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Pacific Northwest Explorers kick off the year

A visit to Thurston County

Members of the Pacific Northwest Explorers stand on the footbridge at Tumwater Falls waiting to observe the salmon attempting to jump up the falls. Photo credit: Marguerite Cleveland

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The Pacific Northwest Explorers, a SubClub of the Lewis Community Spouses Club (LCSC), kicked off the year with a visit to Thurston County to explore a few local favorites. The group of military spouses takes a day trip on the third Thursday of each month to learn more about the area. This is my third year as a leader of the group and I love sharing all the great regional things to see, do and eat in the Pacific Northwest.

The first stop was to visit local treasure, Mrs. Lattin, and try her delectable apple fritters right out of the fryer at Lattin's Country Cider Mill and Farm. Her fritters are so popular she sells over 100,000 a year. Her apple cider is carried at the commissaries on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The group was greeted by Mrs. Lattin, who shared the history of the farm and her husband's World War II history. A representative of Experience Olympia and Beyond presented each of the spouses with a gift bag including information about Thurston County and some Ice Chips Candy, a local Thurston County product. 9420 Rich Rd. SW, Olympia

One of the goals of the club is to find those "must do" experiences. Seeing the salmon run is that quintessential Pacific Northwest experience that everyone needs to see once in their life. The epic struggle as salmon swim upstream to propagate the species, is unforgettable. The third Thursday in September falls during the Salmon Run at Tumwater Falls Park, the second stop of the day. This lovely park has a one-half mile trail which loops both sides of the Deschutes River connected by foot-bridges. In addition to seeing the salmon, there are cascading waterfalls, which tumble between massive rocks. The park has signs throughout that highlight the history of the area. 110 Deschutes Way SW, Tumwater

After the brisk hike, it was time for lunch at Uncorked and Unwind. It is a wine bar that serves lunch.  Literally located in the shadow of the old Olympia Brewery in a green house, it makes for a cozy environment. For our large group, we sat in the outdoor seating area, which was covered and had outdoor heaters and blankets for those who were chilly. Uncorked and Unwind specializes in Washington Wines and serves a delicious lunch with beautiful salads, homemade soups and sandwiches. The kitchen did a great job of serving our large group of 37. 324 Custer Rd. SW, Tumwater

The Pacific Northwest Explorers next meet Thursday, Oct. 18. Their adventure will be a trip to the Point Defiance Zoo and the brand new Pacific Seas Aquarium, followed by lunch at Point Ruston. The events are usually planned with two to three activities so that if you can't make one you can link up with the group later. We also try to make the group friendly to the military spouse schedule taking into account school hours and meetings so that the majority of spouses can attend. In order to participate in the Pacific Northwest Explorers, you must be a paid member of the LCSC -- SubClubs are a benefit of membership. 5400 N. Pearl St., Tacoma

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