Monthly Archives: December 2013

Santa, Santa, Everywhere! Santarchy 2013!

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Wall to Wall Santas

Santa in a regular Santa suit. Santa in a “suggestive” Santa suit. Santa playing video games. Reindeer, elves, presents, lots of red and green. Wall to wall. What was it? Seattle Santarchy 2013!

Every year we head up to Seattle on the weekend before Christmas. We have finished all of our shopping and go just to go downtown and “get into the thick of it” as David says. The last couple of years we have noticed a lot of people in Santa suits running all over the place. This year we took the opportunity to stop and talk to some of these very friendly people to find out what they were doing. It turns out that they are also there that same weekend every year for the now annual “Santarchy” also known as “Santacon” in other cities. It’s basically a big pub crawl in costume.

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Santa Sue and Buddy the Elf

They all start by meeting at noon in Pioneer Square where they receive a map and a schedule. It tells them that they should tentatively end up on Capitol Hill around midnight and just continue to party in that area.

Along the way they stop for a group picture at the Harbor Steps, have a Santa Fashion Show, and do caroling in Westlake Park around 6pm. They hit up several restaurants and bars all along the way. We ran into them at Gameworks where we stopped for dinner and to let Josh play some games. Everyone we met was surprisingly not very drunk.

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Santa and his reindeer games – at Gameworks

The schedule lists some common sense, basic manners and rules for the Santas to follow: Don’t mess with children, the police, bar or store security or “working” Santas. And of course, don’t drink and drive.

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Suave Santa

Granted where there is a lot of drinking and people, you might want to limit children’s exposure to some of it. Some of the costumes were pretty wild and there will always be someone who goes overboard and gets in trouble. But overall we found it to be just a fun event that we enjoyed without even having to participate. Everyone we talked to was friendly, willing to let us take their pictures, and answer our questions.

This gentleman said he has attended other Santacons where there were a lot more Santas and they were a lot more drunk. He told us about an event in Reno with 5000 Santas under the Reno arch and most were very inebriated.

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Nancy and God’s Gift to Women (aka Eddie Larison)

I have to say this costume was my favorite – God’s Gift to Women. He really was quite charming. And ladies, in case you’re wondering…God’s Gift to Women works at Microsoft!

There are websites set up for the event so you can find out more about it and maybe bookmark them so you can attend next year. One is http://santacon.info/Seattle-WA/ and of course there’s a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/1413448102205619/.

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Categories: Festivals, Food, Wine, Cider, Keatons Out and About, People, Washington | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Old-Fashioned Fun: The Lighted Tractor Parade – Centralia, WA

1-IMG_3163Four years ago, the Centralia Downtown Association, a non-profit group determined to revitalize the downtown area, decided to create something that would be a new fun family tradition while honoring the history of the area. Centralia, Washington has a history that includes farming, trains and friendly people.

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This year was the 4th Annual Lighted Tractor Parade and from all accounts is proving to be a huge success. The night was chilly but dry. Trying to find parking near the route was like trying to get around an obstacle course. Cars were everywhere. When we finally found a spot, we started walking towards downtown and could hear cheering and yelling from blocks away. The main street (Tower St.) was already warmly lit with white Christmas lights crossing the street, but then we could see multiple-colored lights moving towards us.

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People were lined up along with street, children in front where they could see the best. All kinds of vehicles were lined up down the street. Yes, many tractors but there were also old trucks, military vehicles, floats, and even bicycles. So many smiling, waving people, both on the floats and on the street. I don’t know that I have ever heard so many people cheering and yelling out to participants in any other parade I’ve been to. For some reason a nighttime parade has a very different feel to it. The sparkling lights give a different atmosphere to the celebration. Of course the requisite candy was tossed to the excited children!

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Winner of the Judge’s Choice Award

There were over 50 entries in the parade, along with some business floats. According to Colleen Stewart of the Centralia Downtown Association, the only political entries allowed are simply politicians riding in a float, no vehicles advertising the particular politician.

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Military Representation

One of the best things about a small town is knowing so many people, and it really adds to the fun of the event when you recognize friends participating in the parade.

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Megan Zigler from “The Locksmith Shoppe”

After the parade many people stepped into one of the several delicious-smelling restaurants located in the downtown area. We popped into O’Blarney’s (which also happened to be a major sponsor of the parade) and had a hearty meal and continued to talk about how much we enjoyed the parade.

This event will certainly go on our calendar for next year, and should be even more spectacular as it will be the 5th annual event. If you want to experience some free old-fashioned fun with lots of colorful lights and friendly people, come to downtown Centralia on December 13, 2014!

