Glass and more in Tacoma, Washington

(Last Updated On: May 27, 2020)

The day is starting off bad, with rainy skies and unhappy children. Michele and I have planned to spend the day roaming about the “new” Tacoma with her family. With its gloriously restored Union Station and shiny museums, it seemed like a good way to spend a day, but now I’m beginning to wonder. . .At last we are on our way and, at least in our car, the drive down is easy enough, with only light rain and no congestion. I’m not sure how things are going in Michele’s van, where most of her family still seems pretty put-out by this adventure. I’m sort of glad we took separate cars.

Once we get to Tacoma, things start to fall apart again.

Michele and I have both read that the best way to visit the downtown museums is to park at the Tacoma Dome Station and then take the light rail in. That seemed like a good idea at the time (one that pleased at least one child), but now the exit is really busy and traffic is backed up all the way to the Dome itself. And where exactly IS the station?

Today is high school graduation at the Tacoma Dome (judging by the signboard outside, every school in the area holds their ceremonies here) and we are thoroughly mired in parking lot traffic. This is turning into a disaster. Lane is a good sport about it, but my heart goes out to Michele who is probably being berated by every member of her family for going along with one of my cockeyed ideas. I’m sure they’ll never invite me back L

Eventually we are on a residential street outside the Dome parking zone. A quick conference through the car windows (in the rain) and we decide to make one more try for the station. One of the parking lot attendant told Michele it was sort of “that way,” so we head “that way” looking for signs of trains.

And suddenly we are there!

The parking ramp is dry and free. That seems like a good start. Now, where would we find the trains?

It takes a bit of theorizing and a hike to the other end of the facility, but soon we are safely ensconced in a bright blue train car as the rain patters against the window. The mood improves visibly.

The train drops us off outside the restored Union Station.

I seem to be the only one bothered by walking through the rain to the Museum of Glass, but I am actually quite pleased when we reach the Bridge of Glass. It is capped with an astounding array of colorful Chihuly glass. It is astounding, intriguing, and DRY. Sweet.

The next section of the bridge is open on top, with sides that encase exotic glass forms. It is beautiful, but difficult to photograph and wet.

As we land at the museum itself, we have a good view of the huge cone that vents the museum’s furnaces and the associated Hot Shop.

It was totally worth walking here in the rain. Besides, I probably got better pictures than I would have gotten on a bright sunny day.

Inside, the museum is half-closed as they switch shows, but they give us a hefty discount. Near the ticket booth a couple of women are demonstrating how to make beads using a torch. I’ve never actually seen lampworking done before and find it interesting, but Zoe is completely entranced. Yay! One child won’t hate me forever. I suggest to her father that I’ll buy her a torch so she can start making beads herself. He is not amused, but he’s probably not going to forgive me for this little outing anyway, so that’s ok 🙂

There isn’t anything very dramatic to watch in the Hot Shop today, but the auditorium provides a good view of the inside of the huge steel cone that defines the building. It is also a reminder that this really is a working museum – it is an opportunity to watch artists at work and not just a stage show.

We are more than ready for a late lunch once we finish at the museum. Michele and I had selected a place called Johnny’s Dock as one of our options and we can actually see it across the water from the museum. But how to get there. . .

This part of Tacoma is completely torn up by road construction (on both sides of the water), so we spend a long time going back and forth and then repeating that before Lane and I figure out a route through the construction (over gravel) that actually takes us there. Michele follows, but I wonder what the rest of her family are thinking . The food at this place had better be good.

And it is. Johnny’s is basically a supper club with a fairly straightforward menu and awesome views. My folks would be completely comfortable here. The food is plentiful and good (with gigantic deserts) and the views out the windows by our corner table can’t be beat.

It is a pleasant end to our stay here.

Visiting the Pacific Northwest

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