Every so often I come across an eatery that looks so quirky and fun that I must stop there. On my recent trip to Washington, we stopped in one of
these places. Weeks before the trip, my daughter and son in law apprised me of these place near Port Townsend, WA and said that it was “So Sumoflam” that we would go there.
Fat Smitty’s is a funky little burger joint sitting on US Hwy 101 at the junction with WA Route 20 in the Discovery Bay region of Port Townsend. The outside is decorated with a couple dozen chain saw carved statues of food and other oddities. Colorful and fun, it is a must stop!
So, on our trip to Neah Bay in July (see post here) we stopped at Fat Smitty’s for lunch. And, true to their word, this place is a “Sumoflam stop du jour” for sure. Even though I am working on not eating too many burgers, I relaxed my restriction for this one time visit to this one time unique little place.
But if the outside is a drawing card, the inside is an invitation. This place is literally plastered with 1000s of dollar bills (and a few other denominations)! I have never seen anything quite like it. Check out all this money!
Much of the cash has the donor’s names on it or where they are from. Almost every single bill has something written on it. Really unique interior decor!!
Back in 2012, owner Carl “Fat Smitty” Schmidt enlisted Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts to remove all of the money from his walls (see newspaper article) as dozens of inquiries had come in about how much was there. At that time 27 years of cash was removed totaling $10,316, most of which he donated to a kitchen at a Scout camp in Washington.
Apparently, according to Schmidt (in another article), the plastering of money all started back in the 1980s when two sales reps from Caterpillar wanted to pin their business cards to the wall along with a dollar bill. From there it grew and apparently they never touched the walls.
Schmidt, who was in the US Marines in the 1960s, also has a couple of walls dedicated to US Servicemen.
Many still add their business cards to the wall. You’re lucky if you can see one amongst all the cash.
On this particular visit, I was taking photos and noted that I write travel blogs. A table of guests noted, “You must be famous,” to which I replied, “In my own mind!” I sat down with them and asked if I could do a selfie with them. Turns out these guys were from Ukraine and were in the area working. Alex and his friends were great!
Of course, I suppose I should also mention the fact that this place has hamburgers…..I got one of those as well…honestly not in my whole foods plant-based regimen, but, it was a vacation and they didn’t have any vegan offerings (nothing even close!)
And just a couple more shots of the outside woodwork of the place:
On day three of our visit to Washington State, we took our longest road trip, all the way to the most northwestern point in the contiguous United States. We made our way to Neah Bay, a round trip of over 320 miles, along the Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway (WA Highway 112 – see route below)
We got off to a late start but were soon on our way northbound on Washington Highway 3 towards Port Gamble. From there we would take the Hood Canal Bridge, which is a floating bridge that connects the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas. At 7,869 feet long, (floating portion 6,521 feet) it is the longest floating bridge in the world located in a saltwater tidal basin, and the third longest floating bridge overall.
The drive northwest from Port Gamble is a beautiful drive with the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the north and the mountains of Olympic National Park to the south.
Also, from this highway and across the water to the north we were able to get a glimpse of the snow covered Mount Baker, which is the third highest mountain in Washington at 10,781 feet. Like Mt. St. Helens, it is an active glaciated stratovolcano. After Mount Rainier, Mount
Baker is the most heavily glaciated of the Cascade Range volcanoes and the volume of snow and ice on is greater than that of all the other volcanoes in the Cascades (except Rainier) combined. Apparently, it is also one of the snowiest places in the world; according to a Wikipedia article, in 1999, Mount Baker Ski Area, located 8.7 mi to the northeast, set the world record for recorded snowfall in a single season—1,140 in. WOW!!!
Of course, this area abounds in massive trees, including some of the tallest in the U.S. Our drive would take us through large stands of Douglas fir, Ponderosa and Lodgepole Pines and humongous hemlocks.
I’ll have more about these further on in this post. But I must say that their grandeur and beauty are something to take in, behold and stand amazed by.
From the highway there are a few trees that stand tall above all of the others. Some of these are 150 to 200 feet tall….the height of a 20 story building!!
