Raw Horsepower

Fast, Faster, Fastest: From horse, to car, to airplane-- An adventure through the history of horsepower, all in Pierce County.

Horsepower-- coined sometime in the early 18th century-- referred to the output of the steam engine in comparison to a work horse. Today, we know it more as a measurement of how much power an engine can produce.

Get ready to experience RAW HORSEPOWER right here in the beautiful South Sound region. You’ll embrace your inner equestrian, drive into the history (literally) of one of America’s first automobiles, and fly to new heights via sea and air as you climb into the saddle, driver’s seat, and get safely buckled in.

The ride of your life starts NOW.

 

Day 1: Riding around Roy

Morning: Rusty Bar Ranch

How many horsepower is the horsepower of a horse? Surprisingly, the average horse can produce about 15 horsepower, and run up to about 30 mph. Maybe you’re not quite ready for that. Either way, certified horsemanship instructor in both English and Western style riding, and Rusty Bar Ranch owner Kathy Richardson, and her well-trained staff, have a number of experiences for all levels of comfort within an environment that is both safe, and fun.
 
Get an early start!

 

Unforgettable Riding Experience

Begin with an Unforgettable Riding Experience on ‘Sheena the Wonder Horse,’ one of only six interactive riding simulators in the entire U.S., and the only one on the West Coast. Let Sheena’s sensors get you correctly in your seat (that’s horse talk for sitting in the saddle the right way), and comfortable in a completely controlled environment. Choose a simulated ride along the coast, in the ocean, forest, or open prairie through this interactive virtual reality-style mechanical horse before meeting some of the living and breathing variety.

Your real steed awaits inside the covered arena with a trainer that will guide you every step of the way. Get to know the horses while learning to groom and comfortably lead them around the arena, and through several easy obstacles before walking freely without a lead. Try bareback and bridleless riding inside the enclosed round pen under the guidance of a trainer just a few feet away.  

 

Mini Adventure

Not quite ready for a full-size horse experience-- pair up with a mini horse for a fun Mini Horse Adventure. Enter the arena for a meet and greet with the adorable small-size equines. After a quick grooming session (they love this), lead them through a myriad of low-intensity obstacles set-up inside, or on the outdoor course, depending on the weather. Their grace and agility will amaze you. Removing the lead to walk at leisure, you’ll finish by feeding a tasty treat to the pint-size sweethearts (they get four, and can actually count, so be sure to give them all four, they’ve earned it!).

Lunch: Varsity Pizza

Lunch at Varsity Pizza in Roy is a must, with nothing coming more highly recommended than the buffalo chicken pizza or The Rodeo (house-made red sauce, pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, olives, mozzarella).

Afternoon: Walk a Llama

If the concept of one horse > one horsepower still has your brain tied in knots, don’t even try the conversion to alpaca or llama. But without leaving the town of Roy, you can immerse yourself in another unique animal encounter at Topstall Farm. Their llamas and alpacas are eager for you to walk them through the forest canopy on a scenic hike – after a suitable getting-to-know-you introduction period and instruction on lamoid care and handling.
 

Dinner: Roy Market Deli or Varsity Pizza

Pick up supplies from the Roy Market Deli or grab another pizza from Varsity Pizza for a picnic within the picturesque countryside at Rusty Bar Ranch, where your overnight accommodations await. Speaking of which…

 

Overnight: Stay at the Rusty Bar Ranch

For a true ranch experience book a stay at the charming Cottage or 5th Wheel Camper/RV situated right on the grounds of the Rusty Bar Ranch. Wake up to the peacefulness of rural country life amid the 30-acre horse farm.
 

 

Day 2: Getting Speedy in Spanaway

Get behind the wheel for a rare ride (or more accurately, drive)

Breakfast: Kelley's Kafe

Snag an early bite at Kelley’s Kafe, a diner-style mom-and-pop on the way for classic breakfast options and plenty of nostalgic car décor to get you in gear for what’s next.
 

