This weekend it was to celebrate Janice's birthday. First, we indulged ourselves with a breakfast consisting largely of homemade rolls (my grandmother's recipe, which these days I can only make on non-Atkins feast days).
Next, we drove down to Sumner (which seems to be a nice little town) to have high tea at The Secret Garden, an English-style teahouse which takes up the ground floor of an old nineteenth century 'Queen Anne' house called The Herbert Wms House (built in 1890). We had the little sun room to ourselves, where in addition to the tea (English Breakfast for me, Darjeeling for Janice) we had some most excellent freshly made scones (still warm), an array of bite-sized quiches and the like, traditional tea sandwiches (which of course I passed on), and more bite-sized desert morsels (a stick of shortbread, a mini gingerbread muffin, &c). Highly satisfactory!
From there, we headed down to Olympia, which we've passed through on several occasions on our way down to Portland or Trout Lake, but only visited the city itself once, years back, as part of a group who went down to see The King in Yellow -- perhaps the worst play I've ever actually seen performed.
This time, we visited the state Capitol building, which turns out to be suitably impressive, as one might expect. Lots of marble and massive stairs and grand vaulting columns and public statuary (bronze) and a great high dome; huge legislative chambers on either side and galleries above; a warren of little rooms belowground. This makes the third statehouse I've seen (the others being in Little Rock and Madison) and the third Janice has seen (her previous ones being in Springfield and Madison).*
After poking about for a bit, we strolled around the grounds, taking in the Story Pole (a painted totem), the WWII memorial/monument, the sunken garden (now in winter-resting mode), and walked by the (closed) conservatory --basically an oldstyle greenhouse, currently abandoned, dating from the FDR era (1940 to be precise, according to the official plaque on the side listing Roosevelt as president and Harold Ickes as Director of Public Works). Apparently it's unsafe to go through these days; hope they fix it up rather than tear it down.
I shd note that we were not the only tourist: there were hordes of well-dressed high school kids, either on a field trip or there for some sort of Boys State event (assuming they still have Boys State), and outside at the overlook for Capitol Lake we were much amused to see two Buddhist Monks in their traditional saffron robes taking vacation photos.
From there we walked down to the Japanese Garden: smaller than the Arboretum's walled garden, which we like to visit a few times a year (on good days we get to feed the turtles) and larger than Kent's little Kaibara Park by the (temporarily closed) library. Apparently they'd been having some event that was just ending involving a lot of tarps set up over folding tables; the one thing we saw were two men pounding rice with wooden mallets -- which was interesting, but we missed whatever story went along with the demonstration.
On the way back we decided to walk through rather than around a tiny park, and hence discovered the Sequoia. Rather grandly named The Daniel J. Evans Tree (sequoia sempervirons), it was obviously a relatively young tree (as sequoias go) but still towered over the other trees in the little park. Not being surrounded by other giant trees, it had little branches sticking out all round rather than a vast stretch of bare trunk with all the branches way up at the top, as in most pictures I've seen of sequoias. A nice foretaste of the redwoods we'll be going down to see later this year.
And after, back home for a quiet evening with the cats. A pleasant enough trip; we'll have to try Olympia again sometime. One of the things I enjoyed the most about the day were the long conversations we had -- though truthful disclosure requires me to reveal that apparently Janice had a bet with herself about how long it'd be before I brought up Tolkien. We arrived at the tea house at 10.40, and I did the expected about ten minutes later.
*plus of course we've visited the U. S. Capitol in D.C.