Highway 104 soon merged with US Highway 101 (known in California and Oregon as the Pacific Coast Highway), which stretches 1,540 miles from the Los Angeles area all the way to Tumwater, Washington (technically), but continues to go north to Aberdeen and then on to Beaver, WA.
Along the way we stopped for lunch in the Discovery Bay area at a unique burger joint
called Fat Smitty’s, a really quirky, yet fun place, with my kind of funky wood carvings and more. (I’ll have a different post all about this place HERE). The whole fun of this place is not the food, which was good, but not extraordinary, but rather the atmosphere. The inside is plastered with dollar bills everywhere (and a few other denominations here and there). See more on my post.
Of course, on road trips I am always on the look out for fun things and just shortly past Fat Smitty’s on US 101 we passed Chicken Coop Road. Chalk up another unique road sign to my collections!!
US 101 then passes through the lovely coastal town of Sequim (pronounced by the locals as Squim). With coastal beaches, near a rainforest and within sight of Olympic National Park, Sequim would be a great place to visit (if we only had the time!!)
From Sequim we next drove through Port Angeles. I had hoped we could head up to the Dungeness Spit, but not enough time. The road from Port Angeles to Neah Bay is windy and slow going (not at all “Strait” like the Juna de Fuca!!). This is actually the real gateway to the Juan De Fuca Scenic Highway.
Once we hit the Clallam Bay/Sekiu area on Hwy 112, the beauty of the coast burst out before us. Lovely beaches and coastal scenes provided a change from the Pine walled highways.
Just off of the highway we could see the lovely seagull covered beach of Clallam Bay and then into the small fishing town of Sekiu (pop 27 in 2010), where we caught a glimpse of the famed wooden fish named Rosie…in her swimming outfit and running shoes. HA!
The drive west from Sekiu is quite scenic. To the north is the Strait and beautiful small islands and to the south was giant trees…true Northwest character. But the road is windy and slow going. Thank goodness for the scenery.
It is a small fishing town nestled in a corner by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the east. Much of the area near the Pacific is high cliffs over looking the ocean. Lots of Makah Culture surrounds the town.
From the town of Neah Bay we proceeded to Cape Flattery Road, which eventually leads to the Cape Flattery overlook, the actual northwesternmost point in the continental United States. Cape Flattery is the oldest permanently named feature in Washington state, being described and named by James Cook on March 22, 1778. Cook wrote: “… there appeared to be a small opening which flattered us with the hopes of finding an harbour … On this account I called the point of land to the north of it Cape Flattery.”
We took this road to the Hobuck Rd. Bridge and went over the river towards the scenic Hobuck Beach on the Pacific Ocean. Upon arrival at the beach we saw a beautiful outcrop of land to the north of the beach. It was also covered in morning fog, similar to that which I had seen at the Golden Gate Bridge a couple of months ago.
Hobuck Beach actually extends along Mukkaw Bay (also known as Makah Bay). This shallow bay is four miles long and is open to the Pacific Ocean five miles south of Cape Flattery. Apparently, the name of this bay is spelled as the Makah Indians pronounce their tribal name and therefore is not a misspelling, according to some items I have read.
The ocean crashes in beautiful waves at this location and there are numerous rock outcroppings dotting the waters.
I really loved the opportunity to sit on the beach and hear the crashing of the waves and it was also so pleasant to watch my daughter’s family play in the ocean and in the tidal pools. I grabbed a few shots of this great place…way more than can be included in this post. But here are a few of my favorites…just to provide a taste.
After about a couple of hours it was time to leave the beach and return to Port Orchard. We returned through Neah Bay and then back along the Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic byway, which presented a different view for us as the tides were changing. We followed Hwy 112 back through Sekiu and Clallam Bay and then towards Sappho Junction on the border with Olympic National Park and US Highway 101. From there we headed east on US 101 towards Port Angeles.
US Hwy 101 through the mountains along the coast is really splendid. The mountains are so close and when driving along the northern boundary of Olympic National Park, you never know that you are so close to the ocean and the Strait.
We actually didn’t mean to take this route as it technically took us out of our way. But I am really glad that we “suffered” through this divergence. The highway was lined with tall trees, there were some great mountain views and then passing by the scenic Lake Crescent was wonderful.
