100 Things to Do in Tacoma Before You Die Author Peggy Cleveland

hosted by
marguerite martin


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About This Episode

Looking for things to do in Tacoma, Washington? Local Author Peggy Cleveland's new book "100 Things to Do in Tacoma Before You Die" is here to get you started. After living all over the country in the military Peggy was living in Steilacoom and was approached by Travel Tacoma to write a book about things to do in the greater Tacoma area. We interview Peggy about how the book came to be, cool things to do in and around Tacoma, how she became a writer, and tips she has for others looking to start writing!

Thinking about Moving to Tacoma?

Marguerite Martin, Founder of MoveToTacoma.com is a real estate agent in Tacoma, WA . As a real estate “Matchmaker,” she specializes in connecting real estate clients to the perfect agent in Tacoma. Hit the contact form to ask a question or chat with Marguerite!

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Episode Transcript

Marguerite (00:01):

This is Channel 2 53. Move to

Producer Doug (00:03):

Tacoma on this episode of Move to Tacoma,

Peggy (00:05):

Another warehouse. You go in and has like crazy vehicles, you know, like the, from his collection. And then bizarrely enough they have a Rodan Sculpture garden. What? Yes. <laugh>. So, and then the best part is away. Yeah. And if you’re willing to, uh, fork out the money, you can actually drive. It’s either, I think it’s a, either a model A or a model two. They have driving lessons and you can actually drive one

Producer Doug (00:30):

Channel 2 53 is supported by Microsoft. Microsoft is committed to civic conversations like those on channel 2 53 that inform and empower Washington communities To learn more, visit aka.ms/microsoft in Washington. We’re back.

Marguerite (00:50):

I’m Margarite and I want you to move to Tacoma. Move

Theme Music (00:54):

To Tacoma. Move to Tacoma. Move to Tacoma.

Marguerite (00:57):

Don’t like it.

Theme Music (00:58):

Move to Tacoma. Move to Tacoma. Move to

Producer Doug (01:01):


Marguerite (01:04):

I’m Margarite. This is move to tacoma.com and I’m here today with Peggy Cleveland, author of the new book, 100 Things to Do in Tacoma Before You Die. Welcome Peggy.

Peggy (01:17):

Thank you so much. And I’m also a Margarite too, and that’s kind of how we connected with this, having the similar names. So I think I had, I don’t think I’ve ever met another Margarite except in my own families.

Marguerite (01:29):

<laugh>. I’ve met very few in my whole life. I’m naed after a dead grandmother on my father’s side. Uh, what about you? Are you named after someone?

Peggy (01:36):

Imed After my mother and my grandmother. See?

Marguerite (01:38):

So cool. So yeah, you reached out to me and said, Hey, we’re both Margarite. I just wrote this book and I looked at the book and I was like, oh my gosh. Yes, absolutely. We need to talk about this. So before we get into 100 things to do in Tacoma, before you die, may I ask, when did you move to Tacoma and why?

Peggy (01:56):

Let’s see, we moved here about eight years ago and my husband’s last duty station in the Army was at joint base loose McCord.

Marguerite (02:03):

So you moved here for the

Peggy (02:04):

Military Here. And it’s kind of an interesting story cuz this was, like I said, our last move and um, you know, the whole time throughout a career, you know, my husband sometimes would hit me up, Where do you wanna retire? I need to know right now. <laugh>, you know, I would just deer and a head like, cuz I’ve been a, I was a military brat so I moved my entire life. So I moved a total of um, 33 times, you know, when we moved into our final house. So it was always kind of stressful cuz I the thought of not ever moving again. But then we moved here and even after eight years, I feel like I just crotched the surface of everything to do. And it’s such a great area and it’s so beautiful and it has trees and you know, coming from the East coast, you know, everything is just strip malls and parking lot. So it’s just really a special place.

Marguerite (02:49):

So when you moved here, obviously for your final move to retire, where, where did you choose which neighborhood?

Peggy (02:55):

Well, um, you know, after kind of looking around, we, we looked at a variety of things. One thing I always wanted was a view either mountains in the water. And then we just happened to tour this, uh, old, uh, 1940s house in silicon Washington. Oh. And um, it had mountains and water view. So we were just, I walked out the door on the deck and saw the view and just kind of lost my mind. And I told our realtor, You need to make sure this is a good decision for us. Cuz I can’t think past this

Marguerite (03:23):

View. I’m emotionally involved. I

Peggy (03:26):

Was, And it’s, it’s funny too because uh, when I walked out on that deck, it was like when you put your wedding dress on and you know that’s the dress and you get ul teary eye like on Say Yes to the dress. Yeah. I had that reaction to the house. So I knew it was gonna be our home.

Marguerite (03:39):

Well still come is so beautiful. Like when I think of Still come, I think of like taking the ferry to Anderson Island or going to the top side and being on the rooftop deck and like looking at that view, like what do you love about living in Still come?

Peggy (03:52):

Well, one thing I love is it’s a super welcoming community, especially to the military. So you’ll living all over and especially living in the South, people have big families and they’re very involved with their families and their community. So sometimes they don’t have room for a military friend and some people don’t like to make friends with military families cuz they move. Aw. But, um, there’s a lot of retired military and still and uh, it’s just a really welcoming place. And I love, like, you know, I’ve met some of the older, you know, generations. Like I met a descendant of the, the Bear family was one of the original settlers and uh, you know, there’s just so many nice people in, in the area. So I really like that. That’s awesome. And then the Coffee Cabin, which is in the book. Oh. And that’s just below top side so that people that are on top side, they built like this really kind of community meeting place and it’s always crowded in there and it’s just a great place to get a cup of coffee. Oh,

Marguerite (04:43):

That’s awesome. Well let’s talk about the book. When you, when you first reached out, I was like, why did this lady write this book? Like, who is she to write? I felt a little protective. I imagine some people listening might also be feeling a little protective. So we should mention like, you were invited.

