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Getting to the parking lots

Scenic drives to avoid the tie ups and catch your shuttle in one piece

The view from Topside in Steilacoom can wash away all frustrations with U.S. Open traffic. File photo

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No one really knows what's going to happen. Sure, planners have spent years anticipating traffic problems surely to rise when you hold one of the country's biggest sporting events on a cliff with one road in and one out, but that will not matter when you just wanted to grab a drink from the convenience store and now you're trapped in your car.

Moving back and forth in Lakewood, University Place, Steilacoom, Puyallup and other locales is a matter of knowing the alternative routes, and enjoying them as they take you longer to get from point A to point B.

Here are a couple routes to know when driving to the Open, or trying to avoid it altogether.

Lakewood to DuPont

Whether you are parking at Fort Steilacoom Park and now need a way to get there or a way out, or you're just trying to avoid the tie-ups on Steilacoom Blvd. headed towards Tacoma, the DuPont-Steilacoom Road is a possible escape route.  

This road, that once took pioneers and soldiers from Fort Steilacoom to Fort Nisqually, will get you to Interstate 5 headed towards Olympia in less time than heading towards I-5 at Gravelly Lake and then turning south. It skirts the back edge of JBLM-North, and seeing routes from Steilacoom to UP will be closed, it might be less crowded.  (Caution). The road is busy during commute times regardless.

Why get to know this route? There are a couple great restaurant/pubs in Steilacoom you should know. This route takes you right past Topside Bar and Grill and the Steilacoom Pub - both popular hangouts for locals and military.Topside serves stellar food, and rotates a number of local and international beers on their taps. They also have a large deck with sweeping views of the Puget Sound. At Steilacoom Pub, you'll find an active pool cliental, great pub food, and a front door patio with views down the street to the ferry.

At the far end of the DuPont-Steilacoom Road, is DuPont, and it too has great entertainment options to include popular Farrelli's with a wood-fired pizza oven, pool and a large space; McNamaras Irish Restaurant across the street featuring tasty Irish specialties; and excellent sushi and pan-Asian food at I-Sushi.  All three are a cut above the rest.

Back way to Puyallup

Trying to make your way to the U.S. Open Parking station in the Red Lot at the Puyallup Fairgrounds from the Lacey-Yelm area is a few straight shots, connecting the dots from the Roy Y to Graham, and then down South Hill. There are a few diversions along the way, too.  

For starters, going south to east, Uncle Sam's American Bar & Grill in Spanaway is a friendly biker bar where you can find an honest half-pound burger patty topped with simple good ingredients like avocado, jalapenos, slabs of bacon, grilled onions and mushrooms, melted Swiss, pepper jack, cheddar or blue cheese, crisp lettuce, thick, deep red tomato slices and tart pickle. Stacked between toasted buns, this is a burger as big as your head (if you had the head of a 2-year-old). Served with a generous helping of hand-cut fries for under $8, that's an All-American great deal, no white chef's coat required. Find them at 16003 Pacific Ave., Spanaway.

Or, try the Flying Tomato Italian Grill in Graham. They serve gigantic portions that ensure Americans will continue to outweigh other citizens of the world. Casual and family friendly in appearance and menu options with median prices of $16 to $19, still may dictate dining here on special occasions only. The flatbread with cambazola cheese may be the best $4.50 ever spent. Though the presentation seemed jankie, the taste was delicious. Check them out, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Good luck. Regardless of what happens, it's not like we'll repeat it next year.

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