Lake Crescent is a deep lake located entirely within Olympic National Park and is approximately 17 miles west of Port Angeles. At an official maximum depth of 624 feet, it is supposedly the second deepest lake in Washington.
I was actually surprised at how brilliantly blue the water appeared from the road. My photos don’t do it justice, but you can see how lovely this lake is. It would be a great place to rent a cabin and take a vacation. Heck with the beach!!
From our western approach, we not only saw the lake, but there is huge mountain that sits behind it protecting it. The mountain is called Mount Storm King and stands at an elevation of 4,537 feet. Many climb its scenic trail.
It was getting late and we were all hungry, so we made our way into Port Angeles where we had hoped to find a place to eat.
This town of about 20,000 people is nestled between the Strait on the north
and the Olympic Mountains to the south. Extremely scenic but also, as its name indicates, it is a port town. There were big ships visible from the road as we drove into town.
This is another of those places that could have used more time. On our next visit to Washington to see the family, I hope that we can spend a day in and around the Port Angeles area. But, we did have enough time to track down a place to eat, and “The Bushwhacker” restaurant was our choice. Actually wasn’t a bad place. A very friendly family restaurant that serves seafood, steaks and other things.
Finally, evening approached, a full moon was in view and we drove off into the sunset to get home after a long fulfilling day.
Day 2 of my Woodflock trip started off nice and slow. No hurry so I was able to sleep in over at Carla’s doublewide in Santa Rosa. Woke up to a beautiful morning in the trailer park.
Soon, Carla and I were on the road heading north. She decided to go through Ukiah for a more scenic route (and likely to appeal to my wanderlust!)
Santa Rosa is home to a couple of quirky roadside attractions, so we stopped at these on our way out of town. The first of them was a big hand in front of the mall. Reminded me that I was in good hands with Carla!!
The Hand statue is actually titled “Agraria” and is by artist Larry Kirkland, who is originally from California but currently has his studios in Washington, D.C. It was commissioned in 1996 and is made from the same marble quarry that Michaelangelo used centuries ago. Kirkland has done commissioned works all over the world.
After the big hand, we visited another site, a big mosaic fish in a park. Entitled “Guardian of the Creek” this one and a half ton fish by Santa Rosa artist Mario Uribe. It is 13 foot high and covered in mosaic. It is surrounded by a 30 foot diameter mosaic map of the Santa Rosa Watershed. The large rainbow trout has become an icon and reminder of the restoration efforts by the city to nurture the creek habitat to a more natural state. I really loved the colorful mosaic…certainly one of the nicer big fish statues I have seen.
Another Uber Quirky Attraction in Santa Rosa is the 65 foot tall obelisk completely made from junk bike parts. The artwork, entitled “Cyclisk.” It was created in 2010 by Petaluma-based artists Mark Grieve and Ilana Spector and weighs about 10,000lb and is made from roughly 340 recycled bicycles collected from local nonprofit community bike projects. It took nearly four months of welding to manufacture.
These three unique pieces of art really made the entire trip worthwhile in and of themselves! But, there was much more to be seen on the way to Red Bluff. We took the scenic route up US Hwy 101 through Geyserville and Hopland and then up to Ukiah.
Roadtrips always have their surprises, and this one was no exception. As we approached the small town of Hopland, once a thriving agriculture area known for hops, the first thing I see is the big red sign shown to the left. No joke! I’ve never seen a sign like that before!
Turns out that the sign, and the others that followed it, were to get one to stop at Real Goods Solar, a store that sells off-grid living items including solar panels, bee keeping equipment, hemp products, composting toilets, etc. Founded in 1978, The Real Goods Store is the original purveyor of Solar Living goods. Originally envisioned as a one-stop-shop where people could find everything they needed for their remote homesteads, the store began with the sale of the first retail solar panel in the United States and the humble goal of changing the world.
Indeed, the place was so unique that it deserves its own blog post (which will be the next one after this). Suffice it to say it was quirky fun! Read all about soon!
Of the many unique things available for viewing at Real Goods, I have to admit that the scrap metal sculpture entitled “Horn Serpent” by Upper Lake, CA artist Diego Harris was the best. Many know that I “collect” scrap metal art from around the country. In fact, my most visited post is my “Yard Art” post which features scrap metal art found all over the country. This one is now part of that post as well.