For more information on the Centralia Downtown Association check out their website at DowntownCentralia.org.

Categories: Festivals, Historical, Keatons Out and About, People, Washington | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

A Look at Yesteryear – Fallout Shelters

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Food and supplies would have been stockpiled along the walls.

Back during the “Cold War” (from about 1947 to 1991) everyone was worried about what to do in the event a nuclear bomb was detonated somewhere in America. Many people actually built bomb shelters in their back yards. But not everyone could do that, and there also had to be plans for large groups of people such as in cities. Sturdy buildings made of concrete with basements were designated as fallout shelters, with the hopes the concrete would help minimize a person’s exposure to radiation. These buildings were also stocked with food, water, and supplies to take care of people for a couple of weeks until it was felt they could safely go out again.

One place to see an example of a fallout shelter is at Ft. Worden in Washington State. The military also had to prepare a plan and supplies in the event of a nuclear attack. In the case of Ft. Worden they planned to use the concrete batteries as the shelters.

So how would you have known where to find a shelter? The first thing you would look for is the distinct yellow sign telling you which building was designated as a fallout shelter.

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Here you see how food and water is stored. Survival Crackers and Wafers – the food does not look particularly appealing, but I imagine if there had been a real emergency, people would have been happy to have any food to eat.

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Survival Biscuit

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Survival Cracker

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Survival Wafer

Medical and sanitary supplies were also stored.

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Medical Supplies

Booklets with information were distributed to all local residents to help them know what to do if the time came.

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Informational Booklets

It would have been a bit stressful to be in one of the shelters and see these Geiger Counters. They would have been important to measure the radioactivity not only in the shelter but to help decide when it was safe to go outside again.

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Geiger Counter

It must have been very scary, planning for and worrying about a nuclear attack. And who knows if all these preparations would have actually been helpful. But they all did the best they could at the time with their plans, and thank goodness fallout shelters were never needed.

Once the Cold War was over, most of these shelters were discontinued. Almost any town you go to though, there will be some building where you will still see the yellow sign. If you would like to see an exhibit showing how a fallout shelter would have looked back then, take the trip to Ft. Worden State Park on the Olympic Peninsula. The exhibit is located inside the Coast Artillery Museum.

Getting there: (from the Fort Worden website) –

From Seattle-Bainbridge Ferry to Fort Worden State Park

Depart from the ferry terminal, and drive straight (NE) on State Route (SR) 305 for approximately 13 miles. Drive through Poulsbo, and take a right onto the ramp for SR 3 to the Hood Canal Bridge – approximately 7 miles. At the lighted intersection for SR 104, take a left and remain on SR 104 for about 6 ½ miles. At the intersection of SR 19, turn right. Stay on SR 19 for 14 miles; it will merge with SR 20. Continue straight (north) on SR 20 into Port Townsend, take a left on Kearney Street, right on Blaine Street, left on Cherry Street, and follow signs into the park.

From Canada/Northwest Washington to Fort Worden State Park

Travel south on Interstate 5 to Highway 20 (Burlington exit). Follow Highway 20 west through Oak Harbor and Coupeville to Keystone Ferry, approximately 42 miles. Take the Keystone Ferry to Port Townsend. Depart from the ferry terminal and turn left onto Water Street. At the first stop light, turn right onto Kearney Street. At the first stop sign take a right on Blaine Street. At the next stop sign, take a left on Cherry Street, and follow signs into the park.

From Edmonds-Kingston Ferry to Fort Worden State Park

Depart from the ferry terminal and drive straight on State Route (SR) 104. Follow signs to stay on SR 104 through Port Gamble to the Hood Canal Bridge, approximately nine miles. At the lighted intersection for SR 104, turn right and remain on SR 104 for about 6.5 miles. At the intersection of SR 19, turn right. Stay on SR 19 for 14 miles; it will merge with SR 20. Continue straight (north) on SR 20 into Port Townsend. Turn left onto Kearney Street, and at the first stop sign turn right on Blaine Street. At the next stop sign, turn left on Cherry Street, and follow signs into the park.

From Tacoma to Fort Worden State Park

Follow Highway 16 across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and follow the signs to Bremerton, approximately 27 miles, where the highway changes names to SR 3. Follow SR 3 about 25 miles to the Hood Canal Bridge. At the lighted intersection for SR 104, turn left and remain on SR 104 for about 6.5 miles. At the intersection of SR 19, turn right. Stay on SR 19 for 14 miles; it will merge with SR 20. Continue straight (north) on SR 20 into Port Townsend. Turn left onto Kearney Street, and at the first stop sign turn right on Blaine Street. At the next stop sign, turn left on Cherry Street, and follow signs into the park.