Peggy (04:59):

I write this book, I was invited, but I think that’s, that’s a valid point. Um, you know, I am new to the community, but this book isn’t all just for people that live here. It’s for people that are gonna be visiting here. Mm. And as a military, uh, you know, I served in the military as a military brat, then I was a military spouse. Um, you’re used to moving to an area and you’re only there two or three years, so you wanna see everything before you move. Yeah. So I feel like you have the fresh eyes of a tourist, but also the insider knowledge of local. So,

Marguerite (05:28):

Great answer. Peggy <laugh>.

Peggy (05:31):

So that’s why I was a good person to write this. But yeah, it was really interesting. Re Press is a small, um, publishing company out of, um, St. Louis, Missouri. And they own this brand a hundred things to do before you Die. And they found that, um, the smaller cities, um, you know, like a Tacoma size city, the books sell a lot better cuz people tend to, like, even this area, people tend to gra gravitate more towards Seattle than Tacoma. So this gives people an opportunity to learn about somewhere different, um, to travel to. And then the local community tends to support, you know, a book like this better

Marguerite (06:06):

Too. Makes sense. So how did you find out this book needed to be written? Like how did that come about? So Beauty

Peggy (06:11):

Press reached out to travel Tacoma at the time. Um, Matt Wakefield was, you did a

Marguerite (06:16):

<laugh>, Love Matt, Love Matt. He’s been very generous.

Peggy (06:19):

And if you’ll notice and acknowledgements, his name is in there so, so great. Um, anyways, he was the director of communications at Travel Tacoma and they asked him for a writer to write the book and I had worked with him on a couple different projects and we both just really have this love for the city and so he recommended me to write the book.

Marguerite (06:37):

Well, okay. So that’s great. So you were invited mm-hmm. <affirmative> Yes. By, uh, the the local institution. Yes. So how do you, where do you start, How do you begin to put this together? Do you start with an outline? Do you start with categories? Where do, where do you begin?

Peggy (06:50):

Well, I trying, I did reach out to a lot of different people to get some input. You know, not a lot of people, you know, like, and even some of the, um, the sites like the Tacoma organizations, like community organizations, you know, I reached out through their websites and stuff and I didn’t get a lot of replies. So I just, um, you know, I, I did talk to Matt, um, you know, with Travel Tacoma and then, um, with the music and entertainment section, I’m not, um, I don’t tend to go out much in the evening. So I reached out to, um, pretty gritty tours and um, Grit City magazine. Oh, they’re, and they recommended a couple of, um, DJs or, um, musicians that are there in the acknowledgements too. And so they recommended a couple places. So I included that, that in the book as well, cuz I felt like I wasn’t an expert on that subject.

Marguerite (07:38):

That’s a tricky one. Yeah.

Peggy (07:39):

But you know, as far as the restaurants, I just started making a list of places I loved and, you know, places I’d heard other people talk about. And I just ran outta room and I’m, I really like, the book is a hundred things, but you could do, you know, like 21, but I had to break it up, it’s five categories. So each category had to have 20 things. So I just had to have it, you know, organized like that.

Marguerite (08:02):

So looking at the list, the categories are food and drink, music and entertainment, sports and recreation, culture and history.

Peggy (08:11):

And then shopping, fashion,

Marguerite (08:13):

Fashion. I love this. So that’s, I mean, that’s very clear. So depending on what you feel like doing that day or with those, I think the other thing that happens all the time is maybe you’re local. Maybe you feel like you’ve done everything, but now you’re like, Oh, my parents, I see this all the time. My parents are coming to town, what should I do with them? Like, my parents don’t like to walk a lot or aren’t able to walk a lot, but they wanna see some things like what can we drive to? Like, so this is such a nice thing for people who are, like, if they have friends that are into sports, what can we do sports wise if I’m not a person into sports? Right. So it’s so great.

Peggy (08:40):

Well one of the things, uh, one of some of the other writers of this series recommended is to use it like a passport. And so see if you can do all a hundred things, even if you’ve done ’em before, Oh my god, you know, go to that restaurant, get somebody to just sign it for you. And there’s enough space in the book so you can write little notes like, I went here on this date and with so and so and then it becomes a nice souvenir of your time in Tacoma. Oh,

Marguerite (09:03):

That’s super cool. Yeah, I see that now there’s space on each page to make your own notes. That’s cool.

Peggy (09:08):

And then another option is just to say, I have no idea what I wanna do today. And just open the book and go do that. See, see what you end up with. Yeah. And then it’s also a good, um, trigger to get people to visit you. So you know, if you want your family to come

Marguerite (09:21):

Visit, send them a copy in

Peggy (09:23):

The book. Send a copy of the book. Yeah.

