With just 15 weekends left until we move, we are in full-on prioritizing mode now. We already have about 1/3 of those weekends planned out, plus at some point we’re going to have to actually start packing. Everything is happening so fast now!
Which is why we drove up to Tacoma over the weekend to visit family. A two-hour drive is a lot more doable than an 18-hour drive, so we’ve gotta take advantage while we can. On the way there, we stopped at the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, which is a real mouthful but also proved to be a great way to kill a couple of hours on Saturday morning. We have driven up and down this particular stretch of Interstate 5 pretty regularly for more than six years, but had never pulled over to check out the refuge. I’m glad we finally did, even if approximately 500 other people had the same idea. Seriously, the parking lot was so full we were lucky to snag one of the last spots. The wildlife preserve features a boardwalk that traverses an estuary, salt marshes, and mudflats located within the Nisqually River Delta.
It turned out to be a 4+-mile walk on a sunny but chilly/brisk late winter morning. Tara had read that the best time to visit was 1-2 hours after high tide and, though we missed that by a good 60 minutes, it was still a pleasant stroll. We saw lots of birds (mostly blue herons, bald eagles, and Canadian geese), plus a furtive seal. Naturally, we took lots of photos.
After exploring the wildlife refuge, we hit the road again for Tracy and David’s apartment, less than a half hour up the interstate. We had a nice visit and Tara made chicken paprikash for dinner. In case you are unfamiliar, paprikash is a traditional Hungarian dish of chicken and dumplings. It also happens to be my dad’s favorite meal, but because it is a heavy and labor-intensive meal, my mom only makes it once a year, on his birthday in January. A few years ago she handed the family recipe down to Tara, who – I am happy to say – has perfected it. She even tweaked the recipe a bit by replacing the sour cream with plain Greek yogurt, which lightens it up a bit and adds protein. I can’t even tell the difference. My great-great-great-grandparents would be proud.
To make the dumplings, she used the practically-antique dumpling maker I inherited from my grandmother. We all gathered around and watched as she was toiling away, ha. In our defense, it’s not every day you see homemade dumplings coming to life, and this was the first time Tracy, David, and Annie had tried paprikash. Anthony was being a typical 5-year old and insisted on frozen pizza instead. Hey, his loss! Everybody else raved over it, and rightfully so. It’s so good!
Sunday morning we visited for a couple of hours before driving back home. Stopped for lunch at an unassuming little family-owned burger joint just off I-5 in Toledo. We used to eat here fairly often when we were making regular trips to Seattle, but it had been a couple of years since our last visit. Mrs. Beesley’s might not have been on our official Farewell Tour list, but we definitely wanted to stop in one more time before leaving. As usual, it did not disappoint.
Countdown: 110 Days