Category Archives: Washington state

Tacoma Focus: Washington State History Museum

On the Wagon Train! Illustration by Henry Chamberlain.

On the Wagon Train! Illustration by Henry Chamberlain.

Wandering through Tacoma can be like time travelling with so many finely restored historic landmarks. Add to that all the classic cars driving down the avenues. And add to all that the Washington State History Museum. It is a massive fortress filled to the brim with all sorts of pathways and portals into the past.

Yes, I gravitated to the pop culture!

Yes, I gravitated to the pop culture!

I know that I love novel uses of words and pictures. It’s not just because I create comics and graphic novels. As both a writer and artist, and as a lifelong learner, I have always cherished the unique place that museums of all kinds have in our lives.

Washington State History Museum

Washington State History Museum

I am especially grateful for the Washington State History Museum as an essential resource for state history. It serves as the state’s attic, a very special venue for all manner of items, large and small, a place for careful study.

Watercolor painting of Chief Leschi

Watercolor painting of Chief Leschi

Museums are for all ages. It could not be any other way. Mentors and cubs alike make great use of museums. But it is no secret that museums hold a special place for the kids. The great push forward from one generation to the next must always include quiet contemplation amongst the artifacts of bygone eras.

A small drama plays out at the train set.

A small drama plays out at the train set.

And when you come right down to it, I love good visuals, which this museum has plenty. And, among them all, I love that massive train set! Like any elaborate train set worth its weight, this one has some unexpected dramatic scenes peppered about, even an accident site complete with ambulance and accident victim. We can only hope it was a minor accident!

Train Set at the Washington State History Museum

Train Set at the Washington State History Museum

The train set exhibit brings to mind a fellow who has dedicated a big portion of his life to creating what is probably the world’s longest and most complex train set display encompassing football fields of space. That’s Northlandz in New Jersey. But this is not a competition. He has his train set and this wonderful museum has its train set, which is pretty massive!

Brass Lantern Clock, circa 1630

Brass Lantern Clock, circa 1630

Vintage Women's Suffrage Placard

Vintage Women’s Suffrage Placard

Washington State History Museum is located at 1911 Pacific Avenue in the heart of Tacoma’s Museum District, adjacent to Union Station. For more details, visit the website right here.

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Filed under Education, History, Tacoma, Travel, Washington state

Tacoma Focus: LeMay – America’s Car Museum

"Route 66: Dream of The Mother Road," currently on view at America's Car Museum

“Route 66: Dream of The Mother Road,” currently on view at America’s Car Museum

America’s Car Museum has the proud distinction of being the largest car collection in North America with 165,000 square feet of exhibit space for a 350 car gallery. For anyone who loves the open road and has a sense of adventure, you will definitely want to see “Route 66: Dream of The Mother Road,” currently on view. Take your time to wander and enjoy all the exhibits. This is the place to celebrate automobiles of all kinds dating back to the earliest vehicles all the way up to the present and beyond.

Next to a Plymouth Barracuda

Next to a Plymouth Barracuda

To get a sense of the spirit behind this dazzling collection, you’ll want to see “Lucky’s Garage,” a tribute to the LeMay family that has made this collection possible. Here you can imagine Harold LeMay leisurely toiling away as he works on his latest car project. “Lucky” was Harold’s nickname. As he saw it, a lot of hard work finally led to being “lucky.” That said, Mr.LeMay was hard working indeed amassing a collection of over 3,000 vehicles and thousands of artifacts, earning him a place in the 1997 Guinness Book of World Records.

"Lucky's Garage," a tribute to Harold E. LeMay

“Lucky’s Garage,” a tribute to Harold E. LeMay

America’s Car Museum is certainly a testament to Harold E. LeMay’s dedication to his community and his passion for cars. Walk through the four stories of display space and you can’t help but get caught up in the heady mix of vivid history and a sense of excitement. Just letting my imagination run wild and thinking about all the heart and humanity behind all these classic cars made my head spin.

Wow, a 1931 Auburn Boattail Speedster!

Wow, a 1931 Auburn Boattail Speedster!

What a beauty, a 1960 Chevrolet Corvette!