Marguerite (09:24):

Christmas present. Yeah,

Peggy (09:25):


Marguerite (09:26):

So, okay, so I have two questions. First question is, what did you know you were gonna write about right from the start? Second question, uh, what were you surprised by that you found? So, okay,

Peggy (09:39):

Well first thing, this is kind of my love letter to Tacoma. I just love this city. It’s just been, um, just discovering it over the past eight years and, you know, you just, you’ll drive around and you’ll be like downtown or driving around and I would just stumble upon like a, a neighborhood with like a mini, um, main street and you’re like, Oh, this is so cool. You know, people live here and they can just walk here to get coffee and things like that. But, um, yeah, there’s, there’s just so much. Can you repeat the question again? I got,

Marguerite (10:07):

Let me give you one question a time. Yeah. First question, what did you know you were gonna write about? What were you like, Oh, I already know 25 of these and boom, boom, boom. Well,

Peggy (10:14):

I just started making the list. The first one is food and drink. So I’m just love, you know, going out and I love writing about food and drink and I feel like, um, food really helps you learn the culture of a destination. So that was easy. I just like started writing and without, you know, 20 things that I’m like, dang, there’s so many more I wanna include. But luckily, uh, re press has another series that’s related to food. So that might be my next book is just do a food book on Tacoma.

Marguerite (10:40):

Well, and I wasn’t sure what to expect with the book if I was gonna see kind of the usual suspects that you might see if you like go on Yelp or whatever. But then, like as soon as I like started flipping through it, I saw like Jam Parker Cookery and I was like, Oh, oh, okay. Like she dug a little, she scratched the surface a little. Well,

Peggy (10:56):

And one thing I I look at too, you know, you have to look at who’s right. Like I’m, I’m a Conni Ofor <laugh> and so there’s probably three steak restaurants in there and I probably, that’s probably too many. And I realize, wow, I didn’t include anything that was vegan or, or looked of, you know, way of people that eat, maybe eat differently than I do. So that’s something I, you know, definitely learned from mm-hmm. <affirmative> as well. But Jan Parker cookery, she’s a mil retired military spouse as well and, uh, trained at the four season. She worked there for a while. So she’s just an excellent chef and I just love her food. Oh,

Marguerite (11:30):

Amazing. So what else did you wanna make sure, like right from the start that you put in the list?

Peggy (11:34):

Well, so I’m a travel writer, so I get to eat at some really good restaurants, like all over the world. And queer, No Bravo in Tacoma is the best steak I’ve had in my entire life.

Marguerite (11:46):

Oh my

Peggy (11:46):

Gosh. And at least at first I thought it was cuz I tried my steak and I had American Prime and I’m eating. I’m like, this is is the best stick I’ve ever had in my entire life. And then my husband who ordered the Australian wagu said, You need to try mine <laugh> then I was like, his was actually the best one I’d ever had.

Marguerite (12:02):

That’s amazing.

Peggy (12:03):

So yeah, the food is really good. And they opened just before, um, the co covid and then, um, had to close and then, uh, when they went to reopen, they had some issues. They, they, their freezers, um, had some damage or something. They lost a lot of meat. Oh no. Um, but since they’ve opened, I don’t think they do any advertising. It’s just all word of mouth and I’m surprised how many people don’t know about it cuz it’s such an outstanding meal.

Marguerite (12:28):

I’m a vegetarian, so I didn’t know about this. Oh, it’s good to be able to know, to say to mediator friends, like apparently it’s the best steak in the world. Definitely.

Peggy (12:37):

Definitely. But even, um, you know, even all the, the restaurants, one of the things I’ve really been struck about living here is how much better the produce is. Oh yeah. So wherever you go, like, um, Copper Salt, I think that’s the first restaurant listed and that’s in the Silver Cloud. It’s relatively new Yes. To the Tacoma beautiful

Marguerite (12:55):

View of the water. But

Peggy (12:56):

They do, um, I think they keep it on the menu. Their menu changes a lot, but they do a barada. And so the first time I had that it was done with like a p puree and p shoots and, you know, all kinds of stuff. And it was just this beautiful green with the olive oil and everything. So, um, I really enjoy, you know, just all the fresh vegetables and the cheese and all the local, you know, produce and products.

Marguerite (13:19):

So you had a pretty good idea of the food you were to be shouting out when you started. What, what, what surprised you? Like what did you, when you started doing your research, did you try anything you hadn’t done before and got excited? Um,

Peggy (13:31):

Yeah, One place I tried that was was in comma, which is in the, um, glass museum. Yes. And so the table, the table kind of runs that concession, but oh my gosh, I thought it was just a coffee shop and went in there. I’m like, this food is fabulous.

Marguerite (13:46):

I was so surprised. I, I’ve been to the table and like, I like the table. The table is fine, it’s great. It’s lovely lighting. That’s a priority for me. 43 now. But when I went to Nkomo, I was like, we were, it was like couple of families. I was there with my friend Eric and his family and like we got a ton of food and everything was good. Like everything I just thought we were having like a quick lunch while we did waterfront things. And then all of a sudden, like I was having like one of the best meals I’ve had like in a long time, like total shock Oh, definitely at the museum. I know, I

Peggy (14:16):

Know. It’s just, uh, such a, such a neat place. And then, uh, Foodwise too, like Jan Parker cookery, I think she kind of, um, to me she really represents Theba food scene. Yeah. Especially, you know, the, the chefs that don’t have a storefront and you know, there’s so many great places to get food that may not be in a traditional restaurant.

Marguerite (14:35):

Yes. Yes. I’m, I’m so glad that, that you highlight that. Um, what else besides food, what did you, what did you discover?

Peggy (14:43):

Well, uh, so I was new to Dale Chihuly when I moved out here. So there’s quite

Marguerite (14:48):

Often mis attributed to Seattle.