From Hopland it was on to Ukiah. I have now been to three towns that also are names of Doobie Brothers songs. The other two are Blackwater, MO and China Grove, TX. Yes, I collect (and visit) town names from songs. Still gotta make my way to Lodi, CA and LaGrange, TX, to name a couple of others.
Before we got to Ukiah actually, Carla decided that we would make a stop at a Strawberry Stand along the way. I think we stopped at Saechao Strawberry farm, on the Redwood Highway, another name for this portion of US Hwy 101. These strawberries were AMAZING!!
They were sweet and luscious. Who needs candy or cakes when you can enjoy the wonderfully aromatic freshness of these strawberries!
With strawberries in hands (and mouths), we passed by Ukiah on US Hwy 101 and made it to Calpella. From there we headed east on CA 20 through some beautiful hill country and then on to Clear Lake (actually, to the small town of Upper Lake, CA).
CA 20 is dotted with many small lakes and a number of scenic views. It is MY KIND of back road highway, with a variety of things to see along the way. Lots of beautiful scenery and vistas on this drive. I was so glad we came this way.
We finally stopped in Upper Lake, which is a rustic little place nestled in the upper reaches of Clear Lake. The town of Upper Lake is the gateway to the Mendocino National Forest and is a fun little town. In the middle of town sits an old hotel and also a quaint little outdoor saloon/eatery.
The Tallman Hotel was built in the 1890s and is now a 17 room luxury hotel/bed and breakfast place. It fits in nicely with the rustic, old west style of the town.
Next door to the hotel is the Blue Wing Saloon and they have a number of nice outdoor dining tables. The property also has some unique art…yep, more scrap metal art and an array of lovely flowers in the gardens. It would be a fun place to just chillax for a couple of days.
And, I couldn’t forget this sign which gave me a chuckle….
Heading southeast on CA 20 we skirted the northern part of Clear Lake. It was a lovely day and so we had some wonderful views of the lake. Plenty of birds in the water. I saw grebes for the first time…a really nervous bird. Also saw a cormorant in flight.
According to some sources, Clear Lake is believed to be one of the oldest lakes in North America. The lake sits on a huge block of stone which slowly tilts in the northern direction at the same rate as the lake fills in with sediment, thus keeping the water at roughly the same depth. Apparently, core samples of the lake’s sediments, taken by U.S. Geological Survey geologists in 1973 and 1980, indicate that the lake is at least 480,000 years old.
There are a few towns along the lake, but none as nice as Nice…well, at least not in name anyway.
Nice is actually pronounced “neece” like the town in France. But, to me, the nice guy, it is Nice. And it is a nice name to add to my collection of unique named towns like Tightwad, Normal, Romance, Success, Friendship, Uncertain, etc.
Just up the road is Lucerne, named after the town in Switzerland. The Rest Area at Lucerne Harbor Park, a turnoff by the lake, had a beautiful painting on the back that you can see coming in from Nice. One of the more intricate wall paintings I have seen.
This artwork was completed in mid-2009 by muralist Gloria De La Cruz of Clear Lake, CA. The painting depicts the Old Lucerne Hotel and has intricate work of animals and plant life as well. I really appreciated this one!
After a brief rest in Lucerne, Carla and I were off again, this time to Williams, CA. Williams is at the crossroads of CA 20 and Interstate 5. From what I could see there were two parts to this town…the off the freeway fast food places and the local places in town.
The Old Masonic Lodge has a wonderful mural immortalizing the old Williams Hotel, which apparently burned down in 1913. The mural covers the entire two story face of the building. Painted by Petaluma mural artist John Ton in 2014. Folowing are a couple more detailed photos:
Once the break was over, we were on our last leg of the day…north on I-5 to Red Bluff and to our home away from home at Woodflock. This small unique music festival and Flamingohead retreat is held annually at the Sycamore Grove Campground in the Red Bluff Recreation area along the Sacramento River. A beautiful little location that gets bedecked with flamingos and Antsy McClain music over the course of three days.