One week in Tacoma, Washington…
Why we came…
To visit friends!
Camp Murray Beach was okay. It’s in a central location to the military bases and dense humanity along the I-5 corridor. While outside our trailer, the steady noise of I-5 was obvious, but we were glad not to hear it inside. Other than military folks revving up their vehicles early each morning, the place was peaceful. The camp sites were wide with plenty of space to park our truck next to our trailer. The sites were gravel and a bit unlevel. There are a few sites out in the open along the lake, but most of them are tucked under tall trees making satellite nearly impossible. We had full hook-ups, no wi-fi, and a reliable 2 bar LTE Verizon signal. The bathroom and laundry building appeared to be recently renovated and well maintained. There were two reasonably priced washers and two dryers. There was also a nice trail along American Lake that we walked a couple of times each day.
Like many military campgrounds, the place felt like a trailer park. Most of the sites are taken by residents living there. They cram two vehicles, an RV, and a bunch of junk into their sites. It’s sad that many military campgrounds have turned into low income housing.
The positives out way the negatives and we would stay there again. Overall, we were comfortable and liked the convenient location.
We were comfortable at Camp Murray Beach RV Park
Lakewood and DuPont are the closest towns, but Tacoma to the north and Olympia to the south, are both easily accessible. Seattle is a 45 mile drive to the north through the very congested I-5 corridor. There are plenty of things to see and do within a day’s drive. There are also tons of stores, restaurants, and services nearby.
Arleen’s final military stint was at McChord Air Force Base. Even though fellow members of the 62nd Operational Support Squadron have been retired from the Air Force for a few years, Arleen was very excited to spend time with individuals who were once co-workers but are now good friends.
62 OSS reunion at the Fish Tail Brew Pub in Olympia. Back row from left: Joyce, Roger, Arleen, Tim & Rebecca, Jon, Juanita Front row from left: Sean, Lisa, Les, Elizabeth
My last military tour was with the 1st Weather Squadron at Fort Lewis. I worked with Rob almost three of my last four years. Since retirement, he has gone on to a totally different career as a locomotive engineer. We had a great time catching up with him and his wife Lisa. We had so many questions for each other that dinner stretched five hours!
We had a great conversation with Rob and Lisa at The Ram in Lacey for FIVE hours
I had a hand in some of the design ideas of the new 1st Weather Squadron building. Construction began shortly after I left the area over six years ago. I was excited to see the new facilities.
We have both worked with Malik, the current superintendent, in the past, so he was happy to give us the full tour. It is an amazing facility that allows the busy, mobile squadron to fully function.
Surprisingly, only one person was left from my time there. It was nice to see John again.
My old unit at Fort Lewis WA / Throwing a medicine ball with Malik in their sweet workout room
Me and John / Malik humoring me with a cheesy pose
Arleen and I lived in a home in the Tacoma area for four years. We spent much of our free time making creative changes to the half-acre yard and were curious to see how things changed. Most importantly, we wanted to see our wonderful neighbors, John and Cindy.
It made us feel a little wistful as we drove into the old neighborhood and parked near our old driveway. John had talked to the new owner and they kindly guided us through the yard to see how much it had changed. It was fun to see how a burning bush, a holly tree, and a juniper we had planted had grown.
John, Cindy, Arleen, and I went to our favorite restaurant, Amici’s. It was just as good as we remembered. We had a wonderful time catching up with our old neighbors who have always been great friends. We look forward to seeing them again next year!
Our house in Oct 2010 / Thanks to the new owners for letting us wander around!
John and Cindy were our neighbors and are two of our most favorite people on the planet!
Rick was Arleen’s right hand man for four years at the McChord Weather Flight. Tracy was an indispensable Phoenix Spouse for the Flight and the Squadron. More than that, they were both our friends and we looked forward to a reunion with them.
We were glad that they were able to find time from their very busy schedules to meet us at our go-to breakfast place, The Country Rose Café. The yummy Hobo Hash was just like we remembered.
We had a great time catching up with Rick and Tracy on what they have been up to as well as their boys and grandchildren. We always enjoy following them and all the aspects of their busy lives.
We enjoyed breakfast at the Country Rose Café in Spanaway with Tracy and Rick
As Air Force Weather Forecasters, Arleen and I both had assignments and deployed with the Army, who does not have its own weather support. Most people are not aware of that. Even fewer realize that the Air Force has a Special Operations team of parachuting weather warriors involved in tasks with the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force.
Our friend Mario was one of those special individuals. You would never know it from his welcoming and warm personality. The master chef graciously invited us to his home where he prepared an incredible spaghetti dinner plus a yummy tiramisu.
We had a wonderful time visiting with Mario, his wife Sarah, and their beautiful kids. They’ll be good fun to watch as they grow up.
Mario and his beautiful family treated us to wonderful dinner at their home / We really liked the Patriot Wall in their house
Dawn and I worked together at Fort Lewis for four years. I always respected her and was eager to see her again.
She, too, is retired from the Air Force now. She’s busy with her second career and doing other great things. It was good to hear how her family is all doing. Hopefully our paths cross again soon!
We had a nice dinner with Dawn at the German Rhein Haus in Tacoma
The 340-acre Fort Steilacoom Park is Lakewood City’s largest park. It has a dog park, remote-controlled aircraft runway, picnic shelters, 5K running trail, several soccer fields and baseball fields. There is also a nice paved path all the way around Waughop Lake.
The area was a homesteader's farm in the 1840s. It became Fort Steilacoom in 1849.
In 1868, it became the "Insane Asylum for Washington Territory". “Hospital residents grew crops and orchards in the park area, and planted many of the poplar trees that line the lake shore.” A lot of the original farm buildings are still standing. We wandered around the concrete curb that serves as a memorial to the people who lived and worked at the Hill Ward Hospital.
We enjoyed our walk around Waughop Lake. Then we walked by the large dog park. It was good fun to see dogs playing fetch and chasing each other.
Finally, we checked out the cute Fort Steilacoom kids play area. If there had not been children already there, we could have spent some time there!
Walk route around Fort Steilacoom Park / The entrance to the kids’ park
The farm buildings were built in the 1930s
We are in Sequim WA. We will spend the rest of the winter here and then head to Alaska next summer!
Still clinging to fall in the Pacific Northwest / Presbyterian Church of Tacoma under a full moon