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Northwest Traveler

Travel news, consumer advice and trip reports for the Northwest and beyond.

April 1, 2013 at 11:43 AM

Hey, Nerdley, can you name Washington’s counties?

Calling all Northwest nerds. Here’s a game to play next time you go for a walk in our state’s capital.

Stroll along the edge of Capitol Lake and watch for the plaques naming each of Washington's counties, in the low railing at right in this photo. (photo by Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

Stroll along the edge of Capitol Lake and watch for plaques naming each of Washington’s counties, in the low railing at right in this photo. (photo by Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

On this past Sunday of perfect weather, my lovely wife and I drove to Olympia for a big dinner with the college daughter and a friend, then went for a waddle, I mean toddle, alongside Capitol Lake, where the hawthorne trees were all abloom and volleyball players, Frisbee flingers and general sun enjoyers crowded adjacent lawns. The view of the classic old Capitol dome, as prominent as a fez on a Shriner,  made it all quite scenic.

And we discovered a great quiz game for the absolute nerdiest, born-to-the-moss Washingtonians (of which I like to think I’m one): Who can name all of Washington’s counties?

The game came about as we were circling the lake and looked down at a stone railing at water’s edge and discovered that every 20 feet or so, a placard named another of the state’s counties, in alphabetical order, with a map showing its location and a few words of its history.

So, as you pass the placard for Skagit County, and you’re heading southwest, you have to think quick: What comes next alphabetically? Uh, Snohomish, right? No, you forgot Skamania! (Sound the loser’s horn.)

On the drive home through holiday I-5 traffic, we had time to recite from memory all 39 counties. (Traffic crept through Tacoma, and we don’t have movies in our car, can you tell?) Stunning views of Mount Rainier, visible from foothills to summit, were a welcome diversion.

What did you do on your perfectly sunny Sunday?

Comments | Topics: capitol lake, olympia, washington counties

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