Peggy (14:50):

Yes. <laugh>. And so there’s quite a bit, uh, about him, you know, in the book. In fact, um, at the back there’s little itineraries, so I have an itinerary of Nice Dale Chihuly. Um, yeah, so just looking at, at what free art was available. So for me, uh, you know, one of the top tourist attractions in Seattle, not to denigrate the city Sure, sure. But is a gum wall and it’s just disgusting and it’s nasty and the alley smells bad. And then I’m like, but in Tacoma you can walk across this gorgeous bridge of glass and see these incredible pillars that Chihuly made, you know, for his birth city. Yeah. And they, they represent so much. I mean, they’re just this beautiful color, you know, gets the gray skies and then, you know, when you think of the glaciers on Mount Rainier and everything. And then, uh, one thing I discovered I didn’t know about was, um, Union Station. It’s now a, um, a federal courthouse fed federal courthouse, but you can go into your ID and it’s totally free to go in. And there’s I think four different, um, Chile installations in that building. And they’re just gorgeous and you don’t have to pay to go see it. So, um, you know, for people with families or maybe on a limited income, there’s so much great public art.

Marguerite (15:59):

It’s true. I mean, I think about that place is like, that’s where people have their wedding receptions or like, we had sophomore tolo there, <laugh>. I’m like, Oh yeah, I guess you could just go like walk through, couldn’t you? Oh yeah, definitely. But again, this is something I don’t think about like living

Peggy (16:14):

Here. Well, I think too, um, you know, as a military family, you, you try to see as much as you can when you move to a city. And I’m surprised how much, you know, you’ll talk to people that are local like, Oh, I never did that or I didn’t know about that. So

Marguerite (16:26):

That’s awesome. So I noticed when, uh, Doug and I were flipping through the book before you got here and we were like, Oh, so we’re, what did you qualify as Tacoma? Like I saw DuPont, are we talking greater Tacoma area? I saw Crystal Mountain. So like, what, what’s included, what did you mean by the Tacoma area? What was your

Peggy (16:45):

Criteria? I would say kind of Pierce County. Cuz I think working with Travel Tacoma, they cover the whole area. Totally. And so there were some neat things that I really liked that I, that I wanted to include and move

Marguerite (16:55):

To Tacoma also covers the whole greater Tacoma area. So Yes. Yeah, that is just fine. But I wondered like, how do you decide what, what the limits of the book are?

Peggy (17:04):

Well, I I definitely limited it to Pierce County and I tried to keep it close to Tacoma, but um, you know, like still Tacoma’s one of the, I think it is the oldest city in Washington, so I just felt like that was a unique place that people totally can normally, normally see. And then, um, I also have in there, I just put it under one. But, um, when I talked about those many main streets will come to find out there, um, economic districts and some of the, I think, I can’t remember if it’s 13 or 15 in Tacoma. And they’re, um, some of them are historic, you know, areas of town and things like that. So that’s a great thing. And I have the link where you can go, um, look it up online and you can see all the history and, and stuff of these different areas. Well

Marguerite (17:49):

It’s so cool, like looking at each one, like, I mean, they have a catchy title and then there’s, you know, a few paragraphs about it and then like the address of the place and then also the website. And I like for example, like you have one here that’s learned the history of indigenous people on the Puyallup Tribe Walk. And I’m

Peggy (18:06):

Writing, Did you even know that was there?

Marguerite (18:08):

No. And you, and you have the link right here, like, and you describe what it’s like to do the walk and I’m like, wow, this sounds like something I would really wanna do. So Yeah. And, and I’ve never heard of

Peggy (18:16):

This. Well I think it was also important to acknowledge the indigenous people in the area. So I, I put that in the acknowledgement, but also, um, this, this tribe Rock you, you go online and you can, I think it’s an app that you download and you can listen to one of the tribal members talking about what areas of Tacoma and how they related to the Pup Tribe. That’s wonderful. So I thought that was just really interesting. And then I’m a, I was a history major in college, so I love history <laugh>. So, So you have great museums in Tacoma and, um, one of em, Matt told me about, I can’t remember how to pronounce it, starts with a k, the it’s, but it’s the manuscript, the manuscript museum

Marguerite (18:57):

<laugh> Karner.

Peggy (18:58):

Yeah. Yeah. But they

Marguerite (19:00):

Always want never been to that either. <laugh>

Peggy (19:02):

Well they always want ’em located, I think Near Park. And um, yeah, so they have this whole collection and it of these documents and it rotates all throughout the country. So, you know, you could go one time and then if you go six months or a year later with the family, you, you would see something different.

Marguerite (19:17):

So one of the first podcasts we interviews we did like seven years ago when this started, was with the mayor at the time, Marilyn Strickland. And she told me, in fact, I’d never heard before, which is that we have the second largest number of museums per capita after Washington DC

Peggy (19:33):


Marguerite (19:33):

And I mean, obviously we’re a smaller city, so maybe like, you know, we have a little advantage in that department. But I thought that was super interesting and when you think about it, you’re like, dang, there are a heck of a lot of museums in Tacoma. Well that’s

Peggy (19:44):

One thing I love about downtown, cuz you could go and park, um, either at the Glass Museum or the Tacoma Museum of Art, you know, down below and then just walk to, you know, you’ve got the Museum of Glass, the Tacoma Art Museum, the Washington, um, State History Museum, which I love that.

Marguerite (20:02):

So based on your expertise after writing this book, um, if somebody’s just like picking up the book totally new to the area, or maybe they’ve been here for a while, but they realize they haven’t dug in much, which I think is an easy thing to do. Where, what are the first few things you’d say? Like, if you could only do a few things on this list, like make sure you do this, this, and this.

Peggy (20:23):

Well, I would definitely do the Dale Chihuly itinerary. I think that gives you a nice little walk downtown. Uh, but also, or just add the museum district and do, you know, do those three museums and, and then, you know, have lunch downtown or at, at El Commo <laugh>.

