In October, I spent 2 weeks visiting my mother and stepfather in the hills of Tieton, WA. We spent a lot of time in nearby Yakima, took car rides through the mountain passes, walked the vineyard- and orchard-lined streets of Tieton, and checked out Ellensburg. This central region of Washington is absolutely gorgeous, and I thought a few photoblogs were in order.
So we start with Yakima. This is not an exact recounting of my Yakima adventures, but it is what I’d suggest for a splendid day trip to the city. Start out with what was my favorite meal of the whole two weeks: breakfast at Backwoods Country Fare Café (913 S 1st St.). Be warned: it’s cash only.
Backwoods Country Fare Café is a hybrid of American diner breakfast/lunch and Mexican influences, as all good things on the West Coast should be in my snobby Californian opinion. It’s all mountain kitsch inside, but not overwhelmingly so. A few wolves, American Indian crafts, and the like decorate the walls. But most importantly, it’s open until 2 pm and breakfast is available for all of their hours. And it’s good!
My mother loved her thick potato soup.
Coffee was pretty decent for a strip mall location, and my chorizo omelet was delicious.
The egg was not too thick or thin and the chorizo was wonderfully spicy. Ask for the deep-fried jalapeno to go with it and you’ll get more greasy heat that’ll make you happy. My accompanying tortillas weren’t housemade, but they were warm and serviceable.
Spend your time recovering from breakfast by meandering around the Pioneer Graveyard (East end of Ahtanum Road).
It’s in the city of Union Gap, which is really just the southern tip of Yakima although it was founded first. The graveyard is the oldest one in Yakima County; first recognizable dates are from 1865.
It’s a small cemetery with many plots belonging to children, sometimes a few of them in a row.
There are a lot of unknown graves as well, but the most interesting ones belong to settlers killed by American Indians in early conflicts in the area.
“Killed by Indians at Rattlesnake Springs” reads the inscription on that gravestone marker. There is also a gorgeous willow tree view by the river as you walk back to your car.
Early afternoon would be a good time to explore downtown Yakima and its several restored buildings. Just park in the municipal lot at 2nd and Chestnut.
Take time to explore the city’s art installation in front of the Capital Theater.
Make sure you cross the parking lot to the Larsen Building next. It’s right on 2nd and Yakima and it’s a gorgeous art deco building.
Enter inside for a beautiful foyer.
At this point, you may need a coffee rejuvenation, and a few blocks away is Northtown Coffeehouse (28 N. 1st St.).
It’s one of the few coffeehouses in the area that aren’t Starbucks and that serve locally roasted beans from Stumptown Coffee. The rest of the coffee options are drive-through stands, which are very convenient, but I love a coffeehouse vibe. Northtown has that.
Now if the weather is good, I would definitely recommend getting some exercise among the Yakima Greenway’s many riverfront trails.
But in late fall, when I was there, a safer bet would be taking a quick stroll at the Yakima Area Arboretum and Botanical Garden. It’s located just off Nob Hill Blvd. on Arboretum Drive and is free and open from dawn until dusk every day. Self-guided walking maps are available at the visitor’s center of the small arboretum.
Most of the gardens are actually tiny groves of different types of trees.
But there is also a nice Japanese garden in the center of the Arboretum with some intriguing plants and a pond and bridge.
The sunset may be best enjoyed by driving around the very pretty Terrace Heights neighborhood of Yakima. Just drive around these curvy, small rounds and take in every little orchard and vineyard you see.
After all that sightseeing, you should be ready for dinner! We ate at home most days, so I don’t have any sit-down restaurants to recommend, but you would certainly enjoy the fish and chips at one of my parents’ favorite spots: Ahoy Fish and Chips (913 W. Yakima Ave.) It’s a simple café where you can get to-go orders and eat-in orders just as easily.
Different quantities of fish and chips and hamburgers are about all that’s on the menu. Their batter is tempura, which also works quite well for … tempura vegetables! Zucchini, onion, and carrots were the stars.
It was all fried well, though I prefer more seasoning in my batter.
The fish was nice and flakey, and the coleslaw had a good tang to it.
For the evening, the Capitol Theater is the spot you want if touring Broadway shows are your style. We also went to a smaller theater called the Akin Center that was great! It’s where you want to go if you want the homegrown stars and less glitz at a much cheaper price. I’m sure both give great shows.
And that’s my day in Yakima! If you want to see more pictures, click on the gallery here.
Next photoblog will be a stroll through Ellensburg, WA with a focus on the Dick and Jane house of insane art installations.by