Early in March I took a trip to the other Washington, rented a snappy little red Ford Mustang convertible (hey, it feels like a cockpit in there) and drove to visit some friends down in the state capital of Olympia. Olympia is really three cities blended: Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater. It has a delicious mix of academic, artist, politician and hippy in the population. The historic part of the downtown is so charming you start thinking about moving there – especially when the sun is out (about 3 months of the year and sometimes in March). From local coffee roasters to tasty local micro-brew, local farmer’s market – local and organic is a way of life here.
It’s a fantastic vacation destination. A drive in any direction will take you into some of the most beautiful scenery you’ve ever encountered, and if you are only somewhat ambitious you could drive to beach, mountain and orchard farmland in the same day (by going over the Cascades to Western Washington). I’ve done it, though not on this trip.
Budd Bay has a delightful boardwalk, there is art everywhere you look and twice on Sundays. In the fall there is an Illuminated Procession of the Species parade, in the early summer a daytime version celebrating Mother Earth where everyone dresses up as nature – Fire, Water, Earth, Sky, Animals. I lived there when my daughter was small, and one year she was a darling little mermaid. If I can find a photo I’ll post it later.
On the other side of things, it’s the seat of Washington State government and the capitol campus (why must there be a different spelling for the building than the place??) is a gorgeous place to picnic by the big fountain. There is, like the eastern Washington, a promenade of cherry blossoms in the spring.
Ancient Olympia was the place the first Olympic Games were held. Olympia, Washington is modern and historic, academic and artsy, bohemian and political. I still carry a torch for the place.