Marguerite (20:38):

And, and by the, the three museums you mean the Washington State History Museum,

Peggy (20:42):

The Museum of Glass, the museum

Marguerite (20:43):


Peggy (20:44):

And the Tacoma Art Museum. Okay.

Marguerite (20:46):

So you, you wouldn’t include the car museum in your must view? Uh,

Peggy (20:51):

Well this is really controversial, but I love,

Marguerite (20:54):

I love finding out controversial things. Tell me <laugh>.

Peggy (20:57):

Well, I love, um, Oh, what is that strange inheritance? Have you ever watched that? It used to be on, um, I think it was on, uh, one of the fuck stations. But anyways, it’s all about, they did a strange inheritance about the, um, lame family. Wow. And it talked about the car museum and then how they weren’t really happy with how everything happened. So they opened up another museum in, um, Spanaway Spanaway.

Marguerite (21:22):

The one at the school. Yes. Okay. I need to look into this. I, I kind of vaguely know about this. If I can find a link to this, I will put it in the, in the show notes because Yeah, definitely. This sounds juicy. I have no idea what

Peggy (21:32):

The story is. Well anyways, I personally prefer the museum in Spanaway cuz I feel like it, well there’s tons more cars for one thing, but it’s really cool. Like, you go in and they have these old docents and they’re these old guys that love cars and then walk you into this giant like warehouse building. And in one they have row after row of cars and it’s all organized by decades. And then there’s one another warehouse. You go in and has like crazy vehicles, you know, like from his collection. And then bizarrely enough they have a Rodan Sculpture garden. But yes, <laugh>. So, and then the best part is if you fan away willing Yeah. And if you’re willing to, uh, fork out the money, you can actually drive. It’s either, I think it’s a, either a model A or a model T. They have driving lessons and you can actually drive one.

Marguerite (22:20):

That sounds so cool.

Peggy (22:22):

Yeah. So in fact the Lady on, um, that was the host is Strange Inheritance. I think she got to drive one

Marguerite (22:28):

<laugh>. Oh my gosh. No, I have to find this. I’ll try to link to it in the show notes. That sounds super cool.

Peggy (22:32):

Yeah. And in the history of the, the Property’s really interesting. It was an old, it always amazing. I’m I’m Catholic, but it was, um, a Catholic military academy. So I thought that was just kind of interesting. But I think it was a boy school for a number of years. So the old gymnasium now has, uh, cars in it.

Marguerite (22:49):

So. Interesting.

Peggy (22:50):

Yeah. One of the cars is really funny. It’s, um, a high heeled shoe

Marguerite (22:54):


Peggy (22:55):


Marguerite (22:55):

Yes. Oh

Peggy (22:56):

Yeah. So there’s very, very just interesting things now. The museum downtown, the the car museum there is is very good. It’s got a really good, you know, selection, but it’s a little more, um, upscale and, and kind of,

Marguerite (23:10):

Yeah. I’ve only been there as like venue. I’ve been kid.

Peggy (23:12):

Well I, it’s very nice, but I feel like it feels very corporate, whereas I feel like the span of Wave one feels a little more authentic.

Marguerite (23:18):

Little grittier maybe. Yeah. <laugh>. Okay. So do the Jahooli Walk. Yeah. Visit the Good Museums, uh, go to Nkomo and having a amazing lunch. We can both vouch for that. Yeah. What else? Anything outside of downtown that you were like, Ooh, yeah, this is really

Peggy (23:32):

Good. Um, the Buffalo Soldier Museum is really neat. Where is that? And that it’s, um, it’s in Tacoma. It’s, I think it’s in the book. We’ll have to look up the address, but, or we can put it on your website. But that, um, so the dad collected this huge collection of Buffalo Soldier, um, memorabilia and everything, and his daughter runs the museum now. So it’s just, it’s a really small, it’s in a little house.

Marguerite (23:57):

See that 1940 South Wilkinson? Yeah. Oh my gosh. Is

Peggy (24:01):

This a really interesting little place? So I, um, I, I got my start writing in the area with the Ranger in northwest military.com. So I, that appealed something that would appeal to our reader. So I had written a story about it, so that’s why it, it ended up in the book. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t have known about it. <laugh>.

Marguerite (24:19):

Awesome. Well we’re gonna take a break. Doug’s giving me the look and we’ll be right back.

Peggy (24:23):

Sounds good. <laugh>.

Evelyn (24:28):

Hi, this is Evelyn Lopez, host of the Channel 2 53 podcast Crossing division. Growing up in Southern California, I thought that people in Washington didn’t know what a real earthquake was. But then on February 28th, 2001, I was on the seventh floor of a building in Olympia when the Nisqually earthquake hit. It was the worst earthquake I’ve ever been in. I really thought the building was going to fall down. I got under the conference table and when the quake was over, we evacuated the building. But one of my coworkers, Jeff, was trapped in his office because of the way the building shifted and they had to use a crow bart to open up his door and get him out. It was incredibly scary. No one was injured. But ever since then, I take earthquake drills seriously, very seriously. That’s why I’ll be joining millions of other people and participating in the Great Washington Shakeout. Scheduled for October 20th at 10:20 AM So plan ahead. Will your drill be at home, at work or elsewhere? Wherever you are. Everyone in the state is encouraged to take a minute to drop, cover and hold on. Just like you would in a real earthquake. Again, that’s scheduled for 10:20 AM on October 20. Got that. 10 20 on, 10 20. Easy to remember. You can learn more at shakeout.org/washington. Thanks to the great Washington shakeout for sponsoring this episode of Channel 2 53.

