Get Out of Town: Fresh Hop Ale Festival, Yakima

It may not be Palm Springs, but every now and then Yakima shines through as one of my favorite places to be.  One such time is during the Fresh Hop Ale Festival, which is next Saturday – October 4th.

Most of you already know that we grow an awful lot of hops out east in this state.  So it makes sense that at harvest time, we celebrate out near the farms with fresh hop beers – that is, the hops will have gone from the farm into the beer within 24 hours of being picked.  We only get one shot to do this every year, and then the rest of the year we’re drinking dried and processed hops – so take advantage of something you can’t find anywhere else and attend the Fresh Hop Ale Festival.

The festival will feature fresh hop beers from 36 breweries, plus cider, food, and live music all at S 3rd & Yakima Avenue in downtown Yakima.  As for the music, I’m particularly excited this year to see one of my favorite local bands Smokey Brights performing, along with Cumulus.

Tickets are $30 in advance, and you can click here to purchase.  Or, they are $35 at the door.   The event starts at 5pm and runs until 10pm, so my recommendation is to get a hotel room (and hurry, many are sold out now!) and stay the night.  If you’re itching to go out after the festival, I recommend hanging around Sports Center (they have shuffleboard) or getting some late night grub at Second Street Grill – all within walking distance of the festival.

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New on Market: Remodeled Oasis in Shoreline

149 NE 166th Street, Shoreline

I’m really excited to share this new listing with you all, because it’s rare to find such a beautiful and well-maintained home in the Ridgecrest neighborhood of Shoreline.  This 4-bedroom, 1.75 bath rambler is definitely going to be someone’s dream home.  The kitchen has been remodeled with slab granite, custom cabinetry, oversized island, and subway tile backsplash.  It opens to a large living/dining area, all with hardwood floors and perfect for entertaining.

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The master bedroom has a walk-in closet, remodeled 3/4 bath with walk-in fully tiled shower, a large and cozy fireplace, skylight, and patio slider to an outdoor oasis.

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Outside, this home has been professionally landscaped.  On one side you’ll find an urban garden with lettuce ladder and raised garden beds.  In the backyard, you’ll find a huge deck & patio perfect for the grill and outdoor dining, plus a lawn and playhouse with slide.  A house sound system provides speakers in the living room as well as outdoors.  You also get two garden sheds with this home, and a covered parking space plus extra parking in the long driveway.

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Best of all, for those that know the neighborhood, this is a quick 5-minute walk the Crest Theater, where movies are always $3 and all-ages.  You can also walk easily to Hamlin Park, and you’re just a 2-minute drive from the 145th Street Park & Ride where you can hop a 15-minute bus to downtown Seattle.

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At 1,470 square feet, this remodeled home is priced at $390,000 and will be open this Saturday and Sunday, September 6th & 7th, from 12-4 each day.  Come and check it out at 149 NE 166th St, Shoreline!

Have an Adventure: Skydive Snohomish

I’m not sure if I’m having an early mid-life crisis, or just getting bolder in my old age, but this summer I was talked into doing something crazy: jumping out of a plane.  Five years ago I don’t think I would have done it.  Now, I think I want to do it again.

To skydive with Skydive Snohomish, you need to book your appointment a little in advance, prepay a $50 deposit, and give yourself about 3 hours at the facility.  You also have to be at least 18 years old, and weigh less than 220lbs.

Disappointingly, the day I was first scheduled to go was cloudy, and as my friend (a serious skydiver and the one that talked me into) said, “You can’t jump in low clouds; they’re not fluffy like you think.”  Deep down I knew this of course, but was in angry denial at the weather all day.   For my rescheduled jump earlier this month, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

As a newbie I was tandem jumping, which meant I had an experienced diver strapped to my back.  Or rather, I was strapped to his front.  Either way, I felt a lot more confident in his ability to pull the parachute than mine so I was happy.  My biggest fear was fear itself: I thought that once I was on the plane, looking down, I might not want to go.  Or worse, I might throw up.

When you arrive for your appointment, you sign a five-page waiver that repeatedly tells you that you might die.  Don’t let this scare you off.  Do make sure your life insurance policy is up to date before you go.  Once you’ve signed your life away (quite literally), you watch an instructional video about how to do a few main things in the jump: how to exit the plane correctly, and how to land. Then, an instructor reiterates those factors and has you practice the positions you need to be in on the ground before you head out to the staging area to suit up.

