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Thursday, August 13, 2015

From the shores of Ocean, um, Shores

Greetings from Ocean Shores, Washington, described by Lonely Planet as the state of Washington's most popular coastal resort (as well as "a manufactured beach haven"). We are staying at a chain hotel with my sister and one of her grandchildren, Kloe, having arrived in the middle of this afternoon. Popular though it may be (our hotel currently has no vacancies), it doesn't feel very busy and the town is pretty quiet. Perhaps it might pick up this weekend, but as things stand now, Ocean Shores feels like the resort that time forgot, stuck in a 1970's kind of time warp judging from the architecture, though like everywhere else in Washington, craft beer and espresso are not difficult to find. 

Public access to the beach here is fairly straightforward: you drive your car right up to the shoreline and park it there.  After several hours in the car driving from Bremerton (including stops for lunch and an iced tea break), the girls wasted no time getting their feet wet, with Kloe especially chafing at the bit:

It was hard not to notice the 42 foot-long fishing boat that had become grounded just offshore the previous day. Other news articles have mentioned the possibility of a fuel leak, which is something to consider should some of us want to go swimming tomorrow:

Even if swimming is out of the question (the water was cold late this afternoon), the sunsets are worth another trip to the dunes:

Yesterday, while the trawler was lying in the water like a beached whale, my daughter and I had a very enjoyable day together. Most of the time was spent at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma. Seattle may have a much larger and more famous facility, but Tacoma is much closer and easier to reach from Bremerton. Amber has been to the Tacoma zoo before, but didn't mind going again, plotting the appropriate route from the map with Rocky the Raccoon in tow, the latter a gift for making a $5 donation for animal conservation (the suggestion for the name was mine):

In addition to the usual animals in their enclosures...:

...Amber had several opportunities for more hands-on experiences, including feeding goats and budgies, and getting to touch rays and sharks:

She also was able to meet Dr. Bones, the canine star of one of the shows:

After the zoo, we visited the Japanese Garden inside Point Defiance Park. Tacoma's sister city in Japan, Kokura 小倉 (now part of the city of Kitakyūshū 北九州市), was the intended target for the second atomic bomb, but was spared due to cloud cover. What was fortunate for Kokura could be not be said for Nagasaki 長崎:

The Pagoda, dating from 1914, was originally a streetcar station and then a waiting area for buses:

Amber also enjoyed the Rose Garden, but didn't care much for my rendition of a certain Lynn Anderson song:

We ended up at Cheney Stadium, home of the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers, to watch a minor league baseball game. I could go all George Will or Ken Burns at this point, and wax nostalgic on how baseball at this level is indicative of the American character, how its appeal provides a link between the information age of the early 21st century with a bygone 19th century pastoral society, but I won't. Suffice it to say, it was a great family-friendly atmosphere, with plenty of between-innings goings on to keep the younger set engaged. My daughter wasn't always paying attention to the action on the field, but she had a good time eating clam chowder (this is the Pacific Northwest) and cotton candy, watching the videos on the scoreboard and talking about the things that matter to a nine year-old girl with her dad. For me, there was the obvious father-daughter bonding, as well as the link to a bygone age in American history when...

In any event, it was a good game. Though I'd normally root, root, root for the home team, last night's opponent was the Sacramento River Cats. Having lived in River City in the period of time between when the Solons moved to San Jose and before the River Cats came to town from Vancouver, I never had the chance to see a minor league game in the place that I refer to as a "hometown" (for lack of any other suitable candidates). The Rainiers jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, but Sacramento came from behind to score nine runs in the last three innings to win 9-4 (for Tacoma, having its bullpen blow the lead and lose the game was emulative of how the parent club has been doing this season). One of these days, I may actually return to Sacramento and see a game at Raley Field, framed by a backdrop of  high rise buildings that I don't recognize:

Amber pays her respects to Ben Cheney after the game.  In case you're wondering where my wife was, she had planned on going to the game with us in the hope of seeing Chien-Ming Wang 王建民, the pride of Taiwan, pitch, but when she learned he wasn't going to be starting last night, she lost interest and decided to stay home. Fans can be fickle at times:

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