Marguerite (26:09):

Okay. We’re back, back with Peggy Cleveland, Author of 100 Things to Do in Tacoma Before You Die. And Peggy, I, in addition to asking about the book, I have lots of questions about writing. So before we move on to me asking about your writing career, is there anything else you wanna make sure to say about the book?

Peggy (26:27):

I think we covered quite a bit of it and we wanna leave something for people to repeat

Marguerite (26:30):

Exactly. Well, and we’ll have a link to buy the book in the show notes. Um, Okay. And obviously if you Google a hundred things to do in Tacoma Before You Die is on Amazon, it’s everywhere, right? Yes.

Peggy (26:39):

Yes. And, um, the re press does this, uh, you made the book, um, campaign. So they’re reaching out to everybody that’s in the book. So they’ll have the opportunity either just say, you know, announce they’re in the book or, um, sell the books themselves. Very cool. So if you see it, you know, you can, uh, do that search I think on a, people

Marguerite (27:00):

Are gonna probably be seeing it out cropping up at their favorite places. Places, Yeah. Yeah. So, so I’m very curious, like it’s, I don’t know a lot of people who have published books with a publisher. Like how did you end up becoming a writer and what has that process been like over the years? How do you end up in a position where someone reaches out and says, Would you write this book for us? Oh, okay.

Peggy (27:21):

Well, it’s kind of transition. So for one thing, I was always good at writing, you know, I always did well in English and school. And then, uh, when I first enlisted in the Army, I was in the Reserves. Um, so I became a photojournalist Oh, uh, for the Army. So I went through this, you know, like three month, you know, crammed in journalist course. And then I wrote, um, wrote from the Army while I was in the Reserves. So I really, really enjoyed it. And then, um, later on I went active duty and I was, um, military intelligence and became an officer. And one of my additional duties was they called Public Relations, Public Affairs in the Army. So I was the public affairs officer, so I got to kind of supervise a little military magazine and stuff. So it was just something I was like, Oh, I wanna do something with this down the line.

So, you know, 20 years later we’re here in, uh, Tacoma in, uh, at Joint Base Lewis McCord. And uh, it was the hundredth anniversary of Camp Lewis. And so I was volunteered with the spouses club and I was doing the, um, we were doing a little handout magazine, um, as part of the auction. It had the history and little stories about, um, about Joint Base Lewis McCord. And so, um, I found out that the Ranger in Northwest Military, uh, was doing a, a hundredth anniversary magazine. And so I’m like, Oh, I’m gonna get them to give us a free ad Yeah. For our events since it’s the same subject. Well, long story short, I reach out there like, no, you know, it’s really, it’s a magazine, we have to sell all the ads, you know, I said, Well, I write, can we work a trade? Oh. And they said, Well, you’ll have to talk to our publisher Ken Swer. So I reach out to him by email, the man’s never read anything I’ve written. And he, um, and he says, uh, I guess just based on my background, he said, I would love to meet you for coffee and talk to you about stringing for us.

Marguerite (29:10):


Peggy (29:11):

So I’m like, Okay, I’m gonna meet him with the idea of getting this ad, you know, for our, um, event. And so he starts talking to me and he just totally reeled me in cuz I had been, after I got outta the military, my husband, uh, we met in Korea. So I had been a stay-at-home mom and especially with moving and everything, you just need somebody that kind of holds everything together. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, so I wasn’t planning on going back to work or doing anything until they had graduated from high school, but they were, they were getting closer. So anyway, he starts reeling me in. He is like, you know, what do you like to write? And, you know, we talk and we just have a good rapport. And then he says, um, well what have, do you have any goals? You know, with writing?

I said, Well, I’ve always wanted to be a travel writer. And he says, Well, as a matter of fact, unusual for, you know, a small weekly newspaper, they, he says, We like to run a travel article every week and we don’t have to be writing that first right now. We’d love to expand that. And I was like, Okay, this sounds really good. It’s like your destiny. Destiny. Yeah. And he says, And did you know that um, some of the destinations will host you, invite you on a press trip, you know, to come tour the area? And I’m like, Sounds

Marguerite (30:14):

A bit better. Awful. So,

Peggy (30:17):

Um, it’s, so anyways, long story short. And then he said, You can write for us, you can do one article a month, you can do a bunch of articles, it’s up to you. And cuz I just wasn’t ready to commit to a job. And then he’s like, Well you can also, um, you know, if you don’t wanna write for a couple months, just let us know. You know, everything. So he reeled me right in. So when he cu again, so that’s how I started. And so I think, um, you know, if start my advice would be, you know, if somebody wants to start out, and particularly everybody always wants to be a travel writer, you know, cuz of the travel benefits, which I totally get that. But you gotta, you gotta pay your dues. So for me, I started about five, maybe almost six years ago.

So I started working for the weekly, this weekly mag newspaper. And luckily they pay, but sometimes you might have to write for free mm-hmm. <affirmative>, Um, there’s a lot of travel websites online that um, are just starting to get a little bigger and they can’t pay right now. But it’s a good way to get, you know, credentials and mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, clips for people to see your writing and especially if they have a lot of numbers, you know, that’s, that’s the key, especially getting hosted now. Um, and there’s kind of a little bit more of a backlash against influencers too. Like they wanna see a little more substance for the substance. Yeah. You know, so it’s, um, you gotta be writing for someone that has the numbers to make it worth it for them to bring you out. So, so for me, I started at, um, at the Ranger and then I started doing, um, that’s how I worked with Travel Tacoma a lot, writing all about Tacoma for the military audience, you know, where to go see and do.

