I live about halfway between Seattle and Tacoma, Washington. I spend a great deal more time in Seattle, though, because there always seems to be much more going on there, including my job. But I have to admit that I like the Tacoma vibe much more. It seems more laid back, albeit a little too conservative for my tastes.
Tacoma is also the home of Point Defiance Park, which includes stunning old growth trees and makes you feel as though you’re deep in the back of beyond. There’s also the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (of Galloping Gertie fame), and when you’re downtown you can barely throw a rock without shattering some very expensive and beautiful Chihuly glass. There are also untold number of museums, and public art (one of my passions) abounds.
But what I love the most about Tacoma is its gorgeous views. As you travel through the town, you keep getting stunning glimpses of Puget Sound, and Vashon Island and Mount Ranier. You also can see the Cascades Mountains and the Olympic Range. On a clear day you can get a stunning view of Glacier Peak. So in essence, you have all the convenience of a city but there’s nature everywhere you look. I’d love to live there.
But there’s a dark side, too. Much of the waterfront area, and in fact, 1,000 square miles in a tricounty area, was poisoned with arsenic and lead because of the former ASARCO copper smelter in Ruston, Washington. (Ruston is a little municipality that is surrounded on three sides by Tacoma, and the fourth side is bordered by the sound.)
This smelter churned out its poison for nearly 100 years, and that poison settled into the soil. That 1,000 square miles of toxicity is now called Tacoma Smelter Plume, and you’re well advised to check out this website before buying property in the area.
Oddly enough, though, the Tacoma waterfront, one of the hardest hit areas, is actually quite gorgeous, if you don’t think too much about what’s below your feet. We visited the recently built Dune Peninsula, which is part of Point Defiance Park, and is named after a book by the author Frank Hebert who grew up here. I didn’t want to leave. (Read, also, my post about the little free libraries that we visited in the area.)
Here are some pictures of the park, including one of the old, gigantic copper smelting pots, a view through a scope of Glacier Peak, and a stunning view of Mount Rainier. What’s not to love about this superfund site? Well, I mean, besides the obvious…
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