Your tandem diving partner gets you all geared up and ready to go with flight suit, goggles and hat, and then you board the plane.  I got lucky in two ways here: first, I had a great instructor who calmed my nerves by telling the cheesiest jokes ever on the plane (How do you find Will Smith in the snow? Look for the fresh prints).  Secondly, I was the last tandem person to board which meant I was the first one to jump out, and I didn’t have to build up anticipation watching the rest of the plane go.

Was I scared?  Yes and no.  I was nervous, and before it was my turn to jump out, I had to watch three individuals jump.  But when my turn came and we started scooting our butts toward the exit, I didn’t have time to be scared.  I didn’t even have time to realize I was at the edge before my tandem partner pushed us out.

The first feeling out of the plane was indescribable – like being terrified and exhilarated at once.  It was loud, my ears hurt a little, and I lost my sense of what direction I was facing.  Once the parachute opened, everyone was suddenly completely silent, and i got to gaze around for miles at the view.  Although you’re skydiving over Snohomish (next to Stocker Farms), you can see all of Seattle, the Puget Sound, Mount Baker, and more.    My tandem partner let me steer for a little while before we landed safely on the ground.

I’ve posted a few photos here of the process, and highly encourage your inner daredevil to knock this off your bucket list!

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Get out of Town: The Outback Kangaroo Farm in Arlington

While driving out to a camping spot in Oso last weekend, I passed by a sign with an arrow pointing to Kangaroos.  I certainly wasn’t in Australia, so at the campsite a friend and I decided to do a Google search for kangaroos in Arlington, and found out about The Outback Kangaroo Farm.  We were pretty excited, so we drove back the 30 minutes from our campsite the next day to take a tour. For a super affordable $9 per adult ($8 for children, and cash or check only), you can go on one of four tours per day through this farm.  My first thought upon arriving was that I’d be standing behind a cage, listening to someone speak.  However, this was only true for the first exhibit (the lemurs, of which three had just recently had babies).  After that, we were able to walk into every paddock and enclosure, feed most of the animals, and pet and play with them. Don’t get me wrong – this wasn’t all just for fun.  The tours are guided and are also somewhat educational (more on a child-level, as there were plenty of little ones on the tour).  But can you really resist the chance to pet a wallaby? Peacocks, chickens, and goats roam the farm pretty freely.   In fact one particular goat decided to meet us at the beginning of the tour and just follow us the whole way.  Before we got to the kangaroos, we met a llama, an alpaca, several donkeys, a miniature horse, and a pretty large 25-year old tortoise.  We also met an ostrich and a couple of emus, which was the only other enclosure we couldn’t enter.

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The wallabies and kangaroos live together in a pretty large area.  Several are stand-offish and stay far away, but most bound up to the people that walk in. We had a little bit of food for them, but even when we didn’t hold food they’d come right up and snuggle in for a pat on the head.  Most were born and raised there, as the farm has been around for 15 years.  They’re used to humans.  One kangaroo had a new baby in her pouch, and we were able to feel her stomach and feel the baby the way you’d feel a woman’s stomach when her baby is kicking while they explained to us how kangaroo babies grow and mature. I should also mention that this place sells wallabies and kangaroos, for $1200 to $1500.  Wallabies are totally silent animals, but that doesn’t make them great for a Seattle apartment or high-density neighborhood – they’re not exactly an animal you can potty train and need a lot of space to run around.  Oh well, my dog would get jealous anyway.

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Long story short: this place gets a lot of thumb’s up from me.  I’m not normally a huge supporter of animals in captivity, but these guys all had plenty of room, shelter, food & water, and seemed genuinely happy.  Plus, I learned a few somethings.  Next time you find yourself near Arlington, go check this place out!

Tottenham takes on Seattle – But first, a beer.

I had the great privilege last night of getting to tag along with Mr. and Mrs. Beer Blog to Reuben’s Brews, where owner Adam Robbings is a fellow Brit and huge Tottenham Hotspur fan.  So naturally, he’s pretty excited to see the Sounders face the Spurs this Saturday at Century Link field in a friendly.

He’s so excited that he actually brewed a special beer for the Hotspur – London Calling, a British pale ale. You can read Adam’s story about behind the beer and how it was made here.  In the meantime, back to last night.

Adam Robbing's had Reuben's Brews decked out in Spurs gear to celebrate.

Adam Robbing’s had Reuben’s Brews decked out in Spurs gear to celebrate.