And then, you know, I would branch out a little bit further and then I would start doing weekend trips mm-hmm. <affirmative> and then, um, you know, that kept going on and I’m like, well I need to write for some other people cuz this doesn’t pay a whole lot. So then I um, I reached out, I just happened to reach out to Gig Harbor Living Local magazine and they just happen to lose their local writer cuz they’re based outta Idaho and it just Oh, good luck. Yeah. But that’s the thing is you just, um, you just check online. And then, um, I’ve also signed up, there’s um, you know, you’ll find websites that target, you know, writers and they’ll send out things like, here’s places that are looking for writers and, you know, you just pitch people.

Marguerite (32:25):

It sounds like though you’re also pretty brave. Like, you sent me an email and were like, Hey, you should come, you should have me on your podcast to talk about my book. And I was like, I don’t know, what is this? And like, looking at it and I’m like, Oh no, I should definitely, Well I think that’s a brave thing. Like not everybody has it in them. Like what if nobody emails you back? What if they say we don’t want you? Like how do you deal with

Peggy (32:45):

That? Well, I think too, it’s, you know, like I said, you gotta pay your dues and you gotta work your rep. So now after doing this for five years, I know I’m talented, I know that I write well and I know that I have a lot to offer and bring to the table. Yeah. And so, um, you, you just build your confidence. And um, so now I, I also write for travel awaits.com, which um, is for the over 50 audience and they hire writers that are over 50. Um, but it’s a huge audience. They get 8 million views a month. And so as a result of that, you know, I’ve actually taken some international press trips that I’ve been invited on. So it’s um, you know, you pay your dues, you work your way up, but the big thing is you need to know that you can write.

Yeah. Um, and you need to be able to be disciplined enough to make your deadlines. And you know, if you go to a place and they’ve hosted you, you need to make sure that you deliver everything you promise and probably more, cuz your reputation is really key in the travel writing field because if you don’t do something right for one destination, every other destination, especially when you’re looking regionally, um, you know, one destination, Ill say, Oh, we’re thinking about bringing this person out. Oh, have you heard of them or have you worked with them before? Yeah, we talk. Yeah. So your reputation is, is everything. So, Oh,

Marguerite (34:01):

That’s great advice. Thanks. Well, what, what advice do you have to somebody who is thinking, uh, you know, I am a good writer. Like I, I did get good grades in English and, you know, maybe I’ve blogged before and I I wanna do more with this. You know, you’ve talked about maybe doing some things for free and like just getting good and getting practice and like connecting with people. What are your, I mean, what’s your advice for Well for

Peggy (34:21):

First connecting, I would reach out to every local, um, little newspaper. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, maybe local websites because content is constant, like people need content all the time. That’s true. And um, especially if somebody’s just running a website on their own, they might love if you’re a good writer or, you know, to give you that opportunity. Totally. Or the newspaper, like the Ranger, they, um, it’s different now cuz of Covid, um, you know, but when, you know, before Covid they were, they hired, you know, a lot of different military spouses or writers and a lot of places, um, even some of the major newspapers now and use a lot more freelancers. So, um, you know, so that’s the way to get started. But it’s very hard, I would think, to make a living off of it. You’ve gotta um, you have to really be discipline, you know, pitch a lot. And a lot of times, like some of the magazines, it’s kind of a little bit older. I’m really lucky that people I write for, if it’s published, I get paid the next month. Yeah. But some of the other magazines, they might pay you six months later or, or they’ll, you’ll have the assignment and they don’t publish it, you know, it’ll six or nine months later and then you get paid. So that can be, uh, that can be challenging. Would

Marguerite (35:35):

Your advice be for someone to be be like very open and very general? Or would it be like kind of develop a niche and expertise? Like you’re in travel? Like is there, like, are there niches within that that help you kind of advance more quickly or should you just stay totally open?

Peggy (35:51):

Well, I think, you know, depending on what style of right, like if you’re interested in starting a website, um, you know, in, in blogging, but blogging kind of, you know, it’s, it’s really, it’s a lot of work. Like I have a website, um, but I haven’t had the time to really develop it the way I want to because the other writing pays. Whereas that, and it can take you two to three years to build that up. But if you’re gonna blog or you wanna do a website, um, niche down and then you can all and then pick a name that’s really, um, that you can, can switch around, you know, if you change your mind of what you wanna do. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> don’t like, you know,

Marguerite (36:30):

Lock yourself in

Peggy (36:31):

Into one area. But I, I saw somebody talk at one of the conferences and she, um, her niche was really interesting. She wrote about, um, feeding your dog, you know, just regular food and how, what you prepare and how to do it. And um, so she developed a really good following with that, that’s very specific. And so a lot of people, you know, they wanted the goal with a is to be the point where you can quit your, your, your job and then just run off that. But I have a friend that does a lifestyle blog and she’s doing fantastic. She just like affiliate links with Amazon and things like that. Totally. But, um, as far as writing goes, you know, think about what you like and what, you know, um, you can, I can really write about anything, you know, if you, if it’s interesting, but, um, you know, just see what you’re good at and then go with that.