What a beauty, a 1960 Chevrolet Corvette!

You get lost in them, decade by decade. Do you want to know how to instantly gain some insight into American history? Just go back to our love affair with cars.

You don’t have to know anything about cars to understand how so many have fallen under the automotive spell. You will find favorites among so many wonderful dream cars. Hey, here’s one you can’t help but love, an undisputed classic, the DeLorean DMC-12, which gained immortality when one of them appeared in “Back to the Future.”

LeMay – America’s Car Museum is located at 2702 East D. St. in Tacoma. It is adjacent to the Tacoma Dome. You can find easy access to it via the link rail. Be sure to visit the website right here.

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Filed under Cars, Classic Cars, History, Museums, Route 66, Tacoma, Travel, Washington state

Hotel Review: Hotel Murano in Tacoma, Washington

Hotel Murano is Stimulating!

Hotel Murano is Stimulating!

Sometimes you need to take a detour and see where it takes you. I chose Hotel Murano in Tacoma Washington, for a refreshing change of pace.

Hotel Murano in Tacoma, Washington, for a refreshing change of pace.

Hotel Murano in Tacoma, Washington, for a refreshing change of pace.

This week we focus on Tacoma, Washington, home to a unique glass art culture linked directly to Tacoma native and world-renowned glass artist, Dale Chihuly. For those of you considering a visit to the Pacific Northwest, it is Tacoma where you can find an intriguing blend of old and new including the Washington State History Museum, America’s Car Museum, and the Museum of Glass.

Bite, the restaurant at Hotel Murano

Bite, the restaurant at Hotel Murano

Glass is about openness and clarity. I love how Hotel Murano plays with the theme of glass. Looking down from Bite, the hotel’s restaurant perched on the fourth floor, you can take in quite a spacious view.

A playful and inviting use of  space in the lobby of Hotel Murano

A playful and inviting use of space in the lobby of Hotel Murano

You sense that open feeling all around, accented with smartly placed art like the full scale horse standing by the bar. You feel as if you could ride that regal black horse, trot around the lobby, and canter down the hall. With that lampshade on its head, you just know it’s a whimsical, or magical, horse. If it were a nightmare, it would not make very good company with your scotch and soda.

Mysterious Black Stallion as Sentry at the Bar

Mysterious Black Stallion as Sentry at the Bar

Friendly and courteous service count for everything in a hotel stay. Hotel Murano comes away with high marks. Beginning with the front desk service, all our requests were promptly met and all our questions were thoughtfully answered.

A friendly and helpful front desk at Hotel Murano

A friendly and helpful front desk at Hotel Murano

There’s an old favorite home style restaurant from many years back that I had difficulty recalling but the front desk was able to reconnect me with Southern Kitchen! If you are looking for some good catfish, that’s the place to go. And, if you do wander off, you may also want to treat yourself to the local art house movie theater, Grand Cinema.

A Comfy Bed Awaits

A Comfy Bed Awaits

Our room at Hotel Murano was just what we had hoped for: stylish, comfortable, and with a sense of fun. The bed was comfy and spacious. I rested on a pile of pillows and read for a while. I found myself reading three chapters without any disturbance. The book I was reading is about a man on a business trip. He checks into an inn but becomes restless and wanders off into the woods where trouble soon finds him. At Hotel Murano, you won’t become restless. You can either enjoy the hotel or quite easily walk over to check out some fun spots for a bite to eat in the Museum District like Elemental Pizza or Pacific Grill. And you can certainly take the nearby link rail and venture further out. And, like I say, you definitely won’t get restless with plenty to see and do.

Find Your Creative Side at Hotel Murano

Find Your Creative Side at Hotel Murano

The Murano islands in Venice are a center for glassmaking dating back to 1291. Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, Murano brings to mind clear blue waters and skies. The name Murano itself evokes wanderlust and adventure. It is a fine name for a hotel that helps each guest find their own special Murano experience.

When your travels bring you to Tacoma, be sure to stay at Hotel Murano.

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Filed under Dale Chihuly, Hotel Review, Hotels, Pacific Northwest, Tacoma, Travel, Washington state