A Story From Olympia’s Waterfront

washington olympia information


By Eric Sims-Brown

priest point townhomesThe Olympia Waterfront.  Many thoughts and images come to mind – too many.  There is no one thing that adequately describes the experience.  So, instead of one story, here are four.

I. Location, Location, Location

capitol percivalThe Capitol building towers in the distance.  The seriousness of the architecture muted by a Ferris Wheel.  Some in the Lakefair crowd peel off and splinter.  A few sit idly in the grass either talking or examining the artwork.  Others make for the Olympia Farmers Market, canvas bags in hand.

This is a familiar scene for Jim Jones.  Jones and his wife Mary own The Wine Loft on Columbia Street.  The store is packed with wines of different color, type and origin.  A woman enters mid-interview.  She needs helping assembling a case of wine.  She tells Jim to pick whatever.  She trusts his judgment.

This is the kind of relationship built over years – 18 to be exact.  The Wine Loft is a mainstay, something solid in the fluid area near Percival Landing.   It helps to have restaurants nearby.  A couple leaving Budd Bay Café will stop in looking for that wine they had with dinner.  Maybe that same couple decided to pick up fresh fish from the Olympia Seafood Company.  “We feed off each other,” says Jones, referring to his neighbors.  “Wine and fish just seem to go together.”

II.  Come for the playground

olympia wa parksArthur Harding watches with relaxed attentiveness.  His three children ages one, two and six are in various states of play.  This is Harding’s day off.  Harding laughs which lifts his sunglasses just a little.  Two boys motor past.  They weave between the toys and dodge the outstretched feet of swingers. The boy in front is doing his best not to get tagged.  Cornered, he climbs up a rope structure.

“There are lots of parts of Washington that don’t have as many parks and toys,” says Harding.  This is the biggest reason why he comes here.  The kids can play and afterwards the family can ease down the boardwalk, the stroller bumping past art studios and shops. The setting also doubles as a perfect date night.  “Everything is so close by,” says Harding.

III. Two cents

Kevin White has a lot on his mind.  He’s part philosopher, part musician.  The conversation moves from songwriting to poverty to happiness.  White tackles these serious subjects with a curious mind and a constant, inadvertent smile framed by strands of tamed dreadlocks.

A blonde girl with a pixie cut walks up to White.  She sets a note down next to him and walks off.  He studies the paper.  The words are large, blue and clumsy.  White nods in silent agreement.  “I’m not even sure who gave me that,” he says.

Percival landing sculptureWhite strums his guitar like it was a reflex.  This is where he comes to practice.  On most days the ‘Motherhood’ statue is his only audience.  “I like to look at the Olympics,” White says.  He adds, “I can sit here without disturbing anyone.”

IV. Oh Give Me a Home

Yard is a fairly standard definition.  It stays in one spot.  If we want privacy we build a fence or draw the shades.  Taking the garbage out is not a spectator sport – except for 29 year-old Jess Lundie.  “Last year I forgot the Wooden Boat Festival was happening.  I went to take the trash out in my pajamas and opened the door to 20 or so people gazing out at the picturesque waterfront.

Lundie lives on a houseboat in Martin Marina with her cat and two dogs.  “The entire experience is pretty unique,” she says.  “I went to Thailand last fall and while I was out of town my boat came untied during a big windstorm.”  Thankfully Lundie’s neighbors saw what happened and rescued the house.  “We keep an eye out for each other,” she says.

Most of us don’t have to worry about our homes floating away or sea creatures trying to eat our pets. Otters are probably not making a home in our tool bags.  These have all happened to Lundie.  Despite the challenges she loves living on the water.  “There are seals in my backyard.  The herons come and hang out on the dock.  My kayak is always ready to go and I don’t have to drive anywhere to get out.”


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