But like with newspapers, you know, they might have me write, you know, I tend to focus on travel. That’s what I really like doing. But like with the Ranger, I would write about, you know, maybe something going on in the base or something like that. So I think when you’re first starting out to, um, especially if you get somebody that’s willing to give you an opportunity, just be flexible and also look at what they need. And sometimes it’s not always about you, it’s what, what does the audience want? Yeah. You know, what, what style, Like I writing for travel waits online, people want listicals, you know, they just want, Yeah, blah, blah, blah, you know, this, this and this. Whereas, you know, I like to write, I like to tell the story. And so sometimes I’ll write more than what I’m paid for just because I just can’t write, you know, just a little bit. So

Marguerite (38:07):

Have you found, or do you even desire to find like a community of writers here in the area? Like are there, is it, is it nice to have other people to talk to about the business and about the work? Or are you like, eh, sometimes you can be getting ready to get ready, it’s better to just be doing the job?

Peggy (38:22):

Well, I think I was really lucky when I, uh, first got started, um, because there’s a, there was a, uh, conference called Travel and Words. Oh. And it was run by, um, Northwest Travel and Life Magazine, which is based out of Tacoma. And uh, unfortunately with Covid now it’s just invitation only, but if you could find something like that. So that was just a once a year. But then I met a lot of local riders and, um, it’s really a neat collaborative group. Like, I was invited on this one press trip and at first I was like, Oh, this is great. And then I realized, okay, they’re flying me in a helicopter up to the top of this mountain staying in, you know, bunk beds in this rustic lodge and gonna be doing a lot of hiking that I didn’t, I was like, I’m not in shape for that <laugh>, you know, So I, I was like, okay, as much as this looks really exciting, this is, this is not a good fit for me. So I reached out to another writer I knew, and I, I recommend the people. I can’t go, but I think this person would be a better fit. And he ended up going, you know, saw grizzly bears and all kinds had a great time, but that’s his thing and that’s what he loves to write about. So that was perfect for him. So

Marguerite (39:27):

<laugh>, that’s cool. So making friends, having a network. Yeah. That’s not a bad idea.

Peggy (39:30):

And writing for travel awaits. In fact, I’m um, gonna be going to Victoria for this. Just crazy, um, super interesting, um, press trip about the Fairmont and their tea. Oh cool. And um, and it was another writer and she was scheduled to go and couldn’t, um, because of an illness. And so she said, Hey, you know, I’m from travel, I, I’ve seen your articles, I think this would be a good fit for you. So that’s how I’m able to go on that, that one. So. Very

Marguerite (39:58):

Cool. Yeah. Well Peggy, thank you so much for coming on and telling us about the book and also just giving us so much insight into what it’s like to be a writer. Oh,

Peggy (40:07):

Thank you so much. I really appreciate you having me. And like I said, I love, I love to talk about Tacomas <laugh>.

Marguerite (40:12):

Well, we will make sure to have a link to buy the book in the show notes and some other info that we’ve talked about. Okay. Is there anything else you wanna make sure people know?

Peggy (40:21):

Um, it’s just get out there and explore. Like I said, these little economic districts in Tacoma, like I just, every time I’m discovering different things, like even um, Metro Parks Tacoma and Point Defiance, I was out there one day and you know, I did the whole loop and I was coming out and off to the right. I noticed the, uh, Pacific Northwest Garden and I’m like, What is this? And so I park and I was like, Oh my gosh, this is incredible. There was a gazebo, there was a stream running through it and just these old growth trees. And I’m walking through it and I’m like, wow, you know, I’m in the middle of Tacoma and I feel like I’m up at Mount Rainier hiking. And I was just amazed. And I’d been there so many times and didn’t even know that garden was there cuz it was on the e you know, the, when you’re exiting on the way out. So

Marguerite (41:05):

That’s good advice. Yeah. So thanks for coming. Thank

Producer Doug (41:08):

You. Channel 2 53 is supported by Microsoft. Microsoft is committed to civic conversations like those on Channel 2 53 that inform and empower Washington communities. To learn more, visit aka.ms/microsoft in Washington, move to Tacoma as part of the Channel 2 53 podcast network. Check out our other shows, Grit and Grain. Nerd Farmer Interchangeable White Ladies Crossing Division Citizen Tacoma. What Say You? We are Tacoma Flounders, B Team and Tugman. This is Channel 2 53.

Show Notes

Looking for things to do in Tacoma, Washington? We interviewed local Author Peggy Cleveland on the MovetoTacoma.com podcast! Peggy's new book "100 Things to Do in Tacoma Before You Die" is here to get you started finding interesting things to do in and around Tacoma. This book is great for tourists visiting Tacoma, people who've just moved here, and even folks who have lived here forever.

What's in 100 Things to Do in Tacoma Before You Die?

After living all over the country in the military Peggy and her husband chose JBLM as his final duty station and retired in Washington State. Peggy had been living in Steilacoom for eight years and writing about the area for different publications. Recently she was approached by Travel Tacoma to write a book about things to do in the greater Tacoma area. We interview Peggy about how the book came to be, cool things to get up to in and around Tacoma, how she became a writer, and tips she has for others looking to start writing! Peggy's book has five categories. 20 Things to in the Tacoma area for each one! The categories include Food & Drink, Music and Entertainment, Sports and Recreation, Culture and History, and Shopping and Fashion. Peggy shares her process for writing the book and researching all of the places that ended up being featured. She tells us a few of her favorite spots to eat, and unexpected discoveries she made researching to write the book.

About the Move to Tacoma Podcast

The Move to Tacoma Podcast has been out since 2015. Now a part of Channel253!  The Move to Tacoma Podcast interviews all different kinds of people about what it's like living in Tacoma, Washington. MovetoTacoma.com creator Marguerite Martin is a different kind of Tacoma real estate agent. Reach out to find out answers to questions you have about neighborhoods in Tacoma and Pierce County. Marguerite can connect you with a local real estate agent who specializes in the neighborhoods you love most. Click here to contact Marguerite.