, the worldwide community donated more than US$14 billion (2004) in humanitarian aid. The event is known by the scientific community as the Sumatra–Andaman earthquake. The resulting tsunami was given various names, including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, South Asian tsunami, Indonesian tsunami, the Christmas tsunami, and the Boxing Day tsunami.”

What was particularly remarkable about this particular earthquake is that this was the first tsunami of this magnitude which was so widely filmed and seen in ‘real time.’ This scenario was repeated on March 11, 2011 when another mega thrust earthquake triggered yet another deadly tsunami, this time in Japan.

Until the videos started to pour in, I could only imagine what a tsunami might look like. To see how the water literally overpowers everything in its path is truly unfathomable. For the scientific community the knowledge gained is, no doubt, invaluable but we are made somber with the understanding that over 230,000 people were lost in this one event.

There have, of course, been other mega thrust quakes and tsunamis in the world. Scientists now believe that the west coast of the United States and Canada was hit by such an event on January 26, 1700. Information on the Cascadia quake has been pieced together through written Japanese records of a tsunami which did not correlate with a known earthquake in the region on that date. Evidence of the event has been  via oral stories of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest and also physical evidence from British Columbia south to Northern California.

Is the Pacific Northwest at risk for a mega-thrust quake? Such an event strikes the coast, on average, every 500 years and scientists believe there have been at least seven such events in the past 3,500 years. It is now 317 years since the 1700 quake.

Tsunami evacuation sign.pngDown at Long Beach, Washington, there are the blue tsunami signs which direct people to routes that would, ostensibly, lead them to higher ground. Recently I saw a program on HGTV where a family was purchasing a vacation home ten miles north in Ocean Park. Personally, I would buy something no more than a mile north of Long Beach; in lesser known Seaview would be better. From that location there is a road which quickly gets you up on top of a rather tall promontory. If, however, one happens to be on the north end of the peninsula when such an earthquake occurs it’s probably best to carry an auto- inflatable rubber boat with you when visiting the coast.

For all you other science nerds out there, here are two Wikipedia links for you:



And two YouTube videos of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami:



The second one is much longer but it is a documentary of why and how the tsunami occurred.

…Jake The Alligator Man

Happy Birthday!

August 1, 2017

Happy Birthday to that northwest icon, symbol of blatant commercialism, and

Jake the Alligator Man

Long Beach, Washington’s most famous resident: Jake the Alligator Man

resident of Long Beach… Jake the Alligator Man!

How fun it was, on August 1, 2014, to be at Long Beach and join in the parade for Jake’s 75th birthday, be given free cupcakes and really celebrate this once in a lifetime event.

Or not. As it turns out the town of Long Beach celebrates Jake’s 75th birthday EVERY year and has been doing so for the past 11 years. So maybe it’s really Jake’s 86th birthday? Call me cynical but I’m starting to think that this is all a ploy for tourists to spend more money on Jake gear and at local motels and restaurants.

And his birthday is not always on August First but seems to coincide with whichever date the first Saturday in August might fall.

Jake’s murky beginnings are just that, murky. What we do know is that Jake was purchased in 1967 for $750 from an antique dealer. He has ‘lived’ at Marsh’s Free Museum ever since.

Jake with creepy doll

Jake The Alligator Man inspecting the Creepy Dolls.

Sandy Meets Jake.jpg

Sandy The Creepy Doll inspecting Jake.

I feel pretty certain that I probably saw Jake that first year as my family spent many a summer on the Peninsula. Shopping at Marsh’s during a Long Beach visit is a must. Although Jake was once relegated to a dusty corner along with the two-headed calf and the shrunken head, he now has a whole display area with a variety of t-shirts, bumper stickers, posters, key chains and glassware dedicated to the Gatorman. And Creepy Dolls like him also.

The Infallible Wikipedia has done a poor job of telling the whole history of Jake.  What’s up with that?

So I will skip them this week and instead share the article which catapulted Jake into legend status back in 2008 when the World Weekly News published an article titled “Manigator Found.”

“MIAMI, Florida — The discovery of a bizarre half-human, half-alligator in the Florida Everglades has flabbergasted scientists who say the creature is alive, at least moderately intelligent and possibly even a distant ancestor of modern man!

That’s the world from paleontologist Dr. Paul Ledbrader, who studied the creature in his laboratory for almost three hours before state wildlife officials seized the 5-foot, 11-inch, 180-pound beast and airlifted it to a research facility just west of Miami.

Nobody at the state wildlife commission is talking. But Dr. Ledbrader says the U.S. Forest Service sent no fewer than five experts to the facility to study the reptile in the hope of determining exactly where it came from — and what it might be.

‘I know what it isn’t — and that’s an ordinary alligator,’ said Dr. Ledbrader.”

To read more of their amazing discovery, click here:


Be sure to make plans to attend Jake’s 12th annual 75th birthday party in 2018: http://jakethealligatorman.com/

*2020 Update!*

Sadly, Jake’s birthday celebration – scheduled for Saturday, August 1st – was cancelled. But that did not stop Mr. Gator from donning a birthday hat, a couple feather boas, and celebrating with friends and fans who might happen to stop by his house. Of course, HE was NOT socially distancing but this friend was.  Perhaps next year. Be sure to mark your calendars for August 7, 2021. It’ll be a party.20200802_120921