Morning: LeMay Collections at Marymount Model T Driver’s Ed

Travel back to the early 1900s for a rare, hands-on opportunity to learn, not only the history of Henry Ford’s Model T, but to actually drive one. Although, a horse could probably go faster than Mr. Ford’s 20 horsepower ‘Tin Lizzie’, it was one of the first mass-produced automobiles, and completely revolutionized the lives of many Americans.
 
Cruise on over to the LeMay historic Marymount Academy Campus to spend the day with a passionate, and knowledgeable group of volunteers (many who are avid Model T collectors and owners themselves). The experience is offered one Saturday per month from May through September.

Dividing the class into two parts-- one group will attend Model T Driving School to learn the history, mechanics, and all the knitty gritty details about the Model T-- while the other gets behind the wheel and zooming around the back roads of campus. 

Never driven a stick-shift, no problem. In fact, prepare to forget everything you think you know about driving. With an accelerator on the steering column, and shifting gears with just your feet-- it’s a truly unforgettable experience.

Besides a light lunch, participants receive a graduation certificate, Model T t-shirt, and access to a museum tour. 

Spend some time looking through an intense collection of automotive exhibits (the largest in the state), rare memorabilia, and ‘automobilia’— including everything from salt & pepper shakers, to dolls, gas pumps, hose nozzles, and more.  

Afternoon: Curran Coffee

By now you’re ready to head towards your lodgings on the Tacoma waterfront, and not far from tomorrow’s excursion. A stop at Curran Coffee in Old Town for a quick pick me up, or sweet treat on the way, is a welcome diversion.
 

Dinner: Waterfront Dining

For dinner options that won’t fall short of amazing, there’s plenty to choose from all along Ruston Way, and Point Ruston before retiring for the evening. Depending on your mood-- here are just a few to choose from: Katie Downs,  Lobster Shop, or Royal Boran Thai.
 

Overnight: Silver Cloud Tacoma Waterfront

After a long day of learning everything there is to know about the Model T, it’s time to settle in for a relaxing evening overlooking Commencement Bay. It’s hard to surpass Silver Cloud’s lengthy list of amenities, including water views from every room.
 
Although you’re close to many additional Tacoma attractions-- you might be too tired-- but just in case, check here for some ideas. Otherwise, rest up-- before its time to go up, up, up. 
 

Day 3: Tacoma

Buckle in for unparalleled views of South Puget Sound from the sky, but first, coffee.

Breakfast: Jewel Box Café

For a variety of espresso drinks, smoothies, and delightful brekkie plates (think crepes, benedicts, and more), along with a wide selection of salads, and sandwiches, visit Jewel Box Cafe before your next adventure begins.

 

Morning: Kenmore Air, Ruston Way

Embrace the 450-horsepower of a Pratt & Whitney R-985 radial engine and a bird’s-eye view of the South Sound.  

With the spring 2024 opening of the new Puyallup Tribal Air Terminal off Ruston Way on beautiful Commencement Bay, several direct flights now service the South Sound and San Juan Islands. Passengers also have the option of a 30-minute South Sound Scenic Flight.

From land, to sea, to sky-- board your Kenmore Air seaplane, fasten your seatbelt, and prepare to soar. Don headphones from the seatback for a narrated account of sights from a vantage point that is nothing short of stunning.

Gaze in wonder as you pass over landmarks like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Chambers Bay Golf Course, Tacoma, Gig Harbor, Point Defiance Park, and places you may not have known existed throughout the expansive South Puget Sound region before gently landing where you started.       

 

Lunch: The Table

Before you hit the trail back home with your newfound skills and experiences, indulge in a big lunch in Tacoma’s 6th Avenue neighborhood at The Table. James Beard semifinalist chef Derek Bray has a small-but-honed seasonal menu that – as far as we’re concerned – has never had a miss. The menu usually includes a curveball protein – sometimes bison, occasionally elk – to keep return visitors guessing.