From Olympia to Fort Worden State Park

Take US 101 northbound towards Quilcene. About 12 miles past Quilcene, bear right onto SR 20. Follow SR 20 approximately eight miles then turn left at the lighted intersection, which keeps you on SR 20. Continue straight (north) on SR 20 into Port Townsend. Turn left onto Kearney Street, and at the first stop sign turn right on Blaine Street. At the next stop sign, turn on Cherry Street, and follow signs into the park.

Categories: Historical, Keatons Out and About, Parks, Washington | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Upcoming Santa Snow Trains

Snow, trains, Santa and Christmas time – who doesn’t love the combination? Luckily here in the northwest there are several snow trains to take advantage of in the coming weeks.

WASHINGTON

Alki Tours Snow Train to Leavenworth Tree Lighting Festival

www.alkitours.com

Musicians, magicians, breakfast and dinner on this trip to and from the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth.

Prices are $139 for children and $149 for adults.

  • Saturdays, December 7, 14 & 21

 

Chehalis-Centralia Railroad and Museum Chehalis, Washington

http://steamtrainride.com/holiday_trains/

Santa Steam Train (30 minutes)

Visit with Santa and have your picture taken

Price is $10 (under 2 free)

  • Weekends, December 7 through December 15

Polar Express Train (hour and a half)

Santa, cookies, hot chocolate and a reading of the book Polar Express

Price is $20 for children, $30 for adults

  • Fridays through Sundays, November 29 – Sunday, December 22

 

Chelatchie Prairie Railroad Yacolt, Washington Christmas Tree Special Train

http://www.bycx.com/schedule

Prices range from $8-$11 for children ages 2-4, $10-$13 for children ages 5-12 an $15-$18 for adults.

  • Weekends, December 1 through December 22

 

Lake Whatcom Railway Wickersham, Washington Santa Train

http://www.lakewhatcomrailway.com/

Prices are $12.50 for children, $25 for adults

  • Saturdays, December 7, 14, & 21

 

Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad Elbe, Washington Santa Express Train

http://www.mrsr.com/index.html

Visit Santa and drink hot chocolate while riding along the foothills of Mt. Rainier!

Prices are $22 for children ages 2-12, and $27 for adults.

  • Fridays through Sundays, December 6 – December 22

 

Northern Pacific Railway Museum Toppenish, Washington Toy Train Christmas with Santa

http://www.nprymuseum.org/toytrainchristmas.htm

A unique experience that involves playing with lots of toy trains! A short train ride on a caboose is included.

Prices are $4 for children and $6 for adult.

  • Weekends, November 30 –  December 22

 

Northwest Railroad Museum Snoqualmie, Washington Santa Train

http://www.trainmuseum.org/index.php/visit-us/santa-train

A beautiful old train depot and museum, Santa, and cocoa!

Prices are $20 for everyone.

  • Weekends, November 30 through  December 21

 

OREGON

Oregon Mount Hood Railroad Hood River, Oregon Polar Express Train Saturday

https://www.mthoodrr.com/buy-polar-tickets.html

Caroling, hot chocolate, Santa, and a special treat!

Prices range from $18-$38 for children and $26 to $46 for adults.

  • November 9  – December 29

 

Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad Garibaldi, Oregon Candy Cane Express Train

http://www.ocsr.net/candycane.html

Ride along the Pacific Ocean with Santa! Cookies, candy, and hot chocolate!

Prices are $15 for ages 3-10 and $20 for adults.

  • December 7 – December 15

 

Sumpter Valley Railroad McEwen & Sumpter, Oregon Christmas Train

http://www.sumptervalleyrailroad.org/special-events.html

Ride a steam-powered train back in time!

  • December 7 – 15

 

IDAHO

Idaho Thunder Mountain Line Horseshoe Bend, Idaho Santa Express Train

http://www.thundermountainline.com

Christmas music, coloring books, pictures with Santa, Santa’s Magic Forest, candy canes, and milk! Prices range from $20-$30 for children and $30-$40 for adults.

  • Fridays through Sundays, November 22 – December 22

 

MONTANA

Charlie Russell Chew Choo Lewistown, Montana North Pole Adventure Train

http://www.montanadinnertrain.com/schedule.html

Prices are $25 per person

  • Weekends, November 30 through December 21.
Categories: Festivals, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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