I’m a Chelsea FC fan.  Born a Chelsea fan, raised a Chelsea fan.  It’s like religion in England – your parents bring you up to love whatever they were brought up to love, and the team support stays in the family.  Chelsea came to play the Sounders two years ago, and that was one of the most exciting moments of my life.  I know how Adam feels.  So I resisted all urges to put on my blue polo shirt and yell “Come on you Blues” as I walked into a brewery full of Tottenham fans last night.  I can appreciate good football (yes, I said football) when I see it, and Tottenham has had a great team in the past few years being near the top of the table.   And let’s face it, Tottenham gave us Dempsey, so we have that.

Reuben’s Brews was packed last night for a special tapping of London Calling. And who showed to up to tap the cask? None other than legend Ledley King, who played over 300 games with Tottenham and joined the English national team in 2010 for their World Cup game against USA.  King has been retired since 2012, but sure was working hard last night to take pictures with and sign autographs for fans.

Getting my picture taken with the great Ledley King!

Getting my picture taken with the great Ledley King!

King signing autographs for fans.

King signing autographs for fans.

The best part of all this is that part of the proceeds from the sale of London Calling go to Street Soccer Seattle, an organization devoted to using soccer to uplift and empower homeless individuals in Seattle.

The Sounders and Spurs face off this Saturday, July 19th, at 1pm – to a crowd of over 64,000 fans (my friend in England pointed out that this was incredibly high for a friendly).  If you have your ticket, go cheer them on!  If you don’t, you’re missing out on seeing some great footie.

PHOTOS: Wine Rocks Seattle

I had the awesome opportunity yesterday evening to accompany the lovely Taryn Miller of Sips & the City to Wine Rocks Seattle on Pier 66, and essentially get the experience of a wine festival instead of the beer fests I usually gravitate to.  I’m sold!  This event had everything you could want on a Seattle summer evening: a waterfront location with a view, fantastic wines (I stuck mostly to white and rose because of the heat), food samples (Beechers Cheese and Bill the Butcher were on hand, among others) and food trucks (like the amazing Grilled Cheese Experience), and live music.

The music was provided by the wine makers themselves, who formed a few bands and played a good variety for lounging and dancing.  In particular, an all-track-suit-wearing band from Des Voigne Cellars in Woodinville provided covers from the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Weezer and Dixie Chicks that I just loved.

As far as the wine goes, I won’t pick favorites.  I’m not nearly enough of a connoisseur to advise on good wines.  I’ll just say there was a great representation there from all over the state and enough varieties to suit everyone’s taste.  Don’t like wine?  They had you covered there too, with several beers and ciders available.

 

The best part?  Proceeds from the event benefited the University District Food Bank.

Here’s a few photos from the event!

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Mexican in Phinney-Greenwood: HECHO

Since moving to Maple Leaf, I don’t get to stroll down Greenwood Avenue as often as I used to.  So when a friend asked me if I’d seen “that new Mexican place,” I assumed she was talking about a small hole-in-the-wall with a few tacos.

Enter HECHO, now open at 7314 Greenwood Ave N.  Well, in truth, it’s been open since about the first week of April – but came in silently and I didn’t stumble upon any press about it back then despite my obsession with following the likes of Eater and Seattle Magazine.   When I passed by it walking the dog yesterday, I was immediately attracted to the bright exterior wall that is labeled in words like “Tacos” and “Pescado” and the one that caught my eye – “Margaritas.”

So I called my friend and we decided to go check it out.   I’ll start off by saying it’s not the cheapest Mexican around.  I knew that beforehand; I checked the menu online and was well aware that I wouldn’t be getting out of there for less than $20 if I ate.  We sat at the bar and ordered drinks.  The menu we were handed inside didn’t have all the items that the online menu listed (it must rotate a little) but I was soon over that disappointment when I found the Margarita Fresca.  Unlike a lot of margaritas made with syrup and “fake” stuff, this was made with fresh fruit puree (strawberry, but the fruits rotate too).

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We had chips and salsa ($4) and guacamole, and then being slightly full on chips ordered light appetizers of taquitos and a quesadilla.  Both were whopping portions and we couldn’t finish either, but that’s good to know for next time!

After trying to think for some time about what used to be in the large spot HECHO now occupies, we finally asked our bartender.  It replaced Carmelita’s – the vegan joint.  I guess that’s one point for meat-eaters, but there’s still a few veggie options on Greenwood Ave.

Definitely recommending this place, and I’ll be going back.